Hello. It is no secret that my preference in semiautomatic handguns remains the single-action 9mm P-35 and the 1911-pattern pistol, usually in .45 ACP.
That said, I am not one to automatically exclude other semiautos as being "behind the curve" or "the badge of the incompetent" and so forth. There are several reasons for this.
1. Some folks may be very good shots, competent at arms, but prevented by policy from toting a cocked-and-locked semiautomatic.
2. Some simply may not have had the opportunity to learn the single-action auto and have the good sense not to use one before becoming competent with it.
3. I have seen some mighty fine single-action auto users get "spanked" a time or two by folks using other than the single-action automatic. (I have had my chops popped by shooters using the single-action as well as other types...including the Glock! This reinforces the old saying, "It's the singer and not the song.")
4. Be they conventional DA/SA, DAO, or especially DAK, the single vs. double-action auto comparisons were initially made with the latter in its relative infancy and not so refined as today's choices. Time moves on and man improves his tools.
As a long-time single-action auto fan and proponent (I still am), if one takes a gander at what's selling in gunshops and what the gun makers are cranking out, the 1911 is still being made in prodigious numbers, but we sure see lots and lots of other actions. That has to mean that there is a perceived need for these different versions of the semiauto and that there is a market for them.
I've owned several conventional DA/SA automatics over the decades. Most I let go, but some I found pleasing such as the CZ-75 (primarily because it offered cocked-and-locked) capability as well as the single-stack DA/SA pistols from SIG-Sauer. I'd tried some of the double-stack 9mm's, but they just didn't do it for me, although they "do it" for a great number of folks based on the numbers of them I saw as a police firearm instructor.
While there definitely is a transition from double to single-action, I have not found it to be quite the problem some folks report. Perhaps I am not as quick as some or maybe I shoot enough variation in handgun types that I've not become quite so locked into one specific trigger pull. I honestly don't know, but I do know that the DA/SA transition can be overcome with practice.
I am the first to admit that the traditional double-action pull on most SIG-Sauer handguns was heavy enough that I didn't want to have strictly a DAO SIG-Sauer. No doubt a SIG-Sauer trigger specialist could make life nicer in that respect, but it just didn't interest me.
Every couple of years I have to go to the Texas Department of Public Safety HQ in Austin, TX to re-certify as a concealed handgun instructor. I kept hearing about the P229 DAK in .357 SIG. Most that I visited with spoke highly of the pistol, but I had not shot one.
At the Internet gun forums I continued to hear mostly positive comments on these pistols. I was intrigued and I was also suffering not purchasing a new gun in way too long.
I bought two. One is the SIG-Sauer P220 SAS, which is equipped with the DAK (Double-Action Kellerman) trigger system and the other is the P229R with DAK. I chose the latter in 9mm rather than forty or .357 SIG, simply because I have no problem with 9mm for serious purposes, ammo costs & personal supplies, and because I feel that if the pistol will hold up to the other two calibers, it should easily handle copious amounts of shooting the warmish 9mm loads I seem to gravitate to.
Here is the P-229R 9mm with the DAK action. I could do without the rail on this gun, just as I could do without the rather aggressive "melting" on the front of the P220 SAS (SIG Anti-Snag) slide, but neither bothered me enough to pass on the sale. The synthetic grips on the P229 are plenty comfortable and functional, but I opted to order a set of Mr. Nill's wooden ones.
The P229R fitted with Nill grips certainly looks better (to me) and handles just fine. The grips fit perfectly. I had read of some folks having some malfunctions with Nill grips on DAK pistols due to inletting inside being a bit short on the pistol's right side. This has not occurred with my gun at all so I assume that Mr. Nills and company implemented whatever small change was necessary to eliminate the problem.
Winchester USA 115-gr. FMJ (50 rnds)
Fiocchi 115-gr. FMJ (50 rnds)
Sellier & Bellot 115-gr. FMJ (50 rnds)
Federal 115-gr. JHP (50 rnds)
Corbon 115-gr. JHP +P (50 rnds)
Corbon 115-gr. DPX +P (20 rnds)
(Old) Triton 125-gr. JHP +P (50 rnds)
Winchester Ranger 127-gr. JHP +P+ (50 rnds)
Speer 147-gr. Gold Dot (50 rnds)
This is certainly not anywhere close to a really wide selection of available 9mm loads, but it does at least hit the major bullet weight choices and includes standard, +P, and +P+ rated ammunition.
I also fired 50 rnds of handloaded 124-gr. Hornady XTP's powered by 6.0 grains of Unique powder.
In short, there were absolutely no malfunctions or stoppages of any kind. None seemed to "hesitate" in feeding. All grouped well, including the S&B, a round I have not found to offer more than "ho-hum" grouping in several other 9mm handguns. The primers on the harder S&B primers were nicely indented as well. Primer strikes were reasonably well-centered.
Shooting was done at 3 distances today: 7, 15, and 25 yards. Targets shot at the latter two distances were done in slow-fire and from a rest. I wanted to see the mechanical accuracy (which I've generally held in high esteem from prior shooting of SIG-Sauers) as well as the practical accuracy, ie: how easy or hard the gun is to shoot. My wrists were braced with sandbags.
The 7-yard target was fired standing with a two-hand hold with each set of FTF (Failure to Stop) drills starting with the pistol in a low ready position, finger off of the trigger. I did not have a timer available today, but fired as quickly as I could get a "flash sight picture".
Corbon's DPX shot quite nicely and recoil was a bit lighter than the Winchester 127-gr. +P+ or Corbon's 115-gr. JHP +P. The P229R with DAK is not designed as a target pistol, but at least from a rest, I could get what I consider nice groups. The point is that the pistol is going to be capable of better accuracy than most of us can wring out of it, I believe. Winchester's 127-gr. +P+ Ranger ammo grouped about the same as the DPX.
Speer 147-gr. Gold Dot functioned perfectly in the P229 and grouped very well. The vertical spread is due to me, not velocity fluctuations and the single shot outside the primary group was my third shot. I knew it when I did it; human error.
I guess I'm satisfied with this slow-fire 25 yard group but suspect that concentration was flagging. The errant shots are my fault. I have no doubt whatsoever that the pistol/ammo combination is capable of better...but for this gun's intended role, it is more than satisfactory for me.The worst shot was barely 2" from the center of the aiming point, something that might be of interest to a police officer having to make a rescue shot from a hidden position while utilizing a rest...if possible.
Fired at 7 yards and starting from a low ready position with two-hand hold, it was quite easy to get decent hits with but a flash sight picture. I think I'll be able to do better as I learn the DAK system. (Ammunition used was Winchester USA 115-gr. FMJ.)
Observations & Conclusion:
That the pistol functioned properly and with 100% reliability coupled with the inherent accuracy I've come to expect from SIG-Sauer, there were no surprises.
I definitely was suprised at the groups shot in slow-fire using the DAK released to the full distance between shots. (FWIW, I shot a group or two using the short but bit harder reset. I could tell no difference in groups and feel that in a "Oh, Lordy Lord! Here it comes" panic situation involving life or death, the average shooter (including myself) might be better served just to go with the slightly longer but easier full DAK pull.
Were I still in police service and particularly if in tac, I'd probably still go with the 1911 or Hi Power; I'm just so used to them, but I have no doubt whatsoever that the DAK system is a most viable one for serious situations. Were I not allowed to carry a single-action automatic, I'd carry the DAK without hesitation or remorse.
While my search for the perfect handgun goes on, the P220 and P229 pistols with DAK sit close to the top of my list of excellent handguns. My P220 SAS .45 is already serving as a "party favor" for would-be intruders and now that I've shot it a bit, I think that the P229R DAK may very well be fullfilling a similar role as well as being carried lawfully concealed.
Please understand that it is not my intention or desire to try and convert anyone to anything but if anyone reading this is looking for a "serious pistol", I am pretty well convinced that the SIG-Sauers with DAK are a very very fine choice.
Too big for a pocket gun, the P229R would make a good belt gun and one that can be concealed without too much effort in my opinion. In the past, my SIG-Sauers have wound up being single-stacks. This is one double-stack 9mm I'm hanging on to.
If you happen to have "teethed" on DA revolver shooting, I think that you might very well find the SIG-Sauer DAK guns like shaking hands with old friends.