The Dark Elite is the newest edition to the P226 Elite lines, and features an ergonomic beavertail grip, front cocking serrations, front strap checkering, custom aluminum grips and the Short Reset Trigger. The Dark Elite and Mosquito (with desert digital finish) series are suppressor ready autopistols with threaded barrels from Sig Sauer.
My very first concealed carry handgun was a Sig Sauer P226 9mm bought in 1986. I had plenty of choices since all the major makers were competing for the U.S. Military contract to replace the 1911, but I chose the P226 over all others because of its fit, smooth trigger, and controls that I could access with either hand even though the pistol is not ambidextrous. I kept that pistol and except for some surface rust that once formed on the slide, it never gave me any troubles. In 1986, the P226 was chambered in 9mm, imported from what was then West Germany and widely available only in blue with fixed sights.
In 2010, the landscape has changed considerably. Sig Sauer now offers twelve P226 models with 19 variations and three chamberings: 9mm, .40 S&W, or .357 SIG. Variations differ mainly with respect to finish, grips, sights, and trigger. The Elite series are the premium models, but the basic version has also improved. In 1986, slides were made by welding several carbon steel sections together, and then pressing and pinning the breech block in place. Starting in 1996, the company began milling the slides from a single stainless forging, which was black-anodized. The result is a stronger and much more corrosion-resistant part.
In many respects, the changes in the P226 line mirror the significant growth Sig Sauer has made in its U.S. operations. From what was once just an importer, Sig Sauer now manufactures most of its handgun line at its New Hampshire factory and has a respected academy offering shooting instruction to civilians and law enforcement.
The P226 Dark Elite benefits from an utterly simple and reliable system of operation. The optional threaded barrel adds about 1/2˝ to the overall length of the pistol and comes with a thread protector.
The P226 Dark Elite is one of the firm’s newest pistols. The Dark Elite shares the common elements that define the P226 Classic series—aluminum frame, full-size, double-action/single-action, decocker—but adds functional features that define the Elite: beavertail backstrap, foward slide serrations, frontstrap checkering, and better grips and trigger. The Dark Elite is also offered in the P229 series, which are compact versions of the P226, and the P220, which is a single-stack, full-size .45 ACP.
The P226 is a full-size pistol that uses the familiar tilting block, locked breach design. The slide is made from stainless steel and the frame from forged aluminum. The barrel has traditional rifling, which allows you to shoot inexpensive lead bullets compared to polygonal rifling which does not. The manual does not prohibit the use of +P ammunition provided it meets SAAMI or military specifications.