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Thread: Swiss and US Made P210's Compared

  1. #1
    Senior Veteran Combloc's Avatar
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    Swiss and US Made P210's Compared

    Someone recently asked for a comparison of these two pistols so I said I'd do it.....here it is. This will without question be found wanting by some and excellent by others. Unfortunately, when discussing certain firearms (and the P210 is certainly one of those certain firearms) people's egos, biases and wallets tend to get hopelessly entwined with reality. These pistols are expensive and for reasons lost on me, expensive always seems to attract people who wish to own them for nothing more than bragging rights and member length comparisons. Sadly, that's just the way it is. But you won't find any of that in this essay. This is simply what was asked for; a comparison of the two pistols. I won't be discussing metallurgy because I don't care. I have absolutely no doubt both are well made from good steel. That's good enough for me. I won't be discussing accuracy. Both are FAR more accurate than I am and I'd lay money on it they are far more accurate than you too. Who care's which is more accurate when both are stupid accurate anyways?? See above for a description of who cares....I don't. Now, what I WILL say is that I'm an admitted gun snob lite and I prefer the Swiss one simply because it was made by hand in Switzerland. However, I'm not so much of a snob that I won't admit I feel that the US made one is nicer made. Yes, it's probably mostly made by robots and that's probably why it looks nicer. The fit and finish is better and the trigger is too. It also costs a little less than half what the Swiss one will cost you. Give it time though. Eventually they will go out of production and the value will rise steadily. So, even if you feel that the approx. $1400 price tag is high, it will be considered a steal in not too many years, I guarantee it. Alright, enough drivel....lets take a look. This will take a few posts but I'll get a decent start in tonight.

    We'll start at the beginning:
    On the right is a leather holster and shoulder strap made in the early 1950's. This holster and its contents will cost you about $3000 used. On the left is a plastic case marked "SIG SAUER". This case and its contents will cost you about $1400 new.


    Here are the contents of the two:

    On the right is a SIG P210 made in Switzerland circa 1953. On the left is a SIG SAUER P210 made in the United States circa 2018.


    The warning card in the new P210 makes it very clear what the purpose of this pistol is. It isn't made for carry and it's not made for combat. It's made for a nice, relaxing Sunday at the range on a warm summer's day. When seen from the proper perspective, the silly things you'll find on the internet about stocks being too large and triggers too light for carry will make you roll your eyes. It's a plinker folks.


    A couple closeups of the two:



    They certainly look similar and you can clearly see the lineage. Notice that the newer one has improver ergonomics. The hard to reach and hard to manipulate slide release on the Swiss one is horrid compared to the US one which is light and right where your thumb wants it to be. The same can be said of the safety. On the Swiss jobber, it's pretty much a two handed affair because it's in a weird place and it's STIFF, especially when pushing from "fire" to "safe". Again, the US model's safety is light and nicely located. The US model also a thumb magazine release where the Swiss one is located at the heel of the grip. The wonderfully fitted and perfectly checkered walnut grips on the US model don't fit my hands as well as the wonderfully fitted and perfectly checkered bakelite grips on the Swiss one but my hands aren't the same as yours. You may prefer the walnut. Nice idiot mark on the Swiss one....I didn't do that. HAHA!!



    A few shots of the magazines:





    The magazines are not interchangeable. Notice that the new 210 magazine is made in Italy, presumably by MecGar and that the follower is plastic. Pretentious gun snobs will point to these things as evidence of inferiority. Okiedokie.



    Muzzles. Notice that the Swiss one shows machining marks. I LOVE machining marks. They add character!

    Notice too that you cannot see the front of the recoil rod on the new 210. There are many little and some not so little design difference between the two. I'll point them out as we go.



    Front straps and trigger guards:

    Beautiful knurling on the new model and near perfect grip fitment on both.


    Bottom of the magazines:

    Both have metal floor plates but I think the US one is aluminum or some such lightweight metal. I'm pretty sure it isn't steel.


    Rear straps again showing really Schweet fitment of the grip panels on both pistols:




    A side comparison of the grips showing just how much longer the new model is:



    Notice too the reshaped and elongated beaver tail on the new pistol. If you get hammer bite on this clunker, you must have gorilla hands!






    Front sights.





    Rear sights:



    Just look at the Quality of that Swiss cross!! MMMM MMMMM GOOD!!


    That's it for tonight. I'll be back to pick this up in a day or two.

  2. #2
    Senior Veteran Combloc's Avatar
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    Picking up where I left off.


    Let's look at the slide stops. Nobody ever seems to look at these little thingees. With many pistol designs, the oft-ignored slide stop is really the only thing holding the whole contraption together. It's like a magical little key that keeps everything in one piece. It's the glue that makes everything stick together as a unit so that it doesn't go kaplooey. OK....you get the idea. Here are the magical key slide stop thingees:






    You can easily see that, on the backside, they are very similar in design. On the front side, the old Swiss one looks really neato with its exquisite checkering but it's pretty non-user friendly compared to the new model. To be fair, the Swiss one pictured is the early type. SIG quickly figured out that it was lacking in the ergonomics department and replaced it with a more user friendly/traditional design that had a protrusion for your thumb to catch. It was still too short though. The US one has rectified this long standing problem and is darn near perfect.



    Let's take a closer look at the slides for a moment. Here, we see them removed from their slides but with the barrels and recoil assemblies still in place.


    At first glance, they look pretty similar. They ride inside the frame rather than straddle it. Anyone who is familiar with this setup knows that it is a key ingredient in the legendary accuracy these pistols are known for. The Czechs, smart cookies that they are, employ this feature on the CZ75 too. We can see that the camming cuts on the bottom of the breach are nearly identical to each other too.


    Let's look at them from the bottom:


    Again, one just looks like a newer version of the other.


    One really nice upgrade the new 210 has added is the firing pin safety. In the picture below, the US model is on the top:


    Notice the little pin sticking down on the US model is absent on the Swiss one. This is the firing pin safety. I shouldn't need to explain how and why this makes a pistol MUCH safer as you should already know.



    Comparing the ejection ports, we can start to see that the new SIG locks up differently than the old SIG.




    Now, I am fully aware that pretty much everyone reading this is already aware of the fact that they lock up differently and I'm not here to debate which is better. The fact is....they do the same thing (lock the action) but go about it differently. If you don't know what I'm talking about, it will be abundantly clear when we look at the barrels later. I will say that I prefer the elegant curves of the Swiss ejection port to the blocky and industrial look of the US one. Notice the machining lines on the Swiss slide compared to the absolutely flawless perfection of the US one. As I said when looking at the muzzles, I actually like machining marks. They give things a certain organic look and remind you that a human being employed his hands and put a lot of time into crafting this part all those years ago. His craft is frozen in time, a window to the past. But there is something to be said for the perfectly smooth look of the US one too. It reminds you that man has harnessed technology and employed it in such a way as to revolutionize the way we produce things, surpassing with electrons and silicon what man can do with his own hands; the same hands that produced the very machines which now achieve a level of perfection that he could not on his own. In this way, it is a window to the future. It boggles the mind I tell you!!



    Ummmm….okiedokie. It's pretty obvious that it's late and my mind is drifting into weird philosophical places soooooo I'm finishing up for the night. Actually, I'm always strange. The truth is, the frames are next up and there are a lot of pretty pictures to look at so this is a good stopping point. See you in the next post!

  3. #3
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    Outstand post as usual! Keep them coming! Thanks.
    14EH AIT Instructor-PATRIOT Fire Control Enhanced Operator/Maintainer

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    holescreek's Avatar
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    In the fifth photo of the second instalment, bottom slide, is there a broken part where the recoil spring screws in? It looks like it in the photo.

  5. #5
    Senior Veteran Combloc's Avatar
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    That's a smear of Swiss automatenfett grease. I noticed that too when I was going over the pictures and thought "I should have wiped the grease off that first."

  6. #6
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    I agree entirely about the machining marks on the older one. I also tend to prefer the look of its design details better, but then I tend to like vintage stuff. Both are well out of my price range, so its great to see the in depth review

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    Quote Originally Posted by jdowney View Post
    I agree entirely about the machining marks on the older one. I also tend to prefer the look of its design details better, but then I tend to like vintage stuff. Both are well out of my price range, so its great to see the in depth review
    I also agree. I like the old one much better.
    14EH AIT Instructor-PATRIOT Fire Control Enhanced Operator/Maintainer

  8. #8
    Senior Veteran Combloc's Avatar
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    Next, we'll look at some comparisons shots of the frames.


    One of the unique features the original 210 has is the ability to remove the entire hammer group as a unit just like on a Soviet TT33. With the pistol apart, you could simply lift the sear, hammer and hammer spring out as a unit for repair or replacement. The new 210 also has a unitized hammer group but it is held into the frame with a screw. Below is a picture showing this screw:

    Notice that the Swiss pistol already has its hammer group removed. We'll see what it look like in an upcoming picture. I have not removed the new hammer group nor do I plan to as the only real reason to do so is if a part needs replacement.


    Here are a couple views comparing the inside of the dust covers with the Swiss on the left:



    Again we see that the new 210 is much better finished in this area.


    A little bit better view showing the area in front of the triggers:



    The US one is pretty much a study in perfection while the Swiss model is rough as a cob. However, the fact is none of this matters from a function point of view because nothing is going on here. On both pistols, the fit between the rails on the slide and frame is so precise that it feels like they are literally on roller bearings. I've handed quite a few pistols over the years and NONE have felt as smooth and precise with regard to slide movement as a P210. If you've never experienced one, you simply cannot understand how slick they are and words cannot convey the reality of it. It's what I like to call "NASA accurate." Rack the slide on a 210 and you are in love.


    Here is a top view of the trigger on the Swiss:

    Please excuse the fact that it looks a little gritty in there. What you are seeing are streaks and globs of Automatenfett (it's what the Swiss use to lubricate their firearms). Notice the slide stop retaining spring running along the left side of the frame. On this model, that spring runs underneath the slide stop axle. The trigger will not drop the hammer unless there is a magazine locked in place.


    And here is a top view of the US trigger:

    It looks similar but there is no magazine safety present so the the hammer can be dropped with the magazine removed. Again we see the slide stop retaining spring running along the left side of the frame but in this design, it rides on top of the axle. The grit seen is due to the fact that this pistol was not cleaned after its last trip to the range. OOPS!


    Top of the Swiss hammer group:



    And the top of the US hammer group:

    While not absolutely identical, it should be clear that they are very close in design. I haven't torn them apart for comparison (nor do I plan to) but, other than the lack of a magazine safety on the new one, I'd venture a guess that they operate pretty much the same way. The take up on the US model is smoother and the let off is lighter but the Swiss pistol is no slouch. Both are stellar.


    Comparison shots of the recoil spring assemblies:



    Note the parts in the white on the Swiss assembly. Lots of the Swiss parts are in the white, including the barrel. I haven't noticed any parts in the white on the new one. These assemblies are not really supposed to be disassembled and, to be honest, I haven't tried to figure out how so we aren't gonna' do it! The US assembly is shorter because there is a shelf up inside the slide that the front of it presses against. On the Swiss pistol, the front of the recoil assembly rests against the front of the slide as is traditional on most pistols. Why they made this change, I do not know.

  9. #9
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    Awesome pics again! Thank you!

    Edit: Wow! Those swiss made ones are expensive! Just looked them up on GB.
    Last edited by scottz63; 01-11-2019 at 10:40 PM.
    14EH AIT Instructor-PATRIOT Fire Control Enhanced Operator/Maintainer

  10. #10
    Senior Veteran Combloc's Avatar
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    Alrighty...this is the last post.


    Let's look at the barrels. We'll start with the bottoms:

    This is where the rear of the recoil assemblies rest and the slide stop pin passes through. Yep, they look very similar and pretty too! The new jobber is obviously based on the old jobber.



    The breach with the Swiss on the left:

    Again they look similar although the US on is squared off at the top. Hmmmm…...what's that eyebrow looking thingee sticking out at the top of the US barrel?


    Side view:

    Yeppers, look at the cam slot for the slide stop axle. Clearly the same design. HEY! Wait a minute! Where are the locking lugs on the US barrel?? What's going on here??



    Let's take a closer look:

    Did they forget to machine the locking lugs on the US one?? Nope. They lock up differently. The original SIG uses the Petter/Browning system wherein there are lugs machined on the barrel which lock into corresponding cut outs in the slide. The new P210 uses the SIG SAUER system which employs no such lugs. Instead, it uses the front and rear surfaces of the breach/chamber to lock into the front and rear of the ejection port. This system was first used on the SIG P220 back in 1975 and is still used to this day throughout the SIG SAUER lineup. This is the number one major departure from the original P210 design. Some guys seem to hate that they did this on the new 210. Pretty much every other part of the pistol is simply an evolution of the original design and they can't understand why the locking system was changed. So why did they do it? I don't know. May folks will have their opinion but it's nothing more than that really....their opinion. In the end, only SS knows for sure why they . I for one won't speculate. I will say that it works and it works spectacularly. If you want to buy a new P210, you're just going to have to accept that changes were made. If you don't want that, then go buy an old one. In my opinion, either will make you a very happy dude at the range.



    Let's take a look at the inside of the slides.

    Swiss showing the milled slots for the locking lugs on the barrel:

    Again, ignore all the automatenfett smeared around in there. I really should have wiped that off first.

    And American showing no locking surfaces but plenty of smooth goodness and perfection:



    Just for fun, here are a couple pictures showing the new P210 barrel compared to an old 9mm P220 barrel from the 1970's:



    There is absolutely no question that the new P210 uses the P220 locking design.


    And here is a photo showing the inside of the US P210 slide on the left compared to a 1977 P220 slide on the right:

    Notice that the wear marks on the 210 are even reminiscent of the contours seen in the early 220 slide. Very interesting!


    Disassembled view of the old and new:

    Notice the hammer unit removed from the frame of the Swiss pistol.


    This last picture shows the true lineage of the new P210:

    Just as is shown in the picture, the new P210 is not really a remake of the P210 nor is it a P220. Instead, it falls somewhere in between the two, clearly leaning toward the one but having a healthy dose of DNA from the other one too. In my experience, it is every bit the equal of both but yet distinctly different than either. If you ask me, the best way to get your head right with this pistol is to think of it as a P215.


    Well, that's it. We're done. I hope this little essay is helpful to you guys in some small way. As was explained in the beginning, it's an attempt at a general comparison between the two. As I also said at the beginning, I prefer the Swiss P210 but I prefer it, not because it is better, but because it is Swiss made. Yes, it is a fine shooter but ultimately, I bought it because it is Swiss through and through. For me, it's that simple. If you are thinking of buying the new one in order to save money because what you really wanted was an original, do not buy this pistol. It's never, ever going to be an original P210 and you will be sorely disappointed. BUT, if you are thinking of buying the SIG SAUER P210 because you want an outstanding range pistol that is the very definition of Quality, gives you that priceless feeling of mechanical perfection every time you pick it up and will outshoot pretty much anything else you own; well this just might be the pistol for you. If that's what you are looking for, I really don't think you can go wrong with this pistol. Besides, if you eventually tire of it, I'd almost guarantee you will make money on it when you let it go. But I'd also almost guarantee that you would eventually regret letting it go too! Whatever you decide, I want to thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope all your range days are sunny, warm and fun!

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