In early March, Wilson Combat began offering improvements to the Sig Sauer P320 and the P365 pistols. The P320 offers a unique modular design. Variants of the pistol, the M17 and M18, were recently adopted by the U.S. military.
The P365 when introduced in 2018 took the concealed-carry market by storm. The P365 is a small, light, easily concealable pistol with a 10-round magazine — a move that left competitors scrambling to catch up.
The P320’s modular design that features a serialized stainless steel fire control unit was a smart move by Sig Sauer, Guy Joubert, director of manufacturing at Wilson Combat, said in a recent interview. The design, which allows for extensive and easy modifications, adds to the pistol’s adaptability and marketability. He said the pistol’s new place with the military increased its appeal with many shooters.
“They did their homework on it,” Joubert said. “It’s a brilliant, brilliant concept.”
For the P320, Wilson offers its own proprietary grip module. Other features available for both pistols include enhanced cocking serrations, improved slide stops, upgraded sights and trigger improvements, custom coatings and finishes and engraving, along with stippling on standard P320 modules and the P365. Wilson also will be selling complete Sig Sauer pistols dolled up with Wilson features.
Wilson Combat added an additional gunsmith to work on the project and sent gunsmiths to Sig Sauer’s headquarters for specialized training to work on the guns. The certification is required, in part, to gain access to certain parts and also to maintain the pistols’ warranty.
Manager of New Product Development Jared Phillips, a longtime Wilson gunsmith who heads up the Sig Sauer project, said the training was invaluable noting the pistols are some of the most intricate he’s worked on during his career.
“The do do’s and not to do’s are more complex than most,” he said of the Sig Sauer pistols.
Based in Newington, N.H., Sig Sauer is part of a worldwide group of firearms-makers, including J.P. Sauer and Sohn and Blaser, GmbH in Germany and Swiss Arms AG in Switzerland. Sig Sauer Inc. employs about 1,700 workers in eight locations in its U.S. operations.
Sig Sauer centralized its ammunition production at a new plant in Jacksonville in 2017. The plant makes small-arms ammunition for the civilian, law enforcement and military markets worldwide and produces about 10 million rounds a month. The company also builds night sights at the plant.
In addition to Wilson Combat and Sig Sauer other firearms-makers, air-gun suppliers and ammunition companies call Arkansas home.
In April, CZUSA, the U.S. arm of a Czech Republic gun manufacturer, selected Little Rock for its North American headquarters and its first U.S.-based production facility. The company expects to invest $90 million and employ nearly 600 people within six years. Construction at the plant site at the Port of Little Rock has not yet begun.
In Fort Smith are Umarex USA and Walther Arms, both under the umbrella of Arnsberg, Germany-based PW Group. The parent company of Daisy Outdoor Products — Gamo Outdoor USA — moved its U.S. headquarters to Rogers a few years ago and expanded the facility there. Custom gun-maker Nighthawk Custom is located in Berryville.
According to an April report by research company WalletHub, Arkansas ranks fifth among states in economic dependence on the gun industry, up from seventh a year earlier. WalletHub ranked the 50 states on 17 key metrics that examined the gun industry, gun prevalence and gun politics. Idaho ranked first and New Jersey ranked last in economic dependence on the gun industry. Arkansas ranked second-highest in gun ownership and fourth in total firearms-industry output per capita.
The FBI reported National Instant Criminal Background checks for firearm purchases in 2019 totaled 28.36 million, up from 26.18 million in 2018 and breaking 2016’s record 27.54 million. Checks for the first two months of 2020 total 5.5 million, with both months posting record highs. The checks have been tallied since 1999. While the FBI background-check figures don’t represent the number of guns sold, they are generally used as indicators of firearms demand.
A report on firearms and ammunition sales released in July by market research firm IBIS World indicated sales for 2019 would generate $17.4 billion in the U.S. with an increase annualized rate of 4.5% over the last five years. The report predicts annual revenue growth of 2.3% over the next five years in the combined segment to revenue of $19.4 billion by 2024.
In response to emailed questions, Samantha Piatt, communications and media relations manager for Sig Sauer, said the P320 and P365 are the two most popular pistol platforms the company currently manufactures. She said the P320 has become standard with law enforcement as well as the U.S. military while the P365 is dominant in the concealed-carry market.
She said working with Wilson Combat as an easy decision to make. She said Sig Sauer has always been committed to state of the art manufacturing and first class engineering, research, and development and Wilson Combat has long been a leading innovator in high-performance custom handguns and well-thought-out and engineered accessories that aligns well with Sig.
“Wilson is committed to the highest quality of work and attention to detail,” she said.