When it comes to pistols, the SIG Sauer P210 is often compared to a Swiss timepiece, not just because it was designed in Switzerland.
SIG Sauer P210. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
When I first published my article on the Top 5 9mm Pistols, it caused a bit of a controversy because I granted Honorable Mention to three pistols, including the iconic SIG Sauer P210. The SIG Sauer 210 is widely regarded as the most accurate 9mm handgun ever made, but I only gave it an Honorable Mention grade because I hadn’t had the chance to fire and analyze it myself. For the better part of three decades, none of the gun ranges I visited across the United States of America offered them for rent because they were so goddamn expensive. The gun now seemed to be made of Unobtainium and the Holy Grail.
Many people consider the SIG Sauer P210 the Swiss watch of pistols, not just because it was designed in Switzerland (though that helps).
While the Swiss aren’t known for fielding a substantial military force, their weapons are renowned for their quality and are effective in the hands of trained soldiers, as highlighted by Outdoor Life’s Sean Murphy. The SIG P49 (later renamed P210) was a semiautomatic pistol that first saw widespread use in 1949, notable for its full-length-contact steel frame and slide, high-quality barrel, and exceptional trigger. The original SIG P210 was required to have a two-inch or less five-shot group at 50 meters with match-grade ammo. Even at half the distance, this level of accuracy is difficult to achieve with most pistols. * (emphasis mine)
The SIG Sauer P220 eventually succeeded the P210 as the official Swiss Army handgun. The P210 is a single-action autoloader with a modest 8-round magazine and an old-school European-style butt-heel magazine release that has long since fallen in favor of the far faster push-button mag releases behind the trigger guard. Still, it remains a standard issue for the Danish Defense (the unified armed forces for the Kingdom of Denmark).
Standard P210s are 970 grams (34 ounces), 215 millimeters (8.5 inches) long, and have barrels that are 120 millimeters (4.7 inches) long (4.7 in).
By sheer good fortune, I spent the Labor Day weekend in my hometown of Los Angeles, where I had spent many happy years of my youth, and visited the good ol’ Los Angeles Gun Club in the city’s heart.
I was happily surprised to learn that the LAGC staff members were willing to rent out a SIG P210. That this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance is a gross understatement.
After 33 years of intrigue and mystery, making this pistol accessible was good but not exceptional. “And the crowd goes…mild.” Indeed not a negative experience, but it also failed to wow me (bad pun intended).
The CZ-75 is one of the few other auto pistols to possess a slide that sits inside the frame rails instead, not on top of them like most semiautomatic pistol slides do; this design choice likely contributes to the gun’s inherent accuracy.
And the trigger was so buttery smooth. It belonged on a Swiss watch. With a soft and stealthy motion, the safety switch on the frame moved from the “Safe” to the “Fire” position. For example, going in the opposite direction into cocked-and-locked carry mode was harsh and gritty.
Then there was the introduction of that heel magazine I mentioned earlier. Moving around without knowing if this was a general problem with the P210 or just this particular model was challenging. My shooting partner and I had a hard time with it, and we’re both rather hefty and usually go to the gym. Not something you want in real-world combat or even a high-stakes competitive match where speed reloads, sometimes known as emergency reloads, are required.
Regarding the SIG Sauer P210’s renowned accuracy, I am compelled to offer a few disclaimers. For starters, the 50-foot length of the shooting range at LAGC meant that I couldn’t give the rifle a thorough test of its long-distance dialing (so to speak) capabilities. Second, this firearm has some wear and tear because I rented it out for use at a shooting range. Nonetheless, all 25 shots hit the ICE-QT target in the head from 21 feet away. They were intensely concentrated to the right, near the left eye, rather than the bridge of the nose where I had targeted. All 25 shots were in the 5-zone of the torso at 50 feet, but only eight were in the tiebreaking 5x zone, trending right again. The groups were respectably small, but they weren’t as small as the ones I typically get with my favorite Beretta 92FS/M9, Glock 17, Glock 21SF, Glock 26, or my WWI-era Colt M1911 at this same range session.
Remington Range 115 FMJ was the cartridge of choice (FMJ).
While many other firearms remain more desirable to me, I have no plans to put aside funds to purchase a SIG P210. Even so, it is undeniably a high-quality firearm, and I look forward to the day when I can put it through its paces at 25 and 50 yards (as opposed to 21 and 50 feet). The good news is that although the weapon is costly, it has become less expensive than the $2,500.00 to USD 3,000.00 that was common in the 1990s.
I urge you to pursue the acquisition of one of these storied handguns.