Swiss Arms SG553s Available in the United States*

Ever since the dumbest firearms law in America, the ban on imported semiautomatic rifles, was enacted in 1989, it’s been difficult for foreign manufacturers to sell their products here. Naturally, because people are smart and politicians are not, we’ve basically gotten around that law by importing certain parts and manufacturing others here in the US. This means we can basically have all of the same rifles, as long as the manufacturer is willing to make an effort to import/manufacture what they need. A manufacturer’s willingness to go to these lengths is based on a number of things, including how much interest they see from consumers.

Some consumers’ interest in these rifles is diminished because the product isn’t a true “country-made” product. Case in point: Swiss-made rifles from the aptly named Swiss Arms. Designers and manufacturers of the SG550/551/552 rifle series, one of their newest products is the SG553. The 553 shares many of the same dimensions of the 552, but features a redesigned action spring more like that of the larger 550 and 551, making it easier to disassemble. It also has a machined aluminum receiver, as opposed to the stamped steel receiver of the 552  (Swiss Arms has tested the new aluminum receiver quite thoroughly. For example, the big brother of the 553, the 751 SAPR in 7.62×51, had reached over 18,000 rounds of full auto with no dimensional changes as of a year and a half ago).

This is the 553CH. It is cool.

Why am I telling you this? Because there’s another way to import such things, and that’s by manufacturing them as pistols. As long as the “pistol” has enough features which gain it “points” as determined by the ATF, it may be legally imported and sold in the United States. *Something I have been itching to talk about for more than eighteen months is that there were plans underway to import 553 pistols. Well, they’re here, and I can talk about them.

What was on display at SHOT? This thing. It's the diopter sight version, which isn't currently available in the US; the railed model, as seen above (but with stock, which isn't importable), is.

These 553s are made just as Swiss Arms intended them to be, and feature things like hammer forged, nitrided barrels that aren’t found in some competing products. There are no corners cut here. But cutting corners saves money, and sparing no expense…doesn’t.

They’re being imported by M+M/CO Gun Sales; the wholesaler/retailer is Armati USA. Because of the quality, workmanship, and number of hoops that had to be jumped through for them to be imported, they aren’t cheap. The first few were sold to another dealer and are currently being marketed for $4995; needless to say, they aren’t flying off the shelves. I would expect prices to fall somewhat, but still remain above $4000, as time goes on.

If you’re looking for a pistol-configuration thingy in 5.56×45, and aren’t especially concerned with getting a genuine Swiss-made product, then this probably isn’t for you. Actually, it definitely isn’t for you. Those who are interested in the 553P are likely to be a) those who enjoy finely made items and b) those who are fans of the 55X platform in its true form.

Here's a photo sent to me by Armati USA showing an imported 553P.

 

15 comments

  • This makes me wonder what the gun industry would look like without the import laws.

    Would the US gun industry be as strong as it is w/o the import restrictions?

    • I say yes, in fact, I say it’d be stronger because it opens the cheaper manufacturing and more options. While I really like the AR15, there’s a reason why it’s so popular, most of its out of country competition that could compete with it is generally more expensive or heavily regulated

  • Are they going to make the full-size platform in aluminum? That would seriously interest me.

    • If you’re talking about the lowers, then yes. They’re starting to make milled alu lowers in either swiss & STANAG 4179 magazine versions. The uppers however remain unchanged.

  • I purchased a 553-2 LB with the standard stamped receiver (which is still the default here in europe, the aluminium lower is an extra). It’s really a sweet rifle, I love it.

    Not cheap by any mean (even for Europe) but just like my Sa vz 58 it keeps shooting without a single hicup.

    I’m glad you’ll be able to get them too !

    We call them “the Banker’s AK” here. :)

  • If their cost was above 1000$ on these ill eat my shoe. (Someone at arsenal is rethinking their 600$ pistol now.) lets see how many fools jump on this train.

    • What is your shoe made of? Heck, who cares, hotsauce works on everything! Bottom line: These cost more than $1000.00 USD to produce as has every military-issued firearm Switzerland has produced (in today’s dollars) for the duration of it’s over 700-year confederacy. FYI, target shooting is Switzerland’s national sport, not football, or soccer. They spare no expense on their issued arms, nor need they as one of the wealthiest nations on Earth per capita. Even the K31 would cost nearly 4K USD to produce today to the same specifications it was during it’s production years. The P210 is still considered (went into production in the late 40s) the finest quality, and most accurate “out of the box to 50 meters) pistol every mass produced for any military, ever: period.

  • Interesting. Curious about Sig more now. I lost interested way back when I got the US 556 SWAT and it wasn’t quite what I was looking for in a rifle.

  • Would one be able to easily and legally be able to convert this to an SBR with the right paperwork, stamp tax, and tools?

  • I really hope that United States gun makers will catch up with Europe in producing nitrided barrels. They are cool.

  • yes u can, sbr, well i am not sure how the back of the receiver is configured. My 556 Swat pistol was converted to SBR via form 1.

  • Chase, Steyr SSG69s are nitrided. 40 years is plenty time to catch up. I think it’s just that a barrel life of 50,000+ rounds doesn’t fit the planned obsolescence strategy so widespread in US manufacturing.

  • I have one of these and the back of the reciever has a plate that uses the stock axis pin to hold it in place. The stock axis pin is “blind pinned” so that it cannot “easily” be removed. However, upon it’s removal, it can accept a standard Swiss stock. I have submitted a Form 1 to convert it to an SBR. In this political enviornment, I think it is a sound investment. Back in ’89 only 50-100 Swiss-made 550/551 had a chance to be legally imported before the door was shut. We may be in exactly that sort of situation right now. I have spoken to the importer and they have only been able to acquire less than 200 of these through the end of the year. This is because Swiss-Arms is at production capacity for the forseeable future on Military and other contracts.

  • Thank you Andrew for providing the facts as only you do.
    If permissible, we’d like to announce direct sales to customers through Christmas for $3875.00 shipping included. We apologize the delay in the construction of our online store-front; however, interested persons may now go to http://www.armati-usa.com, and click on the “product inquiries” tab. Interested persons may enter their contact information to recieve instructions and/or call-backs on how to obtain an SG 553 P of their own straight to their local FFL.
    We had originally been working with retailers eager to get their hands on the acclaimed “holy grail” of firearms while setting up our site and sales infrastructure; however, due to the limited numbers we are able to obtain of these directly from SWISS-ARMS AG, we have decided it is more prudent to sell direct in order to make them available at more affordable prices to the public.

    Regards,
    ARMATI-USA CS

  • This is the United States… I live here, I have a home here. Logistics aren’t a problem for me, I have every thing I need right here at home, including real rifles and pistols. If anyone tries to come into my house uninvited, they will be shot through the walls and doors at the entryways. I don’t plan on “clearing” any buildings… I live here, I can wait till hell freezes over and kill them when they come out… or, shoot them through the walls and roof with a REAL rifle. Why on earth would I want a rat-shooter where the butt stock is longer than the barrel ?!? Going to shoot indoors at close range, use a pistol… they aim even faster than a rifle.

    Instead of wasting America’s time with yet another AR platform to add to those of every configuration and quality already made by approximately 200 other companies, the nerds at SIG could have offered a domestically produced, REAL SG 550… and, then, they could have domestically produced a REAL rifle that fires a REAL cartridge, the SG 751 SAPR. All they needed to do was demonstrate how they surpass the AK and AR designs and come from the factory with a lot of the features that people fork-over an arm and leg to tack on afterwards, and they could have sold them as fast as they could make them to people who actually know something about small arms.

    My SIG 556 is a jewel. It is as accurate as an M4, a lot easier to clean, folds to 28″, never misses a beat, comes to shoulder precisely… but, the US afterthought diopter sucks, the fast-twist barrel works best with 69 – 77 gr rounds that don’t fragment reliably, and I’m not a fan of STANAG plug ‘n’ play magazines in the first place… but, it is easier to live and travel with than my AR’s.

    Now, I would probably sell my M1A and my FAL if I could get an SG 751 SAPR…
    No, not really, that would be like selling one of my children… and, I love all my children equally.

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