Schweizerische Industrie Gesellschaft (SIG) is a Swiss company, now known as Swiss Arms. In 1975, SIG entered into an agreement with German gun manufacturer J.P. Sauer & Sohn to develop and market a new handgun which became the P220. The P220 was the first SIG Sauer handgun sold in the US. It was marketed initially by Browning as the Browning BDA. The SIG Sauer P220 is a refinement of the Petter-Browning design used in the SIG P210. The locked breech design is very different and was pioneered by SIG Sauer. See also The first SIG Sauer Handgun.
The P226 was designed for entry into the XM9 Service Pistol Trials (see also Joint Service Small Arms Program) that were held by the US Army in 1984 on behalf of the US armed forces to find a replacement for the M1911A1 and 24 other makes of handgun in US military service. Only the Beretta 92SBF and the SIG P226 satisfactorily completed the trials. According to a GAO report, Beretta was awarded the M9 contract for the 92F due to a lower total package price. The P226 cost less per pistol than the 92F, but SIG’s package price with magazines and spare parts was higher than Beretta’s. The Navy SEALs, however, later chose to adopt the P226 as the P226 MK25 with special corrosion protection.
For the U.S. military XM9 trials, the P226 was imported by Saco Defense. Interarms took over importing when the pistol was introduced for civilian sales. SIG Sauer eventually founded SIGARMS, Inc. (now SIG Sauer) in the United States to handle importation of their products. In 2000, SIG Holding AG sold J.P. Sauer & Sohn GmbH to two German businessmen. The brand name SIG Sauer remained at J.P. Sauer & Sohn GmbH.
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