August 20, 2020
By Tom Beckstrand
When SIG Sauer first announced they were selling ammunition many questioned who was actually loading the ammunition. It is not uncommon for the companies that only make ammunition to produce ammunition for firearms companies, creating a “white label” product. The name on the box might have said “SIG Sauer” but curious customers wondered who actually manufactured the ammunition inside the box.
SIG Sauer did, even from the very beginning. The guy that got the ammunition division started was Dan Powers. Dan owned Precision Ammunition in Tampa for over a decade before he sold it to RUAG (one of Europe’s largest ammunition providers) eight years ago. Once the company sold to RUAG, Dan stayed on as CEO of RUAG Ammotech USA for 2-3 years.
He left RUAG and started consulting for SIG Sauer and then came on full-time to start up the ammunition division. Dan’s background was an important piece of the puzzle because it allowed SIG to bring in significant tribal knowledge right from the beginning.
SIG’s first entry into ammunition was pistol cartridges loaded with V-Crown bullets. There was a ton of development and testing done on the V-Crown and pistols are where SIG Sauer sells the most guns, so pistol ammunition for self-defense made a lot of sense.
The V-Crown bullet is one of the very few that pass all of the FBI protocols. These tests require a bullet to successfully penetrate 12-18 inches of gel while passing though clothing, sheetrock, plywood, and sheet metal. It is very hard to successfully negotiate the tests, but the V-Crown did it. While bullet production may have started with V-Crown, it has since greatly expanded to include rifle cartridges with expanding bullets and non-expanding match bullets.
SIG designed and built their first bullet, V-Crown, but also designed and built the HT late last year. The HT is SIG Sauer’s hunting bullet and it is a monolithic copper expanding bullet. The HT is ideal on game animals because they are pliable enough to expand quickly when fired at rifle velocity, yet tough enough to handle impacting heavy bones without suffering core/jacket separation like frequently happens with jacketed bullets.
In 2017, SIG Sauer’s production of brass cartridge cases began. SIG is a very large company, and they took the jump into ammunition production seriously. They have spent millions of dollars on a full metallurgy lab and testing equipment to ensure that their brass is top notch. Initial production started with .308 Win and .300 Win Mag and expanded from there.
SIG started loading their ammunition on machines of their own design that they purchased and placed in leased factory space in Kentucky. However, they soon relocated and consolidated ammunition production into a new and high-tech factory in Arkansas.
While consumer sales are a big part of the reason why SIG got into ammunition production, it also allowed them to offer packaged sales internationally. If you look at SIG’s sales company-wide, the split between U.S. consumer sales and foreign/military sales is about 70-percent consumer and 30-percent military and foreign. Two years ago that split was 90/10. Foreign sales are definitely trending up and the ammo is part of the growth.
The presence of SIG’s ammunition manufacturing capacity also allows them to realize considerable savings on their quality control ammunition budget. SIG builds a ton of guns and the number produced goes up every year. They recently won the Army’s modular handgun contract, so the next few years will see an incredible spike in firearms production. Every one of those guns has to be fired before it leaves the factory. That turns into millions and millions of rounds just to test firearms at the factory.
I’ve been able to shoot a fair amount of SIG Sauer’s match ammunition in both .308 Win and .223 Rem. It has been incredibly consistent and is regularly one of two brands that every rifle shoots the most accurately. This is due to the projectiles SIG uses and the care with which they load it. In my opinion, no other factory match ammunition will beat SIG’s numbers.
SIG is a big company that is very quickly getting bigger. The ammunition production portion of the company is doing the same. While the size of a company doesn’t really mean much to the customer, the concept of economies of scale does. It’s because SIG is so big that they can do things like an expanding subsonic 300 BLK bullet for the special operations crowd, and make their own cartridge brass.
The payoff is that we customers get better stuff for less money. SIG has the industrial capacity, sophistication and the will to design and build products that others can’t or won’t. They also have very efficient supply chains and distribution channels in place to get their products in convenient reach to customers everywhere.
The goal of their ammunition division is to build very high quality products, but to also make shooting affordable again. This is a worthy goal and one in which I think they’ll be successful for the reasons outlined above. For more information visit www.sigsauer.com.