Gunmaker SIG Sauer is in hot water after the state of New Jersey sued the company for breach of contract when they allegedly delivered defective handguns to their State Police. In mid-2014, SIG Sauer won a contract to provide pistols to the New Jersey State Police and reportedly subsequently delivered 3,000 SIG P229 handguns. However, according to the NJSP, the pistols proved irreparably defective.
Although the P229 performed well in testing, the handguns actually delivered to the NJSP that year were plagued by failures to eject, according to the official complaint filed with the Superior Court of New Jersey. SIG Sauer diagnosed the malfuntions as being caused by the pistol’s extractor pins, which were subsequently replaced; however, this did not remedy the problem. As a result, SIG representatives visited the NJSP and supplied 250 new extractor springs to fix the problem, but the problems still persisted.
By the end of October 2015, the document states, the NJSP began to identify the issue as being related to differences between the weapons trialed during the procurement process and those that were actually delivered. According to the document, while it was the SIG P229 Legacy that was trialed and that won the competition, the weapons that were delivered were of the very similar but distinct P229 Enhanced Elite model. Notably, the Enhanced Elite is alleged to differ from the Legacy in its extractor system, leading to reasonable speculation that this substitution was the cause of the malfunctions.
SIG Sauer agreed to replace the P229 Enhanced Elites with P229 Legacy models, but then allegedly failed to meet the deadline of January 2016 for the delivery of 750 of these weapons, having only delivered by that point 364 pistols. At this point, the document states that SIG Sauer informed the NJSP that it would only be able to deliver half of the 1,000 pistols it promised by the end of January 2016.
During a January 12, 2016 training course, the replacement SIG P229 Legacy handguns also exhibited failures to eject with both practice and duty ammunition. Consequently, SIG Sauer representatives and the NJSP met to inspect the most recent shipment of P229 Legacy handguns. During this inspection, SIG Sauer representatives “red lined” five of the 25 handguns randomly selected from the shipment, for exhibiting unacceptable manufacturing defects. Subsequent testing in the presence of SIG Sauer representatives produced more failures to eject, which continued even after the weapons were serviced by SIG gunsmiths.
After this incident, the NJSP decided to cease further discussion with SIG Sauer, and instead procure a new handgun, which resulted in procurement of the Glock 19 Gen 4.
Over the weekend, SIG Sauer released a statement regarding the lawsuit:
STATEMENT REGARDING NEW JERSEY STATE POLICE
May 21, 2017 – Sig Sauer, Inc. is aware of the lawsuit recently filed by the State of New Jersey regarding its purchase of the Sig Sauer P229 model handgun by the New Jersey State Police (NJSP).
The NJSP selected the Sig Sauer P229 handgun as its new duty weapon after conducting an in-depth review and exhaustive testing of available handguns. Sig Sauer developed a version of the P229 specific to the requirements of the NJSP, and delivered to the NJSP as scheduled in the summer of 2014.
Following delivery, the NJSP informed Sig Sauer that it was experiencing failures during qualification training with their training ammunition. Sig Sauer immediately began working with the NJSP to determine the cause of this failure and resolve the issue.
Sig Sauer’s investigation of the failure mode indicates a contributing factor may be a compatibility issue between this unique NJSP P229 and the specific training ammunition used by the NJSP. Importantly, these failures were limited to the training ammunition used by the NJSP, and the P229s functioned when using their duty ammunition.
Sig Sauer had been diligently working with New Jersey officials to resolve the issues associated with the P229 handguns it purchased. In light of these discussions, Sig Sauer was surprised that New Jersey filed a lawsuit. Sig Sauer is committed to customer satisfaction, and stands ready to continue these discussions and work with NJSP to reach an equitable solution.