When you look at these two pistols, it seems that there would be a massive difference between the Sig P229 and the Tristar C100. However, there are a good amount of things that these pistols have in common. In this article, I am going to dig into some of these differences based off my experiences with both. I have a similar amount of rounds through both, so I think it is a relatively fair comparison.
SIZE & WEIGHT
The Tristar is basically the same size as the Sig P229. The little extension on the magazine is all that makes the C100 larger. However, the difference is maybe 2 millimeters, which basically means the pistols are the same size in a practical sense. Now when we are talking about weight, these pistols start having their differences. The Sig is known to be a "heavy pistol when it weighs in at about 32 ounces with an empty magazine. However, the C100 has it beat by being just at 36 ounces unloaded. These pistols can be the same size, but the differences these pistols have in weight is due to materials they used to construct the pistols.
The obvious difference between these two pistols is that the C100 has a frame that is pretty thin and rides inside the frame. The Sig is pretty fat and rides on the outside of the frame. Both of these pistol designs were built to withstand the .40 caliber pressures, but they accomplish this in different ways. The Sig P229 uses a light Aluminum alloy frame and a heavy slide that is designed to absorb alot of the recoil, along with the relatively heavy braided recoil spring. The C100 uses a heavy steel alloy frame and a dense slide with a very heavy flat wire recoil spring to dampen the pressures. The Tristar C100 is an adapted CZ design, which was originally meant to handle the 9mm.
The original CZ was already a pretty beefy pistol, but it still didn't make the cut when it had to stand up to a steady diet of .40 caliber punishment. It required a bit of thickening and hardening of the design. Even with these advancements, the general design and internal components are still going to receive quite a shock. One vulnerable point on this design would be the slide stop lever that also acts like a camming lever. This piece tends to break at a very early round count, even on the 9mm pistols, and even with proper maintenance. I am unsure if tristar has updated the material of the slide stop in order to strengthen it, or if they have just decided to leave it alone. All I know is that this piece is a weak point on most all CZ designs, so keep an eye out for it showing aggressive wear and pitting.
The Sig P229 was designed to take the .40 caliber specifically. The design is nearly identical to the original Sig p220/P226. However, the slide being more dense and the springs being more stout have this pistol well suited for a long service life with the .40 caliber. However, the frame on the P229 is not quite up to par for endurance. The frames on the P229 are the same weak aluminum alloy frames that tend to crack after a little bit of neglect and hard use. To put it in perspective, most other pistols with metal frames are designed to have the frame be the last thing to fail. Unfortunately, the P229 frames tend to fail well before the slide does.
Ah, the good old capacity discussion is here to start arguments among the armchair commandos once again. So let us be clear here and just say that the Sig has one more round in the magazine. Some people may consider that the reigning factor in which of these pistols is better. If you are willing to trash a design that is all the same, except for having one less round in the magazine, I would say it is time to reevaluate your life decisions. These pistols have more than ten rounds and one round is not enough of a deal to call it quits between these two pistols. But of course, that is a subjective opinion based off my experience. Some people seriously think that they are gonna have a John Wick moment in their life where one round will make the difference for them. I simply dissent from that opinion.
In the grand scheme of things, I think that one of the most defining factors in whether a pistol is right for you will come down to the way in which you are able to interact with it and the options it provides you as an end user. These two pistols are hammer fired, but they approach the hammer fired idea from different angles. I can't say that one reigns supreme over the other in terms of controls. However, I am sure you readers will be able to make the choice on which one would suit you better.
The Sig P229 is simply a DA/SA pistol that has a magazine release, takedown lever, slide release and a decocker on the left side of the pistol. Unlike many pistol designs on the market, the slide release is actually right above the side grip panel, making it easy to use with the firing hand. However, this can be a bit of a problem when you are too aggressive with a high thumbs forward grip, or with gloves on. It is common for people to unintentionally hold down the slide release, causing the slide to cycle after the last shot fired, giving you a click and causing a nasty correctional flinch.
The Tristar C100 has a variety of couple of options such as cocked and locked or DA/SA. If using the pistol in DA/SA, you can start from the hammer all the way forward or at half cock. The pistol can only be put in the DA condition by easing the hammer forward, but you then have the option of having the manual safety on in both conditions. The slide stop lever has a slightly angled extension on it, similar to the Jericho line of pistols out of Israel. This makes it incredibly easy to actuate with or without gloves under stress. The safety, though pretty low profile, is easy to reach and use with the firing hand thumb. This has always been a point of contention with me and other shooters when fiddling with other CZ designs. With the controls being the way they are, I feel like this pistols is ideally suited to serve in cocked and locked fashion.
When it comes to the .40 caliber cartridge, this is one of the issues that is paraded the most. "Oh my, this cartridge is too snappy! BOO HOO!" I personally think people get their panties in too tight of a wad over the recoil of this cartridge. The Sig P229 and Tristar C100 are perfect examples of why people complaining about the .40 caliber recoil are doing so out of ignorance and inexperience. These two pistols take the .40 caliber cartridge and make it feel like a 9mm NATO. It does not hurt to shoot and in fact, these pistols snap right back on target faster than most 9mm pistols do. I would personally say that the Tristar C100 has a bit less recoil than the Sig P229. You can feel the slide of the P229 trying to take control and flop around. The top heavy design of the Sig is not overwhelming by any stretch of the imagination, but it is noticeable when the slide cycles.
When looking at two products that are pretty similar, it is only natural to discuss what the price tag is like for both of them. For the Sig P229 I have, I paid $400 for it. It was a fair condition LE trade-in. It came with two magazines and no box. Not a bad price for a classic Sig that was built during the time when Sig had good QC. It isn't totally reliable with all types of ammo, but it is fun to hammer ammo through. The Tristar C100 was the first .40 caliber I bought since getting back into .40 caliber, and it cost me about $350. The Tristar was on clearance at my local big box store and I had been looking at budget friendly options for reviewing, so it fit the bill. I will say I have not been too disappointed.
I am not going to decide one pistol over the other in this article. However, I will tell you guys and gals a story so you can better understand why I chose to write this article, comparing these two pistols. When I was looking to get my first. 40 caliber pistol after a few years of only playing the 9mm game, I was looking for a hammer fired pistol that had double action capability with at least a 3.7" barrel and a magazine capacity of at least 10 rounds with a height that was less than 5.5" since I intended to carry the pistol. The only options at the time were the Tristar C100, Sig P229, H&K USP40, H&K P2000. I liked the price on the Tristar C100 and had recently learned to highly respect the Turks for the high quality they put into their firearms. This caused me to pull the trigger, no pun intended, and get the Tristar C100. I am glad that I did because this is one of the most underestimated .40 caliber pistols I have had the pleasure to use. The Sig P229 is also a pleasure to shoot, which makes it so hard for me to choose which one of these two pistols I think is the better pistol in .40 caliber. Should it be based on capacity, recoil, service life, street records, number in production, price? I guess that is all on you to figure out. I can't decide.
Do It Rite
Alaska-Based Youtube Vlogger, Retired Marine, gun enthusiast, and passionate firearm and gear evaluator.