Editor’s note: This SIG SAUER P229 E2 review was completed in 2009. Since then, SIG SAUER updated the P229 line. Scroll down past the P229 review for the updated information on this series of handguns.
The SIG SAUER P229 E2 (E squared) designation symbolizes Enhanced Ergonomics which is the basis for their current marketing slogan, “A New Look and Feel.”
The SIG P229 E2 is a full-sized duty handgun, yet it can also be effectively carried concealed. The pistol is short recoil operated and has a double-action/single-action firing system. It has a stainless steel slide on an alloy frame.
The slide is wearing SIG SAUER’s Nitron black coating along with SIGLITE fixed night sights dovetailed into the slide — and these sights are part of the gun package (as opposed to being optional for an additional cost).
Sight adjustments for elevation are accomplished by drifting the sight out of its dovetail cut and then selecting one of four different height sights available from SIG SAUER. Each sight choice will move the point of impact approximately one inch at 25 yards.
Windage changes are done by drifting the rear sight right or left as needed in its dovetail cut. In my experience, I needed a SIG SAUER sight tool to move the very firmly installed sights. While this is a minor inconvenience for optimizing the alignment, it is comforting to know they will not move during regular carry and use.
Extraction has been further improved by a larger, sturdier external extractor positioned at the right rear of the ample ejection port. Forward of this port, the slide is stepped inward at the midline.
A passive firing pin safety is within the slide and ten diagonal rear placed grasping grooves enable positive slide manipulation.
The slide sits atop a machined 7075-T6 aluminum frame which is black hard-coated over anodizing. A Picatinny spec rail is on the dustcover on which the SIG SAUER STL-900L Tactical Light and Laser can be installed and removed without difficulty. Side note: I prefer the Olight PL-1 II Valkyrie weapon light right now for a pistol mounted light.
Fine horizontal grooving is present on the front strap.
“Fixing” the Slide Catch Lever
As the SIG P229 E2 has the DA/SA trigger system, to decock a raised hammer, a decocking lever is on the frame’s left side, conveniently placed to be actuated by the shooting hand thumb. The decocking lever is at the top of the frame above the top forward corner of both the wraparound grip and the slide catch lever pad.
The slide catch lever has long been a point of contention for those who shoot with a high thumbs forward grip. Doing so often results in either thumb holding the lever up or down at the wrong time, allowing the slide to lock back or not lock back inappropriately.
To cure, or at least mitigate, this “problem,” SIG offers an optional lever part which is shortened from its rear, diagonally cut and lengthened forward. I was cautioned that this part CANNOT be retrofitted to other such models as it interferes with the existing decocking lever. The SIG P229 E2 decocking lever was changed to allow using this part and for ease of installing the new wraparound grip.
By the way, this lever must always be used to lower a raised hammer, as this action allows the hammer to drop into, and be held by, the hammer safety intercept notch. There are no external safeties.
The magazine catch is still reversible and is placed at the left rear of the large trigger guard with a finger “hook” on the lower portion of its front face which is grooved for better purchase. The takedown lever is above the trigger guard.
A Better Grip
As to the grip, it has been said that a handshake is considered to make the most powerful first impression. This aptly applies here for, when I first handled the SIG P229 E2, I knew the new grip was definitely a change for the better.
The grip slips on from the rear and screws are not used. Inside on either side of the grip is a raised ridge which bears against the vertical rear sides of the frame openings and holds the grip firmly.
Grip screw holes are still present in the frame and I was able to attach either my P228 grip panels or Crimson Trace Lasergrips without difficulty.
The new grip will not retrofit on existing frames of the same size. This is due to the fact that, as previously noted, the decocking lever has been altered, as has the mainspring and its housing. I’m not a SIG SAUER P938 armorer, so I didn’t poke around any further on this matter.
Technically, the new grip is dimensionally smaller than the two-panel grip of the P228. The circumferential measurements of the grip (supplied by SIG SAUER) are as follows:
- beneath the trigger guard, .15″;
- midway down from the trigger guard to the bottom of the frame, .2″; and at
- the base of the frame, .12″.
Using a tape measure, my P228, measuring from beneath the trigger guard around the most inward portion of the backstrap, is 5.50″. The P229 E2 measures 5.25″ (which happens to be the same as a Wilson Combat 1911 frame).
The grip measurements do not tell the whole story, however, as the nicely textured grip is contoured and this effect worked well for me as I think it also decreases trigger reach.
To remove the grip, SIG SAUER has a grip removal tool. To use, insert it into the magazine well from below. After aligning the long crosspiece with the inside of the grip through the frame hole openings, gently turn the tool so that the grip spreads apart equally. Then, pull the grip off to the rear. The grip slips back on, but take care not to allow it to dislodge any springs.
I’m told the tool will ship with every gun, although early guns on sale may not have one. I got one of the first for this article. If your gun doesn’t have one, call SIG SAUER or gamble you won’t break the grips while prying them apart.
Short Trigger Used
While SIG SAUER’s DA/SA trigger system has been retained, the SIG SAUER Short Trigger is present. The Short Trigger is created by thinning the trigger shaft from its front which moves the trigger face rearward approximately 0.4″ compared to the standard trigger. In addition, the SIG P229 E2 has the SIG SAUER SRT, or Short Reset Trigger, which results, according to SIG, in being approximately 60% less in its trigger reset distance (the distance the single-action trigger must be released tam I the hammer and sear reset).
SIG also says that a different sear and safety lever (schematic part #28 for firing pin safety) is used here, as in all SIG SAUER Elite Series pistols. Translated, the trigger is closer to the rear in either double- or single-action mode and, when released to reset for another shot, the forward movement needed to have the hammer and sear reengage is about 60% less than that needed with the standard trigger system.
The net result is both a real and perceived shorter trigger pull.
Feeding this new pistol is an increased capacity, all steel magazine. It gains two rounds for a total of 15 in 9x19mm, compared to the P228 and P229 at 13 rounds.
The new magazine will not fit the other pistols because the P229 E2 magazine is wider, as shown by the following measurements taken at the magazine catch opening and the top of the base pad. The P229 E2 measures .914″ and .974″, respectively, while the P228 magazine comes in at .907″ and .911″.
Cartridge witness holes on the rear face are numbered 3 to 15. The polymer base plate, which also serves as a slight finger rest, is removable for cleaning. (Note: Existing 13 round magazines will fit and function in the P229.)
Range results were as anticipated. In my experience, SIG SAUER Classic pistols have always been very accurate.
My personal gauge is that, if I have one that is not grouping well, I check my ability for that day by shooting another pistol of known accuracy. Most often, it’s me, not the fault of the gun or the ammunition or the phase of the moon, for that matter.
I admit that, at first, I was a bit put off with the results I got with this gun, as a week earlier I had shot a SIG SAUER Mastershop P226 X-Five, also chambered in 9x19mm.
The X-Five is competition focused. It has a five-inch barrel; a three-pound single-action trigger; adjustable sights; and larger, well-fitting wood grips. Bullets almost literally piled one on top of another.
The SIG P229 E2 T&E sample I received has a 12-pound double-action and six-pound single-action trigger pull (though it’s officially listed by SIG as ten pounds DA and 4.4 pounds SA). The P229 E2 has a 3.9-inch barrel and is built to withstand and defeat whatever comes its way.
This time, I shot Cor-Bon DPX 115-grain, Winchester (White Box) 115-grain J RN and Federal American Eagle 115-grain JRN ammunition, with groups of 3.25″, 3″ and 3.50″, respectively, at 20 yards. I’m okay with this.
In review, the SIG P229 E2 does have desirable improvements. The gun ships in a hard plastic carry case with three 15 round magazines.
Since that time, SIG SAUER shifted the focus of its US operations toward the P320 line of striker-fired, polymer-framed handguns (or the previous SIG SAUER P250 with a polymer frame and hammer-fired system.) The traditional DA/SA guns have been scaled back and de-emphasized in the company’s operations.
Due to the company’s shifting focus or for other reasons, many of the traditional gun lines have consolidated. This includes the P229.
SIG SAUER no longer offers the P229 E2 as shown in this review. However, the company incorporated several of the E2 features into the standard P229 pistols.
For example, the base P229 now has the same E2-style grip as shown in this review. Further, the gun uses 15-round magazines in 9mm pistols. For the .40 S&W chambered pistols, 12-round magazines are standard.
SIGLITE night sights are standard, and the pistols have an accessory rail.
One of the features that did not transfer was the short-reach trigger (not to be confused with the Short Reset Trigger which is an internal only kit.) For whatever reason, SIG elected to stay with the larger original trigger. Fortunately, you can still find the short-reach triggers in some places. I’ve replaced my original trigger with one of these on my SIG P226 and like it much better now.
About the Author: Upon receiving his BS degree from Carnegie Tech and completing service as a Special Agent in U.S. Army Intelligence, Walt Rauch was a Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service and an Investigator with the Warrant Unit, First Judicial District, PA. Rauch is also a writer and lecturer in the firearms field. He is published regularly in national and international publications.
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