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GUNS Magazine May 2012 Digital Edition - Page 28

HOLT BODINSON T he Swiss are a shooting culture, and as much as we have recently enjoyed their milsurp K-31s, Switzerland’s modern tactical rifles are gaining traction in the shooting sports. The advanced designs generated by Switzerland’s indigenous firearms industry, Schweizerische Industrie Gesellschaft (SIG), in Neuhausen am Rheinfall, has insured Switzerland’s long standing reputation for finely crafted and exceedingly accurate arms. SIG’s new 551-A1 civilian model is an outstanding example. In the 1950s, Switzerland fielded their radical looking Sturmgewehr 57 (StG 57), known also as the SIG 510 in commercial form, which replaced all of those lovely Schmidt-Rubins that have washed up on our milsurp shores. The StG 57 featured a retarded, roller-lock mechanism, based on an earlier Mauser design, which Heckler & Koch successfully incorporated into their MP5, P9, G3, HK91 and HK 93 models. The SIG551-A1 Carbine sWiss taC A few years later, SIG introduced the Model 530 series chambered for 5.56 NATO. While the model still retained the roller-locking bolt, the advanced stocking and outward profile of the SIG 530 family set the pattern carried on in the SIG551-A1 today. The next SIG generations to make their debut were the SIG 540 (5.56 NATO) and SIG 543 (7.62 NATO) in the early 1970s. The significance of this development with regard to the current SIG551-A1 is the earlier roller locking system was replaced by a long-stroke, gas piston that activated a bolt carrier and a rotary locking bolt. In principle, the new locking system resembled the familiar Kalashnikov design—and many have made that comparison—however, according to the recent research conducted by Gary P. Johnston and Thomas B. Nelson and documented in their excellent book, The World’s Assault Rifles, the SIG/ AK system first appeared in the Czech ZK420-S rifle in 1942. The SIG system exhibits the refinement of the Czech system while the Kalashnikov system is a simplified version of the gas piston, bolt carrier design. The SIG551 was introduced to military and law enforcement circles as an tactical carbine with a folding stock, shortened barrel and selectivefire control system, offering semiautomatic, 3-shot burst and fullautomatic modes of fire. In fact, the The SIG551-A1 handles very well. The ventilated handguard is ergonomically shaped as a deep “U” and stays cool. If all sighting systems fail, there is a pop-up, backup aperture folded into Picatinny rib. 28 SIG’s diopter sight offers four apertures ranging from close combat to 300 meters. The 551’s multi-purpose gas block sports an adjustable gas valve to increase gas flow due to hard extended use or poor quality ammunition. W W W. G U N S M A G A Z I N E . C O M • M AY 2 0 1 2

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