With the over-inflated price of ammo these days, it seems that everyone is going back to an old favorite… the .22 Long Rifle. Luckily, there is a whole slew of pre-configured .22 pistols and rifles out there to choose from, as well as optional .22 conversion kits for everything from a Glock to an M1911, and more recently, the Sig Sauer P226/229/228/220.
I picked up this piece exactly one year ago as a Christmas present to myself in 2008. I was searching for a new .22 pistol that felt like a “real gun”. Since I couldn’t find any cheap 9mm ammo in stock anywhere, this thing practically begged me to take it home. I considered a couple of other models before landing on this; the Sig Mosquito and the Walther P22, both of which never really felt quite right to me. But since I already own and use a P239, this 226 kit was perfect to practice with since the ergonomics and controls are basically the same.
My kit came pre-configured with the railed DA/SA frame, slide, barrel, recoil spring/guide, and 2 of the proprietary 10-round mags (I believe that now they only come with 1 mag). It also included a coupon for the purchase of a standard upper assembly in either 9mm, .357 Sig, or .40 S&W for another $400~. The cost for all of this was about $460 + tax.
The Sig .22 conversion includes a finely-machined aluminum slide that is milled from a solid, forged billet… not cast pot metal spam. It also includes a very nice stainless steel match-grade barrel with a recessed crown and an integral ejector. The 10-round mags are made of solid polymer and seem to be holding up quite well. The sights are a basic 3-dot dovetail configuration, with a windage/elevation adjustable rear sight.
On the range, the P226 conversion performs nicely. I have dumped about 6,000 rounds through it this past year and it just keeps chugging along without any major problems. The first thing I noticed is that its very accurate, on par with my Ruger MKIII Target model. Believe it or not, you can achieve sub-2″ groups from the bench at 25 yards using proper form. It is not 100% reliable, but performs well enough to be fun at the range. The occasional failure being inevitable with any semi-auto rimfire, it eats Federal 550 and Winchester 333/555 bulk packs very well. However, it did not like Remington Golden Bullet HP bulk packs. It seems to have a preference towards high velocity ammo with minimal wax/lube on it. It fed CCI MiniMag’s very well for about 50 rounds, then it developed feeding issues because of too much wax buildup on the feed ramp and in the tight chamber. Regardless of your ammo choice, I would recommend you invest in a .22 caliber Boresnake and use it about every 50-100 rounds to keep the chamber clean (no lube/solvent… run a dry Boresnake 2-3 times).
As with any Sig, these kits require a good bit of lube to operate properly. The frame rails and slide rails in particular need a good amount to minimize friction. I use a bit of gun grease there to keep it in place and running smooth. Lubing your rails will also give your Sig a much longer service life. Once your frame rails are worn down, its game over. And if you are like me and enjoy shooting a lot of rounds, it can happen pretty fast. Aside from that, the kit is a piece of cake to field strip and clean… no different than your normally configured Sig.
Overall, I am very pleased with my purchase. It is a bit on the expensive side for a .22, but I think it has already payed itself off in ammo savings. If you figure that cheap 9mm is going for $20/100 rounds, that equals $1,200 for 6,000 rounds. Instead, I fed it bulk packs of .22 at about $20/550 rounds, that comes to about $220… saving me almost $1,000 in ammo expenses. Pricey or not, that is hard to beat. And, when its all said and done, it is still a Sig Sauer; giving you all of the quality and functionality you have grown to expect from the brand.