As Naval Special Warfare transitions to the Glock 19, it is important to pay tribute to the legendary Sig Sauer P228.
As some people know, SEALs have carried the P226, but on the SWCC side of the house, operators have been carrying the P228 – a smaller and more compact version of the P226.
Sig Sauer began production of the P228 in the mid-’80s and continued to produce the pistol well into the ’90s. Since then, Sig has gone through short stints of putting the pistol back into production, but new models have not been seen since the early 2000s. The P229 has now become the “replacement” for the P228.
Naval Special Warfare (NSW) received the first Sig Sauer pistol deliveries in 1989 after a SEAL experienced a dangerous malfunction while shooting the Beretta M9. The P226/P228’s chrome-lined barrel and chamber, along with its stainless steel slide and Nitron coating, made it an ideal weapon for NSW missions.
A SEAL with the P226.
The P228, shooting a 9 mm round, was the weapon of choice for the SWCC community due to its compact size. Considering that SWCCs spend an abundant amount of time on small boats — constantly in close proximity to other operators and having to fit into tight spaces (the engine compartment, electrical console, and cockpit areas), the smaller P228 was the perfect tool for the job.
The P228 has a total length of 7.1″, a barrel length of 3.9″, and a magazine capacity of 13 rounds. In comparison, the P226 measures in at a length of 7.7″, a barrel length of 4.4″, and a magazine capacity of 15 rounds.
Its double-action and single-action feature is a nice characteristic: On the side of the pistol grip, there is a decocking safety lever. Pushing this lever down after loading a magazine and racking the slide, would allow the operator to return the hammer to the upright position, thus placing the pistol in double-action mode. When the pistol is in double-action, the trigger pull is much heavier. This function also serves as the safety, since there is no actual safety switch.
This weapon was very easy to break down and clean in the field. It had relatively few parts and could be cleaned in a matter of minutes.
During my time in, I truly enjoyed the P228. It was a great weapon to carry and shoot; it was very accurate and easy to handle. I do have smaller hands, so the P228 was ideal for someone like me.
We put our weapons through hell. Between the constant exposure to saltwater and being drug around in the mud and dirt, only the best could survive. I never had a concern about the reliability or functionality of the P228. Not once did I experience a malfunction — this is not something I can say about the old tried and true M4 rifle.
Although NSW is moving away from Sig Sauer, these pistols served for three decades, in conflicts all over the world. They will go down in history as a great special operations weapon.