Before purchasing the gun I did a fair amount of research between the other top polymer guns (Glock 17, Springfield Armory XD, Ruger SR9) and found the M&P to best suit my needs for various reasons. I originally had my heart set on the Springfield Armory XD9sc. I backed off on it for various reasons which are neither here nor there.
One of my best friends recently bought his first handgun, a Sig Sauer P2022. I had a chance to play around with it this weekend and I noticed a few things that I really liked about it when compared to my gun. The first thing I noticed was the weight. His gun is almost 3oz heavier than mine (both unloaded). While this is not substantial, it was notable to me. I also had the feeling that his gun was more solidly put together. The gun seemed more to me one complete piece of machinery. My gun felt more like there was a disconnect between the slide and the frame. While his is also polymer, it did not nearly seem as "plasticy" as mine. The weapon was just as comfortable as mine, if not more, despite M&P having a reputation for being highly ergonomic. I also like that his gun is DA/SA with an external hammer. I dry fired in both DA and SA and I found the trigger to be much more pleasurable than mine. I especially enjoyed the short travel and hair-trigger qualities of SA. I felt that I was able to control the trigger picture decently well with the DA despite being a 10 lb. affair. In all honesty it just felt like it was a much better made handgun. I know I paid so much more because I got a lot more accessories, and he only got one magazine, but I can't help but feel a bit ripped off.
In discussion he brought up how he would have preferred the P226, partially because it is all metal. A light went on in my head. I had never closely looked at all metal guns. I am not a gun nut by any means, just a hobbyist and an exerciser of rights. In my mind, all metal guns were 1911s and revolvers. Those were not the kinds of guns I wanted as my primary defense weapon, for whatever the reasons. Suddenly I thought of Berettas, CZs, and, of course, Sig Sauers. I really enjoyed the feeling of a heavier handgun. All metal sounded better all around. Stronger, sturdier, a more effective melee weapon, durable, etc. It is this thought that cannot escape my mind. The grip of the M&P is plastic. It looks like plastic, weighs like plastic, feels like plastic. I feel like it is a reliable weapon and it is trusted by numerous law enforcement officials and civilians alike to protect their lives. I have no doubt that if called upon it would do the same for me.
But for me, my gun fills many needs and desires. Among them it is also somewhat of a showpiece and a pretty thing to look at. I am not saying that the M&P is ugly, no, quite the opposite. The M&P is a handsome, classy looking gun. The slide serrations are mature, the engravings and emblems on the gun are professional and very businesslike. The profile and frame are large and capable, the gun is serious and draped in black. I think many people would be and are proud to show off the M&P. My desires are just greater and different. For me, metal represents longevity and serious investment. A metal gun is one you keep for life and pass down. A metal gun is one that outlasts anything else. A big part of this may be that my father is a metal fabricator and I have always grown up knowing metal is just about as permanent as it can get.
However, my affinity is deeper than materials and appearance. There are numerous things about my gun that I love and, similarly, numerous things that I do not love. With the P226 being a more expensive gun, I believe you get what you pay for. It is my understanding that the P226 was Sig Sauer’s entrant in the military trials to replace the 1911. That speaks volumes to me. While the M&P is no doubt a capable sidearm, I do not believe it was created with such a noble or strenuous purpose in mind.
There are many things I like about my M&P9:
- Lack of external safety
- Lack of magazine disconnect
- Picatinny rail
- Personal experience with S&W handguns
- Reputation and popularity with law enforcement/military organizations
- High capacity (17+1)
- Stainless slide
- Three dot iron sights
- Aggressive slide serrations
- Interchangeable grips
- Overall ergonomics
- Fits well in my hand and goes to natural point of aim
- Low bore axis
- Very hefty and well built magazines
There are a few things I don't like about my M&P9:
- Stock trigger pull is gritty
- Stock trigger has long uptake
- Stock trigger has no audible or tactile reset
- Stock trigger is double jointed
- (despite these flaws I have recorded over 2,000 dry fires and consider myself to be quite capable with trigger control on this gun)
- It is a polymer framed gun
- Some aesthetic features such as rounded trigger guard
- The magazine slam issue (where the slide will go forward if a magazine is inserted quickly or forcefully)
- Slide wiggles around a tiny bit when gun is shaken
- When holding the gun up to light and viewing from the side there are several areas in which light escaps through directly and that seems a bit cheap to me. I would like the gun to be sealed up more tightly to keep the elements out, although I know this may be a bit counter-intuitive because you want things to fall out that may get into the gun. I believe that if they have no way to get inside in the first place you will have no worries about them needing to get out
While I haven't had time to fondle a P226 I will assume that it probably shares many things with the P2022 and is probably better than it in many respects
Things I like about the P226:
- SA is 4.4lbs
- SA has short uptake
- SA has smooth pull
- Full metal frame
- 4.4 inch barrel (longer than M&P)
- External hammer
- High capacity (15+1)
- No external safety
- MA/CA compliant (although this does not affect me, it is nice to have)
- Appears ergonomic, and if the P2022 is any indication, it is
- Single jointed trigger
- Stainless slide
- Three dot "combat" sights
- Picatanny rail
- Reputation and fact that it is carried by US Navy SEALS and Texas Rangers
Things I don't like about P226:
- Perhaps the DA/SA/external hammer I have not had enough experience with it to know if I would dislike becoming accustomed to two different actions
- Possibly questionable when it comes to concealability/comfort
- Not American made
- Seemingly weak slide serrations
- Removable grips (via screwdriver) sound like one more thing to come loose or fall off
- Magazines do not seem as hefty as M&P's mags and the bottom part is either a very, very flimsy plastic or a thin metal, I am assuming it is metal I have not seen them for myself
I have looked at several other manufacturers and I just have a hard time finding anything without an external safety. The entirety of my handgun experience has been using pistols lacking external safety switches. I do not have such a reflex and I actually prefer it that way. When the trigger is pulled I expect the gun to fire and my habits are trained as such. I believe that a safety may induce a false sense of security, but that is another discussion for another time.
The closest I have come to the P226 in my search is a CZ 75 BD. I believe that the decocking system and lack of external safety works the same on this gun as it does on the P226, is this correct? Nonetheless, I feel that this gun is going to be a bit too long for me to comfortably conceal. If anyone has any recommendations from any manufacturer for a metal semi-auto with an external hammer and no safety, I will gladly hear them.
I know that there is something to be said about being original and different from your friends. I just cannot get these Sig Sauers out of my mind. I would like to get to the range and rent one to shoot. I also have interest in the dozen or so variants that Sig Sauer produces.
I'd like to hear advice, recommendation, constructive criticism, and thoughts when comparing these two firearms. Is the P226 worth the price difference? Why or why not? I would especially like to hear opinions of people who own both or have extensive experience with both. Are my perceptions incorrect or misguided? All thoughtful input is VERY much appreciated. This is a long post and if I can get some long, deep responses I would really love it. Thank you!