SIG Sauer P220 Desert Model, by Pat Cascio

I’m a real sucker for super-accurate handguns, and the SIG Sauer line-up has always proven themselves in this respect. We tested the P220 Desert model .45 ACP handgun from SIG and found it to be a winner.

Impressed with SIG Sauer P220 Imported Under Browning Name

I’ll admit, I haven’t always been on top of the firearms game, when it came to the newest models out there. Even today, I don’t have the time to browse every gun maker’s website once a week or so to see what is new and exciting. I obtained my first FFL in 1980 and started out just doing gunsmithing, but eventually I got into buying and selling firearms. It was during this time that a customer asked me to order them a Browning BDA .45 ACP! I have to admit, I didn’t know what kind of pistol that was, until I actually received it for the customer. It was a SIG Sauer P220 .45 ACP handgun that was being imported under the Browning name. I was more than a little impressed with this fine handgun when it arrived.

The Best P220 To Date

Fast forward a few years later. I became a huge SIG Sauer fan and have probably owned just about every type of handgun they made. The newest models are all that much better than the previous models, if you ask me. I’ve owned more than a couple of the “regular” SIG P220 .45 ACP handguns, new and used, and they were all good shooters, never missing a beat. However, not long ago, I spied a new P220 model in my local gun shop and had to have it. I did a trade, of course, since I don’t have that kind of money in my pocket, ever! I came home with the new SIG Sauer P220 .45 ACP “Desert” model, and it is the best P220 to date, if you ask me.

Run Down On Specs

A quick run down on the specs is in order. I hate boring our readers with too many specs, but it is worth it, because this model has some unique features. We have a 4.9-inch barrel that is chrome-lined, and the slide is black Nitron coated over the stainless steel, for even more protection from the elements. The frame in forged and anodized aluminum, which is flat dark earth in color. It’s dark sand, if you ask me, and has a very eye appealing look with the two-tone colors between the upper and lower.

Sights and Rail

SIG night sights are riding on the slide, and they are very easy to pick up in all lighting conditions, including low-light or no light conditions. The frame has a Picatinny 1913 type rail, for mounting lasers and or lights. This is always a nice touch. The gun weighs in at 30.4-oz empty, so even though it is a full-sized duty handgun it is still very light weight. We have the mag release behind the trigger guard and a slide release as well as a decocker, like most other handguns in the SIG P2XX line-up.

Safety and Grips

Many people think hammer-fired handguns that you have to decock or manually put on safe are old fashion or out-of-date, and I couldn’t disagree more. The frame has a slightly extended beaver tail style of safety for getting a good high hand grip on the frame. The front strap has horizontal serrations to aid in a sure grip, and the gun comes with Hogue pebble-grain black rubber grips, which will give you the best grip possible under any kind of weather conditions.


Each P220 comes with two 8-rd stainless steel magazines, which are just superb. They are a bit stout to load, because they have a heavy spring, but they get those rounds up there for sure feeding. There is a nice plastic base pad on the mags, assuring you can slam those mags home in the mag well under duress.

Trigger Pull

The trigger pull is DA/SA, meaning when the gun is decocked, the first trigger pull is long. All shots after that are single-action. The DA trigger pull is right at 10-lbs, but it is super-smooth– something SIG has been known for in their DA/SA triggers. The wide, smooth trigger is easy to manipulate and easy on the trigger finger. All SA shots are fired right at 4.0 lbs trigger pull, and that is outstanding, if you ask me.

Trigger Reach– Something To Consider

The one complaint I’ve heard over the years, when it comes to the SIG P220 line-up, is that the trigger reach in the DA mode is a bit too long for some shooters with smaller hands. I won’t contest this minor complaint. Not all handguns fit all people’s hands. SIG does make a SA-only P220, and that trigger reach is shorter. It’s something to consider.

Can Be Concealed With Right Holster

Make no mistake, the P220 is a full-sized duty handgun; however it can be concealed with the right holster and clothing. I packed the P220 in a Blackhawk leather hip holster for several weeks under an unbuttoned casual shirt. No one noticed. I also tried the Blackhawk SERPA hip holster, but the gun and holster were noticeable under the clothing, when I looked in a mirror. However, for duty use, the SERPA would work just fine. BTW, Blackhawk Products is coming out with a completely new line of leather holsters made in Italy for concealed carry.

Ammo For Testing

I usually have a good selection of .45 ACP on-hand for testing in my articles, and this time was no different. From Black Hills Ammunition, I had their 230-gr FMJ, 185-gr JHP, 230-gr JHP +P, 230-gr JHP, the 185-gr Barnes TAC-XP all-copper hollow point +P, and their 135-gr HoneyBadger loads. From Buffalo Bore Ammunition, I had their 160-gr Barnes TAC-XP all-copper hollow point, low pressure, low recoil, 255-gr Outdoorsman Hard Cast +P load, 230-gr FMJ +P, 230-gr JHP +P, 185-gr Barnes TAC-XP all-copper hollow point +P, and their 200-gr JHP +P load. So, there were many different bullet configurations and everything from hollow point to FMJ to hard cast loads. The P220 ate them all without any problems. In all, over several shooting sessions, I fired 400 rounds.

Accuracy Testing

As stated, no feeding or functioning problems were encountered, and I had a couple volunteer shooters helping me with some of the shooting. For accuracy testing, I always conduct this portion of the tests myself. With a rolled-up sleeping bag over the hood of my Jeep Wrangler and the target out to 25 yards, I was getting groups easily below three inches with most of the ammo. Many groups were down there at 2.5 inches, and there was a winner in the accuracy department. It was the Buffalo Bore 200-gr JHP +P load, and this one is one of my favorite carry loads. Groups were right at two inches or a tad under, if I did my part. I do love the new Black Hills HoneyBadger load for self-defense, but it wasn’t in the winners circle when it came to accuracy. It’s too bad. Still, it was giving me groups right at 2.5 inches, and that’s nothing to sneeze at.

Super Accurate

I said at the beginning of this piece that SIG Sauer handguns are known for outstanding accuracy, and this newest P220 was no different. As a matter of fact, it was a bit more accurate than some other P220s I’ve owned over the years. Maybe it is the special corrosion resistant special coating on the internal parts that gave such great trigger pulls. I just don’t know, but this handgun is super accurate in my book with the right ammo.

Usually in High Demand

It’s a bit hard to put a street price on the P220 Desert model. It just depends upon supply and demand at the time you are looking for one. Mine was $869, but I’ve seen them for more and for less. Like I said, it depends at the time on supply and demand, and SIG firearms are usually in high demand. Don’t let anyone tell you that the “old fashioned” SA/DA handgun with a metal frame, as opposed to polymer frame, striker-fired handguns are out of fashion. Far from it. If you can find a P220 Desert model at your local gun shop, check it out, and you may just walk out the door with it. You could do a lot worse in a .45 ACP for self-defense or survival purposes.


  1. Less’n that there pistol is a Kimber, Mistuh Hoffman. I’ve nailed live targets with that rattly piece of .45 Uncle Sugar issues to grunts, and they ain’t complaining no more. Accurate gun, great, accurate shooter, best. I know, most tother pistols. Ain’t owned one yet that I couldn’t hit what I aimed at. The only pistol I could actually condemn is the Tech 9

  2. Nice review! I have 4 SIG pistols and an M400 and have had zero issues!
    I have a 45, 9MM and 2 357SIGs all great shooters! I really didn’t need another
    but then I read this article…hummmmm??? P220

  3. Good review Pat.
    I haven’t been in the mood for a new pistol for quite some time.
    Until now.

    My first issued pistol was a 220. I took the high shooter award in my academy class with it.

  4. Also can get 10 round magazines. Get IWB Milt Sparks Versa Max 2 holster !!!
    Use same holster with either SigP220 or the proven SigP226 (in 9mm)….fits both!

    Great military grade go to war guns. Also Mec-Gar makes great
    Mags are for either pistol. 18 or 20 round available for P226

Comments are closed.