One of the most popular .45 ACP pistols used by law enforcement officers is the extremely ergonomic SIG 220, a full-size service pistol with a 4.4-inch barrel. The only problem with this model is that it can be a bit much to carry concealed. That's why SIG Sauer has developed a new line of SIG 220 .45 ACP pistols: one model with a full-size SIG 220 grip and one with a shorter grip that is considerably more concealable.
The original SIG 220 Compact .45 was manufactured with a standard 3.9-inch barrel, an extended beavertail, and a short grip that accommodated a six-round magazine. Options included night sights and a DAK trigger.
The main reason why SIG decided to manufacture two new SIG 220 Compact .45 pistols was because customers asked for them. One reason the extended beavertail was removed from the new pair of SIG 220 .45s was to prevent this feature from protruding into the body of the pistol's operator, especially when the operator wears an inside-the-pants holster. SIG also wanted to make a SIG 220 that had more of a meltdown design to facilitate the ultimate concealed carry .45 ACP pistol. That's why the new meltdown version of the SIG 220 .45 semi-auto called the Compact does not have an an extended beavertail. The new Carry model of the SIG 220 has an accessory rail and a beavertail.
An accessory rail on a home defense or personal semi-auto pistol is a good thing. I want to have a tactical light on such a critical firearm. So I have often wished that one of my older model SIG 220 .45s with a beavertail also had an accessory rail. Now I have the option of buying one.
I like the new SIG 220s a lot. But let me say that the SIG 220 is not a perfect concealed carry pistol for every officer. If you feel the need to be armed with a high-capacity .45 ACP pistol then you need to look at another make and model because the SIG 220 Compact .45 is by no means a high-capacity pistol. It is capable of accommodating a standard six-round magazine and can also function reliably with an eight-round magazine.
To compensate for this firepower concern, I carry my SIG 220 Compact .45 with a standard six-round mag to make it easy to conceal. I also carry at least two eight-round spare magazines. In very warm weather, I sometimes carry a pair of six-round spare magazines in a DeSantis A01 double magazine pouch that I slip into my left front pants pocket or snap onto my belt.
If you need to carry more ammunition, I highly recommend that you purchase a DeSantis double magazine ankle holster. This nifty holster allows you to carry a pair of extra spare magazines strapped to your ankle as if it were an ankle holster for a subcompact handgun.
Personally, I don't think the capacity issue is a big problem. Remember, the benefit of carrying a pistol with a single column magazine is that it is easier to carry single column magazines because they are relatively flat and less bulky than high-capacity magazines. But the price you pay for better concealability is fewer rounds. So you can accept that and carry spare mags or you can choose another pistol.
Looking at the evolution of the SIG 220 Compact .45, I decided that the best way to review the new models was to compare them to the originals. While conducting this test and evaluation, I also compared the new and older model SIG 220 .45 to a slightly larger DA/SA SIG 220 Carry Model. My goal was to present you with a full evaluation of the entire lineup of compact SIG .45 pistols.
The standard size SIG 220 is an interesting pistol because it is large enough to carry as a service pistol by uniformed officers yet compact enough to be carried by plainclothes personnel. I know this to be true because during my law enforcement career, I carried a standard size DA/SA SIG 220 in .45 ACP as well as a 9mm SIG 226 and 9mm SIG 228.
Even though I am now retired, I consider my pair of SIG 220 Compact .45s to be two of my favorite pistols for daily concealed carry. When I wish to carry something larger I prefer the SIG 220 Carry model, a pistol that has the same 3.9-inch barrel length of a SIG 220 Compact .45 but also has the full-sized grip of a standard model SIG 220 service pistol. My next favorite SIG pistols for concealed carry are the DA/SA 229 in .40 and .357 SIG and a 9mm SIG 228.
Even though I also own a very compact 9mm SIG 239, I prefer to carry one of my SIG 220 Compact .45s while I keep the other SIG 220 Compact secured in my truck. By doing so I have caliber and magazine compatibility in a very compact package. One reason I tend to favor carrying a SIG 220 Compact .45 is because I prefer to carry seven .45 ACP hollow-point bullets with more on tap in the form of spare magazines than carrying a 9mm pistol with an eight-round magazine capacity.
The DA/SA SIG 220 Compact .45 is also not much larger in overall dimensions or much heavier than a DA/SA 9mm SIG 239. And the SIG 220 Compact also has better ergonomics than the slightly smaller SIG 239.
Several years after I retired I read a magazine article that said the SIG 220 Carry .45 was actually more comfortable to shoot than the full-sized SIG 220. How could this be? I wondered. How could a compact .45 ACP caliber pistol with a 3.9-inch barrel be softer shooting than a full-sized .45 ACP pistol with a 4.4-inch barrel?
It defies logic, but the SIG 220 compact is actually a softer shooter than the full-sized model. Before doing this evaluation, I shot almost every version of the SIG 220. I tested several full-sized SIG 220 .45s, five SIG 220 Carry models with a wide array of trigger systems, two original DA/SA SIG 220 Compact .45s with the extended beavertail feature, and one of the new SIG 220 Compact .45s that does not have an extended beavertail but does have an accessory rail. After shooting all of these different pistols, I have to agree that in my hands the SIG Carry Model and the SIG 220 Compact 45s are just as comfortable if not a bit more comfortable to shoot than a full-size SIG 220.
Initially my pair of original SIG 220 Compact .45s with the beavertails proved to be easier to shoot faster and with more precision than the new SIG 220 test pistol with the accessory rail and no beavertail. However, as soon as I became more familiar with the new SIG 220 Compact .45, the DA/SA trigger became smoother to operate and that made it possible to shoot this pistol faster and with a tad more precision. I am sure this pistol's accuracy will improve even more with use.
There are officers who will tell you that a compact .45 with a six-shot magazine is not an adequate concealed carry weapon. But I believe differently.
If I can go into harm's way and put my life on the line armed with a five- or six-shot .38 Special revolver, I should have no problem walking through the gates of Hell armed with a SIG 220 Compact .45 with or without an extended beavertail.
If you are looking for an incredibly reliable pistol that is accurate and easy to carry concealed, I strongly suggest that you purchase a SIG 220 Compact Model. My personal preference is the new model with the accessory rail so you can use your pistol with a tactical light such as the SureFire X300.
The SIG 220 Carry Model is also an excellent pistol. To date, I have never experienced any malfunctions or stoppages of any kind with any SIG 220 Carry Model or any SIG 220 Compact .45. To me, that's a strong endorsement of these pistols for concealed carry, plainclothes, and off-duty carry.
Nick Jacobellis is a medically retired U.S. Customs Agent and former police officer who was physically disabled in the line of duty while working undercover as a federal agent. He is a frequent contributor to POLICE Magazine.