1980s Classic: The West German Sig Sauer P226
By Chris Eger
With a distinctive profile, early style grips, and smooth, rail-less dust cover, West German P226s are old-school cool.
SEE WEST GERMAN SIGS IN THE VAULT READY TO GO TODAY
Hailing from a time in the Cold War where the Berlin Wall was still a very real thing, West German Sigs are increasingly collectible.
While today’s modern New Hampshire-based Sig Sauer was formed in 2007, the German arm sprang forth during the frostiest days of the Cold War in 1976 when SIG of Switzerland formed a partnership with J.P. Sauer & Sohn of West Germany. That Sig Sauer concentrated on the manufacture of SIG’s firearm line for sales outside of very strict Swiss export controls. Among their first exports to the U.S. were the Sig Sauer P220, which had been adopted by the Swiss Army as the P75 pistol. These early West German-marked single-stacks were typically shipped over with European-style heel release magazine latches, a feature that wasn’t changed on American-bound Sigs until later.
Speaking of later, in 1977 the U.S. Air Force began a series of tests for a new handgun to replace the myriad of revolvers and M1911 .45ACP pistols in their armories. The contract, for a modern 9mm combat handgun, saw