SIG SAUER produces some of the most well-known models in the firearms world. In recent years, their P320 and P365 handguns have taken the market by storm. Some of their older models, like the P226 and P229, have been widely hailed for many years. Many of their rifle-caliber guns, like the MCX series, are also beloved by plenty of shooters. However, they also make some guns that don’t get quite as much recognition or attention. SIG’s M400 series of AR-type rifles and rifle-caliber pistols seem to be a bit less well-known. When I ask my gun buddies what they first think of when I say “SIG SAUER”, M400s tend to be down the list or absent from it. Curious as to why, earlier this year I set about getting to know one of the newer M400 series offerings, the Predator. I ended up liking it, and have followed up by testing another new M400 AR: the Switchblade.
SIG SAUER M400 Firearms @ TFB:
SIG’s Switchblade is a brace-equipped 5.56/.223 AR pistol with an 11.5″ barrel. It features fully ambidextrous controls, from the selector switch and charging handle which have become common on many ARs, to SIG’s ambi mag release button, which they’ve used before but is decidedly less common. Most notable on the Switchblade, however, is the inclusion of an ambi bolt catch/release system. SIG has upgraded the left-side button with extra lower-section surface area, and paired this with an ingenious switch on the right side of the receiver. This lever, placed above the mag release button and protruding rearward, actuates up and down to respectively catch and release the bolt.
This ambi bolt catch operates in tandem with the left-side components; manipulate one side and the other will move as well. This is the same with the Switchblade’s other controls – each side is integrally linked with the other. For the pistol brace, SIG opted to use Magpul’s blade-style BSL. These two featured components combine to give the gun its name: the bolt catch/release “Switch” and Magpul “Blade” brace. The gun is finished out with solid attention to detail – an integrated trigger guard and flared magwell, a three-prong flash hider, and a nicely crisp two-stage Matchlite Duo trigger. Eschewing the traditional all-black finish, the Switchblade wears a gray “Titanium” Cerakote on the receivers and M-LOK handguard.
Out of the box, the fit and finish seemed excellent. Even on their more wallet-friendly offerings, like this one, I expect quality from SIG SAUER and the Switchblade didn’t disappoint. I didn’t observe any issues or concerns from the standpoint of manufacturing or assembly; the gun looked and felt like it should be good to go. I ran through the manual of arms, trying each of the controls, and found that I thoroughly enjoyed them. I’d been wary of whether the atypical ambi systems might cause issues or feel gimmicky, but this was not the case. I was able to adapt to each operation quickly and intuitively. The design, placement, and geometry of each component have been well thought-out and function perfectly. Even with the left-side bolt catch’s added bottom-half real estate sitting close to the mag release button, at no point did they get in the way; I never accidentally hit the wrong one while not looking and working quickly. I found that very little adjustment time was needed to fold the controls’ added capabilities into my manual of arms; they feel natural and just make sense. The demo gun was sent to me with a Romeo 4T red dot, and I added my own sling and M-LOK QD sling attachments. Following my excellent experience with initial handling time and dry-fire reps, I looked forward to range day.
Zeroing the Romeo 4T was quick and problem-free. My first impressions with the initial live-fire rounds were great; the gun shot smoothly and felt perfectly comfortable. After zeroing, I opted to burn a magazine on a menu of steel silhouettes at ranges from 25-100 yards, to get an initial feel for how it handled. Even just running casually and rapidly, 29/30 hits felt virtually effortless. I’m confident that 30/30 would have been easy if I had been putting more of an effort into the marksmanship itself, rather than simply ripping off some rounds a bit lackadaisically. What impressed and struck me about this string of fire was not necessarily just the accuracy – I’d expect to be able to hit targets at that range with any 5.56/.223 gun from SIG or just about any other mid-priced AR – but how smoothly and freely it came.
I found the Switchblade to be exceedingly well-balanced and efficient. Some other short-barrelled ARs I’ve tried before have tended to buck or snap a bit without the tempering effects of additional weight, barrel length, and mass of longer ARs. It’s subtle but can make a real difference, and in my experience, SIG’s newest rifle-caliber pistol doesn’t suffer from these effects. At no point in my testing did it feel like it required much more effort to control than a rifle-length system shot off of a rest or bipod. In a lightweight, maneuverable, compact footprint, this was a welcome finding. Though a few hundred rounds aren’t enough for a durability test, the gun did function flawlessly for me. I had only one fail-to-fire, and this was caused by a bad primer, no fault of the firearm’s. The shooting experience was sublime and exceeded my expectations for the price point.
Although I would’ve liked to spend a bit more time diving into accuracy, ammo prices still have me a bit restricted on that front, so I assessed based on just a few groupings on paper. I wanted to keep my focus more on fighting effectiveness, so the steel plates ate most of my limited round count. From the paper, I found the Switchblade achieved about MOA accuracy, with which I was satisfied. Though there are certainly sub-MOA ARs on the market, they tend to be a bit pricier than the Switchblade at its reasonable $1,549.99 MSRP (bearing in mind that your actual purchase price will typically be lower). It’s also well worth noting that the ammo I had available was cheap reman, far from match-grade. This leads me to believe that if you feed it quality food (hopefully more possible as ammo prices/availability have begun getting slightly less insane of late), the Switchblade is probably well capable of climbing into that sub-MOA performance tier.
For the price, and when you factor in the other benefits such as the excellent all-ambi controls, I think this gun is a solid value for money. Two range days and plenty of hits on target later, and I’m sold. SIG’s Switchblade has earned my affection and respect, and I now plan to purchase one for myself in the future. While there are certainly other AR pistol makes and models worth looking at, if you’re shopping in this category, I would definitely encourage you to include the Switchblade in your consideration set. Although of course nothing is going to be perfect for everyone and personal preferences vary widely, I believe this is a strong offering that is going to make a lot of shooters happy. It did for me! See you at the range.
Images courtesy of SIG SAUER and the author.
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