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SIG SAUER Tactical Rifles

Written by Mike Boyle

Throughout the years, SIG SAUER has built an excellent reputation as a manufacturer of the highest quality auto pistols. SIG pistols are widely used by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, and the firm continues with its quest to develop even better handguns. What many people need to be made aware of is that SIG SAUER also builds some world class rifles.

In the not-so-distant past, handguns and shotguns were utilized by patrol officers, and the few rifles in police service were utilized exclusively by tactical specialists. But the paradigm has shifted, and rifles are now in the hands of patrol officers and SWAT cops. The SIG line includes rifles for both applications, which should please even the most discriminating users.

Recently, I attended a seminar held at the SIG SAUER Academy in Epping, N.H., where I had an opportunity to check out several different SIG rifles. All were most impressive to say the least.

First up for consideration is the SSG 3000. The SSG is a bolt-action rifle chambered for the ever-popular .308 Winchester. This rifle features a massive six lug lockup system for greater strength and accuracy and a lightweight firing pin for an extremely short lock time. To facilitate quick cycling, the bolt only requires a short 60-degree throw. The heavy, forged 23.5 ounce barrel has 1:12 rate of twist and an integral flash suppressor/muzzle brake. Metal surfaces are coated with a black oxide finish to reduce glare.

A super tough, adjustable McMillan composite stock is standard. The height of the stock comb can be optimized for use with optics and length of pull and fine-tuned by adding or removing spacers. At 12 pounds unloaded, the SSG3000 is no flyweight but, predictably, is very comfortable to shoot and easy on the shoulder. A while back, I had logged quite a bit of trigger time on a SSG3000 and tested it out to 400 yards. I was impressed then, as I am now.

The SSG3000 exhibits all the qualities you expect from a first-class precision rifle, including tack driving accuracy, adjustable two-stage trigger and a comfortable stock. Professionals, who may have to spend long periods behind the rifle waiting for an opportunity to take a shot, will really appreciate that last quality. This rifle’s modular design allows the end-user to quickly replace worn barrels without resorting to expensive gunsmith services.

The Blaser Tactical 2 from SIG SAUER may very well be the most radical bolt-action precision rifle ever produced. Built around the revolutionary Blaser straight pull action, this rifle was engineered from the ground up to create the best possible shooting platform. With the bolt closed, a 360-degree radial collet expands into the locking groove of the barrel, and the bolt head is auto-centering and self-headspacing.

The straight pull action has no rotating parts and can be cycled very fast with minimal effort. From a solid rest, this southpaw shooter was able to run the Tactical 2 much faster than any left-hand bolt gun I’ve shot in the past. The bolt of the Blaser 2 can be quickly converted to right- or left-hand operation.

Another key feature of the Tactical 2 is barrel change capability. The end-user can take the basic system and switch between 5.56mm, .308 Winchester, .300 Winchester Magnum and .338 Lapua Magnum. No special tools are required to swap out the bolt head, barrel or magazine. The barrels are hammer forged, fluted and plasma-nitrided for maximum service life and corrosion resistance. A highly effective muzzle break is also part of the package. For the mounting of optics, the barrel is equipped with a 1913 Picatinny rail.

The composite stock of the Tactical 2 is fully adjustable to meet the needs of the enduser. Made of injection molded polymer, the stock remains stable under the most extreme climatic conditions. A rear monopod with micrometer adjustment will also help get you on target.
I would like to have been able to shake down the sample Tactical 2 at longer distances, because the 100-yard performance was most impressive. Its one-stage trigger was very user-friendly and got me printing some bragging size groups right from the start. The Tactical 2 doesn’t come cheap, but this is one rifle in a league of its own.

A few years ago, SIG introduced the 556 family of rifles. Based on the acclaimed SIG550/551 weapon systems, the SIG556 embodies those same qualities found in the original rifle with a more “Americanized” spin. They include AR magazine capability; a Picatinny rail for the mounting of optics; and a folding, locking, adjustable length stock. The SIG556 utilizes a highly reliable gas piston action. Lower receivers are crafted from 7075-T6 aluminum, while the upper is rendered from steel.

The latest addition is the SIG556 Patrol Rifle, chambered for the 5.56X45mm NATO round. This rifle is outfitted with a 16-inch barrel with a 1:7 rate of twist. A standard A2 flash suppressor is affixed to the barrel on an industry standard 1/2-inch x 28 TPI muzzle thread.

A reduced weight gas piston operating system makes for a lighter weapon, which is never a bad idea for something that may be carried for a long period. Its two-position gas valve ensures reliable function even when dirty or operating under extreme conditions.

In my informal shooting test, the SIG556 Patrol Rifle delivered the goods. Operation and placement of controls was very straightforward, and accuracy potential was excellent. I especially liked the folding adjustable stock which allows the rifle to be stashed in tighter places than AR-style rifles. As the interiors of patrol vehicles become more confined, having critical equipment at an arm’s reach, as opposed to in the vehicle trunk, is something that needs to be considered. A 556 SWAT Patrol Rifle with a quad rail is also available.

I also had the opportunity to try my hand on a SIG 556 DMR Rifle. Any notion one may have that a self-loader isn’t as accurate as a bolt gun quickly dissipates after a few minutes behind the 556 DMR. The heart and soul are identical to the other members of the 556 tribe, but with a few notable enhancements. Its cold forged 21-inch heavy barrel has a 1:10 rate of twist.

A two-stage trigger helped me perform to a high level and print some impressive five-shot clusters on the paper. A Magpul PRS adjustable stock completes the package. A rifle such as the 556 DMR can handle many roles traditionally associated with bolt-action rifles. If moving or multiple threats are present, the self-loading 556 DMR definitely holds an edge.

But the really big scoop from SIG is the introduction of the 516 Patrol Rifle, a gas piston variant of the AR-15. Initially, this news caught me a bit off guard. After all, the last time I checked, there were about four dozen manufacturers of AR-15 rifles. Why jump into the fray when you have a perfectly capable rifle in the 556?

The reason is really quite simple. SIG SAUER was confident that it could craft the ultimate AR-15 rifle, something every bit as good as its premium quality pistols. Secondly, AR-15 rifles are a hot ticket. Warts and all, the AR-15 outsells all other semi-auto rifles combined. If you could build a better mousetrap and your gun is indeed top dog, you could command a big piece of this very lucrative market.

SIG refers to the 516 as the “fulfilled potential of the AR-15/M-16.” That assessment may not be too far off the mark. Rather than come in with an entry grade gun, the 516 family is clearly high end. Tolerances are very tight with barrels freefloated and chrome-lined. A three-position gas regulator will help keep the gun up and running in all anticipated field conditions. To avoid problems encountered with some early generation gas piston guns, SIG utilizes an extended barrel nut to secure the barrel to the receiver.

During my visit to SIG, I had the chance to shoot and examine a few different 516 prototypes; however, one notable difference is that production guns will have ambidextrous fire controls and magazine catch.

Only quality components are used in assembling the SIG 516 Rifle. On the Patrol Rifle, an adjustable SOPMOD stock is standard. Other key elements include an A2 flash suppressor, free-floated 1:7 rate of twist barrel, and a fire-floated alloy guard rail. A flat-top 1913 receiver is standard.

While gas piston AR rifles eliminate the fouling associated with direct impingement guns, they provide us with as many questions as they do answers. With reasonable care, the original Stoner pattern guns run just fine. Some early gas piston AR-15s held promise, but developed other issues. But if anybody can get it right, it will probably be SIG.

At the seminar, we were treated to shooting demonstrations by SIG’s Robert Hirt. A random mix of 5.56 caliber ammunition was loaded into magazines and run through a well broken-in 556 rifle that had already digested more than 20,000 rounds. Throughout the test, Hirt thoroughly abused this rifle by burying it in sand and mud, and by immersing it in a pond. Without fail, the rifle cycled through magazine after magazine without missing a beat. We may not have arrived at “cop proof ” yet, but we’re getting close.

As this is written, SIG plans to make its first production run of 516 Patrol Rifles within a few days. A precision version of the 516 will follow soon. ?e first customers will be the Delaware State Police who have chosen the 516 Patrol Rifle to complement their SIG-Saver P229 pistols.

As CEO Ron Cohen put it, “SIG is more than a handgun company. We make some pretty good rifles too.” Without question, SIG rifles can run with anything else out there. For patrol or tactical operations, SIG SAUER rifles deliver the level of performance you’ve come to expect from this innovative firm. I suspect they are not done yet.

Mike Boyle served as a captain with the New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife Bureau of Law Enforcement. He is a frequent contributor to firearms and law enforcement journals and remains active as a police academy instructor. He has been on the board of directors of the International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors since 1996.

Published in Tactical Response, Sep/Oct 2010

Rating : 9.0


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