Review: SIG P226 MK25 Navy SEAL Pistol

We all have guns we just click with. For me, one of those is the SIG P226. It feels perfect in the hand, and I shoot it better than anything else. It also has a distinct style and classic lines that I just can’t get enough of. 

SIG offers a number of different versions of the P226. There’s the XFive for serious competition and target shooters. The Equinox is a classy affair. The Legion series is popular and packed with features. However, I believe one of the best versions is the MK25 Navy SEAL pistol. To understand why, we must go through a bit of history. 

SIG P226 History

The SIG P226 is a double-action/single-action pistol based on the SIG P220 design. The P220 was a single-stack .45, which was adapted to utilize double-stack magazines. The P226 has been offered in 9mm, .40 S&W, and .357 SIG, with .22 conversions available, but is most popularly chambered in 9mm

SIG X5 and P220 Comparison
SIG’s entire P-Series is excellent. Here we see the X5 on the left and the P220 on the right.

Introduced in the early 1980s, SIG Sauer made the P226 to enter into the U.S. Army XM9 program to replace the then current-issue sidearm, the 1911. After extensive firing tests, it came down to two double-action/single-action 9mm pistols, the Beretta 92 and the SIG P226. The Beretta cost less, so that’s what the government went with — no surprise! Nevertheless, the pistol continued and found great success in the hands of law enforcement, military, and civilian shooters. This positive track record has continued to this day. 

After the Beretta was adopted, and early reports of catastrophic failures occurring (slides cracking due to high-pressure ammunition), the Navy SEALs elected to go with the SIG instead. 

It should be noted that early SIG pistols weren’t without their issues. Original pistols featured a slide that was constructed out of folded carbon steel with a machined breech block inserted and pinned. This design worked fine, but the pin could crack and cause issues under hard use. In 1996, SIG redesigned the slide, which is now completely machined from a solid block of stainless steel. 

In the late 1990s, SIG introduced the MK24 model for the SEALs with the new, solid stainless slide and proprietary SIG rail. The model was in use throughout both Gulf Wars. 

In 2011, SIG produced an updated MK25 variation which was built off the original design. These pistols incorporated corrosion resistant parts, a chrome-lined barrel, tritium sights, and full 1913 Picatinny rail. 

SIG MK25 Slide Rails
The long rails provide a lot of surface area for the slide to contact, making for good accuracy.

MK25 Features

SIG offers a commercial version of the MK25 pistol with upgrades and features just like the models spec’d out by Naval Special Warfare (NSW). The pistols are easily identifiable by the laser engraved anchor on the slide and the UID code on the frame. This UID marker is required on all U.S. government-issued small arms. Unlike other P226 models, which are offered in other calibers, the MK25 is only available in 9mm like the Navy guns. According to SIG, these commercial MK25 pistols are exactly the same as the ones issued. 

One of the main selling points of the MK25 is the phosphate-coated controls and barrel, which creates an incredibly corrosion resistant finish. These parts are distinguishable with their matte greenish hue. SIG has also upgraded the pistol with a chrome-lined barrel for improved accuracy and ease of maintenance. 

Additionally, the MK25 does away with the standard SIG accessory rail in favor of a traditional Picatinny rail. This is not a huge difference, but it does make mounting lights and lasers a bit easier and more universal. 

SIG MK25 and Ammo
I shot a variety of ammunition through the MK25. All performed well.

The pistol features SIG’s SIGLite night sights, rather than the newer X-Ray sight setup (with the enhanced green front sight) that you would find on the Legion models. Of course, the newer sights weren’t around at the time this model was commissioned. This is neither a pro or a con in my book, as both sights seem to perform equally for me. 

The pistol ships with SIG’s basic plastic grips. This is the only area I felt could use an upgrade, so I added a pair of Cool Hand G10 grips. These provide more control while shooting with wet or sweaty hands, as well as giving the pistol a more solid feel. 

It should be noted that the MK25 doesn’t feature the extended beavertail found on the Elite series pistols. I much prefer this. The extended beavertail is unnecessary and does nothing but print a bit more when carrying. The standard beavertail is more than sufficient to prevent any slide bite, while still facilitating a high grip. 

SIG MK25 and Magazines
There are plenty of magazine options for the SIG P226.

The gun ships with two 15-round SIG branded magazines. These are high-quality magazines that can stand up to hard use. I also regularly use 18- and 20-round MecGar magazines with no issue. MecGar manufactures OEM magazines for companies such as SIG and Beretta, so there is no question on quality or compatibility. 

Range Time

Given the number of P226 pistols I’ve owned, I’ve put a lot of rounds through the design. I’m at around the 2,000 round mark with my current MK25, and the pistol hasn’t hiccuped once. All my P-Series pistols have been wonderfully reliable. The design is well tested and works. 

Like all P226s chambered in 9mm, the pistol exhibits very little felt recoil. The added weight of the all-metal construction helps with this. Some complain the higher bore axis makes for more muzzle flip. I have not found this to be the case. The pistol settles back on target quickly — even during rapid fire. 

The trigger is smooth in double-action, with around a 10-pound pull weight. In single-action, the break is crisp right around 4.5 pounds. Reset is tactile and audible. The MK25 does not incorporate SIG’s short reset trigger (SRT), instead it retains the more durable sear of the original trigger design. Having shot both triggers, I don’t have a preference. 

SIG MK25 and Targets
Groups were good for a combat pistol.

The controls are smooth and crisp, there is no grit or mush. However, the controls are not ambidextrous, so as lefty I had to adapt. This was not hard, as most of the controls are non-emergent. There’s no safety to disengage, I overhand rack the slide, use my index finger for the magazine release and decocking lever. The only thing that slows me down a little is the decocker, which requires me to break my grip a little to reach. However, you don’t need to rapidly decock the pistol during a self-defense encounter, so this doesn’t concern me. 

The magazines eject and drop free easily, thanks in part to the slight taper funnel of the magwell that also offers easy insertion. All magazines used glided in freely and seated securely. 

The SIGLite night sights are large tritium dots that are easy to pick up quickly, which makes for a fast and accurate first shot (and subsequent shots). This is a pro for combat/defensive shooting, but makes real precision at long ranges a bit hard. This is not to say you can’t get accurate hits out to 50 or even 100 yards (if you can muster it), but the dots will obscure your target rather quickly as you stretch out. I have found these sights to be best within 25 yards, standard defensive pistol range. 

SIG MK25 at Range
The SIG MK25 has performed flawlessly at the range.

At 10 to 15 yards standing, I’m getting groups around 2 inches. The long slide rails aid in accuracy and help seal the action from dirt and debris. 

One of the things the SIG gets a lot of hate for is something I actually like. The taller slide provides a lot of surface area to grip when manipulating the slide, and the serrations provide good traction. This makes it easy to rack a round in or clear a malfunction. The hooked/ledged sights even make it so you can rack it off of a structure or belt. 

Final Thoughts

I’ve owned several variations of most of SIG’s P-Series pistols including the P226, P229, P224, P225, and P220. I’ve had Standard models, Elite Stainless models, and other special editions such as the TacOps, SAS, and Equinox. The MK25 holds its own with all of them. It provides a number of worthy upgrades that are geared toward performance. If it’s tough enough for what the SEALs throw at it, it can surely handle anything you need. This is one gun you know you can count on when you need it most. 

What do you think of the SIG P226? How about the MK25 version? Share your thoughts in the Comment section.

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