A HAT-TRICK OF SIGS
Russ Douglas is on a comparative mission alongside three SIGs
RUSS TESTS A TRIO
Independently from Terry’s recent press junket to enjoy Stateside trigger-time courtesy of SIG Sauer, I’d chosen to combine a review of the brand new, SIG X-Five pistol with a unique comparative review.
I saw and handled the new SIG X-Five beside Lloyd and Tony Belas on their HotAir Airguns YouTube channel in April, and I was smitten. Having traded-in my tan SIG P320, reviewed in the October ‘17 issue, I realised that I had the opportunity to do a comparative review of three different SIG pistols; the new .177 SIG X-Five, taking either pellets or BBs within a 20-shot belt within the ejectable plastic clip with a fast-change CO2 facility; a .177 P226 S X-Five, which takes 20 BBs and a 12gm CO2 within its mag’; a P229 Stainless, which takes 23 x 6mm BBs and a propellant can fill in its mag. All three pistols are very authentic in looks, size and weight, and all have a realistic blow-back facility for extra-fastfire fun.
The new X-Five has a racegun-style ambidextrous safety, which works with a firm click. Sadly, its moulded slide release, field-strip lever and exposed chamber are all cosmetic and non-functioning. The P226 S has the ambi’ safety, but gets extra points for a working slide release and field-strip lever – the slide assembly strips off forwards, just like the real thing. The Airsoft P229 gets maximum points; working slide release, working field-strip lever and also a fully functional de-cocking lever. Use this to drop the hammer safely, rendering a cocked pistol safe without the need to lower the hammer with your thumb.
Once field-stripped, an additional feature that the Airsoft SIG has over the others is an adjustable hop-up facility. Hop-up adjusts the amount of back-spin imbued upon each BB as it leaves the barrel. This is standard on airsoft guns, to extend the range of the otherwise relatively low-powered actions. Once adjusted perfectly, this hop-up made the BB fly horizontally for almost 50m before then dropping like a stone. Under-adjusted, the shot follows a ballistic trajectory with gravity; over-adjusted the BB will travel horizontally at first then actually rise as it heads downrange and then drop, a bit like a skateboard ramp, I kid you not! Turn the stripped slide over to make direct minor adjustments to the hop-up via a small cogged wheel.
The new X-Five definitely feels a handful, which is very satisfying.I measured trigger pulls with my reliable Wheeler spring gauge (£20 from eBay), although only up to 8lbs. Interestingly, once gassed, the new X-Five only required the hammer to be thumbed back to fire, and being closely modelled on a race-gun firearm will not fire double-action only. You’ll notice the P226 S has quite a heavy trigger. It went off the scale of the Wheeler gauge, so after rigging my spring balance as a Heath Robinson pull gauge, it consistently measured 12lbs. This contrasts sharply with its singleaction pull being the lightest of the three. It also has a long ‘mushy’ pull as the action rotates the belt chambers, but the actual let-off is sweetly predictable after that.
SIGHTS OR NOT
Only the Airsoft P229 has two rear white dots, plus one front white dot. Both X-Fives have a white dot on the front sight, but nothing highlighting the rear square notch – slight
omission there, I feel. Only the new X-Five has a fully adjustable rear sight, the other two are not even drift-adjustable. I believe every air pistol, especially these low-powered gas guns, should have adjustable sights. Aiming off is all very well for fun plinking at tin cans, but when you’re looking to achieve targeted groupings, you really want to be aiming at the bull. Although I typically use light RWS Basic wadcutter pellets for CO2 pistols, you can see from the photos how much elevation the rearsight needed for using these on the indoor 10m range. Thank goodness for adjustable sights.
All three pistols have a short section of Picatinny rail under the muzzle for lights, lasers or cameras, which can add to the fun factor on the range.
New X-Five: As always, I prep any gun mech’ with a little Pellgun Oil prior to changing the CO2, to keep the internals running smoothly. Release a small catch under the rear tang of the grip to open the back strap and reveal the 12gm compartment, then point the pistol downward (finger off the trigger as always), and drop in a 12gm capsule. Be aware that there’s no tension adjustment with this new SIG pistol, instead a strong internal spring ensures the capsule is fully seated and pierced. You must hold the pistol in both hands and firmly close the back strap in one movement. If you pause halfway, the capsule can be pierced, but the strap not locked, so you lose all the gas and must start again. Yep, I found that out the hard way.
226 S X-Five: Either in gun or ejected, the realistic metal magazine is loaded up with a 12gm CO2 by using an Allen key and removing the fat, plastic-threaded grub screw. Drop in a 12gm nose first and replace the plug, tightening until you hear the soft hiss of the gas charging the mag’.
Airsoft P229: Older airsoft guns like this are gassed-up directly from a canister. Ultra Gas is recommended for steel blow-back guns, and Gun Gas 144a for lighter plastic guns. Either way, the gas is basically flammable, pressurised gas, mixed with lubricant to keep everything running – there’s no need for Pellgun Oil, this time. Invert the pistol, align the can’s fill tube/nozzle, and press it down. Do it right and no gas should escape. Hold for a few seconds and repeat to be sure the mag’ is charged. Stay away from naked flames, too.
New X-Five: This copies the format of the SIG P320, with a lightweight plastic mag’ that ejects positively under spring pressure. The mag’ cover hinges open to reveal a 20-shot plastic belt, accepting pellets or BBs. This rotates stiffly for loading when open – but smoothly/easily in the gun. The mag’ might have been reduced to 20 shots for ‘realism’, but I still leave the first belt ‘chamber’ empty because I discovered (from my P320 review) that a loose pellet can easily jam the mag’ in place. The tip of the mag’ has a magnet to hold steel BBs in situ. That obviously doesn’t hold lead BBs, but as I’ve said, I now leave the first chamber empty anyway, effectively making it a 19-shooter. One bonus of the new X-Five is having spare mags for realistic shooting and mag-change drills. 226 S X-Five: The realistic metal mag’ drops free and is loaded by pulling back the spring retainer, to drop in the BBs. It takes practice to do this without dropping any, and the spring’s strong, so be prepared to gain a notch in your fingernail. The mag’ accepts 20 BBs when full. Airsoft P229: BBs can be loaded via the same method as
“hold the pistol in both hands and firmly close the back strap in one movement”
“All three pistols give a very satisfying blowback kick upon firing with the two X-Fives compairing nicely”
the BB X-Five, or better still load the first BB into the tip of the mag’ by hand, then apply the speedloader mag cap/fill tube. Then you just pour BBs into the alloy fill tube, and one press of the plastic plunger fills the mag’ to capacity: 23 BBs loaded!
All three pistols give a very satisfying blow-back kick upon firing, with the two X-Fives comparing very nicely. The 226 S has the very slight edge kick-wise, and the Ultra Gaspowered P229 is both the lightest blow-back and the most likely to dump cold gas onto the web of your firing hand. A word of caution here – it took three months for a chemical burn to fade from the back of my right hand earlier this year, after rapid-firing Bri’s airsoft Glock 17. He got an identical burn the next day, by not learning from my trial and error. If you’re ever going to be rapid-firing a gas-powered airsoft pistol be aware of this possibility – wear thin, grippy gloves for protection if in doubt.
There was yet more satisfaction from both the BB X-Five and P229, in that the slide locks back after the last shot. It was very realistic and John at the range instantly commented, “Let me know if you’re ever selling this.”
The two airguns are rated/limited by the usual foot-pound (ft.lb) power scale, whereas the Airsoft pistol is limited to 350fps, as UKARA rules. There’s quite a difference in the weight of the projectiles. I didn’t use steel BBs in the new X-Five because I don’t want to damage its rifled barrel, and I’ve seen for myself alarming ricochets at our GARC ranges, indoors and outdoors, so I now only use lead BBs whenever shooting BB air pistols.
For those of you who prefer steel, reversing 1 ft.lb. for 5.1 grain steel BBs should approximate to 300fps. The P229 might have the lowest ‘power’, but it had by far the tightest consistency across the chrono’, and who doesn’t like a steel blow-back pistol that they can see hitting targets right out to 50m, with biodegradable ammo acting like tracers?
“When the gun freezes, frost can appear on the outside, so at this point leave it to warm up before reloading ”
FAST-FIRE LIMITATIONS AND LONGEVITY
All three suffer the same in cold weather, i.e. power/velocity will drop and you won’t get as many shots per 12gm/gas fill. There are a few quirks for each power source:
Either X-Five will eventually struggle to blow-back the slide far enough to cock the hammer, as the CO2 pressure drops. You can still thumb-back the hammer and eke out a few extra shots until the gas is exhausted, though. When this happens change the gas. Allowing the gun to warm back up a bit to ambient temperature helps, too.
The Airsoft pistol firing too fast can cause the valve to freeze-down, and the slide can even briefly fire a burst in seemingly fully-automatic mode. When the gun freezes, frost can appear on the outside, so at this point leave it to warm up before reloading and refilling the mag’ reservoir.
With the New X-Five I was able to slow-fire my way through all three mag’s before the gas was exhausted, giving me 57 shots. With the BB X-Five and P229, I would recommend changing/refilling after every mag’.
BEFORE AND AFTER
Lucasz at Target-Air supplied me with some round steel plates, to hang downrange on chains, replacing my pellet tin targets. I’ve included a photo of the three respective projectiles after impacting the steel plates; the pellets are half-squished, the lead BBs are now half-round and the Airsoft BBs broke in half. More on the Target-Air plates with 12 ft.lb. and FAC-rifle impacts coming soon. Thanks to Bri and Sam for help with the photos.
Enjoy your shooting! I
X-Five outdoor fun, ringing steel plates.
Loaded – it’s range time!
Slightly fiddly, spare mag’s are a must.
Pellet or BB - leaving that first belt chamber free.
All three are rackable.
Ammo before and after meeting steel.
Something different with the Airsoft – biodegradable ammo!
226 S X-Five - another realistic, weighty pistol.
Loading’s efficient with the fill tube.
… impervious to air pistols and rifles.