SIG P220 Equinox — Beauty is More than Skin Deep


SIG P220 Equinox

SIG P220 Equinox

Who says form should take a backseat to function?  SIG Sauer certainly doesn’t as you can see in the above picture.  One of the first things you’ll notice upon seeing any of SIG’s Equinox line of pistols is that there simply is no scrimping on cosmetic detail, and the .45 ACP P220 Equinox is certainly no exception.

Just take a look at the attention to detail:  Two-tone stainless steel slide with contrasting Nitron® finish; alloy frame (for reduced weight) with black anodized finish; matte-finished nickel-accented controls (slide release, take-down lever, decocker, and magazine release), screws, trigger, and hammer; custom wrap-around, stippled and checkered, gray-colored laminated wood grips; and finally SIG’s superb “SIGLITE®” tritium-filled night sights at the rear, and a TRUGLO® tritium fiber optic front sight in high-visibility green.  The P220 Equinox also comes with an accessory rail for attaching a tactical light or laser sight.

Factory-Equipped Tritium Night Sights

Factory-Equipped Tritium Night Sights

The entire kit comes with the standard SIG components — hard plastic case, two high-polished 8-round magazines, instruction manual, and even a tube of my favorite TW25B rail grease which (along with Breakfree CLP) I use on all my semiautomatic handguns.

Complete SIG P220 Equinox Kit

Complete SIG P220 Equinox Kit

Even though the SIG P220 is far from light (a hefty 30.4 ounces/862 grams with magazine) and a bit on the bulky side (7.7 inches/19.5cm long; 5.5 inches/14cm high; 1.5 inches/3.8cm wide), it’s not uncomfortable for concealed carry in the right holster (I can highly recommend the Don Hume H721) suspended on a good-quality gun belt.  I wouldn’t want to have it behind my hip while sitting in a cramped theater seat for two hours or while driving a long distance, but other than than it’s certainly manageable for all-day concealment.

Don Hume H721 — So comfortable and rugged that I own several for different weapons

Don Hume H721 — So comfortable and rugged that I own several for different weapons

I’ll get to how this beauty shoots, but first a little SIG P22(X) history.  SIG Arms (short for Schweizerische Industrie Gesellschaft, or Swiss Industrial Society) of Switzerland first produced the SIG P220 in 1975.  That pistol is the genesis of an entire line of SIG pistols such as the P224 (SIG’s very recent and smallest version of the P22(X) line), P225 (designated the P6 by European police forces and the Swiss Army), P226 (basis for the Navy SEAL Mark 25), P227 (SIG’s new double-stack .45 ACP), P228 (close cousin to the P229 and the basis for the M11-A1 pistol used by various U.S. military units — If you watch NCIS you’ve seen the M11), and the hugely successful P229 (concealed carry version of the P226, and a weapon which I will review at a future date).

A Truly Beautiful Weapon

A Truly Beautiful Weapon

The original SIG P220-line was chambered for various calibers — 9mm Parabellum, .38 Super, .45 ACP, .30 Luger (7.65x21mm), and even .22 Long Rifle — but as the line expanded and diversified SIG started reserving the P220 designation for only those pistols chambered for the .45 ACP (originally SIG’s .45 ACP pistols were designated P245).

Confused yet?  The history of the entire SIG P22(X) line is both a lengthy and convoluted one, but it speaks volumes that this particular pistol is still in great demand from both military forces and law enforcement agencies nearly forty years after the design’s introduction.

Let’s take a closer look at the pistol itself.  While the original P220 had a very German heel-mounted magazine release (think Walther P38 or early pre-war version of the Walther PP), SIG instituted the more popular button-style release sometime in the early 1980s.  Other than that all controls have remained consistent with this line from its inception up until the recent introduction of various trigger modifications such as the Double-Action Kellerman (DAK).  The more typical Double-Action/Single-Action (DA/SA) controls however remain the same today as on the original P220 of 1975.

Standard SIG Controls

Standard SIG Controls

The decocker is rather unique in that it doesn’t allow the cocked hammer to just slam into the hammer block.  Rather the decocker initially releases the hammer, which partially falls toward the double-action position, but then the hammer is gently lowered the rest of the way as you release the sliding decock control.  It’s an innovation I’ve not seen on any other DA/SA-style semiautomatic, and it relieves me of the desire to ride the hammer down with my thumb during the decocking operation (as I routinely do with my PP-series pistols and others).

SIG Sauer P220 Equinox

SIG Sauer P220 Equinox

Disassembly is stupid-simple.  Just as with the FNH FNX-45 it’s a simple lock the slide back, rotate the take-down lever, release the slide, and pull the slide forward off the rails.  Once that’s done you just strip out the guide rod, recoil spring, and barrel for cleaning.

SIG SauerP220 EquinoxThis may be a  beauty in the hand, but at the range it’s all business.  In typical SIG style the double-action is both stiff (rated by SIG at 10 pounds/4.54 kilograms) and long (approximately .25 inches/6.35mm to take up the slack and another half an inch/12.7mm to cock and release the hammer), but the pistol is easy to hold on target while you pull toward the hammer trip point.  Let’s face it though — it’s the single-action mode that sells the SIG P22(X) line, and the single action on the SIG P220 Equinox does nothing to discredit the well-deserved reputation this whole line has acquired since 1975.  Slack disappears at the about 5/16ths of an inch/8mm, but release comes immediately afterward with a crisp break, no trigger slop, and a relatively light 4.4 pounds/2 kilograms.  Trigger reset, for those of you interested in such things, is a mere 3/8ths of an inch/9.5mm.

SIG P220 Equinox

Note the P220 Equinox accessory rail

All  that translates into a weapon that can easily be handled in double-action for a quick, mid-range shot if needed.  Indeed, since I always practice double-action on the first shot of every magazine I load, I can comfortably keep bullets center-mass on a standard B-27 silhouette target out to fifteen yards or even farther.  In single-action mode any good SIG P22(X) will give you close to target pistol-accuracy out to ranges much farther than that, and the P220 Equinox is certainly no exception.

Conclusion:  While the P220 Equinox has not displaced the 9mm Walther P99c AS as my primary concealed carry choice, it’s certainly a viable carry option.  The P220 is acceptably sized, won’t drag you down too badly weight-wise, and offers better than adequate capacity (8+1 rounds) of proven .45 ACP ammunition (although I do tote a spare magazine when I’m carrying it).  Where this choice really shines is when you find yourself in low-light/no-light situations because of the exquisite factory tritium rear-mounted night sights and the high-visibility tritium fiber optic front sight.  When I’m out and about after dusk this is definitely one of my more favored options.  The night sights also make this a good home defense option.  So, too, does the accessory rail for attaching a tactical light or laser sight.  The P220 Equinox is a good, basic, all-round pistol that is more than adequate for most of your defensive needs.

And it looks so incredibly good while doing it.

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