Designed in Switzerland by what was then SIG Arms AG, it is manufactured in Eckernförde, Germany, by subsidiary J.P. Sauer und Sohn GmbH. The P220 was the basis of what is now a large family, including the P225, P226, P228 and P229 pistols, which are in service in the armed forces and police of many countries and are distributed in the United States as SIG-Sauer.
The P220 was essentially replaced by the 9mm P226, which later was developed for different calibers. The P220 was later discontinued and officially replaced by the P227, a .45 which could hold 11 rounds.
It replaces the Beretta 92 pistol as John McClane's sidearm.
John McClane used the SIG Sauer P220R with an accessory rail as his sidearm. He uses it during the confrontation with Thomas Gabriel's men in the apartment of hacker Matt Farrell and the fight with the terrorists in the Eastern Power Hub in West Virginia. During the confrontation with Mai Linh in the power plant, she takes the P220 and holds it on Farrell. Then when McClane hits her with the SUV, she loses the pistol and it wasn't seen again since Gabriel had the power hub desroyed.
The P220 pistol was used by John McClane while chasing down the Mi-24P "Hind-F" attack helicopter at the abandoned warehouse in Chernobyl, Ukraine where weapons-grade uranium canisters are stored in. As McClane got onboard the terrorist chopper, he sneaks under the truck in the helicopter's cargo hold. As one of the men went to the cargo hold, McClane fires the P220 pistol at the terrorist's right leg and finishes him off with it. When McClane couldn't get in the cockpit, he tries to fire the door handle of the cockpit, but to no avail.
Despite working for the NYPD, McClane has bad luck getting firearms actually authorized to be carried by the NYPD. His original sidearm, the Beretta 92FS, was never allowed as a NYPD firearm. This is presumably why the filmmakers switched the pistol to the more accurate SIG-Sauer P220. However, even this is inaccurate, since the NYPD only allows Glock 19s or SIG-Sauer P226s as their sidearms, not the SIG-P220.