Category Archives: Firearms

SIG P229 Enhanced Elite — An Exercise in Indulgence


SIG Sauer's P229 Enhanced Elite in 9mm

SIG Sauer’s P229 Enhanced Elite in 9mm

 We’ll be getting back to travel and photography on Wednesday (more on that at the end of today’s blog post).  However before I start another photo travel series, I wanted to get in one quick entry of my highly popular firearms reviews.  Indeed, such reviews hold five of my top ten most popular posts, and this year’s review of the FNH FNX-45 is currently at number eleven and rapidly gaining ground.

Today I’m presenting to you another SIG Sauer — this time the P229 Enhanced Elite chambered for the 9x19mm Parabellum cartridge.  This is actually the second SIG I’ve reviewed, the first being the SIG P220 Equinox chambered in .45 ACP, which is functionally pretty much the same.  The differences between these two, besides the caliber and magazine capacity, are in the reach of the trigger, SIG’s new E² enhanced grip, and in cosmetic treatments.

SIG Sauer .45 ACP P220 Equinox

One of the first things the observant reader will notice about the Enhanced Elite is the enormous beavertail extension above the grip.  Many guns incorporate this feature as a way to minimize or eliminate slide bite and hammer bite.  Slide bite occurs when the hand is too high on the grip, allowing the bottom of the slide under recoil operation to potentially bruise the shooter’s hand or even gouge out two parallel tracks along the top of the hand behind the area between the thumb and index finger.  Not fun.

Indeed, this is often referred to asWalther bite” by fans of the Walther TPH and PP-series pistols, and is the primary reason that Smith & Wesson redesigned the beavertail on the PPK and PPK/S pistols that they manufacture (the other reason being to assist in recoil control for quicker follow-up shots).  Hammer bite occurs when this same area of the hand is pinched or otherwise injured by the rapid rearward movement of the hammer being cocked under recoil operation.  Hammer bite was common in the original Model 1911, but later redesigns extended the beavertail on this weapon to eliminate the problem.

Here are a pair of images comparing the original Walther PP-series beavertail to the Smith & Wesson redesign:

German-made 7.65mm (.32 ACP) Walther PP with original beavertail

Smith & Wesson redesigned extended beavertails on the Walther PPK and PPK/S

Let me assure you that the beavertail (the “Elite” part of “Enhanced Elite) on the SIG P229 is for cosmetic purposes only.  Having fired SIGs for some time now, I can assure you that a properly held P22(x) series pistol does not inflict injury through either slide or hammer bite, and that these weapons have a mass that is more than sufficient to tame the recoil to a very manageable level.  Bottom line:  It just looks darn good, but it is an exercise in indulgence.

SIG Sauer P229 Enhanced Elite in carrying case

SIG Sauer P229 Enhanced Elite in carrying case

Now that you know to what “Elite” refers, let us take a look at the “Enhanced” part of “Enhanced Elite.  That simply means that the P229 Enhanced Elite comes equipped with SIG’s modular, one-piece E² Enhanced Ergonomic grip in conjunction with a revised trigger that reduces the distance between the face of the trigger and the grip.  Here is a comparison image of the standard versus E² grip configurations on the P229:

Standard SIG P229 versus P229 with E² enhancement

Standard SIG P229 versus P229 with E² enhancement

While this may not seem like much of an improvement, this is huge for anyone with small to medium size hands or short fingers.  My hands are by no means small, and even I find this enhancement a noticeable improvement over the original SIG P22(x) design.

By the way, the one-piece E² grip is not held in place by the traditional screws.  SIG includes a special tool that helps pry the grip from the frame should you need to remove the E² for a more detailed cleaning of the weapon.

Included E² grip removal tool on left side of image

Included E² grip removal tool on left side of image

The SIG P229 Enhanced Elite also comes equipped with tritium-filled night sights:

Tritium night sights are standard on this SIG

One great thing about the SIG P22(x) line of pistols is the ease with which they disassemble.  As I described in my review of the P220 Equinox, it’s simply locking back the slide, rotating the take-down lever, releasing the slide, and pulling the slide forward off the rails.  Once that’s done you just strip out the guide rod, recoil spring, and barrel for cleaning.  Putting SIGs back together is just as quick and easy.

Disassmbled P229 Enhanced Elite

Disassmbled P229 Enhanced Elite

And how does this weapon perform at the range?  With the class, grace, verve, and aplomb befitting its pedigree, and without the drama and tantrums of many of its lighter polymer-framed competition.  This is, after all, a design for the rigors of police work and the harsh environment of combat, combined with the reliability and ease of use demanded by both.  SIG simply makes, in my opinion, the best pistols on the market for the price whether you are an experienced shooter or someone new to handguns.

SIG Sauer P229 Enhanced Elite

SIG Sauer P229 Enhanced Elite

This particular P229 is the type of double-action/single-action weapon which I personally prefer.  I find that the added safety benefits of a heavy, long double-action first pull of the trigger suits my comfort level, and mastering that first shot is not at all difficult.  Besides, if I need the accuracy of a lighter, shorter single-action shot, it takes but a fraction of a second to thumb the hammer back into its cocked position.

Accuracy is superb, and SIG’s 4.5-pound single-action trigger pull is one of the best on the market short of a customized handgun.  Slack take-up occurs in about 5/16ths of an inch, with the trigger breaking both cleanly and crisply with no slop after that initial travel.  Double-action is rated at a 10-pound pull, and takes about three-quarters of an inch to accomplish — the first quarter-inch for take-up of trigger slack, and another half-inch to bring the hammer back to its trip point.  Trigger reset after a shot is about a quarter-inch with an audible “click” and a positive tactile indication.  That quarter-inch reset is a tad less than what I measured on the SIG P220.

As far as concealment, the SIG P229 is not as much of a challenge as you might expect from a weapon weighing in at 32 ounces (with an empty magazine) and measuring 7.4 inches long, 5.1 inches high, and 1.6 inches wide.  The P229 hasn’t replaced my Walther P99c AS as my primary roaming companion, but it does get taken for a walk every now and then.  After all, 15+1 rounds 0f 9mm is sometimes more of a comfort than the Walther’s 10+1 capacity.  Just remember to use a high-quality holster and a good, stiff gun belt and you should have no problems.

My trusty 9mm P99c AS alongside my equally trusty and frequently carried .380 ACP PPK/S

Originally I had planned for my next photo travel blog series to be our 28-day transpacific crossing from Sydney, Australia, and Seattle, Washington.  Instead, I’m going to delay a look at that cruise until later (about the time the ships reposition from Alaska back to Sydney).  Starting Wednesday I’ll present to you a cruise that is currently making the rounds until fall — the Montreal-Boston run on Holland America’s MS Maasdam.

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The Word for the Day is: Hoplophobia


A SIG Sauer Semiautomatic Pistol

Many of you may be wondering why nearly all my blogs have been travel photography related for the past several months at the expense of other areas of personal interest such as aviation safety (and Malaysia Air 370 in particular) and handguns (and the most recent high-profile mass shootings). The reason is simple: I’ve been out of the country more than in it from mid-April through the first week of June, and almost all the blogs for the past several months were prewritten and scheduled well in advance of current events.

Since last I addressed gun control there have been several high-profile shootings accompanied by the inevitable calls to strip from the law abiding tools that were misused by, let’s face it, criminals and the insane. And readers of this blog are aware of my stand on that — The rationale for taking away handguns from those who do not misuse them because of those who do is the same rationale that at some point may be used to strip from you the ability to own a car or even possess a kitchen knife (and, yes, there really is a movement currently gathering momentum in the United Kingdom to do away with chef knives beyond an arbitrarily decided upon length).

While you’re at it, take a look at this incredibly misinformed anti-knife individual:

Let us now discuss the 2014 Isla Vista killings (not to be confused with the 2001 Isla Vista killings, more of which you’ll read about shortly). You would be forgiven for thinking that I should refer to them as the Isla Vista shootings, but that would ignore the facts. Despite the media’s fixation on the three deaths that occurred through the use of perpetrator Elliot Rodger’s three 9mm weapons — a Glock 34 and two SIG Sauer P226 handguns — the implements used in the other three deaths received far less press coverage. That’s because there are far more Hoplophobics (people with an irrational fear of firearms) in this world than there are people who are deathly afraid of knives (aichmophobia), machetes, hammers, and BMWs (ochophobia).

You’ll notice how a slyly snuck in that reference to Mr. Rodger’s BMW 328i Coupe. And if you’ve been reading my blog posts for any length of time you know that I routinely post parodies of gun control arguments when someone misuses a vehicle to mow down some unsuspecting victim, either through impairment or intentional assault and murder. (See: When Will We Reign in these Deliverers of Death? and Hate to Say I Told You So, But . . . )

Which brings us to the 2001 Isla Vista killings, the abuse of Freedom of the Press, and the media’s role in copycat atrocities. Elliot Rodgers killed six people on May 23 of this year. Only three died by gunfire. Three others were reportedly killed by stabbing. Although police have not yet identified the implement used, they did confiscate a knife, a machete, and a hammer from the scene of the stabbings. An additional thirteen people were wounded — eight by gunfire, four by BMW, and one unattributed injury.

So, what has this to do with a mass killing in Isla Vista some thirteen years earlier? Ever wonder about the route Elliot Rodger took when he decided to turn a ton and a half of metal into an instrument of assault and mayhem? It just so happens to coincide with the route taken by mass murderer David Attias when he took his deadly 1991 Saab onto the same street — Sabado Tarde — and mowed down five defenseless pedestrians. Final toll: Four dead, one critically injured with crushed legs and severe head injuries.

Think that’s a coincidence? Neither do I. But as long as the media grant psychos “fame” and “glory” (at least in their eyes) lunatics will continue striving for recognition in the only way they can get it in the most expeditious manner available to them.

So, is the press to blame? While you’re pondering that question, remember this: Although Adam Lanza’s motive for the Sandy Hook shooting was never stated in the final report, those close to the investigation stated quite adamantly that Mr. Lanza considered himself in competition with Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivek, and wanted to better Mr. Breivek’s “score” of 77 dead and 319 wounded.  By the way, Mr. Breivek did not need a gun for his first 217 victims (eight dead, 209 wounded); he used fertilizer and fuel oil for that.

At any rate, while I feel for Mr. Richard Martinez, father of Rodger gunshot victim Christopher Michaels-Martinez, I vehemently disagree with his assertion that, “”Chris died because of craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA.” No, Mr. Martinez. Your son died because an insane person took his life. That same person took lives with a stabbing implement as well, and attempted to murder others with a BMW. Let’s put the blame squarely where it belongs, because as Mr. Rodger proved that day, he didn’t need a gun to kill, maim, or injure. He merely needed the will to do so and a media stage upon which to perform.

As I’ve noted before, I find it odd that those in the media now advocating for restrictions on Amendment 2 offer nothing in terms of restraint on their part (such as refusing to publicly identify by name the perpetrators of such crimes) in the exercise of Amendment 1.

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More Needless Deaths in Another “Gun-Free” Zone


.45-caliber SIG P220 Equinox with Don Hume H721 concealment holster

On February 25, 1992, the Department of Defense issued Directive 5210.56, which in turn led to Army Regulation 190-14 dated March 12, 1993 and made effective on April 12, 1993.  Those two pieces of paper have in just the past four years and five months indirectly resulted in around 30 killed and upwards of another 50 more wounded — 2009 on Fort Hood, Texas; 2013 at the Washington Navy Yard, District of Columbia; and yesterday yet again at Fort Hood.

.380 Walther PPK/S and 9mm Walther P99c AS with Don Hume H721 concealment holsters

More deaths once again in yet another “Gun-Free” Zone that isn’t really gun-free because those who intend harm do not care about such designations.  What makes these military “Gun-Free” Zones so silly is that they apply to the men and women whom we train to use weapons in the defense of our country at the same time we tell them that they are not allowed to defend themselves.  These directives and regulations would be laughable if the consequences weren’t ending so tragically.

A trio of .45 ACP weapons

Denying anyone the right to self-defense is indefensible.  Denying that right to a member of the U.S. military is criminal.  It’s way beyond time for this failed social experiment known as the “Gun-Free Zone” to end.

A trio of great concealment weapons — Walther P99c AS, Beretta 84FS “Cheetah,” Walther PPK/S

Regular readers of this blog know by now my utter contempt for the “Gun-Free” Zone, but here’s a refresher for those new to site:

What Does Sandy Hook Elementary School Have in Common with . . .

Hate to Say, “I Told You So,” But . . .

When Will We Rein in these Deliverers of Death?

A Non-Scheduled Blog Post — Here We Go Again

Presenting Another Dozen Sacrificial Lambs to the Altar of Wishful Thinking

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