Many companies become known and famous for their products, with the most successful ones going on to become iconic or indicative of what the company produces.
Gun manufacturers are certainly no exception, with some of the most legendary names going on to be synonymous with entire categories of their guns. Names like Remington, Colt, Glock and SIG Sauer all make category-defining firearms.
But for every handful of smashing shooting successes a major gun manufacturer produces there will usually be one or two demoralizing failures or middling offerings when it comes to their products. Some of them are seriously flawed.
Others simply failed to launch, being found lacking by potential buyers in one category or another.
And every once in a blue moon, you will encounter an “also-ran” firearm that is seemingly excellent in every regard and, curiously, simply failed to garner the attention and the acclaim that it merited.
SIG Sauer is indeed the progenitor of one such criminally underrated pistol that is also the subject of today’s article. Today we will be reviewing the excellent polymer sleeper, the SIG Pro SP 2022.
Origin of the SP 2022
The SP 2022 is in all regards a second generation of the earlier SIG Pro pistols, the SP 2340 and SP 2009. In order to tell you the full and complete tale of these polymer pistols, we will have to go back, way back to the late 1990s.
The era was one of considerable change and upset for firearms manufacturers, especially manufacturers of handguns.
Polymer was quickly becoming the hot new material to employ in handgun construction, and the meteoric rise of Glock’s various models along with ferocious competition by Heckler & Koch’s USP’s saw all manufacturers dropping everything to get on the plastic bandwagon.
In hindsight, gun companies that failed to get on the right side of history concerning polymer would find themselves with a tough row to hoe going forward.
To complicate matters, police and government agency adoption, long the bread-and-butter contract source of steady income for handgun manufacturers, was now dependent on marketing guns that were high-performance, easy to maintain and most importantly cheap. In this regard, Glock seemed virtually unbeatable.
SIG had to act and act fast or risk being left behind, but wisely knew that to do so rashly or in quest of cheap imitation would tarnish the then-legendary and esteemed reputation of the brand.
At the time, SIG Sauer was predominately known among U.S. buyers as makers of dead-hard service pistols in various calibers, starting with the P220 as the sort of sire of the DA/SA P-series handguns popular among U.S. civilian shooters, military units and law enforcement alike.
Adding additional pressure, this new polymer gun would also be the first U.S. designed SIG firearm.
To launch any pistol, much less a polymer one, that was seen as a merely budget version of these highly refined (and priced accordingly) handguns or one that failed to meet the excruciating performance standard set by the brand would be disastrous.
Happily, SIG did not falter: in 1999 they launched the SIG PRO, SP2340 in .40 S&W, which was the current paradigm of cartridge performance for law enforcement service handguns of the day. Shortly thereafter, the same gun with the same designation was made available in .357 SIG.
The concept of the pistol was simple, but it was groundbreaking in what features it included that later would become standard on polymer handguns: a proprietary light rail, interchangeable wrap-around grip shells, a modular fire control unit, and a reversible magazine release to serve right- or left handed shooters equally.
The next year, the gun was released as the SP 2009 in 9mm, identical in all regards save chambering. The gun worked, and worked well. It was accurate, durable and reliable. It was far cheaper than its all-alloy-and-steel brethren by several hundred dollars.
The trigger was entirely serviceable, and while not quite as nice as the classic P-series guns, it was more than adequate for its intended purposes, and would pose no impediment to a shooter already comfortable with a DA/SA pistol. The gun looked like a hit, on paper at least by any standard. But, commercial sales were middling…
The SP 2340 would find some success and adoption with U.S. police and sheriff’s departments, but it was not until the year 2002, after some engineering and design changes to modernize the pistol and adapt it to their needs, that the gun saw mass adoption to the tune of 250,000 pistols by the majority of French national law enforcement agencies.
The new SIG Pro was dubbed the SP 2022, a play on its year of formal acceptance to trials since the French anticipated a twenty year service life from the guns.
Although it is a legacy offering compared to SIG’s newest, most darling offering, the P320 (recently adopted as the M17 Modular Handgun System by the U.S. military), and the ill-fated P250, SIG still manufactures the SP 2022 and it enjoys brisk sales today, even if the sun is beginning to set on it.
The SP2022, like all SIG Pro series handguns, is a compact polymer framed, short recoil operated, locked breech pistol available in 9mm Para and .40 S&W. Magazine capacity is 15 rounds when chambered in 9mm, 12 in .40 S&W. Barrel length is just a hair shy of 4 in. in both calibers.
A standard Picatinny/mil-std.1913 rail is found in the usual spot on the dust cover ready to mount lights or lasers.
Although it has several differences compared to its traditional P-series siblings, the control layout is instantly familiar to anyone who is accustomed to those pistols.
The slide release, decocking lever and magazine release will be found in all the familiar locations on the frame, with the slide release being noticeably different in shape and function if not location.
It now functions additionally as a takedown pin that must be withdrawn from the frame to disassemble the gun, somewhat akin to a CZ-75 or 1911.
The magazine release is incongruously triangular in shape in flagrant deviation from all other P-series pistols, and is reversible for left- or right-handed operation.
Inset into the polymer frame is a steel chassis that departs somewhat radically from the traditional P-series guns by featuring shortened rails upon which the slide runs, compared to the full-length rails famously featured on its metal P-series stablemates.
Also noteworthy is the SP 2022’s modular and removable fire control mechanism which allows easy removal and conversion from DA/SA operation to double-action only simply and using no tools. This is a holdover feature from the earlier generation of the SIG Pro guns.
The operation of the trigger is about what you’d expect from a DA/SA SIG pistol, though not quite as nice after significant breaking-in as the metal P-series guns. The double-action pull is pretty smooth, though there is a noticeable hitch near the end.
The single-action pull is mostly unremarkable and entirely serviceable save for a lengthy take-up, even for a double-action pistol. By today’s standards, the reset is long. All-in-all, the trigger compares favorably with its more expensive brethren.
A loaded chamber indicator is present on top of the slide immediately behind the ejection port, and the gun also features a lanyard ring installed at the bottom of the thin, textured grip module. Three-dot tritium night sights are standard.
Comparison with Classic P-series SIG’s, Others
Comparing the SP 2022 with its more expensive siblings in the P-series line, and with other guns in its category is both a source of praise and consternation.
When comparing it to other SIG offerings, assuming one does not give into price snobbery, it compares extremely favorably, especially back in the day when it was introduced.
Compared to the larger, heavier and more expensive P-series guns, the SP 2022 is lighter, and gives up nothing in terms of reliability, durability and not least shootability. The guns are accurate, extremely reliable and tough.
For concealed carry they make perfect sense if one likes the traditional double action SIG pistols. You can go from an all-metal SIG to the SIG Pro painlessly.
All of the controls will be where you expect them, function like you expect them to, and the trigger will present no growing pains or training issues when the time comes to put in the work on the range.
Whereas other companies’ polymer riffs on long-standing metal designs often left much to be desired, the SIG Pro series knocked it out of the park.
The only differences truly worth mentioning, in practical terms, between the SP 2022 and other P-series guns are internal and mechanical. The lock work is not entirely the same, nor is the disassembly procedure. But these are only trifling concerns for most users.
Contrasting the SP 2022 with other polymer guns of its era in the same category, it was absolutely comfortable if not the best in class. The comparison gets a lot tighter when you constrain the comparison to guns in its price range.
There are very few guns that can equal, much less beat, its performance under $500, and it will compete with guns costing several hundred dollars more handily.
Even during the SP 2022’s and its predecessors’ heyday there was nowhere near as much aftermarket support for these guns as with its chief competitor, the Glock, and its very own stablemates, the metal P-series SIG’s.
This meant that choices for holsters, aftermarket sights, accessories and so forth were quite limited.
Unfortunately, that particular situation has not improved nigh on twenty years later even with its massive adoption and success in French police forces.
Domestic police departments and government agencies have long since moved on to other pistols for the most part, and the SP 2022 only sees holsters and accessories surface from various manufacturers as sort of vestigial offerings, ones that attempt to accommodate every potential product that SIG, now a gargantuan and highly successful manufacturer, makes.
But, it is not all bad: magazines are easy to find and reasonably priced, at least reasonably priced as far as metal pistol magazines go.
You’ll never be able to have them as cheaply as you can with Glock magazines. Quality kydex holsters are still available from several manufacturers, as are duty grade retention holsters.
Perhaps the most salient upgrade of the SP 2022 from the earlier iterations of SP 2340 and SP 2009 is the switch to a standardized rail interface for the mounting of lights and lasers.
While hardly remarkable today, compared to a vintage SIG Pro the modernized SP2022 will not deprive you of using all of the best weapon lights and aiming devices that are on the market today.
For a compact pistol the rail space is actually quite ample, and it will easily accommodate such popular lights as Surefire’s X300 series and Streamlight’s TLR series lights or the equivalent light and laser combos from most manufacturers.
In case one needs to repair their pistol, replace parts or perform other regular or preventive maintenance, things like springs, barrels and so forth are easy enough to track down on the internet and typically available directly from SIG and other parts suppliers.
You’ll never be able to find parts and accessories in the same kind of abundance that you will for Glocks or M&Ps, but you can say that about virtually every other pistol on the market, too.
As far as “B-Team” selections go, the SP 2022 has an acceptable parts and service base. So long as you don’t have dreams of customizing every individual component of the pistol.
If you are happy with the gun as it comes from the factory, and do not desire anything beyond factory performance mechanically you will not have many disappointments in store.
But, if you are of the attitude that every factory gun is a starting point and little else, you will find the aftermarket very much resembles a scorched and barren desert for this particular gun.
The question of whether or not the SP 2022 is viable today as a handgun suitable for defensive purposes is going to depend largely upon your perspective and your values as a user.
It is a comparatively easy matter to discuss things white mechanical accuracy, capacity and other inherent design characteristics, but sorting out whether or not a pistol is a viable choice for a given user under their specific circumstances, both for the task at hand and as an investment and ongoing capability to solve a problem is another.
If one has a strict and fundamentalist view on only the key performance metrics of a defensive firearm- shootability, ballistic performance and mechanical reliability-, the SP 2022 certainly fits the bill.
The pistol is mechanically sound and a “mature” design, made from quality materials by a major manufacturer, functions reliably even when very dirty and even in poor conditions and is durable enough that maintenance and parts replacement is not a concern for the average user.
In either caliber, the gun is more than accurate enough for 90% of all possible shooters and, just as importantly, will it produce that accuracy easily enough in the hands of a trained user to be suitable for any conceivable defensive purpose.
Any of the primary chamberings available are entirely adequate for self-defense against human beings.
So I suppose the question is why one would choose this pistol over another, more modern pistol. The design is 20 years old! We have not seen quantum leaps in handgun technology or design since then, but we have benefited from considerable refinement.
This, of course, does not even address the boon of having available and finding ample parts, accessories and service with other guns.
Not every pistol will install itself in the collective consciousness of shooters and become truly ubiquitous as with the Glock and with the Smith & Wesson M&P.
I assert that the SIG Pro SP 2022 is still a valid choice for a handgun today, if a bit of a niche one, for a few different potential users.
The first potential user is a shooter who is comfortable with or prefers DA/SA pistols and wants a no-frills dependable, hard-running, polymer gun. The SP 2022 is an ideal candidate, and there are not too many high-quality guns in that category compared to the various iterations of striker fired pistols around.
The second category of user who will benefit from the niche status of this pistol is a shooter who is on a tight budget, and still wants high quality and dependability above all other characteristics in their pistol.
The regular street price of these guns today is around $450, but they can routinely be had new for just under $400. For this level of quality and what this gun brings to the table, that is an incredibly good value, and hardly any other new gun in the price point can hope to match it.
Lastly, those shooters who are not necessarily gun people and are otherwise comfortable with this design will be well-served by it. It will not be able to take advantage of the latest and greatest advancements in parts, doodads and gadgets.
You might have to go out of your way to find a good holster for it. You will not be wowing your buddies on the Instagram or elsewhere on social media. No one will think you are a slick-shit slayer for sporting a SIG Pro.
But what you will have is an utterly dependable and good shooting service pistol that will have saved you a ton of money right out of the gate that might better be spent on training, ammunition, and support equipment.
Where Does the SIG Pro go From Here?
I’m hesitant to say the SP 2022 is going to be future-proofed in the way that some other guns are.
That being said, the prospect that some breakthrough technology in handgunning will emerge that will truly be a paradigm shift and render this pistol along with many others hopelessly obsolete is extremely low right now, at least that is how I’m reading the tactical tea leaves.
Ultimately, this pistol will likely fade into relative obscurity as an ancestor to pistols that went on to bigger acclaim and adoption.
It has likely sold well enough commercially that users will be able to get parts and magazines well enough along into the future that making a stand with one is not going to be rife with tears, but in ten or twenty years time there will likely be few people still talking about them.
The SIG Pro SP 2022 is a dependable, durable and accurate pistol by any metric, and made even better by its inherent familiarity to longtime P-series SIG users and its shockingly low price for its quality.
Today, this pistol is obviously a product of its era, even with the modernizations that have persisted since its earliest rendition.
Today, we enjoy a plethora of ultra-efficient, semi-custom striker-fired polymer offerings, and that makes a plain, workman-like DA/SA pistol seems like something backwards. But therein lies the beauty of it!
While the most modern breed of polymer pistols are marvels of performance and engineering, there is something to be said for an affordable pistol that just plain works and is easy to shoot well, especially if one prefers DA/SA system.