Sig Sauer HQ in Newington, New Hampshire, has been a busy place for the last several years. Multiple successes with major military and law enforcement solicitations will have that effect. Across the board—long arms, handguns, SMGs, belt-fed machine guns, suppressors, optics, and ammunition—Sig is at the top of the heap as manufacturer and developer. So, when Sig Sauer collaborated with Zev Technologies on the P226, we took notice.
The Sig Sauer P226 Zev
Civilian offerings have been just as impressive as LE and military options. Sig’s dynamic leadership team keeps the hammer down with current production and new items based on feedback from its customers. This is in contrast to some other manufacturers who typically forget about civilian customers after a taste of military contracts.
Even with its preeminent position, Sig has no problem teaming up with other firms to create unique, enhanced versions of existing traditional Sig products. The P226 Zev collaboration is an excellent example of this.
Before we get into P226 Zev’s details, I wanted to give a little background on the P226 family. The Sig SAUER P226 was spawned from the P220. Design work started in the late 1960s. Specifically due to the Swiss wanting a less expensive-to-manufacture sidearm in lieu of the P210. The P220 entered Swiss service in 1975.
Many of the innovative features introduced on the P220/P226 family still prevail today, including on other manufacturers’ weapons as well. A great example of this is how Sig modified Browning’s locked-breech, short-recoil design.
Instead of slots in the hood of the slide interacting with locking rings on top of the barrel, Sig utilized the forward edge of the chamber locking into the ejection port.
This removed complex machining operations from the production process. De-cocking lever, automatic firing pin safety, and a pinned breechblock in the steel slide are other examples of the P220 perfecting these concepts.
The P226 reflected Sig’s quest to generate an entry for the early 1980s U.S. XM9 Joint Service Pistol Trials conducted to find a replacement for the M1911A1. The P226 was modified from P220 to accept double-column magazines.
After years of testing and evaluation, only the Beretta 92F and Sig P226 satisfactorily completed the trials. As most readers already know, the P226 was not chosen to replace the venerable M1911A1. The Beretta 92F was given the nod for a variety of factors outside the scope of this article.
However, the P226 test performance impressed and gained the attention of various military units, many with elite status, and law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and around the world. The U.S. Navy SEALs were preeminent on this list.
Early on, it was evident that the P226’s reliability, accuracy, safety, and capacity set it apart from its handgun peers.
Time To Zev It Up
The P226 Zev is more than just distinctive Zev aesthetics and texturing found on Nitron-coated stainless slide. Not to mention, a hard coat anodized frame with undercut triggerguard, extended beavertail, Zev-pattern hexagonal textured Hogue G10 grips, and threaded barrel.
Zev and Sig created a P226 that pushes the envelope. Immediately, the single-action-only (SAO) trigger caught my attention, as I have never been fond of DA/SA hammer-fired trigger characteristics. I am 1911 or striker-fired in my handgun choices.
The P226 Zev offers the user the best of the P226 design with a trigger profile I prefer. And the icing on the cake is the P226 Zev features a flat-style trigger shoe versus curved. This offers a 90-degree break for better geometry and is less likely to pull sights to the right or left.
I have come to prefer a flat-type trigger based on experiences with Sig P226 brethren—P320s and P365s. Ambidextrous manual safeties are present on the P226 Zev in lieu of de-cocking lever usually found on the P226.
Red-dot optics are becoming standard equipment on serious-use handguns. Manufacturers have caught up to the red-dot revolution with factory-equipped, red-dot handguns taking over from custom-milled slide-types that dominated early red-dot configurations. The P226 Zev arrives with a ROMEO1 PRO reflex optic installed.
The pistol features a 4.9-inch textured Zev Tech 1/2×28 threaded barrel with a protector protruding out of the slide. I at once thought what a great fit the Sig MODX-9 suppressor would be with the P226 Zev.
The Sig MODX-9 is the newest innovation in suppressor technology with its modular 3D-printed segmented titanium baffle stacks.
P226 Zev Receives Instant Credibility
The P226’s track record of proven performance on the battlefield and the street grants the P226 Zev instant credibility. Correspondingly, the P226 Zev’s threaded barrel, ROMEO1PRO optic, and single-action trigger allow options as to the intended role. Combining this with a Sig MODX-9 suppressor only expands this line of thinking.
The P226 Zev’s nearly 5-inch, cold hammer-forged barrel and SAO trigger combine with near-perfect lock-up in the stainless steel slide/barrel interface and ensure maximum reliability and accuracy.
I conducted the T&E at Echo Valley Training Center. This is a private range located near Winchester, VA, where many local and federal law enforcement tactical team members train.
A DHS tactical team was onsite for one of my range visits with the P226 Zev. Many confessed ignorance that Sig even offered a package like the P226 Zev. Everyone who got to handle and shoot the pistol was a convert.
All appreciated what the P226 Zev offers in terms of accuracy, reliability, handling, capacity, and lethality. The P226 Zev’s uncanny accuracy got everyone’s attention. It routinely fired groups into one jagged hole at 10 yards.
It was decided to dedicate some time to evaluate the P226 Zev using scenarios experienced in more than 20 years of active training. Drills included working around breaching facades, vehicles, door entries, and other CQB activities in typical shoot house environments.
The Sig P226 Zev design intent borders on it being an offensive handgun, especially when using a suppressor. This is instead of the more typical defensive purpose of handguns. A premium is placed on a quick-handling, accurate handgun with multiple rounds fired in quick succession to put a target down.
The natural pointability of the P226 Zev with a single-action, sub-4-pound flat trigger combined with the ROMEO1 PRO comes into its own in this realm.
The P226 Zev Handles Whatever Is Thrown at It
As expected from a handgun with its heritage, the P226 Zev handled all brands, bullet types, and weights with equal aplomb. Ammo Inc., Sig Sauer, Black Hills, Remington, Federal, and Hornady were used for range T&E.
Loads fired spanned 115 grains to 147 grains with hollow points and FMJ bullet types. Significantly, there were no malfunctions while test-firing more than 550 rounds during range visits to evaluate the Sig P226 Zev.
The P226 Zev’s ergonomics and handling characteristics are quickly appreciated and make users understand why it is well thought of. Likewise, the full-size extended beavertail grip frame and overall balance of the 34-ounce P226 Zev made recoil negligible.
The Sig P226 Zev’s slide seemed to reciprocate on ball bearings and moved smoothly, with the ROMEO1 PRO tracking smoothly in between shots fired. This is the closest I have come to re-experiencing the P226 X-Five Tactical nirvana experienced many years ago.
Mounting a suppressor to the P226 Zev’s threaded barrel was an obvious decision. The Sig MODX-9 measures 1.35 inches in diameter and 7.75 inches in overall length while weighing only 8 ounces when fully configured. Decibel rating is 127.4 dB at full length.
Users can remove baffles based on mobility/size needs; sound reduction will be affected accordingly. The MODX-9 can be reduced to 3.25 inches in length and 5 ounces in weight. This configuration offers 145.3 dB.
Three baffles at 4.75 inches and 6 ounces offer minimum hearing safe 139 dB with 147-grain subsonic loads. It does not take a drastic imagination leap to visualize what roles the Sig P226 Zev would fill with the MODX-9 suppressor mounted. Anything from sentry removal, canine or other, or CQB operations come to mind.
The added weight and length of the MODX-9 did not prove a hindrance to weapon manipulation. And the optional extra capacity 20-round P226 magazines (three 15-round magazines arrive with the P226 Zev) are much appreciated. This minimizes the likelihood of needing to reload during an engagement. The ROMEO1 PRO is ideal for use with a mounted suppressor for maintaining the same sight picture.
Loads of 9mm at 147 grains are typically subsonic and the obvious choice for use with a suppressor. This is one of the reasons why 9mm handguns are favorite candidates to suppress. However, the MODX-9 proved effective at taming the muzzle blast of even 115-grain and 124-grain +P supersonic loads.
A variety of 147-grain 9mm loads were tested, including Sig Sauer V Crown, Winchester PDX, Hornady TAP, and Federal Hydra-Shok and Tactical brands.
Cocked and Locked
I will admit to nostalgic feelings towards the P226 Zev’s exposed cocked-and-locked hammer. The swiping down/deactivating of the safety lever brought back the early days of training with a single-action handgun.
The key point with the Sig Sauer P226 Zev is that it is eminently adaptable to each individual, department, or unit’s needs. Everything from the homeowner with a light/laser combo to an elite military team with night vision and infrared target designator and suppressor mounted will find the handgun worthy of consideration.
It arrives ready to go right out of the box. And kudos to Sig for including the right features for maximizing performance without turning it into a finicky or fussy competition gun.
The Sig Sauer P226 Zev is a potent package in any of its possible forms due to its accuracy, reliability, and capacity.
For more information, please visit SigSauer.com.
Sig Sauer P226 Zev Specs
Barrel: 4.9 inches
Overall Length: 8.6 inches
Weight: 34.1 ounces (empty)
Grips: Custom Zev Tech G10
Sights: Zev Tech Fiber-Optic with ROMEO1 PRO
Finish: Nitron slide, hard coat anodized frame
|Federal 124 HST||1,139||1.5|
|Sig Sauer 14 Match V Crown||974||1.0|
|Hornady 147 XTP||981||1.25|
|Ammo Inc. 115 TMC||1,194||2.25|
|Remington 115 FMJ||1,117||2.33|
Bullet weight measured in grains, velocity in feet per second (fps) by chronograph and accuracy in inches for best five-shot groups at 25 yards.
This article was originally published in the Combat Handguns November/December 2022 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions at OutdoorGroupStore.com. Or call 1-800-284-5668, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.