No More German Sigs? Sig Sauer Eckernförde Closing Down:: Guns.com

No More German Sigs? Sig Sauer Eckernförde Closing Down:: Guns.com


While Sig Sauer is doing great in the U.S., the sister company in Germany is slated to close its factory later this year. (Photo: Chris Eger/Guns.com)

The German-based Sig Sauer branch is reportedly on the ropes due to a variety of reasons and is set to close by the end of the year.

Multiple German media sources have carried the news of Sig Sauer’s demise in that country in the past week.

Based in Eckernförde near the city of Kiel since 1951 when J. P. Sauer und Sohn GmbH relocated from Suhl in then Soviet-occupied East Germany, the firm was purchased by Swiss firearms giant SIG in 1976, forming Sig Sauer– largely to have an outlet to fulfill overseas orders for guns like the P220 without having to cut through layers of Swiss red tape.

However, since then, Sig Sauer has established extensive operations in the U.S., first in Virginia and then in New Hampshire. The American operations expanded from importing German-made guns to assembling guns with a mix of U.S. and German-made components, then finally switched to all-American production. The U.S. operation boomed and by 2007 had largely separated from its German sister company and has been responsible for much of the company’s R&D. Today, Sig Sauer employs more than 2,300 in the U.S. and fills numerous large military and LE contracts, for example for the P320 handgun system, which has been adopted by the U.S. military as the M17/M18 Modular Handgun System and is a contender for the Army’s Next Generation Squad Weapon, a showcase military small arms program that could be the largest in 50 years.

Swiss-based Sig Sauer AG, formerly known as Swiss Arms, is, like the U.S.-based Sig Sauer, a separate company from the German operation.

Meanwhile, the German branch has atrophied over the past two decades due to purportedly being locked out of military and police contracts in that country and, according to reports, only has 130 employees. Owned by the holding company of Michael Lüke and Thomas Ortmeier since 2000, Lüke told European gun blog All4 Shooters that the closure will also likely extend to the company’s Blaser Group facility at Issny in Southeastern Germany. What this means for niche rifle makers Mauser and J.P. Sauer & Sons, which are part of the same group, is not known.

Germany, which formerly had a rich consumer firearms market, has become increasingly strict when it comes to the shooting sports.

The German Weapons Act (Waffengesetz, or WaffG) contains some of the toughest restrictions in the world on private firearms ownership, use, and sales. This includes limits on types and calibers of guns, mandatory registration, and compulsory liability insurance. To qualify for a firearms ownership license (Waffenbesitzkarte), would-be gun buyers have to undergo extensive vetting and meet training and local shooting club (Schützenverein) membership requirements. Carry permits (Waffenschein) are rare and typically just “may issue” for private security and the like.

Coming to America?

German’s other large firearms maker, Heckler & Koch, has also been expanding operations in the U.S. in recent years, and now has a plant in Georgia. HK debuted a new 50,000-square foot manufacturing plant located in Columbus, in September 2017, and recently announced they were using it to prep new weapon systems as part of the U.S. Army’s Squad Designated Marksman Rifle contract.

Similarly, smaller German firearm firms such as Schmeisser and Hera have been making inroads to the U.S. market, notably with innovative AR magazines and accessories.

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