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sig sauer guide

All You Wanted To Know About Sig Sauer But Didn't Ask

One of the most popular handgun makers of the past four decades is Sig Sauer. Sig Sauer, often just called Sig, has carved out a reputation for itself making some of the most accurate and reliable service arms available. Military personnel and law enforcement officers around the world carry Sig pistols and Sig rifles, so the reputation is there for good reason.

However, civilians have also taken to Sig Sauer pistols like a duck to water as Sig pistols are equally adept at home defense and open carry as they can be to concealed carry.

Curious about what Sig is all about prior to purchase? This is what you should know...

Hitch Your Wagon To Sig Sauer History

sig company

The origins of Sig Sauer is with the unimaginatively-named Schweizerische Waggon Fabrik, or Swiss Wagon Company, which was launched in 1853. Their wagons must not have been much to schreiben home about, because they started making rifles within a few years. By 1860, they won an award in a rifle-making competition put on by the Swiss government, and also a contract for 30,000 Prelaz-Burnard rifles, an early bolt-action - though still muzzle-loading! - rifle that the company made improvements to.

After receiving the contract, the company changed its name to the equally unimaginatively-named Schweizerische Industrie Gesellschaft (Swiss Industrial Company) or SIG and switched their focus to making firearms. The next gun of note was the Mondragon, the world's first automatic rifle, with production beginning around 1908.

SIG first produced handguns starting in 1949, beginning with the Sig P210. The P210 was a vast improvement on the French Petter Modele 35, itself an evolution of the Browning Hi Power and was heralded for it's unparalleled accuracy and quickly became the standard sidearm for the Swiss army and police forces, as well as the Danish military and German federal police.

The P210 was a single-action pistol offered in 9mm, 7.62x21mm and .22 LR. The slide rode inside the frame rails, giving it very tight lockup but easy disassembly. Sig put the manual safety on the grip, behind the trigger guard but below the slide, thus within easy reach of the thumb on the shooting hand.

Sound familiar?

During the 1970s, SIG bought the Hammerli and JP Sauer & Sohn (JP Sauer and Son) companies. This conferred a certain advantage, as these companies were German and Switzerland limits the amount of firearms that can be exported by a Swiss company without foreign partnerships. Thus, Sig-Sauer was born.

Improved production processes and Sauer's experienced firearms designers (and experience with double action firing systems) yielded the P220 in 1975, which became an instant success as a service arm. By 1977, it was being imported into the U.S. as the Browning Double Action or BDA, though the label was dropped by 1980 and it was sold as Sig Sauer P220. In the early 1980s, a refined version of the Sig Sauer P220 was shopped to the American military but wasn't adopted (they elected for the Beretta M9) and in 1984 went on sale as the Sig P226 and thus - as they say - the legend was born.

Since that time, the P226 has been Sig's bread and butter but they've hardly rested on their laurels, creating a number of variants of their double action system and putting it in service around the world with police and military forces. This has only enhanced Sig Sauer's reputation for build quality, accuracy and reliability.

Sig Pistols In The 21st Century

sig sauer pistol

In the past two decades, Sig pistols have made the jump into 21st century demands but without sacrificing the designs that made their name in the first place. The P220, P226, P225, P227, P229 and Sig Pro pistols are all still in gun store cases, gun safes, concealed carry holsters and duty holsters across the United States and indeed the world.

However, new innovations have come as well. Sig subcompacts have come into the 21st century as well, with the Sig P238 and P938 - single-stack subcompacts based on the 1911 design - have become wildly popular concealed carry pistols. Additionally, Sig Sauer 1911 pistols are widely hailed as some of the best the platform has to offer.

Sig has also branched into the modern poly striker gun format with gusto, unleashing models such as the P290 subcompact and P250 and the P320. The latter, which uses a modular chassis system that allows the trigger system to be swapped between subcompact, compact and full-size frames and slides, is one of the most highly-regarded poly striker pistols on the market and at a competitive price with some other well-known makers. Not only that, but the P320 was recently announced as the next standard issue handgun for the American military.

Sig makes a handgun for almost anyone, in a variety of calibers including .380, 9mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP and .357 Sig, their own house-developed cartridge. They've also begun producing ammunition, the Sig V Crown brand, which has been gaining plaudits for performance.

Sig Sauer's long guns are also widely heralded for the same qualities as their handguns, and their rifles have become very popular with service personnel and civilians alike.

Sig Sauer Concealed Carry Pistols To Look For

sig ccw pistols

The first Sig Sauer concealed carry pistol was the P230/P232, a Walther PPK-inspired design that was mostly inherited from JP Sauer und Sohn after the merger of that company with SIG. During World War II, Sauer had produced a similar pistol, though it was refined to create the P230/P232. Since Sig doesn't rotate designs in and out of production - they do it right and stick with it - they have a tendency to keep a pistol in production, and the P230/P232 was in production from 1977 to the early 2000s.

Most examples you'll find are used, though some new-in-box units are out there. If well-cared for, a used example will still have many years of service left in them. The most common caliber you'll find is .380, though the model was offered in .32 ACP and 9x18mm Ultra, also called 9x18mm Police, basically a hot .380.

Various compact models of the P226 have been released, such as the P228 and P229. The militarized version of the latter, the M-11, is in service with various units in the US armed forces and police departments. However, these models are compact in the sense that the barrel is half an inch shorter than the P226, at 3.9 inches compared to 4.4 inches for the P226. Width, height and weight are - near as makes no difference - the same. The premium charged for Sig pistols? This is where you'll pay it.

A variant of the P229, the Sig Pro models, have a polymer frame and a slightly less refined steel slide. However, a Sig Pro - the current model is the SP 2022 - is one of the most capable pistols for the purchase price, often found for less than $500 in stores. Concealment would be difficult, as the width, height, length and weight make it impractical compared to other guns. Some do CCW this gun, but many would find it too large for this purpose.

However, for those who don't mind concealing a larger pistol, there is the P225. The P225 was devised as a compact pistol for military and plainclothes police, and is - compared to the P226/P227/P220 family of pistols - more compact in dimension as well as being a single-stack design, with a carry model being available having a 3.6-inch barrel. Whilst not as small as many CCW pistols of today, the P225 has similar dimensions to a Commander-frame 1911.

In 2004, Sig released the P239, much like the P225 (single-stack compact) but optimized even further for carry, with a low-profile hammer and streamlined shape for easier concealment. The P239 is the smallest of the double-action Sig Sauer pistols, so those looking to carry a gun using the classic Sig Sauer mechanism, the P239 is the smallest available. It's still far from a pocket gun, having nearly the same overall dimensions as the P225 - in other words, close to the same size as a Glock 19.

For the poly-striker crowd, Sig Sauer formerly offered compact and subcompact variants of the P250 pistol, though these were recently discontinued in favor of the P320, an improved version of the P250. The P320 is fully modular, as the trigger mechanism can be extracted from the frame and placed in a different frame, namely a full-size, compact or subcompact frame, for use with full-size, compact or subcompact slides/barrel assemblies.

The P320 subcompact, a small double-stack, is a very popular carry pistol - roughly in line with the Glock 26 - holding 12 rounds of 9mm. The P320 pistols are also very widely available and at highly competitive prices, so those looking to get into Sigs would do well to look at these models.

The P290RS is a very similar design to the P320 subcompact, though it predates the P320 series. Many of the same refinements are there and the layout is similar - subcompact poly-striker pistol, though the difference is the P290 uses a single-stack magazine and has a double-action only trigger with a 9-lb trigger pull, putting the P290 closer in spirit to the Ruger LC9. Some prefer a carry pistol with a stiffer trigger, after all.

Two of Sig Sauer's most popular concealed carry pistols are the P238 and P938. Both are subcompact 1911-derived designs, similar to the Kimber Micro and Colt Mustang, and just like the Micro and the Mustang lack the 1911's grip safety. The thumb safety, however, is present for cocked-and-locked carry. Both are small enough for deep concealment, completely disappearing in a belt holster and could be carried in a pocket, though this is not recommended. The 938 is slightly larger than the 238, as it's chambered in 9mm compared to the 238, which is chambered in .380 auto.

The Sig 1911 line is very highly regarded, and are widely considered among the finest 1911s available that don't come from a custom shop, a la Les Baer, STI or Wilson Combat. Many are full-size, though a number of Commander frames (such as the Nightmare fastback carry) are available, as is at least one Officer frame design, the Sig 1911 Ultra Compact.

Sig Sauer News and Rumors

sig news and rumors

The latest in Sig Sauer news is that the P320 was the winning entrant in the XM17 program, which the US armed forces created to find a new handgun system to replace the aging Beretta M9, which the P320 will do for all branches of the armed forces except the Marines, which was later to adopt the Beretta and will hold onto theirs for the time being.

Some of other recent developments at Sig Sauer have been the creation of their own line of ammunition, Sig V-Crown, which has been getting plaudits for quality of both hardball practice and carry ammunition as well.

What does the future hold for Sig Sauer? Rest assured that they will continue to lead the way in handgun design, both for service and civilian use. Sig Sauer is one of the names you can bet your life on. Many people in the services and law enforcement already do.

Sam Hoober

About The Author

Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.