In 1853, Friedrich Peyer im Hof, Heinrich Moser and Conrad Neher began what they thought would become a successful wagon factory above the Rhine Falls in Switzerland.
Little did they know then, that their company would become one of the world’s most renowned manufacturers of small arms. Just seven years after constructing an industrial plant for building the most sophisticated wagons and railway cars, the three ambitious owners undertook a more serious venture.
In part to a challenge from Switzerland’s Federal Ministry of Defense, the Swiss Wagon Factory entered the competition to develop a state-of-the-art rifle with the hopes the Swiss Army would adopt it.
In 1864, the award went to the Swiss Wagon Factory for its Prelaz-Burnand rifle.
At this point, the Swiss Wagon Factory, with an order for 30,000 muzzle loading Prelaz-Burnand rifles in hand, changed the name of the company to the Swiss Industrial Company – Schweizerische Industrie-Gesellschaft, known worldwide as SIG.
Fast-forward to the 20th century. In 1949, the SIG P49, the forerunner of the SIG P210, was developed for the Swiss Army and destined to become a legend on the battlefield as well as the competition field. That same year, the P220 made its appearance as the new pistol for the army, soon followed by the compact P230 for the Swiss police. These pistols offered new features and levels of reliability never before seen in the industry.
By the 1970s, SIG’s small arms division was expanding to include Hämmerli Target Arms from Lenzburg, Switzerland, and J.P. Sauer & Sohn, GmbH, of Eckernförde, West Germany, known worldwide for their hunting rifles. In the 1980s, SIG set its sights on the United States of America. The American market was a vital part of SIG’s business plan to continue to expand its market share and become an international leader in the small arms industry. January of 1985 marked the birth date of SIGARMS®, Inc.
SIGARMS, then located in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia, imported the P220® and the P230. SIGARMS moved to a larger location in Herndon, Virginia in 1987 and introduced the P225 in 9mm followed by the P226® and P228 in 9mm. Looking to increase market share and begin manufacturing, SIGARMS moved to its present location in Exeter, New Hampshire, in 1990.
In 1992, SIG began production of the P229® in .40 S&W. Besides importing the SIG Sauer line of pistols, SIGARMS offered customer service from highly qualified gunsmiths in the reputable service department and state-of-the-art training at a separate training facility on 128 acres in Epping, New Hampshire. SIGARMS continued to expand its firearm lines with the Sauer rifle line and the Hämmerli line of target pistols and rifles. In 1996, the SIGARMS Training Academy moved to its current location in Epping, New Hampshire.
1998 — SIGARMS brought in the first shotgun line designed specifically for SIGARMS by B. Rizzini of Italy. The next year, the revolutionary Blaser R93 rifle line from Isny, Germany, was distributed nationwide through SIGARMS.
In 2001, SIGARMS, Inc. continued to expand its role in the firearms market with new contracts in the law enforcement market as well as new products for the civilian market. The SIGARMS Training Academy has added many new courses at its Epping location for both civilian and law enforcement personnel. Besides a new apparel line and efforts to reach a broader market, SIGARMS continues to educate people in the safety and use of firearms, while offering to the public the highest quality products and services found in the firearms industry. On October 1, 2007 SIGARMS changed its name to SIG SAUER®.
The change reflected the vast worldwide growth in demand for SIG SAUER products. In response, the company more than tripled its work force in the next 30 months, invested 18 million US dollars in state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities and equipment, and significantly expanded its engineering base. The name change, coupled with major new product introductions in pistols and rifles, reflects the continued commitment to the high standards of production, service and innovation the SIG SAUER brand has always represented.