A purebred performance pistol, the Sig Sauer MK25 9mm is essentially a specialized version of the P226. A testament to its impressive capabilities, the U.S. Navy SEALs have taken on the MK25 as their own sidearm of choice.
The Sig Sauer P226 ranks as one of the most popular pistols among military, police and civilians. Introduced to the U.S. market in the early 1980’s, the full-size P226 has been the Navy SEALs’ official 9mm pistol since about 1987. Popular with police, the P226 is one of three issue handguns for the NYPD, while the Secret Service uses the compact version, the P229. Sig Sauer recently renamed the P226 Navy the “MK25,” to match the Navy’s new internal designation for the pistol. The MK25 is identical to the P226 issued to Navy SEALs and comes with a special certificate.
Though the MK25 has obvious collector appeal, it’s a purebred performance pistol designed for professional combatants. An earlier version of the P226, then made in West Germany, was among five contestants in the U.S. military’s 1985 trials for a sidearm to replace the 1911. The P226 and Beretta 92F were the only entrants to finish the test. Beretta won the contract, but the SEALs adopted the P226 soon after.
The MK25 is a full-size pistol that uses the modified Browning locked-breach design: during recoil, the barrel and slide lock together for about 0.12 inches of travel before the lug extending below the breechblock arrests the barrel’s rearward movement and tilts it downward and out of engagement with the slide, which continues rearward. It’s a reliable, straightforward system that requires simpler manufacture and fitting, as well as much less lubrication than the 1911’s swinging-link design. Many manufacturers use this “tilting-block” system. Sig Sauer uses it on nearly its entire line, including subcompacts like the P238 and P290.
The MK25’s traditional construction starts with a one-piece aluminum alloy for the frame and a stainless slide and carbon steel barrel. The stainless steel slide assembly and frame are Nitron-finished for corrosion resistance. The only plastic parts are the two-piece grips and the mainspring stop. The basic P226 design is a proven one, but some improvements have been made: In 1996, the welded carbon steel slide was replaced with a one-piece milled stainless steel slide, and the internal extractor was replaced with an external unit; later years, a Picatinny rail was added. The MK25’s rail is made to MIL-STD-1913 specifications.
The MK25 is a double-action/single-action pistol with a decocker and no manual safety. Sources explain this was the Naval Special Warfare Group’s (NSWG) preference for all pistols issued to SEALs. The MK25 can be carried with a loaded chamber in a proper holster with the hammer decocked. The chamber can be loaded (condition one) because the firing pin is prevented from moving forward and striking the primer unless the trigger is pressed. Pistols with DA/SA pistols do require finer marksmanship skills than SA pistols because the DA trigger pull is much longer and heavier. While this applies to the MK25’s initial shot, the gun’s trigger comes with Sig Sauer’s short reset mechanism, which allows the sear to engage the trigger after it has been released only a short way. The short reset trigger allows for more rapid and accurate followup shots with less movement of the shooter’s finger.