SIG's new 2022 pistol isn't the first sidearm to have a polymer frame, but it's a welcome addition to a new tradition of sidearms that has continued to grow in popularity.
The first semi-automatic pistol to utilize a polymer frame was the Heckler & Koch VP70. A massive, selective-fire handgun chambered for the 9x19 cartridge, its production life was rather short lived. The next "plastic pistol" turned out to be a different story entirely. Unlike its Germanic predecessor, the Austrian Glock 17 was lightweight, compact, and very user friendly. Glock proved the practicality of polymer for constructing frames, magazines, and other pistol parts, and it wasn't long before just about every major player in the highly competitive police/military pistol market was offering a polymer-framed handgun.
SIG Enters the Picture
The Schweizerische Industrie Gesellschaft (SIG) was established in 1853 to manufacture railway rolling stock. After World War II, SIG formed a partnership with the German gunmaking firm of Sauer and a few years later introduced a pistol known as the P220, which was adopted by the Swiss army, the Japanese Self-Defense Forces, and a number of Middle Eastern and African armies and police forces.
A few years later SIG designed a smaller pistol for German police trials, and the company's P225 was adopted by a number of German states' police agencies in addition to several other European agencies. After that SIG pursued the American market where most police forces were in the process of changing over from revolvers to semi-auto pistols.
The company's new high-capacity P226 proved a big seller. First available in 9x19, it was later offered chambered for the .40 S&W and a proprietary cartridge with magnum-like ballistics, the .357 SIG. Today, SIG pistols are used by-among others-the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Navy SEALS, U.S. Coast Guard, Ohio Highway Patrol, Rhode Island State Police, North Carolina Highway Patrol, Texas Rangers, and the Michigan State Police.
To address the growing U.S. police market, SIG established a facility in Exeter, N.H., called SIGARMS, which now manufactures the entire line of SIG pistols.
SIG entered the "polymer revolution" with its SIG PRO series of pistols, which combined a stainless steel slide with the company's "Nitron" finish and a polymer frame. This latter assembly was one of the first to feature interchangeable grips that could be removed by simply depressing a catch located at the rear of the magazine well. The SIG PRO had a modular fire control unit that could be quickly switched to provide either a double-action/single-action (DA/SA) or a double-action-only (DAO) trigger pull.
The SIG PRO's popularity with U.S. police agencies grew rapidly, and in 2006 SIG introduced an improved version, the SIG SP2022.
The most notable feature of the SP2022 is that the frame has a Picatinny-type rail to accept tactical lights or laser sighting systems. Unlike many other DA/SA pistols, SIG positions the hammer decocking lever at the top of the left-hand grip panel where it can be depressed with the right thumb without having to change your grip on the pistol. The slide stop is just above this and can also be manipulated easily.
In 2003, France's Gendarmerie Nationale placed an order for 270,000 SP2022 pistols. The following year, the U.S. Army's Tank & Armaments Command placed an order for 5,000 pistols.[PAGEBREAK]
For the purposes of this article, SIGARMS kindly supplied me with a SP2022 pistol in 9mm to evaluate for POLICE Magazine. While I have not had a great deal of experience with SIG pistols, I found the 2022 was extremely well balanced and pointed naturally. The DA trigger pull was one of the better ones I've felt on a pistol in some time, while the SA had a crisp let off after some initial take up. I was also impressed that the magazine release button can be swapped from port to starboard so as to accommodate southpaw officers.
The SP2022 features SIGARMS' Four-Point Safety System, which consists of (1) a patented automatic firing pin block, (2) a decocking lever, (3) a safety intercept notch on the hammer, and (4) a trigger bar disconnector.
Magazines fell free when the catch was depressed, and the mag well's wide mouth made reloads fast and fumble free. While my pistol came fitted with large grips, I exchanged these for the smaller size as it just felt better in my hand. With nothing left to examine, my friend Butch Simpson and I headed out to the range to see how the SP2022 performed.
On the Range
Our test ammo consisted of premium JHP loadings from Cor-Bon, Remington, Black Hills, and Winchester. Out of curiosity I brought along my chronograph to see what kind of velocities we were getting out of the SP2022. For the offhand shooting segment of our test firing, Safariland provided me with one of the company's Model 5181 paddle holsters.
When fired from a rest, the SP2022 produced some very respectable five-round groups. It was obvious from the get-go that this SIG was capable of providing more then just acceptable accuracy. In fact, it proved to be a tack driver with ammo it liked, as is evident from the nice 1.75-inch group fired with Winchester's Ranger +P+ Law Enforcement load.
After chronographing the various loads, Butch and I ran the SP2022 through a series of offhand drills on a pair of D-1 targets at five, 10, and 15 yards, firing the pistol both supported and unsupported. As can be seen in the photos of the 50-something rounds we each fired, all of them impacted inside the targets' X and 10 rings. Of special note was the finger rest on the magazine floor plate, which allows a full, four-finger grip on the pistol, greatly enhancing recoil control.
Recoil control, even with the hot +P loads, was extremely above average, and I was able to fire follow-up shots quickly and accurately aided by the large and easy-to-see sights. Reliability-for an out-of-the-box pistol-was excellent. I did not experience a single failure to feed, fire, or eject out of approximately 300 rounds expended. The D-1 targets ended the day with a large number of holes in their higher scoring regions and the SIG performed flawlessly with cartridges of widely varying bullet shapes, weights, and velocities.
The SP2022's performance left little room for criticism. It would seem that SIG's new "plastic pistol" would make a very practical service sidearm for either uniformed or undercover officers.
- Caliber: 9mm Para/.357 SIG/.40 S&W
- Overall length: 7.4 inches
- Barrel length: 3.9 inches
- Weight (unloaded): 29.9 ounces
- Finish: Nitron
- Height: 5.7 inches
- Width: 1.4 inches
- Magazine capacity: 15/12/12 rounds
- Sights: front: Blade with white dot rear: Square notch with white bar
- Special features: Stainless steel slide and polymer frame; interchangeable grip panels; reversible magazine release; one piece, modular fire control unit for DA/SA or DAO trigger pulls; night sights (optional); two-tone slide (optional); spare magazine; carrying box and lock
- Price: $640
Paul Scarlata has served as an auxiliary police officer and is a frequent contributor to POLICE.