Going Extreme

SIG Sauer P226 Extreme .40 S&W, That Is

The SIG SAUER P226 has been around for over a quarter of a century now. Along with compact variations, it serves around the world as a military and police sidearm for a long list of organizations, including but not limited to the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (Canada), the detectives of An Garda Siochana (Ireland), the US Postal Inspection Service, the United Arab Emirates Army and US Navy SEALs who recently visited Osama bin Laden. It’s just about everywhere because it’s an extremely reliable and tough handgun.

The barrel-locking system differs somewhat from John Browning’s original design. Browning used slots milled in the barrel and slide to keep them together during the initial rearward movement of the slide. In the P226, the rear of the barrel has a larger, squared section. The front edge of the square locks the barrel by sliding up against the front edge of the ejection port in the slide—a sort of the reverse of the locking system used in the Savage 99 rifle, where the bolt slides upward against the rear of the bolt slot. Originally the slide was stamped of heavy sheet metal, with brazed or welded additions, but today it’s CNC machined from one chunk of stainless steel.

The Extreme is a tricked-out version of basic P226, with several nifty additional features including an integral accessory rail under the barrel and Hogue wrap-around grips made of the tough fiberglass and epoxy laminate called G10. Formed under pressure, G10 is not only extremely strong but doesn’t conduct electricity or absorb water, the reason it’s used in many high-tech electronic applications—though it also works well for knife scales and handgun grips.

The grips on the Extreme are made of a gray/black/olive drab laminate for that clever camouflage look, with stippled panels milled into the side and rear. The pattern looks pretty nice next to the black-matte anodized frame and Nitron-coated slide, and the grips also proved very comfortable and controllable in my broad but somewhat short-fingered right hand. The test gun was a .40 S&W (the Extreme is also available in 9mm Parabellum) and the 34-ounce weight also helped control recoil, especially with loads using heavier bullets.

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