SIG SAUER P210 9x19mm

The 9mm SIG P210 has served with Swiss armed forces…

The 9mm SIG P210 has served with Swiss armed forces for decades. Its long barrel, precision manufacturing, and excellent trigger contribute to its renowned accuracy.

Similar to the reputation of Swiss-made watches and other precision machinery, Swiss-made firearms have always been held in high esteem for their first-rate quality and exceptional craftsmanship. From 1900 to just short of the half-century mark, the Swiss-made Luger was the standard pistol in the Swiss armed forces. Though considered one of the finest Lugers ever made, it was replaced by an even finer pistol, the SIG P210, designated the P49 in Swiss military service. Unlike the Swiss Luger, which was chambered for the 7.65 Luger cartridge, the P49 was chambered for the 9mm Parabellum round.

The design of the P210 was actually licensed from Charles Petter, designer of the French M1935 pistol, in 1937 and though slowed by World War II, was developed over the next decade by Schweizerische Industrie-Gesellschaft (Sig). Two noteworthy features of the design are rails on the inside of the frame and outside of the slide, the opposite of the standard system. This allows quite a tight fit and enhances accuracy. This rail system was retained from the Swiss Lugers. For ease of maintenance, the hammer group is a lift-out assembly. It features a locked-breech action using a variation of the Colt/Browning system, but eliminating the swinging link. A spring-loaded extractor aided precision as well. By aligning the bore axis of the barrel very consistently with the frame, accuracy was improved. The frame and slide were machined from blocks of steel and barrels were precision-rifled.

The resulting 47/8 variant would be adopted as the P49 and marketed commercially as the P210. Versions of the pistol using a double-column magazine and holding 15 or 16 rounds had been tested but grip size, weight, and balance made them less desirable. The P49’s design and precision manufacturing, as well as its excellent trigger pull, contributed to its legendary accuracy. Because Swiss soldiers are, for the most part, reservists prepared for immediate call-up who keep weapons at home, great stress is put upon shooting competitions to keep reservists sharp. As a result, the P49/P210 was designed to be a durable service pistol that shoots like a match pistol. The P210 was expected to put five shots into 50mm (about 2 inches) at 50 meters before leaving the factory.

Swiss Army-issued P49s feature an “A” in front of the serial number, and many came with brown, European-style flap holsters. This version is also known as the P210-2.

More than six decades after entering Swiss service, the P49/P210 is still durable and shoots like a match pistol. In an age of polymer frames, double actions, large magazine capacity, and ergonomic backstraps, for many, the P210/P49 remains the best automatic pistol ever made. That said, it only holds eight rounds, is single-action only, has less than adequate sights, a European-type bottom magazine release, and it’s relatively heavy due to its all-steel construction. It has foibles, too. Traditionally, a new P49 or P210 safety is so stiff that hours of working it on and off were required to score a path on the frame and break it in. Note that this safety blocks the trigger when applied. Care must also be taken if one has not shot a P210/P49 for a while so as not to jerk the first round—the trigger pull is that good. The P210 trigger still employs a two-stage pull but with a very crisp release.

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