Triple tap at 15 yards, first round DA, second and third rounds SA, on Blackheart Terrorist Target using Black Hills 230-grain JHP.
SIGARMS already has some real advantages in offering a handgun that meets the specifications for the Joint Combat Pistol (JCP). First, Naval Special Warfare personnel are already familiar with the P-226, since it has been used quite a bit by the SEALs. Other military personnel are familiar with the SIG P-228—military designation M11—since it has been issued on a limited basis as well. Secondly, the P-220 already meets many of the JCP specifications. It has taken only relatively minor modifications to create what appears to be a real player should the Trials resume and result in the adoption of a new .45 ACP pistol, even if only on a limited basis for special operations personnel.
Pin for lanyard is built into base of grip.
SIG’s JCP entry, the P-220 Combat, is actually offered in four formats. A standard double-action/single-action (DA/SA) model with hammer drop safety is offered with standard barrel and with threaded barrel that extends .6 inches from the slide. Designated the “TB” model (for Threaded Barrel), this version would fit the specification that requires an optional suppressor kit. These same two barrel options are offered with SIG’s DAK trigger P-220 Combat models. The one I have for testing has the standard barrel and the DA/SA trigger.
As with other pistols designed for the JCP Trails, the P-220 Combat comes in “Flat Dark Earth” color. This includes Flat Dark Earth Polymer grips and Nitron®/Flat Dark Earth on metal. The combo is actually quite handsome and blends well with typical ground and ground cover. To give an idea, when I was trying to photograph the P-220 Combat after test firing it, I found it difficult to use a fallen tree, the ground, or leaves as background because it blended too well for a good photo. Internal parts are phosphorus coated. The barrel is hard chromed, then finished in Nitron. Overall, SIGARMS has incorporated a good durability package.
P-220 Combat’s M1913 Picatinny rail.
While the P-220 Combat is a full-sized battle pistol, it is compact enough that an operator can carry it concealed when working in indigenous clothing—an important consideration in the War on Terror. Overall length with the standard barrel is 7.7 inches; 8.3 inches in TB version. Weight is 31.2 ounces. Barrel length is still 4.4 inches or 5 inches on the TB model. I think the P-220 Combat will get high marks with operators since it will conceal well or carry comfortably as a backup weapon.
Among the special features to meet JCP specifications is an M1913 Picatinny rail with three cross slots. A lanyard pin, which offers enough room for easy attachment of a lanyard, is incorporated into the grip. This is a more important distinction than it might seem upon initial reading, since I have encountered nominal lanyard attachment points that were virtually impossible to use effectively. To meet the JCP requirement for self-illuminated night sights, the P-220 Combat incorporates SIGLITE sights. Those for the TB version are higher, to allow target acquisition with a suppressor mounted. JCP specs call for an eight-round magazine capacity with a ten-round magazine available; hence, the P-220 Combat is furnished with an eight-round magazine plus a ten-round magazine with an extension. Specs call for the JCP to have a double-action trigger pull between eight and ten pounds and a single-action pull between four and six pounds. The P-220 Combat is rated at ten pounds DA and 4.5 pounds SA, so it falls within the guidelines. I should note that, as with most SIG SA/DA pistols I’ve used, trigger pull is fairly crisp, though it does stack a bit on DA.
Thompson fired P-220 Combat with his support hand and held at various angles and found it utterly reliable. Ten-round magazine is in place.
SIGP220 pistols are well known for reliability. In fact, I had a friend in the St. Louis FBI office who carried a P-220 for years. When it seemed as if every automatic pistol in the office was being returned to Quantico because of problems, he retained his P-220. I have also had a P-220 for ten years or more and have fired at least 2,500-3,000 rounds through it. I cannot remember a single malfunction. My point is that the P-220 is known for reliability, and no internal changes were made to the P-220 Combat. As a result, there should be few problems meeting JCP standards for reliability.
Nitron parts and Flat Dark Earth parts have contrasting colors.
When testing the Para-Ordnance Nite-Tac intended for the JCP Trials (THE CONTENDER: Para-Ordnance Military Nite-Tac, June 2007 S.W.A.T.), I found that Insight Technology and SureFire illuminators would not readily slide onto the rails. I decided to try these same illuminators on the P-220 Combat rail. Once again, I found the fit very tight, to the extent that I was afraid of breaking the illuminators. As with the Para-Ordnance, I found that the Streamlight TLR-1 and TLR-2 could be attached readily. The difference is that the Streamlight illuminators allow their rails to be pushed apart for attachment then tightened via a screw. It is my understanding that the Insight Technology M6X—which also uses a screw—works on these JCP rails, but I have not had a chance to try one. Once I had the Streamlight TLR-2 attached to the P-220 Combat, I tried manipulating the controls with either hand and found that I could switch the illuminator on and off easily.
P-220 Combat comes with eight-round and ten-round magazines.
To range test the P-220 Combat, I took along various loads, including Sellier & Bellot 230-grain FMC, Black Hills 230-grain JHP, CorBon 230-grain JHP, and CorBon 185-grain DPX. I started off at 25 yards to check accuracy. I found the same problem with the P-220 Combat that I find with virtually every .45 ACP handgun I receive from any factory—especially with night sights. With 230-grain FMC ammo, the P-220 Combat was shooting almost 8-10 inches low. By the way, this problem is not just with me, because I have tested guns with two or three other shooters along and they shot as low or lower. Since lighter, faster ammo will usually shoot even lower, I can’t imagine for what load manufacturers regulate their .45 ACP pistols. Groups were also a bit left, but that can be corrected with a rear sight pusher. Accuracy was good with all loads. My friend Tim Mullin shot the best group at 25 yards with CorBon’s DPX (three shots into about two inches), though it was, of course, very low.
P-220 Combat ready for use in tactical role with ten-round magazine in place and Streamlight TLR-2 mounted.
I didn’t take along my older P-220 for comparison, but the grips on the P-220 Combat feel a bit thicker. Still, the gun feels good in the hands. I wanted to try it for various drills, so put up a Blackheart terrorist target at 15 yards and using Black Hills 230-grain JHP ammo fired a triple tap with the first round double action and the subsequent rounds single action. I had to aim at the top of the “Tango’s” head to get three hits in the chin area, but all three were grouped into about an inch and a half. Transition from DA to SA was smooth. I must admit that I’ve done a lot of shooting with SIG DA/SA pistols, so I am used to switching trigger pulls after the first shot. On the other hand, for the last couple of years most of my SIG shooting has been with a DAK trigger P-226R.
I set up another Blackheart terrorist target at 15 yards and fired two double taps center of mass, first DA, second SA, each time. Once again, I purposely aimed high, but the shots were well-placed. I followed up with a “zipper” of three shots moving from the chest to the upper chest to the head. The first was fired DA and the subsequent two SA. All shots were good hits, but I had more trouble than usual with this drill due to the need to mentally calculate how high to hold as I fired.
We put over 200 rounds through the P-220 Combat, and it was utterly reliable. I found it very fast handling for engaging multiple plates and pepper poppers at ranges between 10 and 35 yards. I also did some shooting on flipper plates at seven yards, but did not do as well as I usually do because I had to estimate how high to hold. As part of the reliability testing, I fired rounds with the pistol held sideways “Gangsta” style and upside down. I also fired two or three mags with my support hand only. The P-220 Combat performed without hesitation. Overall, the shooting tests went well. To be honest, I would have been surprised if a SIG P-220 was not reliable and accurate. The problem with shooting high was annoying, but I will order a couple of lower front sights from SIGARMS and solve it with a sight pusher in a few minutes.
I fired some strings using the eight-round magazine and some using the ten-round magazine. The spring on the latter was quite stiff and, to get the tenth round in, I had to use a Glock loader to push it down. I’ve left the magazine fully loaded to compress the spring a bit. The extended part of the ten-round magazine has a polymer girdle and a slam pad. Since I normally shoot with the butt resting on the palm of my support hand, I did have to adjust my grip somewhat when shooting with the extended magazine.
I came into testing this pistol liking SIG P-220s, liking accessory rails, liking night sights, liking lanyard rings and liking extension magazines. Basically, therefore, I was in a what’s-not-to-like situation. I have to admit I think the “Flat Dark Earth” coloration has a lot of CDI Factor and I like that, too. If a new military pistol is selected from the Joint Combat Pistol Trials, I think the P-220 Combat will definitely be in the running.
18 Industrial Drive
Exeter, NH 03833
Blackheart International, L.L.C.
P.O. Box 9
112 North Wood Street
Philippi, WV 26416
Black Hills Ammunition
P.O. Box 3090
Rapid City, SD 57709-3090
1311 Industry Rd.
Sturgis, SD 57785
Sellier & Bellot USA Inc.
P.O. Box 7307
Shawnee Mission, KS 66207-0307
30 Eagleville Rd.
Eagleville, PA 19403