Sig Sauer Firearms
Firearms manufacturers are big money businesses and tend to make their mark on the industry by filling a niche; Glock only makes pistols, and they all look the same and operate the same. Colt makes excellent single-action revolvers and excellent AR-pattern rifles. SIG Sauer made a name for themselves by making precision-engineered handguns, which had a reputation for custom-shop quality internals in a mass-produced weapon.
Company History and Lineage
SIG Sauer is oft thought of as a Swiss company, but that is a misnomer because it began as a conglomerate of two European firearms manufacturers, Schweizerische Industrie Gesellschaft (SIG) of Switzerland and J.P. Sauer & Sohn of Germany. This was in 1976, but the story is far earlier and involves a wagon.
The story goes back to 123 years before they would conglomerate. It was back in 1853 that three Swiss businessmen would come together to make an excellent wagon. Friedrich Peyer im Hof, Heinrich Moser, and Conrad Neher were the company's original purveyors, which would be one of the leading manufacturers of small arms globally. But that is putting the cart before the horse.
It was only six years into the existence of the Schweizerische Waggon Fabrik, or Swiss Wagon Factory that they branched out into the firearms industry to provide a sample firearm for the Swiss military. The Prélaz-Burnand 1859 was invented by a pair of individuals that the Swiss Wagon Factory brought on board for the project, Jean-Louis Joseph Prélaz (gunsmith) and Edouard Burnand (army officer). The design was so good that the Swiss Army awarded a contract for 30,000 rifles, and the rest is history.
The 20th Century
Once they had become a firearms manufacturer vice wagon maker, the name was changed to Schweizerische Industrie Gesellschaft, the acronym where the iconic phrase 'SIG' came from. The Sauer component of the name would come quite a lot late in 1976, but SIG was busy throughout the Century. Shortly after World War II, SIG developed their wildly successful autoloading pistol, the P210. Based on a Browning design, the P210 quickly superseded the French Modele 1935, which was based on the design. The SIG rapidly gained acclaim for its unbelievable fit between frame and slide, significantly reducing play between the two major components.
The P210 was renowned for its accuracy as well as being highly reliable. It celebrated a 26-year tenure for the Swiss army and is still used by some European police and military units.
The P210 is a single-action only pistol, which limits it to some extent. SIG designed their first double-action/single-action pistol in 1975, the iconic P220, which was developed to replace the fantastic P210 in the Swiss army.
In 1976, SIG Sauer was formed when SIG merged with German J.P. Sauer & Sohn, GmbH, of Eckernförde, West Germany, establishing excellent footing over all of Europe. Eyeing the vast American market, which was currently experiencing a radical transition to smaller caliber semiautomatic pistols away from traditional revolvers, SIGARMS was established as a new company in Virginia in 1985 to import SIG Sauer firearms from Europe. However, SIGARMS would move to their permanent home in New Hampshire just a few years later, where they have become a small arms powerhouse. Most recently, the U.S. military awarded SIG Sauer, Inc. the contract for the U.S. Army's Modular Handgun System to produce the M17 and M18 pistols. They also estimate that around a third of all U.S. law enforcement agencies use SIG Sauer firearms.
SIG Sauer, in any of its iterations, remains not only viable in the global firearms market after 171 years but is actually at the forefront of small arms technology. They are more relevant than ever, breaking into the most popular markets. They also continue to produce the same excellent pistols that claimed fame and adopted the ever-popular polymer frame that allows them to create a finely tuned firearm at a reasonable and competitive price point.