A HAT-TRICK OF SIGS

Russ Dou­glas is on a com­par­a­tive mis­sion along­side three SIGs

Airgun World - - Contents -

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.

SAFETY FIRST

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.

HOP-UP ANY­ONE?

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.

UN­DER PRES­SURE?

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.

LOAD­ING UP

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!

SAT­IS­FY­ING KICK

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.”

POWER COM­PAR­ISONS

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.

Range-por­ta­ble fun.

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.

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