SIG P210 · MONDAY, JULY 1, 2019
My name is Michael Zeleny. I have created this page to assist my study and express my appreciation of the SIG P210, the best autopistol ever issued in military and police service.
Often mischaracterized as the most expensive and most accurate sidearm ever adopted in military service, the pistol developed by Max Müller on the basis of a 1935 patent by Charles Petter at the Schweizerische Industrie-Gesellschaft at Neuhausen am Rheinfall in the canton of Schaffhausen in Switzerland, was introduced by SIG in 1947 as the Selbstladepistole 47/8, and adopted in 1949 by the Swiss Kriegstechnische Abteilung des Eidgenössischen Militärdepartements (Technical Department of the Confederated Department of Defense) and the Danish Forsvarets Krigsmateriel Forvaltning (War Materials Administration, abbreviated as FKF) and Haerens Tekniske Korps (Army Technical Corps, abbreviated as HTK) as the m/49, their official issue handguns. In fact, their accuracy was at least equaled, and their cost far exceeded, by their Parabellum predecessors in the Swiss military service, from M1900, the first autopistol to be adopted by a major military force, exquisitely handcrafted in Germany by the Deutsche Waffen- und Munitionsfabriken Aktien-Gesellschaft (DWM), to the simplified and reinforced P1906/29, its final descendant designed and manufactured until 1947 by the Swiss government weapons factory, Waffenfabrik Bern (W+F). The most notable and unprecedented characteristic of the Neuhausen Pistole was its quality of fit. All major assemblies of previous service sidearms had been hand-fitted to each other. Two venerable gunmakers, Heinrich Krieghoff Waffenfabrik (HK) in Germany and W+F in Switzerland, had previously attempted, and failed, to reduce the manufacturing tolerances of major components of their Luger variants to the point that made them interchange without fitting. The aggregate improvements to the M1911 short recoil, tilting barrel action made by John Moses Browning in 1923, by Charles Petter in 1934, and by Max Müller in 1949, enabled SIG to achieve unprecedented modularity of their P49 pistol.
SIG P49 pistols were put through a series of stringent inspections by the Swiss Army. The Confederated Arms Inspection Board (Eidgenössische Waffenkontrolle or WK) follows up on all production phases of the pistol while it is in the factory. Upon the completion of each handgun at SIG, it was subjected to a proof test of two high pressure proof rounds followed by a functioning test of standard issue PP41 ammunition. The sights were then regulated, and the pistols were tested for accuracy in a machine rest. They were fired at a distance of 50 meters (54.5 yards). Each gun had to print an 8-shot group within a rectangle 5½ inches high by 4 inches wide. In most cases guns grouped well within the rectangle. Notably, the 50 meter test targets delivered by SIG with its early commercial P210 pistols, featured groups with a spread less than 50mm, with ten rounds individually hand-loaded in the chamber fired from a machine rest.
The Swiss Army also tested the guns after their factory tests were completed. This test comprised a function firing of each pistol with 8 rounds of issue ammunition. Then 10% of the production run was tested for accuracy. The inspectors randomly selected ten pistols from each lot, first firing them at individual targets, then firing all of them from the same machine rest into the same target. A representative target seen below, shows all 80 rounds clustering well within the 5½" x 4" rectangle. After this test, 5% of the guns were function fired with parts, including barrels and slides, interchanged from each other.
Reproduced from Fritz Häusler, Schweizer Faustfeuerwaffen / Armes de poing suisses / Swiss Handguns, Verlag Fritz Häusler, 1975
Similar standards of modularity are commonplace today, notably in SIG’s next pistol design, the simplified, aluminum alloy-framed double action pistol topped with a welded sheet metal slide, adopted by KTA as the P75 to succeed the P210 in the Swiss military service, and all the more so in the Glock 17 and 26 that succeeded the P75 in 2011. However, none of these handguns combine it with the remarkable bullseye match-grade accuracy of the P210.
Lastly, to answer a frequently asked question, as a historian and collector, I focus my interest on the original Neuhausen pistols, manufactured between 1947 and 2006. My review of their German successors made by SIG Sauer in Eckenförde since 2010 can be found here. I have little experience, and much less interest in the American P210A manufactured in Exeter since 2016, following a 2014 German ban on exports by SIG Sauer, following their unlawful delivery of 65,000 pistols to the Colombian police force via the US Department of Defense, with a fraudulent end use certificate. In a nutshell, I choose not to do business with convicted felons like Michael Lüke and Ron Cohen.