SIG P210: A Legend Returns

I am affected by a curse that is fairly common amongst actual gunfighters in that I see firearms as weapons, not novelties. There are exceptions to this rule. We do have the occasional collector or hobbyist in our ranks. But by and large, people that have been on the pointy end of stick don’t care about guns that are fun and or neat. When you have used them for real, it is hard to evaluate guns on any merit besides combat effectiveness. As in, how well will this gun put another biped in the ground, and what are the trade-offs over another gun? But for the new SIG P210, I am prepared to make an allowance.

To be fair, I was not at all excited to hear about the P210 during range day at SHOT Show 2017. Single stack, 9mm, vintage European heritage? No thanks. To quote the real Han Solo, “Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side.” But I was forced to shoot it anyway, mostly because it was the station between the MCX and the P320X5, two things I wasn’t going to miss.

Picking the little bastard up was a mistake. It grabs on to you like it is making you the Prisoner of the Horned Helmet. James Silke, 1989. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Out of the box, the P210 feels like it was made for your hand. Taking a couple dry fire pulls, I was amazed by the trigger. And sweet mother of pearl was it accurate. Now to be fair, SHOT Show range day is not set up for any flavor of real testing. That is partly because the “gun media” as a whole couldn’t hit the floor with a pistol if they dropped it, and partly because everyone is moving at a fast pace. With my 5 rounds, I stacked them all on the bolt of an MGM target, which was just enough to leave me wanting more.

Like many others, I was now salivating to get my hands on one in the wild. I had never even heard of the 210 before this, nor did I know it’s history. SIG could have told me it was a totally new gun, and I would have believed it. But that was not to be. Between winning the US Army handgun contract and jump-starting the suppressor division, the new P210 got pushed to the side. So I went looking for an old one, and boy was that demoralizing.

The P210 started life as a Swiss military and police pistol back in 1949. It stayed in service there until 1975, and was also used by West German Border Guards. During this time, the P210 also gained quite a following in shooting sports across Europe. The P210 has seen life in various versions with Sig as a Swiss company, Sig as a Swiss/German company, and with Sig as a German Company. For a brief time, German Sig imported P210 models to Sig New Hampshire and stopped when Sig New Hampshire started making them in New Hampshire. Confused? Good. Me too. Trying to sort out the history of Sig is like untying the Gordian Knot, only Alexander has a plastic spoon this time.

To start with, old P210’s are hard to find. A quick glance at GunsAmerica just now yielded one. When you do find them, prices are all over the map depending on what country it was built in, and specific details that escape us non-collectors. Swiss ones seem to go for around $8,000, though I have seen them as high as $25,000. More recent German models like the P210 Super Target tend to go for around $4,000—all of which are much too rich for my blood, and certainly on something I can’t test drive.

So I was very excited when SIG finally announced that the new models where shipping. The price tag of $1,699 MSRP is still steep, but not outside of what we expect to pay for a well-built, all steel gun. The price was now right, but do the new models retain the allure of the old ones?

For my money, yes. I haven’t been able to stop fondling this gun since my test model showed up. The design is so unique and feels so natural to shoot, that I can’t resist its siren charm. Even when I am doing something totally unrelated, it goes to the range with me for a couple of mistress magazines. She demands attention, and I am powerless not to feed her 9mm.

The first thing you notice is the wooden grips with perfectly designed palm swells. I wondered if this would be unnatural for two-handed shooting and was happy to find it is not. Whether a one-handed traditional bullseye grip or modern combat two-handed, the grips fit like nothing else.

The second thing unique about the P210 is that the slide rides inside of frame rails. It is easy to see the influence this had on the CZ-75. This is pretty uncommon in pistols, but many swear it is the reason for the P210’s accuracy. If so, it seems to be working.

The P210 is a single action only, with an external hammer, much like a 1911. It has a capacity of 8+1, with steel magazines. One of the only dislikes I have on this gun is the safety. The safety is HUGE, but at the same time easy to miss. I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s true. Dimensionally, it is long but shallow, if that makes any sense. The result is a bottom ledge that is actually a little sharp. This, combined with a very stiff movement, actually makes putting the gun back on safe a little uncomfortable. But it does look good, so maybe it is worth it.

The trigger is what first attracts most people to the P210, and the new version delivers in spades. Mine broke consistently at 3 pounds, which is outstanding for a pistol. It is a little different than a 1911, but I have grown to like it. The best way I can think of to describe it would be as the only two stage pistol trigger I have ever shot. When we think of a 1911, we think of a tiny bit of take-up, then a clean break. The P210 has a noticeable 2.5 pound take up, then a wall, then a smooth break at 3 pounds. Which makes me wonder if that is just a European flavor. At any rate, it worked out, and I have grown to like it.

Not everything on the P210 is a throwback, SIG did take some liberties on the new model. The rear sight is adjustable, kind of a no-brainer on a target pistol. The front sight is fiber optic, which may offend the purist, but I dug it. New Hampshire also put an American style magazine release button next to the trigger guard, where John Wayne and Ronald Reagan intended it. Also new is an extended beavertail, to keep the hammer bite at bay. Anyone that has shot an early model 1911 knows what I’m talking about.

Performance wise, this gun is amazing. It has the lowest bore axis of any gun I’ve picked up, which keeps it on target well. It shoots like a dream and the accuracy lives up to the hype. I rarely publish measured pistol groups, which I have explained elsewhere at length. I’m not a bullseye guy, and most of the guys that do publish groups are full of shit. But for a target pistol review, I didn’t feel like I had much choice. With Freedom Munitions Pro Match, the P210 gave me a 2.3 inch 25 yard 5 round group, shot freestyle unsupported. For me, that is pretty impressive. In the hands of someone that can consistently shoot 99 or 100 25-yard bulls, there is absolutely no telling what this pistol is capable of.


Would this be my first choice for a combat handgun? No, it would not. Would it get the job done in a pinch? Absolutely. And it was a lot of fun to shoot. And there is a value all its own in having a super accurate handgun to train with. When I shoot for accuracy with the P210, I know what the weak link in the chain likely is. And that offers a lot of room for improvement.

***Shop GunsAmerica for your SIG P210v***

About the author: Clay Martin is a former Marine and Green Beret, retiring out of 3rd Special Forces Group. He is a multi-decade and -service sniper, as well as 3-Gun competitor and Master ranked shooter in USPSA Production. In addition to writing about guns, he is the author of “Last Son of The War God,” a novel about shooting people that deserve it. You can also follow him on twitter, @offthe_res or his website, Off-The-Reservation.com

{ 14 comments… add one }
  • Old Swiss July 16, 2019, 1:34 pm

    Couple of years ago bought an old Swiss one – P210-2 army variant (Serial starts with A) After digging serial number figured it was manufactured back around 1955 or so. Stamp on the inside of plastic grips confirmed it. So the gun is 60+ years old.
    Thing shoots like a dream. Made me stop shooting 2 handed since I can hit a target as long as I can see it (within limits of shooting range of course) One hand is bit more challenging, so there we go.

    Also have P226 TacOps – gun is about 4 years old with ~20K rounds through it.

    Took magazines out of both, shook P210 – not a peep, no rattle, nothing. Could’ve shaken a brick – dead silent.
    Shook P226 – every single part makes a noise, and altogether it rattles like a bucket of bolts and nuts.

    Yeah, it was 2K+ on gunbroker, 2 stage trigger is something to get used to, heel magazine release is not the most convenient thing, spare magazines are hard to find and expensive as hell but guess what – haven’t regretted it for a minute.
    Most accurate service handgun out of the box.
    BTW the old Swiss ones had to pass 2″ 5 shot groups from _50 meters_ (~54.5 yards). New Sigs are also 2″, but from only 25 yards.
    Kinda a shame that NH guys with all new technology, machinery and materials can’t even get close to 60+ year old Swiss manufacturing precision and quality.

  • troop emonds May 23, 2019, 1:08 pm

    Please bring out the 6” barrel, Super Target soon Sig USA!!!!!

  • Jim Irwin May 20, 2019, 1:39 pm

    I’ve held, measured and fired both the Target model and the newer Standard model side by side. Awesome guns but a bit disappointing triggers. First the Standard trigger was a half pound lighter than the target. I don’t “get” a 2-stage trigger on a handgun. For slow fire , maybe even timed fire….maybe. For fast run and gun competition, you’ve got a 4 pound trigger with long travel. It is smooth and the guns are TIGHT! Love that!
    All in all owners and testers have preferred the standard models over the Target., the grips on the Target model being the one exception.

  • homer May 20, 2019, 12:50 pm

    These “accuracy” judgements are meaningless, a waste of ammo and (lots of) verbage.

    At 25 yards any competitive bullseye shooter could and would need to fire five shot groups smaller than 2″ cent-to-cent. one handed as required in bullseye pistol events. If the shooter or the pistol/ammo cannot do that as a minimum they will not be competitive.

    2″ at 25 yards is not especially good for the slow fire segments of a match but would be OK in the timed and rapid fire portions.

    Slow fire by the regulations is fired at 50 yards, again one handed only. A pistol needs 2″ capability at 50 yards if the shooter is to have a competitive chance. Simple to see that a pistol capable of 2″ at 50 is capable of 1″ at 25 yards. Club or informal matches often fire slow fire segments on the 25 yard reduced bullseye tartget. The 10 ring is 1.5″ if my memory serves.

  • Stephen Graham May 20, 2019, 11:44 am

    Clay, your reviews are ALWAYS the best. I rely on most of your opinions when I have been unable to reliably form my own. I wish you would make even more reviews–I am selfish that way!

  • Lloyd A Smith May 20, 2019, 10:39 am

    I’m very fortunate to have purchased one of these just over a year ago. Bought it sight unseen, but unlike the author, I did know the history. The pistol is everything Clay reported and much more. It is my pride and joy and currently, the only Sig I own. I like Sigs and Colts, S&W and something from almost every maker, but if the 210 had a Royal Blue finish I would truly believe I’d gone to heaven!

  • Chris d May 20, 2019, 9:06 am

    You forgot that the barrel lockup system has been changed from the original gun to what they’re using now.

  • triggerpull May 20, 2019, 8:53 am

    “…someone that can consistently shoot 99 or 100 25-yard bulls, there is absolutely no telling what this pistol is capable of.”

    That’s pretty much me, on a bad day. One day I put a 1000 shots through the bulls at 50 yds. Blindfolded. Shooting backwards, over my back.

    Doesn’t everyone?

    • Willie-O May 22, 2019, 6:25 am

      Only on the 3rd Thursday of the month, but moon-phase can have a bearing.

  • Trigger1212 May 20, 2019, 8:08 am

    Like you I made the mistake of picking one up, so far I have been able to resist the very strong urge to buy one. But it has not been easy!

    There is one feature I wish it had and if it did I would buy it immediately, and that is a provision for a red dot sight. Looking at the hump on the slide for mounting the rear sight this looks like it would be perfect for a changeable “mounting plate” system, ala the P320.

    As noted this is not a true “fighting” gun, more of a range/target piece (and a dayum fine one!), so a red dot would help bring out all its potential.

    Since it’s made by Sig you know they could do it with the precision necessary so that the astetics/looks would not be compromised. One plate to keep it looking stock with the adjustable irons and one for a mini red dot, wouldn’t care if they kept it proprietary to their own Romeo even! To my mind this would be a-w-e-s-o-m-e!

    Peepers are not getting any younger so red dots really help. If you have any pull with Sig I would appreciate it if you could push that idea!

    Cheers!
    Semper Fi!

  • Dr Motown May 20, 2019, 7:51 am

    Always love your reviews, Clay! Keep telling it like it is! Nice pistol, but, like you, I\’m more utilitarian in my approach to guns, with the end results being more important than the means

  • MagnumOpUS May 20, 2019, 7:46 am

    Forgot to mention that those grips are made by Nill of Germany, who has offerings for a wide array of pistols.

  • MagnumOpUS May 20, 2019, 7:42 am

    I remember when the European versions were $1,000+ gems, but didn’t have the funds. Now that they are in the thousands plus, thank you, Sig USA for making these stateside.

    I’ve started a P210 coffee can.

  • Jim Fleming May 20, 2019, 7:34 am

    Thanks Clay. Great to see you love on that gun. It’s my new favorite at the range.

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