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.