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EFK Fire Dragon P229 9mm Conversion - Range Report

This is a discussion on EFK Fire Dragon P229 9mm Conversion - Range Report within the SIG Sauer Pistols forums, part of the SIG Sauer Forum category; EFK Fire Dragon P229 9mm Conversion - Range Report I've been looking to acquire a 9mm conversion barrel for my .40 caliber Sig P229 for ...


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Old 07-03-2016, 09:14 PM   #1
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EFK Fire Dragon P229 9mm Conversion - Range Report

EFK Fire Dragon P229 9mm Conversion - Range Report

I've been looking to acquire a 9mm conversion barrel for my .40 caliber Sig P229 for some time. I already had a .357 Sig barrel, so the acquisition of a 9mm conversion barrel made sense from the standpoint of versatility. One frame, three calibers at a fraction of the cost of three guns. Plus, if there's a run on certain calibers of ammo, I can keep the gun running with other calibers. What's not to like?

As most of us know, the P229 (especially the early ones such as I have) is not convertible to 9mm with a factory Sig barrel, as are the P226 and P239. The older P229 requires a specific aftermarket "conversion" barrel to accomplish this trick. (The newer P229-1 has a Sig caliber X-change kit with a complete upper, but it is pricey.) There are two manufacturers of these barrels, Bar-Sto and EFK FireDragon. Both make conversion barrels for many types of pistols, with Sig included on the list. Both have published minimum 90 day waits for barrels, with even longer waits at times. Bar-Sto's barrel sells for $230 for their "semi-fit" version (with a match fit option available at extra cost). EFK's barrel sells for $155. However, EFK's customer service has sometimes been reported to be spotty, where Bar-Sto's is considered to be top rate.

In addition to the barrels themselves, there are conflicting stories here and elsewhere on what other changes are required to make the gun run properly. Some folks insist the spring needs to be changed for 9mm, others say no spring change is required. Same with magazines - some folks insist that the .40 mags feed 9mm just fine, others suggest that a 9mm mag is required. Some folks say it's a "range only" conversion, and some would feel comfortable carrying it. In order to put the preconceived notions to rest, I wanted to start from square one... base gun with only a barrel change.

After trying in vain for quite a while to locate a used barrel of either flavor, I finally broke down and set my mind to getting a barrel direct from the manufacturer. After weighing that decision for a considerable amount of time, I decided to call EFK, based on their better pricing. I spoke with their representative, and got on the notification list. In roughly three weeks, I got a call that barrels were available. Unfortunately, my financial situation at that point kept me from pulling the trigger before they went out of stock again. After another year of trying in vain to find a used barrel, I found myself in the position of "now or never". So I gave EFK another call and talked to Frankie. She said she would add my name to the list for the next production run. This was fine with me, as I wasn't in a hurry for it. A week later, I got a phone call from EFK. Frankie said (and I don't recall the exact scenario how it happened) that she had a barrel in hand, and if I wanted it I should just go online and order it within the next 48 hours. Done. I gave Frankie a call to confirm, she verified that they had the order and it would ship next day. Two days later, the barrel was in my hands. I can say nothing but good about EFK's customer service... but how would the product perform?

First test was the fit test. For reference, my P229 is a fairly early .40 S&W model, with no rail. The gun had been sent to Sig about a year ago for the Sig Full Service, with wear items such as springs replaced and Siglite night sights added. The gun has gone to the range only once since that service. The gun is in great shape, with very little wear. To test the fit, I disassembled the pistol and removed the .40 barrel. I then swapped in the EFK 9mm barrel, using the new .40 recoil spring that had been put in as part of the Sig service. I reassembled the pistol and checked for proper fit. Slowly racking the slide by hand showed nothing unusual. Slide lock back worked normally, as it should. Rapid and repeated racking of the slide showed nothing unusual either. So far, so good. Now it was time for the range test.

On arrival at the range, the RO disqualified my one box of .40 ammo for containing some rounds with steel cores (Tula). Since I also had a .357 Sig barrel for the gun, and a box of "clean" (non magnetic) .357 Sig ammo, I swapped that barrel in for initial testing. I fired one full 10 round mag of paced (1 round per second) fire to test pistol function, and this test passed just fine. Now, it was time to test the EFK barrel. I disassembled the pistol and changed out the barrel, and reassembled the pistol with the .40/.357 recoil spring. To test magazine function, I also used my .40/.357 magazines. The test magazine suite consisted of four .40/.357 mags; two Sig factory 10 round, one Sig factory 12 round (LE), and a Mec-Gar "plus 2" 14 round mag. The range did have a factory 9mm mag in stock if needed. I also had a full 100 rounds of ammo for testing.

For the initial test, I loaded up the two 10 round magazines with 10 rounds each of Winchester white box 115 grain FMJ ammo. I then fired both magazines in paced fire. There were no malfunctions of any kind, and the pistol locked open properly on the last round. I then ran the same test with the two high capacity mags - I loaded each mag to 10 rounds with WWB and fired both with paced fire. Again, there were no malfunctions. I did observe that accuracy seemed better than with the Sig factory barrels - the groups were considerably tighter. I don't know how much was attributable to the barrel itself, or how much could be attributed to the lighter recoil of 9mm; all I know is that the EFK barrel provided some excellent groups. The target distance for all tests was 7 yards.

For the second part of the test, I loaded the magazines to their full capacity for some rapid fire testing. After some testing, I determined that going to 9mm increased the capacity of each magazine by 3 rounds. So instead of 10, 12, or 14 rounds of .40 or .357, I had 13, 15, or 17 rounds of 9mm available. I started with the 10 (now 13) round mags. The remaining test was completed using mixed ammunition, the remaining WWB and some 115 grain reloads. On the first mag, I shot the first shot as a single, then shot double-taps for the rest of the magazine. On the second, I did something similar; single shots, sets of double-taps, and a three shot string at the end. On both mags, there were no malfunctions, and the groups continued to be tight, even with the reloaded ammo.

For the last part of the test, I decided to cut it loose. I loaded the two high capacity mags to their full capacity with the remaining ammo, and ran a rapid fire drill with each one. Double taps, triple taps, even a string of five rapid rounds with the Mec-Gar mag. There were ZERO malfunctions of any kind, and the center of the target was pretty much a single ragged hole. The only oddity I found (which was a nuisance at worst) was that the direction of case ejection was sometimes erratic during rapid fire; there were a few cases that went straight back over my head, and a couple even dinged me in the forehead. However, in my opinion this was a relatively minor drawback. During paced fire, I did not notice this behavior.

Bottom line, based on my range testing, I was impressed with the performance of the P229 and the EFK FireDragon 9mm conversion barrel. Accuracy was excellent, and there were zero malfunctions of any kind, even using the .40 magazines. The bonus is being able to run three calibers out of a single frame,as well as being able to use a single set of magazines for all three calibers, and gaining an additional three rounds per magazine with 9mm. I was very pleased with EFK's customer service as well. All in all, this was an excellent purchase, and I can absolutely recommend the FireDragon conversion without any reservations.
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Old 07-04-2016, 07:44 PM   #2
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A nice, fully detailed and well written range report. I like it.
Yeah, you've mirrored my exact thinking on wanting and searching for a conversion 9mm barrel for my p226 in 40s&w. I also seem unable to find anyone in the world selling a used one. I had a similar result with my Glock 23. I finally broke down and bought a new one as you did. I'm thinking that I will have to do the same for my Sig 226, but now the prices are about $224 per barrel, not sure if this is a temp price increase because of a run on 9mm barrels or a permanent adjustment.
Good stuff, thanks.
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Old 07-07-2016, 05:42 PM   #3
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Hey PackMule, thank you for that very nice and thoughtful write up. My situation parallels yours almost to a tee. I too sent my older P229 back for the Sig Full Service treatment with the night sights about a year ago. It came back with all the springs replaced and a few other small parts replaced like the grip screws. I was very pleased with the service. I have looked for a conversion kit/barrel for a while and it seemed the only options I could find were the Bar-Sto versions for $225 sold by a local vendor. I had not heard of the EFK barrel until your post. They are still out stock BTW. I really appreciate your story as now I have an option that maybe I can afford. They are still listed at $155 but on back order.
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Old 07-16-2016, 10:04 AM   #4
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Very nice range report. Those interested in EFK Fire Dragon may want to keep an eye out on eBay. I was able to get a 9mm Ported Conversion Barrel for my P226 Stainless 357 on eBay -- directly from EFK Fire Dragon. It appears they clear overstock thru their eBay store.

I haven't used it at the range yet, but I am quite pleased with the fit. Holding off till I get a 9mm spring. I will post a report on the EFK Fire Dragon Ported 9mm Conversion for the 226 when I get it together.

Thanks again for your post, it helped me feel better about the Fire Dragon conversion!
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