Trick question, what is James Bond’s choice of handgun? If you answered the Walther PPK, you’re only partially correct. Bond actually only used the famous German-made handgun a handful of times and the compact pistol doesn’t even appear in a few films at all.
While some publicity photos show the fictional 007 still using the PPK in the soon-to-be-released No Time to Die, if you look closely at the movie poster Bond is actually carrying a Sig Sauer P226. This is fitting as units of the British military including the Special Air Service (SAS) and Special Boat Service (SBS) each use the pistol, which is designated as the L105A1 (standard model) or L106A1 (corrosion-resistant version).
As a Royal Navy officer, Commander Bond had reportedly served in the SBS, and the promotional posters showed him in tactical clothing similar to what the SBS might wear. In an early version of the poster, Bond was seen carrying the ubiquitous PPK, while wearing an empty P226 – later the poster was updated to show the agent with the P226. Publicity stills also show Bond with a holstered P226/L106A1.
The full-sized, service-type pistol has become a popular sidearm for law enforcement and military organizations worldwide. One reason is that the handgun, which has the same basic design as the Sig Sauer P220, but was developed to use higher capacity and double stack magazines, is sold with a choice of four chambers including 9x19mm Parabellum, .40 Smith & Wesson, .357 SIG and .22 Long Rifle. Additionally, the P226 has spawned its own sub-variants in 9mm, which include the compact double stack P228 and the sub-compact P229.
The P226 has a standard magazine capacity of 15 rounds, but can be fitted with an extended 20-round magazine. When employed by special operators, such as the British Army’s SAS, it is often used with the extended magazine, notably on counterterrorism operations.
It is just the SAS and SBS that have been partial to the weapon. U.S. Navy SEAL teams first adopted the Sig Sauer P226 in 1989 as the “Mk26 Mod 0.” It is also employed by Germany’s Spezialeinsatzkommandos (SEKs) of the police and the Federal Criminal Police Office; Israeli Special Forces units; the Japanese Self-Defense Forces Special Boating Unit; and France’s National Gendarmerie Intervention Group (GIGN), The Tactical Squad of French Gendarmerie.
The Sig Sauer P226 is also employed by the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Army CIC (Criminal Investigation Command), U.S. Federal Air Marshals and the U.S. Secret Service; as well as by the United States Postal Inspection Service and multiple police departments.
The P226 in the Movies
This year’s No Time to Die is far from the first big-screen appearance of the Sig Sauer P226. In fact, the weapon made its big-screen debut in 1985’s Rambo: First Blood Part II when it was carried by a CIA field agent. The firearm was later seen in such films as RoboCop (1987), Predator 2 (1990), and Point Break (1991) and in the past three decades has appeared in more than 100 movies and TV shows.
In fact, while No Time to Die may be the first time Bond was issued the P226, he previously used the firearm in the 2008 Bond outing Quantum of Solace, after it was “obtained” from another agent. While it may not have been issued by Q, we can’t help think that this handgun seemed a more natural choice for 007 in the 21st century.
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.