Swiss Arms SG550 and FAMAE SG540 Review

In this episode of TFBTV we introduce Edward, our Canadian Contingent. For his first video we take a look at an SG540 from Chilean state arms manufacturer FAMAE, and its natural evolution: the SG550 from Swiss Arms.

In a short side-by-side shoot, we have the rifles ring steel, trigger smoke grenades with drop targets, and blow binary explosives while a drone buzzes around the back country range.

The original SG540 was designed by Swiss Arms, and had after a short stint with the French Army, saw major production under license with FAMAE for use in the Chilean Army. The Sturmgewehr 90 or SG550 was developed specifically to meet the needs of the Swiss military.

Check Out Ed’s channel here for more Canadian gun reviews.

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Transcript … [coming soon]

Edward O

Edward is a Canadian gun owner and target shooter with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. Crawling over mountains with tactical gear is his idea of fun. He blogs at TV-Presspass and tweets @TV_PressPass.


  • Devil_Doc

    Great video! Loved the drones.. I’d love to see videos of guns available in Canada, but not in the US. Also, what’s the difference between these Swiss Arms rifles and the Sig 556? Looks like Swiss Arms was Sig until it was bought out, but are the similarities between these rifles purely cosmetic? Apologies, I know very little about either..

    • Most folks don’t realize that Schweizerische Industrie Gesellschaft (SIG) made more than just firearms. In 2000, SIG’s management decided to sell off most of its business divisions. The small arms division, SIG Arms AG, was purchased by the Lüke & Ortmeier Group, and was renamed SAN Swiss Arms AG.

      • Sep

        Rail cars, streetcars/trams, and beverage packaging.

        Nowadays SIG (Combibloc) makes machinery for beverage carton production.

      • UCSPanther

        If you’ve got a machine and fabricating shop, you can make anything.

        Think of Smith-Corona M1903s, Rock-ola M1 carbines and International Harvester M1 Garands.

        Also, name which product each company was notable for and you win some extra points…

    • Calimero

      SG 550, 551, 552 (discontinued), 553 are made by Swiss Arms (sometimes referred to as SAN = Swiss Arms Neuhausen) in Switzerland. They are the real deal.

      But SAN has had some layoffs a few couple years ago and it seems the barrel making equipment was sold to Lothar Walther in Germany (after lots of barrels were made to cover a few years of sales). I’m not sure how much longer SAN is going to live …

      The 556 is strictly US-made. It has the same operating principle, but no components are made in Switzerland. Quality is nowhere close to the Swiss-made 55x but they cost a fraction (1/3-1/2) of a Swiss 55X..
      Having cheaper US-made clones is probably a sound decision. Trying to sell swiss-made rifles at $3000-$5000 in the US doesn’t sound like a very good business plan.

      The SIG P210 is going the same route with a US-made clone instead of German-made (by Sauer).

      SIG nowadays is essentially an American company.

      • Dan Atwater

        I’ve been able to compare a Swiss Arms 553 directly to an Exeter SIG 551 A1, and you are absolutely right about the quality difference between the two. The 553 was running $3500 and to this day I still kind of regret not buying it.

        • Calimero

          I own a 553 and picked it up in Switzerland (553s are made to order because of the various combinations available).

          The 556 became available in France a year later and was of course much cheaper and I got to handle one at Milipol or Eurosatory (LEO and military equipment trade shows in Paris). And I didn’t regret going the Swiss route.

          But what we gun nuts might be willing to pay isn’t necessarily what the public at large is willing to pay. Especially when you have “good enough” ARs for $1000.

          Does that make us hipsters?

          “I own a SIG 553 but you’ve probably never heard of it …”

          • iksnilol

            Man, I so want one of those shorty 553’s in 7.62×39.

      • Sep

        (Going from memory) SAN laid off half its employees in Summer of 2015.

  • Maxpwr

    Very good review. Too bad we can’t have nice things like that in the US. I’d even put up with the Canadian 5 shot magazine limit on imports if we could just import them from Switzerland or even Chile into the US.

  • iksnilol

    Yay, TFB has an Canadian operative.

    • Bob Wright

      Awesome! So good to see some Canadian content. TFB fast becoming one of my favourite viewing channels. Kee p up the great work. And YaY Edward O.
      From a British Columbian fan. Been

  • USMC03Vet

    I don’t see a video. Is this a facebook thing?

    • DanGoodShot

      I don’t see the vid either

    • Gjert Klakeg Mulen

      Go to their youtube channel: “TFB TV”

  • Darrell

    Good job, and welcome to TFB.
    I see the vid just fine.

    • KestrelBike

      Edward’s been a long-time contributor to TFB, this is just his first video.

      Now regarding Canada & the laws, just like many in the US and individual states, they’re just so wacky. Drives me bonkers that two rifles of the same capability but differing internals/furniture (this pipe/rod goes there, that one’s goes over there) make the difference between legal and illegal. Stupid. Gddamn worthless politicians.

  • snmp

    *Joint developpement Rifle Beretta& SIG => Beretta AR70 & Manurhin SG540
    * SIG Never build and sold the SG540.
    * Manurhin sold the rifle to french Army (include Foriegn Legion) & Africans Countries for small war (Liban … Africa …)

    • FWIW: The SIG SG530 was the byproduct of their failed collaboration with Beretta. Things broke down after SIG’s Rudloph Amsler wouldn’t give up on the roller-delayed/roller-locked concept. (Amsler was the father of the SG510.)

  • Norm

    More vids from this guy. He’s concise, and to the point. There’s much less apparent ego than some of the US contributors.

  • TVOrZ6dw

    Great Video. Americans can only dream of the freedom to hunt seals with an “assault rifle”.

  • jay

    Great video Edward, welcome to TFBTV. Looking forward to more fun outback with you!

  • Lance

    Fun video a few Canada only firearms videos I’d like to see would see is for the Norinco Type-97, Type-81, and post 89 Norinco M-14 and SKS run and guns from you. Just a request but hope you do them.

    • Thanks! I’ve got a Norinco M305 in the safe right now! Type 97s are easy to come by. But we’ll have to see about the Type 81!

      • Sep

        Hi Edward, it’s good to see you’re making videos for TFBTV!

        How is the trigger on the FAMAE compared to the one on the SIG?
        Which of the two is more accurate?

    • Anonymoose

      We can still get Norinco SKSes here.

  • BattleshipGrey

    Great footage with the drone. Looking forward to more vids.

  • Bob Wright

    Go Edward O! Great video. Glad you are connected with TFB. I subscribed to your channel too.

  • Mev

    Great review. Have worked with Ed and her knows his stuff. Looking forward to more!

  • Anonymoose

    I wish the US and Canada could ditch our stupid gun (and import) restrictions so we could share all our cool stuff. There are so many cool firearms-related products in Canada, Europe, and even Australia, and we could give so much to you guys in return.

  • Dario B.

    good review, but these magazines are just wrong

  • mugwump

    Good job Edward. I’ve also got a SIG commando and really dig the 8.9″ barrel despite that it’s officially registered w/ the RCMP.

  • Thomas Weißhuhn

    Could you do a breakdown video where you compare the rifles guts in detail? that would be cool!

  • Steve_7

    So aren’t we even pretending to not call them SG550s anymore? The SG550 is a prohibited firearm in Canada. Someone (cough) told RCMP they were SG540s and was allowed to import them under a different name, then he stupidly got RCMP to look at them more closely later on, cue enormous legal mess. The last govt. was gun friendly so they reclassified the variations he’d imported as non-restricted, however said person had also imported variations of the rifle which he’d never gotten verified so those variations are now in legal limbo.
    As far as the SG540 goes, it was designed collaboratively by SIG and Beretta for the various military trials around Europe in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Beretta developed it into the AR-70 (and later the AR-70/90) and SIG developed it into the SG550. They wanted France to buy it, but in the end France developed the FA MAS, although some former French colonies did buy the SG540, made by Manurhin under licence.

  • @HellerWithAGunn

    Well done Ed! Great video and very well put together. I recognize some of the shots from earlier videos but am blown away by how seamlessly you managed to incorporate them in the new video.

    I’m a hardcore Swiss Arms fan and a complete sucker for anything Swiss/SAN related. I’m proud to say I was lucky enough to acquire a rifle from the very first Swiss Arms shipment to Canada. My Swiss Arms “Blue Star” a.k.a. SG-550, PE-90, and informally dubbed “The Smurfgewehr” because of its Smurf blue colour, remains my favourite coyote and seal rifle. Wonderfully accurate and tough as nails despite more than a decade of hard use in my harsh North Atlantic climate, the rifle still looks like new.

    I liked it so much that when Swiss Arms began shipping the civilian legal semi-auto version of their SG-552 Commando, mine was one of the first names on the list for the Canadian “Swiss Arms CQB”. Lucky for me, I once again managed to acquire one of the first CQB/552 to land in Canada. While sadly relegated to range toy status, it remains my favourite “black gun” (although it wears green furniture) and has earned its place in my “never gonna sell” gunsafe. It’s slightly longer brother, the 551 Carbine sits next to it.

    I had hoped to add their 7.62mm NATO bro to the collection, but our idiotic gun laws isn’t going to let that happen. The FAMAE 542 looks to be the next best thing and I have one on order. Looking forward to testing it out on moose and black bear this fall.

  • PewPew

    How did you manage to make the AR mags run?

  • Yvon Tessier-Sansregret

    Thanks for a great video… you got me thinking in getting a FAMAE in 7.62