There is no doubting the popularity of defensive pistols chambered in .45 ACP. For some people, the caliber is the single best option because its cross-section makes large holes and its weight gives it the momentum necessary to penetrate sufficiently and deeper than higher velocity, lighter weight 9mm rounds. The .45’s wide cross-section and length, however, have mostly relegated this caliber into pistols that use single-column magazines in order to make them fit many users’ hands. That puts a limit on the magazine capacity however, and tips the scales in favor of .40 and 9mm designs for many people. The Sig Sauer P227 alters the gun fit/capacity tradeoff. Holding 10 rounds in the magazine, the P227 gives you two more rounds than the Sig Sauer P220 for an additional $92. Ten rounds, however, is not a significant step up. What is significant is the optional 14-round magazine, which extends the grip only about 1.5 inches below the magazine well, and at about 5.5 inches long, it is viable to carry on your belt.
The Sig Sauer P227 was launched in early 2013 and now has six different variants. It is among only a few double-stack .45s available. The six variants include: Nitron, Nitron Carry, SAS Gen 2, Tactical and Equinox. All variants come with flush-fit, 10-round magazines, or, for the tactical version, a 14-round extended magazine. Here’s some of the major differences: The Nitron Carry has a shorter slide than the full-size Nitron. The SAS Gen 2 lacks an accessory rail, but has meltdown treatment on the slide and frame and has Sig’s Short Reset Trigger. The SAS comes in full or carry size. The P227 Tactical is the most recent offering and comes with the accessory rail, a threaded barrel and the Short Reset Trigger. The Equinox has a two-tone slide, different grips and a Hi-Viz fiber-optic front sight.
The P227 is made using a newly designed frame. The goal of Sig Sauer engineers was to make a pistol that held 10 rounds in a standard-length magazine that was comfortable to hold, and to use the same slide assembly as the P220 series pistols. The frame is a completely new build, not a modification of an existing design. The one-piece P227 grip resembles the reduced-reach grips used on E2 frames. The grip reduction is most noticeable where the backstrap meets the web of the firing hand and where the middle finger grasps the frame just under the triggerguard. This undercut triggerguard was given the wider radius used on Sig Sauer’s P226 X-Five competition pistol to give you a higher hold on the pistol and less perceived recoil as the forces are channeled more rearward than upward. Since the reduction is in both the top and bottom points where the shooter’s hand grasps the frame, the pistol’s grip angle and pointing characteristics are not changed. The frame is made from an aluminum billet and has a hardcoat anodized finish.
“The P227 Nitron has a short trigger, which reduces the trigger reach enough to position my finger in a place where I can pull the trigger straight to the rear during double-action (DA) fire…”
When it comes to shooting a handgun well, three things matter to placing your shots easily where you want them: trigger, sights and fit. The latter is defined mainly by the shape of the grip and the trigger reach. The P227 has a one-piece, modular plastic grip that is a recent change on certain Sig Sauer pistols and is among the best. It is molded to fit the human hand with a gentle palm swell, rather than slab sides. The crinkle texture is comfortable and provides a non-slip hold without being too aggressive. A slot in the grip base for a lanyard is provided, though I have only seen them used by guards at checkpoints on military garrisons. Most importantly, the base of the grip extends below the frame and is beveled to aid in rapidly inserting the magazine.
The grip is removed using a plastic tool supplied with the pistol that also functions as a cleaning rod. To remove, simply insert the tool into the magazine well, twist it to spread the grip, then remove the grip rearward. Be mindful that it is easy to dislodge the trigger bar and decocking lever springs when reattaching the grip, so do not remove it unless necessary. Grips of different sizes and textures, as well as two-piece grips, will be offered soon. By changing grips and selecting either a standard length or short trigger, users can make metal frame Sig Sauer pistols fit their hands even better than many polymer-frame pistols that offer interchangeable backstraps.
The P227 Nitron has a short trigger, which reduces the trigger reach enough to position my finger in a place where I can pull the trigger straight to the rear during double-action (DA) fire. That first shot is important and mastering a DA pull of 11.5 pounds is difficult, but less so when the trigger is easy to reach. The short trigger is not to be confused with the Short Reset Trigger, as the SRT has a different searing mechanism. My test pistol had an SA trigger pull of 5.2 pounds, measured using a Lyman electronic trigger pull gauge.
The P227 shares the same slide used on the P220 and is the same length (7.7 inches), width (1.5 inches), and height (5.5 inches). It also uses the same holsters that fit the P226R and P220R.
“Like all P-series models, the P227 uses a firing pin block that allows the user to carry it safely with a loaded chamber…”
The slide is milled from a single stainless steel billet and has a Nitron finish, as are the internal steel parts, including the decocker, mag release, locking insert, ejector, recoil spring guide and slide lock. The only plastic parts you will find on this pistol are the mainspring stop and the grips. The barrel has traditional rifling, which allows you to shoot inexpensive lead bullets compared to polygonal rifling, which does not.
Though the P227 has controls built for right-handed shooters, left-handed operation is easy. To decock with a left-hand grip, slide your trigger finger to the decocker and activate it. This may require a slight adjustment of grip, but decocking is usually done before reholstering, not during the fight, so losing an ideal firing grip is of little consequence. To chamber a round when the slide is locked to the rear, bring your left thumb under and around the slide to activate the slide catch. Accessing the large magazine-release button is easy using your trigger finger, and the button is reversible to the right side for thumb operation.
Like all P-series models, the P227 uses a firing pin block that allows the user to carry it safely with a loaded chamber. This device keeps the firing pin away from the primer unless the trigger is depressed. The hammer is also blocked from going forward to contact the firing pin unless the trigger is depressed.
Sights are the same kind used on most Sig Sauer pistols and mounted in dovetails. They are made of steel, not plastic, and are low profile night sights with three tritium vials surrounded by white circles. The leading edge of the rear sight has a step on the forward edge that can be caught against a holster or belt buckle and allow the slide to be racked during an incapacitation emergency. Windage is drift adjustable using a sight tool and elevation can be changed by replacing either front or rear sight.
Accuracy testing was conducted using a Caldwell rest at 25 yards and three brands of ammunition. The P227 seemed to shoot 230-grain loads better than 185-grain loads with best five-shot groups of 2.25 inches and 2.5 inches with Winchester PDX and Winchester’s USA brand loads, respectively. The Black Hills 185-grain load shot a best group of 3 inches. Reliability was near perfect with one failure to feed using the 185-grain load. This load uses the Barnes X hollow-point, which is unusually wide. The pistol shot 3.25 inches under the point of aim, but with correct windage. (This can be corrected by changing the rear sight.)
The P227 was highly controllable and accurate rapid-fire groups could be easily delivered. I attribute this to the grip size and design, checkering on the front strap, and the use of the short trigger that placed the trigger shoe on an ideal position on my finger.
The P227 shares the smooth DA trigger stroke and crisp single-action break of all Sig Sauer P-series pistols. With the proper grip, firing a rapid, accurate shot DA is not difficult with this pistol.
The P227 adds two additional rounds of .45ACP while maintaining a grip size that feels close to a P226. It also maintains the comfortable grip, very good ergonomics and left-hand-compatible operation Sig Sauer P-series pistols are known for. Made in America and carrying a lifetime warranty, the P227 is among a short list of full-size pistols in the market that offer at least 10 rounds of magazine capacity. It is unique, however, in being the only currently produced metal-frame pistol in that category with competitive models only available with polymer frames.
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