There’s no getting around the law of cause and effect in the handgun world: A tiny compact handgun is great for carrying, but shooting one well is like trying to throw a perfect spiral with a peewee football. Large handguns shoot like a dream, but aren’t exactly easy to tote around all day.
A small and light ultra-compact handgun not only generates more felt recoil when you shoot it, but the small size also makes it hard to control. The short distance between the front and rear sights also makes it challenging to aim well—the smallest sighting error on the shooter’s part results in big misses down range.
A large pistol not only has more weight to help mitigate the recoil you feel in your hand, but the larger surface-area contact with your hand also makes it easy to control. The longer sight radius makes a large pistol much easier to shoot quickly and accurately. But again, a big handgun isn’t easy to carry.
Meeting in the Middle
Enter the Sig Sauer P225 A1, which I would classify as a mid-size handgun. Made of aluminum alloy with a steel slide, it’s got just enough heft so that it shoots 9mm ammo gently. The 2-pound fully loaded weight completely dampens recoil, making it exceptionally pleasurable to shoot.
To put that weight in perspective, my Beretta 92FS 9mm full-size pistol weighs 2 pounds, 9.5 ounces fully loaded. My Springfield Armory 1911 TRP .45 weighs in at 2 pounds, 15.4 ounces loaded, and that’s with only eight rounds of ammo. On the smaller and lighter side, the Springfield Armory XD-S 9mm weighs 1 pound, 10 ounces loaded. The comparably sized Glock 19 weighs in at 1 pound, 15 ounces fully loaded, but it’s polymer construction.
The A1 is a new offering from Sig Sauer – sort of. The original P225 was introduced about half way through the 1970s decade of hot pants and polyester shirts. That pistol was intended to meet the demand from Sig users who wanted a smaller version of the famous, and full size, Sig P220. Also chambered in 9mm, the original P225 gained notoriety when it was selected as the official sidearm by the West German police and designated the P6.
While the new P225 A1 model carries over basic similarities, it’s been refined with some new design touches. For example, you’ll find that the new contours are friendlier to the hand and facilitate a better grip. The grip area directly under the trigger guard is recessed, allowing you to hold higher on the frame. This helps minimize muzzle flip during recoil, making it easier to stay on target. The grip panels themselves are also new, made of indestructible G10 material with positive and very tacky-feeling texture.
New on the mechanical side is a short-reset trigger. After you fire a shot, you’ll notice that you don’t have to allow the trigger to travel forward very far at all before it resets and the pistol is ready to fire again. I measured this distance at about 3/16 of an inch. While the reset distance is a personal preference feature, many shooters like it because it allows them to fire repeat shots faster and more accurately, because there’s less overall movement of your fingers on the gun.
Another difference: The slide on the P225 A1 is made of solid milled steel, which is arguably more solid and durable than the stamped version on the original. Currently, the A1 is offered in 9mm only, but the beefier construction makes me wonder if we’ll see this gun in larger calibers like .40 S&W and .357 Sig at some point. The frame itself is made from anodized aluminum to keep overall weight manageable.
The Sig Sauer P225 A1, like many other Sig models, is a traditional double-action/single action semi-automatic pistol. That means that the first trigger press does two things: cocks the hammer and then releases it, thereby firing the gun. The semi-automatic action of the first shot not only ejects the spent cartridge case and loads a new one, but it also cocks the hammer for you for subsequent shots. What all this means to the shooter is that the first trigger press requires significantly more force (about 9 ½ pounds, on my test gun) than following presses, which only require about 4 pounds of pressure. Many shooters, myself included, like this feature for a defensive handgun, because it requires you to be deliberate about firing that first shot. Of course, using a traditional double-action requires more training to master that change in the trigger feel between the first and second shots. It’s very much a personal preference decision: some people love double-action pistols, and other hate them. I love them, but that’s just me.
As a double-action design, the P225 has a decocking lever. If you stop shooting before the magazine is empty, the gun will have a cocked hammer and light trigger. The decocking lever safely lowers the hammer and returns the gun to double-action mode. You’ll see this on the left side of the frame, just above the magazine release button.
The capacity of the P225 is eight rounds plus the one you can load in the chamber. The pistol comes with two identical magazines. The magazine release button is on the left side just behind the trigger; it’s easy to reach and releases the steel magazines freely – you won’t have to tug it out.
Because the P225 A1 is a single-stack design (the cartridges are stacked directly on top of each other, rather than staggered to the sides), the grip is noticeably smaller in circumference than the higher capacity double-stack models like the P226 and P229. That means that the distance to the trigger is shorter, so those without huge hands will have no problem reaching the trigger while holding the gun normally.
The model shown here has SigLite Night Sights. These have a Tritium vial in the front sight dot and each of the rear sight dots, allowing you to see them in the dark. You can also order the P225 A1 with standard contrast sights. Also made of steel, these have non-illuminated white dots.
At the Range
I tested the P225 with a variety of ammunition, including three varieties of Sig Sauer’s own ammo and American Eagle’s new Syntech ammo. For a quick test of how easy the P225 is to shoot accurately, I set up targets at 15 yards, rested the pistol on a sandbag and shot multiple five-shot groups with each ammo type. Here are average group sizes of each type:
American Eagle Syntech 115-grain polymer-coated: 1.79 inches
Sig Sauer Elite Performance 115-grain FMJ: 2.43 inches
Sig Sauer Elite Performance 124-grain V-Crown JHP: 1.59 inches
Sig Sauer Elite Performance 147-grain V-Crown JHP: 1.73 inches
While shooting with iron sights on a sandbag isn’t a true test of accuracy, it does give a good indication of how well a given gun and ammo combination shoots. It’s clear that the Sig P225 A1 is plenty capable of putting shots where they’re supposed to go.
Adding a Silencer
Sig Sauer offers the P225 A1 in both standard and suppressor-ready versions. The test model shown here is silencer-ready so it has a threaded barrel that extends about 5/8-inch past the end of the slide. It also comes with taller sights that allow you to see them clearly over the additional bulk of the silencer (usually, a suppressor body will block your view through standard sights).
I mounted a Griffin Armament Resistance 9mm suppressor to the P225 with the help of our friends over at Silencer Shop, and I really liked the results—the P225’s moderate size makes it a great platform for adding a silencer because the overall weight and bulk of the pistol plus suppressor is quite manageable. Adding a suppressor to a full-size gun makes the overall length start getting unwieldy. This package was short, light, and maneuverable. I loved it.
One thing to note if you buy one and decide to add a silencer: The thread pattern is metric, (13.5×1 LH) so you’ll need to order the right cylinder for your suppressor. Your silencer vendor will know what that is and help you get the right mount.
I really like the P225 A1 for concealed carry, because I feel more comfortable with a gun that I can shoot well. I shoot a larger and heavier gun a lot better than a small one, so I’ve (usually) made the tradeoff to carry something bigger. Your mileage may vary.
I’ve been using it with a Galco Royal Guard inside-the-waistband holster. The Royal Guard is an all-leather design with dual snap straps that attach to the belt. Like other Galco leather holsters, the Royal Guard is perfectly molded to the contours of the gun, so it stays secure, yet draws smoothly. The Royal Guard angles the rear of the pistol forward (forward cant), so the full-size grip is easy to reach. The angle also helps with concealment, because the bottom of the grip doesn’t extend so far back.
If I had to sum up the ideal customer for the Sig Sauer P225 A1, I would describe a buyer that appreciates real quality and the intangible features of feel and touch. For example, some folks will pay extra for a car that just hums, with mechanisms that operate with that subtle yet satisfying “click.” Sure, a 1970 AMC Gremlin has forward and reverse gears and will get you to the store and back, just like a BMW Alpina B6 Gran Coupe, but no one would question the reasons for the price difference. The Sig P225 A1 offers a similar alternative to the all those polymer guns.
Action Type: Double-action/Single-action
Trigger Pull: 10/4.4 lbs.
Overall Length: 6.9 in.
Overall Height: 5.2 in.
Overall Width: 1.26 in.
Barrel Length: 3.6 in.
Sight Radius: 5.2 in.
Weight with magazine: 30.5 oz.
Magazine Capacity: 8 rounds (2 magazines included)
Grips: Black checkered G-10 grips
Frame Finish: Black hard-coat alloy frame
Slide Finish: Nitron stainless steel
Accessory Rail: No
MSRP: $1,122 (Contrast Sights); $1,236 (Night Sights)
(Contact Sig Sauer for details on the suppressor-ready P225 A1)