“If only SIG Sauer would offer the P226 in more configurations,” said no one. Ever. Okay, I couldn’t help opening with a bit of snark, but if you pay attention to the firearms market and especially if you’re a SIG Sauer enthusiast, you know that there are about as many SKUs for the P226 as there have been for G.I. Joe. If it sounds like I’m complaining, think again. I love having lots of choices, and I love seeing companies that are not afraid to explore the marketplace. Enter the P226 ASE (alloy stainless steel elite). And it’s a beauty.
The ASE is a TALO exclusive, at least for the foreseeable future. What does that mean? Not much really, unless your local gun store doesn’t have a relationship with that distributor and has trouble getting them. Distributor exclusives are part of what allow manufacturers to be so bold with one-off model numbers and pseudo-custom finishes and packages. The distributor agrees to take delivery of the entire production run and often assumes a portion of the risk. In return, they have the exclusivity for the sales of that model and a say in setting the price. It’s really a win-win-win if you think about it. But you probably didn’t turn to the GunsAmerica review pages to get a business lesson and learn all about logistics and production, so let’s talk about the pistol.
For starters, the ASE is a pure P226 in every way. The manual of arms is exactly the same as for any double-action (DA) / single-action (SA) P226. SIG has put a few nice options on the pistol, aside from the cosmetic. A set of steel SIGLITE night sights sits up top and give you that great SIG Sauer sight picture and contain Tritium to glow nicely in pure darkness. The trigger is the optional SRT (short reset trigger), which has a reset stroke like the thickness of an eyelash and breaks like raw angel hair pasta. Did I mention I love the SRT?
- Type: Double-action/Single-action hammer-fired
- Cartridges: 9mm
- Capacity: 15+1rds.
- Overall Length: 8.1 in.
- Barrel Length: 4.4 in.
- Weight: 32 oz. (tested)
- Trigger: 5 lbs., 8.5 oz. (SA);11 lbs., 8 oz. (DA)(tested)
- Grips: Walnut
- Finish: Stainless PVD
- Sights: SIGLITE night sights
- MSRP: $1,029
- Manufacturer: SIG Sauer
So, mechanically the gun is a P226 in every way we like them, and it’s dressed to impress. The name of the model, alloy stainless elite, is a bit confusing, but what it essentially means is that the SIG Elite style alloy frame of the P226 is finished with a special stainless PVD coating and the gun is topped with a stainless steel slide with a different shade and texture that provides a slight two-tone silver look. PVD is the same coating process used with the Legion series, SIG Sauer’s flagship handgun line.
The specs say the slide is stainless steel but doesn’t specify a grade. The material of the slide is a very strong and corrosion resistant one. The slide appears to my eye to be coated or treated in some way, but the specs do not indicate that. The look of the pistol works well. Setting off that nice silver over silver finish is a set of beautiful walnut grips with a rosewood finish. The grips are sculpted perfectly so that the seam where the two halves join is nearly invisible and every edge is perfect. I’ve heard them described as a one piece grip — they are in fact two halves, but fitted so well that that mistake is understandable. They are nicely checkered and finished off with an inlay “SIG” medallion. The frontstrap of the grip handle is fully checkered, as is the Miami Vice shooting grip spot at the front of the squared trigger guard. Making the whole pistol pop is the accent of the black controls — all finished in what appears to be standard black Nitron. If handguns could walk, this one would look good on the runway.
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Range time with the P226 ASE
If you have never fired a SIG Sauer P226 of any flavor, you really are missing out on an important part of being a gun enthusiast. The P226 (well, the P-series family really) has a unique feel and recoil impulse. The trigger feels like a SIG trigger, the controls feel and respond a certain way … etc. The sentiment is similar to not understanding what all the fuss is about the BMW 3 Series without having driven one. But unlike the Bimmer, hair gel is optional with the SIG. If however, you are familiar with the P226 then I can tell you that the ASE feels, shoots, and behaves “just like that.” That is assuming yours has the SRT.
Shooting any firearm is a personal and subjective experience, particularly when it comes to liking or disliking the ergonomics. All the major brands have their own distinctive design elements and feel, whether it is the grip angle, the size, the texture — and so on. I like the ergonomics of the SIG Sauer P-series pistols very much, so I tend to shoot them well and enjoy doing it. The ASE model includes the extended and upward swept beavertail that is a signature element of the Elite SIGs. This element allows me to push the web of my hand a wee bit higher than I do with the standard (albeit generous) nubbed tail of the non-Elites. This gives me a straighter line from bore to forearm and compensates nicely for the often noted high bore axis of the SIG P-series guns. I don’t fret much over bore axis, so long as I can get a grip on the handgun that allows me to keep it flat. All the elements from beavertail to frontstrap checkering and undercut trigger guard do that very well — which lets me put a string of brass in the air and still make all my hits on paper. The wood grips add some thickness over other grips, but I didn’t notice it like I thought I would while shooting. And I rather like the feel of the smooth wood backstrap.
This version of the P226 is just as spot-on as all others I’ve shot. I find the sight picture to be natural to line up, and the grip angle presents them to me generally flat. I think this “natural pointer” aspect has more to do with shooting a gun accurately than anything else. If I don’t have to concentrate on or contort my grip to try and hold a sight picture, it allows me to relax and press the trigger with ease.
Using several brands and types of ammunition, I had excellent results with the pistol off-hand ranging from 7 to 15 yards and also had excellent results when rested shooting groups from 20 yards.
Bonus Rounds — P226 Air Gun
“But wait – there’s more!” SIG also sent along a sample of their P226 air gun that uses CO2 to fire .177 caliber pellets. Also included were a couple of target systems. So, on one of the days I couldn’t make it to the range I broke open the boxes and assembled the targets and headed to my garage. The pistol mimics the real firearm in all critical specs and ergonomics. It actually weighs 7 ounces more than the P226 ASE, but is probably spot on with the steel-framed variants.
The grip, feel, balance and even the trigger are pure P226. Sight picture is exactly the same. This airgun makes a great training tool if your primary is a P226 of any flavor. And not everyone can easily get to a shooting range or afford lots of practice ammo. Whether driven by your budget, your logistics or your need for repetitions — just $110 buys you a top quality pellet shooter. The target trap Quad Shooting Gallery and the Texas Star that SIG sent retail for about $50 apiece, and they are fun-all-day systems.
SIG Sauer also makes match grade pellets and CO2 canisters. Yes, that’s right – the company that is trying to take over the entire industry has yet another full product line. Someday, I plan to make a pilgrimage to New Hampshire and see the Pro Shop, which must be like the Mall of America by now! As far as shooting the SIG airgun, it feels surprisingly natural and realistic, due mostly to the weight and balance of the gun. The fact that the slide reciprocates with each shot also lends a realistic feel, as it “cycles the action”. The trigger resets every time and has the same pull, which makes this pistol a great dry fire choice.
Just my Opinion
The ASE may find its primary market with those that love the look of an all stainless steel pistol but don’t want the extra weight. With the alloy frame instead of stainless, there is a significant difference in weight. The subtle two-tone look adds some extra character, and the beautiful and very functional walnut grips and black hardware make a fashion statement.
SIG Sauer seems to have learned long ago that to build a world class pistol that is durable, accurate and reliable is one thing, but to do all that and make it look amazing too, is another. During testing the pistol functioned flawlessly with a combination of the two magazines that came with it and several from my personal stash, and a wide variety of ammo. One concern over time might be the durability of the PVD finish, as there have been some concerns raised in the community regarding its toughness on the Legion series. I have seen how easily it can scratch. I didn’t handle the gun with kid gloves, but I also didn’t try to hurt it, so I can’t draw any real conclusions yet. This newest offering in the P226 lineup is another winner, combining eye-catching style and combat proven function. Like G.I. Joe in his dress blues. Now, if I can just talk SIG into making the P226 with the Kung-Fu grip!
To learn more about the SIG Sauer’s P226 ASE, click https://www.sigsauer.com/store/p226-ase-full-size.html.
To learn more about the SIG Sauer’s air gun pistols, click https://www.sigsauer.com/products/airguns/pistols/.
To purchase a SIG P226 on GunsAmerica.com click, https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?Keyword=P226.