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Ever since I remember myself, I always loved guns. I can't remember a period in my life, as a kid, that I didn't have at least one toy gun. Later on, as I grew up, airguns were always part of my hobbies. It was not until I was about 30 years old, that I found out how I could legally own a real pistol in Greece.
As soon as I managed to meet the criteria for getting my own pistol (registered in a shooting club as an athlete, participate in two matches with real firearms owned by my club etc) I applied for my license to the Greek Police.
That's when the search begun. I spend about a week visiting every gunshop in Athens, trying to find the perfect pistol for me. I must have tried over 20 pistols and revolvers (mainly pistols), trying to find the best. At the end, I selected the Sig Sauer P-226, which was considered by every knowledgeable (or semi-knowledgeable) person of that era, to be a fine pistol.
The Greek police was kind enough to issue my gun license, in a few days, so with the license in hand, I visited my friendly gunshop to get my P-226. I still remember the excitement of opening the yellow, carton box and lifting the pistol from its foam container.
Since that day, the P-226 had served me well for years, and I was not going to sell it, if it was not for the Greek laws, which don't allow us unlimited number of pistols. But until I let it go, it had never given me the slightest problem. Quite accurate and reliable to the point of being ... boring.
When I saw the Tokyo Marui Sig Sauer P-226, in Airsoft Extreme's site, I just had to have one, if only to refresh my memories. The nice folks at Airsoft Extreme were kind enough to oblige me, and here is the Tokyo Marui (TM) P-226 they send me.
Here is the box, in which the TM Sig Sauer P-226 Rail pistol came. Nicely decorated with pictures of the pistol, contrary to the unadorned boxes of other manufacturers.
Inside the box, there were the usuals, the pistol and its magazine, an instructions leaflet in Japanese, a safety warnings leaflet, some small targets, a barrel cleaning rod and the usual small bag of BBs. I looked at the pistol, and memories started coming, from some 15 years ago.
The chunky looks of the P-226 were exactly as I remembered them.
The sheet steel slide was very much like the original, only ... plastic, but horror of horrors, some letters from the Sig Sauer logo were .... erased with a soldering iron.
I assume that this happened for pattents reasons, so I understand why Airsoft Extreme did that, but gush, was I dissappointed! The same thing was done on the Sig Sauer logo, on the right grip panel! I hate pattents!
After I calmed down from this shock, I examined the rest of the pistol. The orange paint at the muzzle end of the slide had to go, and it was easily removed with some alcohol, some cotton and some ... rubbing. Ok, at least this stupid thing was corrected. The rest if the inscriptions on the pistol are very nice but those damaged areas kept bothering me. Oh well, nothing I could do about them, so I had to put that behind me.
The pistol immitates a newer variation of the P-226 than my old pistol, so it comes with the newer grips that Sig Sauer is using on the P-226 now.
These grips are made of plastic which is stippled to provide a secure gripping surface, on the two sides as well as the backstrap. The stippling is not very profound, so it is quite serviceable in normal conditions, but I do not know how well it will perform in sweaty hands.
The big grip with the serrated front strap felt very familiar and all the controls are in the normal (for a P-226) places. These are, from the rear of the pistol and moving to the front, the slide stop, the decocker and the take-down lever, as well as the mag release button.
With the exception of the take-down lever, all can be reached by the thumb of your right hand, while the pistol is held in the normal shooting position (and my fingers are not exceptionally long). Ergonomics was always the P-226 strength.
A difference from my old P-226, is that the take-down lever is now something more than a piece of steel with some serrations, for the 1911 users, it looks like a thicker and shorter slide release. I like it!
The trigger is exactly the same as the original, even though if memory serves me right, the real pistol had a serrated trigger. The airsoft replica has a smooth one, which is fine for ... combat usage.
The P-226 is a typical double action pistol, meaning that the trigger can cock and release the hammer, or you can cock it yourself and use the trigger to release it. With the hammer cocked, if you decide not to shoot, you can safely lower it, by using the decocking lever. I still remember my initial feeling when I saw the P-226 for the first time: "What on earth is that thing? It looks like a coat hanger only upside-down, couldn't they make it more nice-looking?".
Well, the decocker is still as ugly as I remember it, but the important thing is that TM has it working like the one on the real gun. In other words, if the hammer is cocked, pressing the decocker down, safely lowers the hammer in its rest position. Or, to be more precise, in the case of this airsoft pistol, it lowers the hammer to something that looks like the half-cock position of a 1911. Not all the way to the front, but slightly cocked. This is the same position the real P-226 hammer rests. On the replica, there is another position, further forward, which almost conceals the hammer, leaving a very small piece of its spure showing. I do not know why TM created two hammer rest positions, but that's how the pistol is and strangely enough, the double action of the trigger can cock the hammer from either of them. Here are the three hammer positions:
This is the full-forward position. That's where the hammer falls if you pull the trigger without a loaded magazine in place.
That's the intermediate position, where the hammer comes to, when you decock the pistol.
And this is the fully-cocked position.
Staying with the trigger, this pistol has the worst trigger I've ever tried on an Airsoft pistol. Double action is not very heavy (just right if my memories of the real gun are correct) but you can feel some ... plastic rubbing in there, I do not know where the rubbing happens, most probably in the trigger pin, but it is there. Also, there is no clear let-off point, where the sear breaks. The single action is a long mushy pull and then, all of a sudden the sear goes and the shot is fired. But it's ... an agonizing pull, you do not feel anything, no difference what's so ever from the moment you start squeezing, until the sear releases the hammer and fires the BB. The trigger in my real P-226 was crisp and sharp, not like this at all, so TM have missed something very important on this pistol. Not impressed, but then I am a hard customer on this one, having great memories from the real gun!
Another difference between my old P-226 and this one, is that this replica comes with a light rail machined in its dust cover, like the newest Sig Sauer Rail pistols. I tried attaching an M-3 flashlight clone, and it works like a charm. Good point!
The sights of the pistol are very much like the real ones. Actually, they are very much like the real Sig Sauer tritium sights, only they do not have any tritium vials.
This brought back some more memories, of many years ago. I was in Lowell MA, for some business meetings, and I drove from there to Exeter NH (some 4 hours going back and forth) in pooring rain, to get a set of tritium sights for the P-226, and a sight adjustement tool. The person who took it upon himself to help me back them, was their Academy Manager, unfortunatelly I no longer remember his name. He couldn't believe the crazy Greek who drove in the middle of that rain storm, just to get those sights. He was kind enough to give me a Sig Sauer cap and some other bits and pieces. Anyhow, the sights of this airsoft, are like the tritium sights that I got back then, only they have plain three-dots, instead of tritium vials.
Finally, the whole appearance of the pistol, is not far from the real one. If memory serves me right, the real P-226 had two different colors. The slide, which was matte black (blue steel back then, stainless steel covered in what Sigarms calls "Nitron" now), while the aluminum anodized frame had a different hue, more shiny than the slide. Well, in this respect, the TM P-226 is of a uniform color, which is very much like the color of the Nitron coating used in the real pistols.
The grip of the pistol is thicker than that of a single stack 1911, but not by much, and not enough to make handling difficult. My hands are not large, still I can handle the pistol fine, reaching all controls without shifting my grip.
Finally, the feeling you get from the pistol is ... in one word, plasticky. I was hoping that TM would do better than that in this domain, but this (and the trigger) were the two areas which disappoint me with this gun. There are metallic frame/slide sets in in the market, so the ... plasticky feeling can be corrected, but these sets are more expensive than the TM pistol itself. So, be warned, if you want a P-226, you'll have to live with the plastic feeling or invest in a metallic set.
In the next page, you can read how to disassemble the pistol and our shooting tests results.
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