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Return of a Classic: SIG 551A1 Review

by Eric R. Poole   |  November 22nd, 2011 22

Back in business: The classic assault rifle has returned. But the SIG 551A1 isn’t just a copy of the original.

Picture 7 of 7

Remake is Right On Target

I shot Black Hills 77 grain and Federal’s Gold Medal 69 grain. With these heavier bullets, I got 2 MOA accuracy. Conversely, I managed to print an .84-inch five-shot group with standard American Eagle 55-grain and a very respectable 1.1-inch group with Remington 62-grain Premier Match. Although the rifle uses a thin, chrome-lined hammer-forged barrel with a 1:7 twist, I left the bench dumbfounded that the rifle did not shoot heavier bullets better than the lighter ones.

If you want one of the most historically significant, reliable, and advanced service rifles ever developed, look no further than the SIG 551A1.

  • breamfisher

    Is this semi-auto only? If so, it's not an assault rifle (no provision for burst or full-auto fire.) Why use Sarah Brady's misnomers for a carbine?

    • Bertrand Macchinetti

      I served in the Swiss army as an LT and we had there a different version (longer), we call it the STGW 90 for assault rifle 90 (year)!And this version has full auto, 3 shot or single fire options and it 's a great rifle !!!! But privat people can have only the single fire version , unless you get a special permit for it . depends also in which country you are living ! But Swiss soldiers take the rifle home anyway so that was pretty cool , since I did a lot of competitions there .Now SIG is manufactured in 3 countries, Switzerland , USA and Germany in sister companies like SIG Arms etc. and every version is a bit different , there are also various versions available like "Commando and S.W.A.T !!! It's a very accurate rifle and fun to shoot !! If you never had the chance to test fire on , try to get your hands on one !! But this is just a thought ! ;-) B. Macchinetti , Clearwater, FL

  • Bill K

    The term assault rifle is in itself out of concept. A assault rifle can be rifle used in a battle or assault by a fighting force. i.e. the Brown Bess musket back in our Revolutionay days.. It does not have to be a full auto, etc. to be a assault rifle.. Only the government in their attempt to ban firearms started using that term. Let us stop giving them more ammo, so to speak, to use against us, lawful firearms owners. Bill K

    • Rene Peña

      very well said bill! very well said…

  • Rick Litton

    Never really thought about the term "assault rifle" in that respect. We really do need to remove the term from our descriptions . Thanks for bringing that point out to everyone. The Bradys use enough crap against us as it is.

  • Nikki M

    And I'm kicking myself for blowing almost $4k on one of the 250 "LIMITED" editions of the 551 from a few years ago.

  • James A. Johnson

    SOOO, "WHAT ABOUT" the Sig 551A1??? I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. Jim

    • @BluegrassGeek

      Click the "Next" button above the image. The article is spread over multiple pages.

  • Erik I

    Correct me if Im wrong but doesnt the term "assault rifle" actually stem from the title Hitler gave the MP43 … sturmgewehr … meaning storm (or assault) weapon? But I agree, its a rather broad term which means about as much as "alternative" or "new wave" did to musicians. The "assault rifle" ban was itself ridiculous in the same way a weapons ban in general is, since it implies that guns kill people. Guns kill people like aspirin kills people …

    • breamfisher

      Yep, "assault rifle" came from the MP43, which set the standard: a rifle firing an intermediate caliber cartridge, with full-auto capability, of a shorter length than the standard infantry rifle.

      The "Assault Weapons Ban" was more about looks than it was about capabilities.

  • Wes

    They also have the miss conception that "AR" means assault rifle when it really means 'Arm-alight" named for the light weight of the material used.

    • Tim

      Actually it means Armalite Rifle, after the Company that made it.

    • johnny

      Wes it stands for the original designers company name Armalite. The first two letters of the name.

  • A.K. for T-7

    Give me one in .300 BLK flavor, please…

  • MALCO.New.York

    Are there any intelligent responses here yet?

  • Hans

    Geez. And here I was just about to ask about slings and other mundane stuff.

  • Beauman

    6.8 or 6.5 G version?

  • Mark

    I REALLY REALLY want a 552/ 553 Commando (or at least the next closest thing)!!! I'd be first in line to buy 2 or 3 factory SBR's!!! PLEASE PLEASE release this gun. I think the US market would absolutely LOVE either a factory SBR or even a 553 long barrel version (for those that can't or don't want a SBR). Or, at least offer a pistol that can be converted (after proper registration of course). They did these things with the 556 and continued to evolve it towards the 551 – 552 style, since so many in the US desire this. Now, finally we have the 551a (and I'm ultra excited about this), but a US legal 553 (even in semi-auto) would be AWESOME!

  • DTS

    Does the 551 accept AR mags?

  • Ted Racine

    I read the article with much interest as one who didn't want to plop down $6Gs for an original 'deal.' The auther notes the 551A1 has a chrome line barrel to which customer service at Sig say it has a "nitride coated" barrel. I was disappointed after buying this but I guess barrels can be replaced. Also the front sight is a one piece with windage adjustments vs. the original which has a flip up night sight. The US Sig people also note that the entire weapon except the barrel is Swiss made-that I made her repeat to me. I wonder how much of that was koolaide.

  • obamavomit

    A couple years ago I was in the market for an AR15 looked at them all: Sig, Colt, Ruger, LMT, S&W, Daniel Defense, Hoveske, Barrett, even the POS Bushmaster (just for kicks). After picking up the H&K MR556A1 light came down fron heaven and a voice said “MY SON YOU HAVE CHOOSEN WISELY” my soul was at peace knowing that what I held is the Worlds Best 556 ever to be created EVER….

  • macabre12345 .

    People who have concerns about the barrel non-chrome lined, none of the real SG550 rifles have it. It’s not needed if you take care of the gun. Chrome lined chambers are made to prevent corrosion and pitting that causes fired cases to get stuck in the chamber. Unless you plan on dragging the rifle through a swamp every day and not cleaning it, you won’t have a problem.

    The chrome lined barrels are typically less accurate but have an increased service life, nothing to do with reliability.

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