Sauer & Sohn

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J. P. Sauer und Sohn GmbH
FoundedSuhl, Thuringia, 1751
ProductsHandguns, rifles
ServicesGunsmithing, training
OwnerLüke & Ortmeier Gruppe
WebsiteSauer & Sohn

J. P. Sauer und Sohn GmbH (Sauer & Sohn) is a manufacturer of firearms and machinery and is the oldest firearms manufacturer still active in Germany. The products of this company are frequently referred to as Sauer.

J. P. Sauer und Sohn[edit]

Model 1879 Single Action Reichsrevolver on display at the National Firearms Museum.


The first Sauer company was founded in 1751 by Lorenz Sauer in Suhl, Thuringia, Germany, this region being known as Waffenstadt Suhl. J.P. Sauer & Sohn is the oldest recorded gun maker in Germany.[1] In 1815 Johann-Gottlob Sauer started managing the firm. and in 1835 Johann Paul Sauer became the manager. In 1840 that Johann Paul Sauer and his son, Lorenz created the new name and trademark of J.P. Sauer & Sohn.[1]


  • 1751 Founded by Lorenz Sauer.
  • 1815 Johann Gottlob Sauer assumed management.
  • 1835 Johann Paul Sauer assumed management.
  • 1840 Johann Paul Sauer and son Lorenz create a new name and trademark J.P. Sauer & Sohn.
  • 1811 Sauer became the first company to provide firearms to a German government.[1]
  • 1879 Patented Backloading Rifle.
  • 1880 Started to produce hunting rifles in Berlin.
  • 1881 Patented an innovative Drilling, won a Gold Medal at the World Exhibition.
  • 1882 Produced their first catalog.
  • 1891 Patented extractor for folding guns and Patented an expanding bullet.
  • 1893 Made Shotgun and Krupp Special Rifle Barrels.
  • 1902 Patented Kick Bolt.
  • 1909 Single Trigger design for double guns.
  • 1915 Introduced the Model 25 Drilling.
  • 1930 Introduced the Model 30 Light steel drilling.
  • 1931 Bockbuchsflinte/ Cape Gun.
  • 1932 Model 32 Drilling.
  • 1933 Model 33 Over/Under Shotgun.
  • 1936 Models 36 and 37 Kipplaufbüchse, trigger devices for double guns, double safety.
  • 1938 Safety device for drillings to choose which barrel to use.
  • 1945 Sauer factory in East Germany is taken over by the communist government.
  • 1950 Merger forms Mewa-Suhl which includes: Merkel, Greifelt & Co., Ernst-Thälmann-Werk, Fortuna-Werk. Rolf Sauer sold the rights to the industrial group BRD.
  • 1951 BRD establishes J.P. Sauer & Sohn in Eckernförde, Germany.
  • 1960 In East Germany, VEB Ernst Thälmann are still using the J.P. Sauer & Sohn name on their products.
  • 1970 Simson, Merkel, and Haenel are merged with into VEB Ernst Thälmann (use of J.P. Sauer & Sohn name ceases on East German products) [1]

Model 38H[edit]

Of particular note is the company's Sauer 38H, the first mass-produced semiautomatic pistol to feature a cocking/decocking lever. It was a very advanced pocket pistol design made in .25 ACP, .32 ACP, and .380 ACP. It was adopted as German alternate standard as Modell 38 and was widely used by air and tank forces. Barrel 3 1/3", Overall Length 6 1/4", Weight 26 oz. Capacity 8 cartridges. The action has a cocker/decocker lever that can control the concealed hammer. This handgun had a restrike capability should the round in the chamber fail to fire on the first trigger pull.[2]

After World War II[edit]

At the end of World War II the original Sauer company was located in East Germany. The company assets were seized without compensation. Hans Sauer was deported by the Soviet government and never heard from again. The machinery, as happened with most of the industrial companies that had been located in East Germany, was dismantled and moved East.

The J. P. Sauer und Sohn company, along with Merkel,[3] Greifelt & Company, Ernst Thalmann Werk, and Fortuna Werk (formerly C. C. Haenel) were merged into a group called Mewa-Suhl, located in Suhl, East Germany.

Two J. P. Sauer companies[edit]

in 1950 Rolf Sauer sold the rights of the J. P. Sauer und Sohn name and trademark to an industrial group in West Germany, where in 1951 J. P. Sauer & Sohn was reestablished in Eckernförde, Schleswig-Holstein.[1]

The J. P. Sauer and Sohn trademark was still being used in East Germany until 1970, when J. P. Sauer and Sohn (Suhl), Simson (Suhl), Haenel (Suhl), and Gebruder Merkel (Suhl) were united under the name of 'VEB Fahrzeug- und Jagdwaffenwerk "Ernst Thälmann"', and dropped the use of the J. P. Sauer name.[4]

Partnership with SIG[edit]

J. P. Sauer & Sohn partnered with Schweizerische Industrie Gesellschaft (SIG) in 1976 to the design and manufacture a new line of semi-automatic pistols branded as "SIG Sauer". The partnership was the result of Swiss restrictions on the export of firearms which prevented that company from exporting this new design concept. The design resulted from the creation at that time of a new form of industrial production equipment known as the "Automatic Screw Machine" which was introduced by SIG. While SIG had produced a very high quality handgun in their P210 model, it was a very expensive handgun to produce which required many machining operations at high levels of precision. This produced a firearm that was known for its accuracy, but was too expensive to be sold to a wide market.

Spurred by the necessity to partner with a foreign company in order to profit from their production machinery and the items it could produce SIG chose J. P. Sauer to be their partner. Together they incorporated elements on the Sauer 38H which was an advanced handgun design of the 1938 era when they had to compete with the Walther PP and Walther series of pocket pistols. The model 38H had the new feature of that time in a double/single action trigger mechanism combined with the ability to safely drop the pistol with the first decocking lever found on a handgun.[5] On firearms without a decocking lever instances of accidental discharge, often with personal injury, do occur even with the most experienced shooters.[6]

The first SIG Sauer handgun[edit]

To satisfy the needs of the Swiss police a new model was created by the SIG Sauer company which incorporated some features from the Sig P210 and the Sauer model 38H simplified for a more efficient (cheaper) cost of construction on the new SIG developed machinery. The result was a new type of action for a locked breech semi-automatic pistol with a new high quality smooth operating double/single action trigger, a safe hammer lowering device, automatic firing pin block, and easy disassembly for cleaning. This new concept handgun was named the SIG Sauer P220.

The SIG Sauer model P226 was created for the USA XM9 handgun procurement program but lost due to being underbid by Beretta by $6.

J. P. Sauer firearms[edit]

Sauer & Sohn manufactured both handguns and long arms, including pistols, rifles, and shotguns.

Firearms Currently listed on the Sauer & Sohn German website:[7]

Bolt Action Rifles:

  • Sauer 100 Classic
  • Sauer 100 Classic XT
  • Sauer 404 Classic
  • Sauer 404 Classic XT
  • Sauer 404 Elegance
  • Sauer 404 Artemis
  • Sauer 404 Select
  • Sauer 404 Synchro XTC
  • Sauer 404 Synchro XT

Semi-Automatic Rifles

  • Sauer 303 Classic
  • Sauer 303 Classic XT
  • Sauer 303 Elegance
  • Sauer 303 GTI
  • Sauer 303 Hybrid
  • Sauer 303 Forest XT
  • Sauer 303 Hardwood
  • Sauer 303 Synchro XT
  • Sauer 303 Black Velvet

Double Rifles

  • Sauer & Sohn Double Rifle, Cape Gun

Over/Under Shotguns

  • Sauer Artemis
  • Sauer Apollon

Side by Side Shotguns

  • Sauer & Sohn Meisterwerk Shotguns
  • Sauer & Sohn Magma Sidelock Shotguns
  • Sauer & Sohn Elegance Sidelock Shotguns
  • Sauer & Sohn Model IX

Other products[edit]

Manufactured the Weatherby Mark V series of rifles from (1958 – early 1970s). J.P. Sauer & Sohn Gmbh is also a manufacturer of high-pressure air and gas compressors.

Notable models[edit]

Some of the pistols designed and manufactured in collaboration with former S.I.G. (now Swissarms AG):

  • SIG P220 The first of a new series of handguns which has spawned a huge line of models.
  • SIG Pro series of pistol (recently adopted by French police)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "J.P. Sauer & Sohn in Suhl". Retrieved 27 February 2017.
  2. ^ Book of Pistols & Revolvers (7th ed.). Harrisburg, PA. USA: Stackpole Books. 1968. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  3. ^ Merkel
  4. ^ Kallmyers, Arfamann (2006). J. P. Sauer & Son: The story of the oldest weapons factory in Germany, established 1751. Peter-Arfmann-Verlag. ISBN 3980776034.
  5. ^ Smith, W.H.B. (1968). Book of Pistols and Revolvers (7th ed.). Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole. pp. 283–288.
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Sauer Uberlegene Werte". Retrieved 27 February 2017.

External links[edit]