Guns and Gear

SIG P226 MK25 – A Retrospective

When it comes to iconic firearms, the SIG P226 stands out as one of the best wonder nines from the 1980s. Born out of the needs of modern warfare at the time and adopted by the United States Navy SEALs, the MK25 variation of the P226 handgun has achieved something of a cult-like following from both elite operators and people who have watched “Point Break” one too many times.


A Brief History

The SIG P226, the precursor to the MK25, is a product of the Swiss-German firearms manufacturer, SIG Sauer. It was originally developed for the Swiss Army, which sought a new handgun to replace the aging P210. The P220 was introduced in 1980 and quickly gained a reputation for its exceptional reliability and accuracy.

When the U.S. Military decided to replace their aging line of M1911s in the 1980s, they opened up the opportunity to any vendor who could meet their strict service pistol guidelines. Thus the XM9 trials began with there ultimately being submissions from H&K, Berreta, Colt, Steyr, and SIG. SIG actually developed the P226 for these trials and used their P220 as the starting platform. The Beretta 92F would ultimately emerge victorious, becoming the M9 service pistol for the U.S. armed forces but that’s mostly because it was less expensive overall than the P226. The M9 and P226 were essentially tied in reliability but the Naval Special Warfare was displeased with the slide breakages on the initial M9 pistols they received and wanted something more robust. NSW would examine the P226 and work alongside SIG to create the pistol they really wanted, the MK25.

Design and Features

The SIG P226 MK25 is a full-sized, semi-automatic pistol chambered in 9x19mm Parabellum, known for its robust construction and refined design. Its double-action/single-action (DA/SA) trigger system offers versatility, allowing the shooter to either fire the first round in double-action or manually cock the hammer for a lighter single-action trigger pull on subsequent rounds. This design caters to the preferences of many shooters, enhancing its adaptability for various applications.

One of the standout features of the MK25 is its durability. The pistol is built to withstand harsh conditions and extended use on land and in the sea. The frame and slide are made from high-quality stainless steel, making it corrosion-resistant and capable of enduring rough treatment. The phosphate-coated internal components contribute to the firearm’s resilience and help prevent rust accumulation.

The MK25 also incorporates a decocking lever, which enables the shooter to safely lower the hammer without discharging the weapon, a useful safety feature for tactical and self-defense situations. Additionally, the pistol boasts an integral Picatinny rail for attaching accessories such as tactical lights or laser aiming devices, enhancing its versatility and usefulness in low-light situations.


The performance of the SIG P226 MK25 is a critical factor in its enduring popularity. The combination of its design and quality materials translates into great accuracy and reliability. Whether on the range or in high-stress situations, the MK25 is known for its consistency.

The 4.4-inch barrel length along with its all-aluminum frame ensures that follow-up shots are quick and accurate as the recoil is very mild when compared to popular polymer-framed pistols today. The DA/SA trigger system provides a smooth transition from the first double-action shot to the subsequent single-action shots, contributing to improved accuracy. After shooting Glocks and P320s for a while, going back to the MK25 is always a treat with its crisp and light SA trigger pull.

The SIG P226 MK25 is known for its feeding and ejection reliability. It can cycle various types of ammunition without hiccups, contributing to its reputation as a trustworthy sidearm in combat and tactical scenarios. The pistol’s chambering in 9mm Parabellum is an advantage as modern-day loadings of 9mm have kept it a relevant self-defense caliber. You will have no problem firing higher-pressure rounds from the MK25.

Maybe I should have cleaned this gun before photographing it?

In terms of magazine capacity, the MK25 typically comes with 15-round magazines, providing ample firepower but there are larger 20-rounders available. This combination of firepower and accuracy has made it a favorite choice among law enforcement agencies, military units, and civilian enthusiasts alike.

Impact and Legacy

The impact of the SIG P226 MK25 extends far beyond its functional attributes. It has left an indelible mark on both the firearms industry and popular culture. Its adoption by elite military units like the Navy SEALs helped solidify its reputation as a reliable combat handgun. The MK25’s presence in movies, TV shows, and video games has further contributed to its iconic status.


In a world of ever-evolving handgun materials and designs, the P226 MK25 still has a place in my heart and I think I’m not alone. Does it have an optics cut for your favorite red dot? No. Does it weigh less than a Glock 17? No. Is the bore access low? No. Does it have an interchangeable chassis system? No. Does it utilize high-tech micro compact style magazines? No. Even with none of these features or elements it’s still one of my favorite handguns to shoot to this day. But why?

It’s a legendary handgun and eats up recoil. Its history is rooted in military excellence, its design is a masterpiece of functionality and ergonomics, its performance is renowned for its reliability and accuracy, and its impact on the industry and popular culture is unmistakable. As a handgun that has served the U.S. Navy SEALs and numerous other military and law enforcement units for decades, the MK25 has earned its place in firearms history.

(Yes I know that most Navy Seals today use modified Glock 19s but that’s beside the point?)

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