Monday, December 31, 2012

Review of the Sig 229, 9mm


If you have ever looked at guns on the Internet, then you know that the best gun ever is either the Glock or the 1911. The Glock people rave about the smooth, long, safe trigger of the Glock and its reliability. 1911 people gush about the inherent accuracy of the 1911’s single action trigger, and the overall ergonomics of the 1911.

If you would like a gun that combines the good features of each platform, then a Sig 229 in 9mm is the gun for you.

Now let’s talk about why this is such an awesome gun.

The Trigger

Sig’s traditional DA/SA trigger allows you to have the best of both worlds. The long double action trigger negates the need for any on-off safety. It is also very smooth. Some people spend lots of dollars on their revolvers to get a smooth trigger, and it comes standard on the 229.

The other awesome half of the Sig’s trigger is the single action. It is very crisp, and allows for fast, precise shots. 1911 aficionados lavish praises on the crisp single action trigger. The Sig lets you have that nice trigger pull without having to hit a safety to use it.

The DA/SA trigger also is a great training asset. After you’ve taken a shooting class then you should be doing dry fire practice. The most important sequence of motions that needs to become automatic is drawing the gun and firing the first aimed shot.

With striker-fired guns, and single action guns, the slide has to be racked or the hammer cocked back before the gun can be dry fired again. Firing one shot, then racking the slide is not a good habit to cultivate.

With the Sig, you can draw, aim, fire, re-holster and repeat. You don’t have to rack the slide to reset the trigger.

Some say is that a long trigger pull followed by short ones is inconsistent and a problem for training. However, good training will teach you to pay attention to the trigger reset, which is consistent with every trigger pull in the Sig, just like any other gun.

Operating the Gun

When shooting the 9mm 229, the heavier weight is a major plus. The extra ounces soak up a lot of the recoil from already-low-recoiling 9mm round, making it very comfortable to shoot lots and lots of rounds through.

Sig has a very unique approach to reloading. Many companies manufacture extended slide release levers as drop-in parts for 1911s, Glocks, etc... With Sigs, it’s standard. 

The slide release button sits far back on the grip, within easy reach of your thumb. When you’ve reinserted the new magazine, you can flick the release with your thumb while re-establishing your grip with your support hand. 

Some complain that this design is different from what they are used to, and that their thumb rides the release during shooting. 

However it is possible to grip this gun without resting your thumb on the slide release.

If you like the idea of being able to easily and quickly hit the slide release, and have the crisp single action trigger with no manual safety, it is possible to learn to adjust your grip to a Sig. Most humans can be taught how to drive standard or automatic transmission cars.  If you are considering buying one, don’t let this minor training concern dissuade you.

The sights are designed so that the bullet will land right in the middle of the front sight, making it simple to aim. Just put the sights right where you want the holes to appear, instead of trying to guess how far above the sights the bullet might land.


The rails on the frame and slide come polished pretty smooth from the factory, which makes the slide cycle even with a minimum of oil. It will cycle dry, though it will eventually start malfunctioning. I’ve never tried to bury it or fill it with mud, and then shoot it, but it did function through an all day class that took place inside an Iraq-style dust storm.  Oiling this gun is no great chore.

Also, the Navy Seals use Sig 226s, 229’s bigger brother. That says something about reliability.


Taking the gun apart is as easy as locking the slide back and flipping a lever. The recoil spring and barrel easily come out, which increase the likelihood that the owner will clean and lube the gun more.  For routine maintenance, simply pull it apart, rub a drop of oil around the square locking surfaces on the barrel, a drop of oil at the front of the frame rails and at the back of the slide rails, then put it back together.

This process shouldn’t need to be repeated more than once a month.

A full day’s sweat day-in and day-out doesn't seem to bother the stainless slide and aluminum alloy frame at all.


I can conceal this gun on my body, however I am a 6 foot 3 inch male, with a bit of a gut. With the right combination of belt and holster, I can tuck in a shirt over the top of it. If you’re a smaller frame, you may have fewer options. Using a Galco belly band, makes the gun disappear. Other holster and belt options are available that are more comfortable, but more bulky as well, and so you have to adjust your dress accordingly.


If you are new to gun ownership, or are looking for an enjoyable pistol to shoot, consider the 229 in 9mm. It’s good for a novice to develop good training habits  with, and is a great choice for a multi-purpose gun. It’s not a Glock and it’s not a 1911, but it is a good blend of the best features of each of those guns.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Keeping schools safe.

Once again, innocent people have been killed, and national attention is being brought to the issue. I've listened enough and watched enough video, that I feel the need to clarify some things.

The two large themes that have been brought up are: a. There needs to be a real conversation about mental illness. b. Gun control in general.

Mental illness is stigmatized in this country. Its nuances are very tricky, and the different types of illness are wide-ranging. Some illnesses are harmless to others, and have simple solutions. Some cause unpredictable, frightfully violent behavior.

One of the problems that is brought up in the debate about a mental health solution to public mass shootings, is that the mental health community would be required to readily provide medical records to the police. If someone who is depressed or has a legitimate problem is considering getting help, they will be less likely to go visit a psychiatrist if they think that it will result in a SWAT raid in the middle of the night.

The number of people who seek help will drop dramatically, and many legitimate problems will go untreated.

Now, that may not actually ever happen, but the possibility will definitely loom in the mind of a person suffering enormous stress. I know of one case where a Military Police officer was punished after seeking psychological help. Andy Brown was an MP at Fairchild Air Force Base when an unstable person entered the base hospital and started shooting people. Brown killed the man in the parking lot outside the hospital. After the shooting, Andy started having some psychological problems, which were normal reactions to such an event.

The day after he visited the psychiatrist, his duty weapon was taken away, and he was assigned to a desk job. He didn't visit the shrink again after that, though he continued to have problems.

For a full review of the incident, go here.

In addition, the mental health debate has been going on ever since Charles Whitman's shooting in Austin. There is an urge to try to understand these senseless acts, and a lot has been learned about the various shooters, and any warning signs or patterns that have been observed. However, many atrocities have been committed since the debate started, and so the mental health method of preventing mass shootings has not been perfected yet.

There are steps that can be taken right now that would make schools safer, I'll get to that in a bit.

The other topic that is being thrown around right now is gun control. Since the public can tell that mental illness is an extremely complex topic, the logically easier solution would be to pass some more gun laws. They can be passed, and take effect as early as next summer, after all.

I'll do another post about some of problems with passing more gun control laws, but right now I will just mention that AR-15 rifles have been the best selling rifles in America for the past few years, concealed carry is at an all-time high, and so any efforts to create more laws are going to have a much stronger resistance than in the 90's.

So keeping in mind that an acceptable mental health solution isn't perfected yet, and the new gun control laws aren't likely to pass, how can we make our schools safer?

In every state, there is a law that says it is illegal to have a gun on school property. There is included a list of people who are exempt from that law, typically police officers on duty, active duty military, federal law enforcement officers, etc. . .

To make our schools safer, go to that law and add "Any person with a valid concealed weapon permit".

That's it.

It would cost the state nothing, it would cost the schools nothing, because the cost of getting a permit is incurred by the individuals seeking the permit.

Now, every teacher isn't going to jump on this program, but a few will.

There arguments against this. "There are some teachers I wouldn't trust with a yardstick." "Teachers aren't trained with guns, a gun would just get taken away from them." "If teachers just start blasting away, then they will hit more people than the bad guy"

Remember, this proposal isn't for the government to hand out guns to every teacher, it is to allow anyone who wishes to get a permit, to legally have their weapon with them at school. These people would have virtually no criminal history and would have passed any state mandated training. Concealed weapon permits get revoked at a rate of less than 1%, and CCW permit holders pass through life in public every single day without problems.

But why can't we just rely on police to protect the kids?

If there were a police officer in every school, every day, it would have a deterrent effect and the officers would be able to stop a massacre. However, the police don't work for free.

Everyone of those officers cost $30,000, $40,000, $50,000 dollars per year. Would the district pay the cost, or the police department? It's not likely that we would be able to find the money to double or triple the police force in some areas, especially since some jurisdictions have cut back the police budget.

So the reality is that police will respond as fast as they can, as soon as a 911 operator is notified. But is one, two, or three minutes fast enough?

Let's look at some video of people getting attacked, and notice how quickly the situation unfolded.

Here is a shop owner in Turkey, if you don't want to hear the commentary then mute your computer.

Warning: People get stabbed, and the stabber gets shot. Footage starts at 30 seconds.

How could any honest person tell this shop owner that the only action he should have taken was to call the police.

Let's look at this video of a woman whose shop is about to get attacked by an armed robber.

Did this woman have time to call for police, and wait for them to arrive? If she had no weapon, who knows what that man would have done once he got inside the store?

Here is a home invasion in Arizona. 

What would have happened if he had to wait for police?

Allowing teachers to be armed, if they wish to be, is an issue of practicality.

 Allowing teachers to be armed, and then publicizing the policy change, may be the one thing that actually prevents future shootings. A killer looking to grab headlines by shooting many people, will not target a school if he knows he won't get very far. They want to kill, not get into a gun battle.

The debate will continue to rage, politicians and pundits will argue on television, mental health may get discussed, gun control laws will be proposed and fail, but in the meantime, let's take a step that will actually keep our children safe at school.