I went to the SHOT Show. Here are my impressions.
Sauer’s Legendary P210 is back in three variants. The standard fixed sight model is complemented by two adjustable sight variants, the Target with its standard 120mm-barrel and the 150mm-barreled Super Target. This lineup suggests that the original Swiss micrometer sight fitted into the standard milspec dovetail is no longer cost-effective. Since Dobler’s dovetail-mounted compact adjustable rear sight can be had for around half the cost of the traditional unit, Sauer’s new adjustable sight shared by the Targets and the Super Targets, with its housing milled en bloc with the slide, is also an instance of deliberate branding. The new integral rear sight is a less dedicated target shooting setup, moderately compromised in its sight picture, stability, and adjustment in comparison with its dovetail-mounted predecessor.
The safety lever of the Super Target has been made more familiar to M1911 shooters by relocating its pivot behind the hammer action retained by a Torx T15 screw, from its traditional forward position in the foregoing P210 variants. As explained in my Legend review, this arrangement appears to have been derived from an Ergosign design exercise long touted by Karl Nill. In addition to this modification, the Super Target’s frame also differs from the standard frame employed by SAN in its 2003 longslide version of the P210, in its newly extended dustcover, presumably adding a little extra precision to its alignment with the slide. The retail pricing of the new Super Target model, at $3,626.00, is set on par with similar going rates for previous P210-5 variants, cutting in half the current collector value of the original P210-5LS long slide pistol. Its street price in Germany is around 2,300.00 €, including the 19% excise tax, which may be refunded for export shipments.
While Sauer may have the capacity to improve on the Swiss originals in the long run, its initial efforts to do so failed in several ways. Five shot test targets fired at 25m have shown a spread comparable to that of SIG’s original ten shot test targets fired at twice that range. Initial changes in the control levers of the Legend left them poorly secured, while the lateral magazine release caused the omission of the trigger stop. Newer Legends appear to correct these shortcomings with their reconfigured slide stop spring, augmented safety detent, and abbreviated trigger stop free of interference with the lateral magazine catch. In this connection, I recommend consulting Barhin Bhatt’s excellent review of his fixed sight Legend variant, briefly available on the SIGforum.
All Sauer P210 variants are built on heavy frames, descended from P210-5 SN P54980 designed by the Swiss marksman Reiny Ruess and his friends at SIG. A special series from SN P79101 to 79150 has a heavy frame. Around three hundred of P210-6 pistols with forged heavy frames, for example those numbered between P76521 and 76620, or between P79621 and 79720. They can readily be found in Europe, at around twice the prices of comparable standard forged frame specimens. According to Vetter and Armbruster, CNC guns with heavy frames are found numbered P309600, P309650, P309660, P312382, P316550, P321108, etc. All P210-8 variants made by SIG, and all P210-6S and P210-5LS variants made by its Swiss Arms Neuhausen (SAN) successors with a lateral magazine catch, also had the heavy frame. If the newly reconfigured spring can secure the slide stop in the frame of the P210 Legend, the Sauer heavy frame design will represent an improvement over the Swiss standard and heavy frames, in virtue of deleting the slide stop spring retaining pin, originally press fitted into a hole drilled in the frame at a location subject to stress during the firing cycle. Nevertheless, reports of fractured Swiss heavy frames are conspicuous by their absence in hundreds of thousands of recorded individual round counts, so the structural benefits of this arrangement are likely to be moot. Besides, stainless steels used by Sauer in the construction of their pistols, are unlikely to exhibit the same wear characteristics as carbon steels formerly used by SIG and SAN, in particular appearing to be considerably softer than their predecessors. Along similar lines, it bears notice that unlike the traditional Swiss oxide finish, Sauer’s Nitron, a vacuum furnace heat treatment of physical vapor deposition, creates a surface buildup that results in tolerance stacking and complicates the assurance of proper clearances, consistently with anecdotal reports of various malfunctions observed in the Legend by European and American shooters.
A NIB P210-6 might fetch between 900 and 1400 € on eGun.de, more for special variants. I don’t know of a comparable online resource in Switzerland, but Kessler’s prices for vintage SIG P49 and P210 pistols are running high. The SIG P 210-S, “Versuch Schweden” SN P59699, which the auctioneers had estimated at Sfr. 7,000/14,000, sold for Sfr. 19,000 plus the auctioneer’s premium. Its approximate counterpart among Swiss Lugers, the W+F P29, “Versuch” SN 100000, of questionable authenticity according to Bobba’s study of its kind, and estimated at Sfr. 18,000/36,000, sold for Sfr. 43,000 plus the premium. These prices are likely to represent world records for a SIG P210 and a W+F 06/29 Luger. As ever, the ongoing economic crisis is continuing to inflate the values of high-end collector items. Notably, these values suggest the ongoing emergence of the P210 as an object of serious collector interest.
I have been assembling published materials and tracking U.S. online sales on the P210 Facebook page. I invite my readers to contribute to this resource, as well as similar pages for Korth, Korriphila, and Manurhin MR73. Among notable trends, sporadic availability of newly manufactured P210 Legend magazines does not appear to have affected the $150-200 going rate for used originals. California shooters will be heartened to learn that IGB Austria now lists 120mm and 153mm P210 barrels for 245.83 €, with P210-5 front sight threads and slots and CIP proofs costing 45.84 and 12.08 € extra. (Ready availability of unthreaded 6" barrels make the P210 eligible for circumventing the CA DOJ drop test via the “single shot exemption”.) In Germany, Waffen Verwertung, a.k.a. Schäfer & Schäfer, continues to offer 120mm polygonally-rifled P210 barrels at 198.00 €, while Harald Berty lists like items at nearly three times the price, along with complete 6" top ends, at 1,995.00 €. Note that all claims on behalf of barrels stabilizing lead projectiles should be evaluated against the twist rate specification.
In related news, Fabryka Broni Łucznik-Radom returned with its elegant 2010-rollmarked Wz.35 VIS Semiautomatic Pistol, once again projected to retail for $450.00, less than one tenth of the current value of a decent Polish Eagle specimen. Regrettably, my inquiries about a wholesale import order in response to the 2011 appearance of the Radom VIS have gone unanswered by its makers. I would welcome the return of this classic M1911 derivative, second among them only to the SIG P210 in intrinsic accuracy, ruggedness, and durability. If I may be allowed to daydream, the revival of the long-lost 1937 Argentine test .45 ACP prototypes, would stand a good chance of rendering M1911 variants obsolete in the U.S. civilian gun market. The VIS Radom now benefits from a handsome Study and Photographic Album of Poland’s Finest Pistol, compiled by William J. York, more than sufficient to alert a new generation of shooters and collectors to the virtues of these remarkable handguns, documented among the official Swiss 1941 inspirations for the SIG P49 replacing the W+F P06/29 Lugers and M1882/29 revolvers in military service.
The sole Swiss gunmaker in attendance was KRISS Arms Group, with its subsidiary Sphinx, claimed to be the last remaining swiss handgun maker. Previously imported by ill-fated Sabre Defense Industries, Sphinx handguns, designed by the late Martin Tuma, have been absent from the U.S. market since 2005. It remains to be seen whether their customizable target handgun can succeed where Tuma’s previous design for ASAI failed, offered at less than one-fourth of the price projected by Sphinx for its deluxe CZ-75 derivatives. Likewise, I am not holding my breath for the XXIst century revival of the Tommy gun, touted by KRISS since 2008.
Italian gunmakers were well represented in both the traditional formats of double-barreled shotguns and black powder and cartridge historical replicas, and novel designs exemplified by the Chiappa Rhino revolver firing from the bottom chamber in the manner of its Mateba Unica and Stechkin OTs-38 predecessors. I was not surprised, though sorely disappointed, to see French firearms industry missing in their entirety. I would have loved to see such classics as sliding breech Darne shotguns, traditional doubles and up to date self-loaders made by the venerable Verney-Carron, or the constabulary wheelgun counterpart to the P210 service pistol that is Manurhin MR73, still produced in small batches by Chapuis. But that was not to be, as yonder cheese-eating surrender monkeys made themselves scarcer than accordions at a deer hunt, at the world’s most important gun show.
By contrast, the Germans invaded Nevada in force. I was pleasantly surprised by the presence of Korth, though their handguns, custom-made at the annual rate of around 300 units, are still not officially imported into the U.S. The most exotic piece on display was the Niebelungen Magnum revolver made out of Damascus steel pattern welded by Markus Balbach, and pre-sold for $32,500.00. Korth’s “classic revolver” with its externally adjustable trigger and cylinder yoke retained in the frame by a quick-release latch, starts at 5,000.00 €. Its current version is mechanically similar to the final iteration of Willi Korth’s design, and should be likewise capable of delivering the same accuracy even after firing 50,000 rounds of full-powered .357 Magnum ammo. I would not expect the same performance from revolvers made out of pattern-welded steel, but Korth’s top of the line products are clearly not made for such shooting duty. Zombified presence of Mauser’s latest incarnation was once again distinguished by the outrageously priced, traditional controlled round feed M98 rifles punctuating the banal lineup of their switch-barrel, push-feed M03 would-be successors. Among the real players descended from their Oberndorf am Neckar original, HK showed its piston-operated Stoner rifle derivative, which struck me as unremarkable despite its commercial success.
Surefire showed its innovative, 200 Lumen hard-anodized aluminum-bodied 2211 wristlight powered by a lithium-ion battery recharged through a mini-USB port. Like many of its other impending offerings ranging up to the 2,000 lumen UDR Dominator, it features an LED fuel gauge reminding the operator to recharge his light long before it begins to dim. If all goes as it did with its Invictus, we can look forward to Surefire delivering these lights before 2015. In the meantime, I invite my faithful readers to visit the web pages dedicated to my favorite service and sporting handguns:
Shooters and collectors seeking advice or assistance in this regard are very welcome to address me with all their questions and requests. Lastly, I have a small assortment of Swiss, French, and German handguns available for adoption in good homes. Please look below for addressing your inquiries.
Michael@massmeans.com | Zeleny@post.harvard.edu | 7576 Willow Glen Road, Los Angeles, CA 90046 | 323.363.1860 | http://www.subrah.com |
http://larvatus.livejournal.com | “All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” — Samuel Beckett