In the United States, a decent .22 Long Rifle target pistol has generally (for the past couple of decades) meant a Ruger Mk II/III or a Browning Buckmark. For plinking and training, many manufacturers make .22LR versions of their popular full-sized guns. One notable exception around the turn of the century was SIGARMS, the US arm of SIG SAUER firearms of Germany and Switzerland.

By the 1990s, the SIG group included Hämmerli, which was (and remains) a manufacturer of high-end competition target pistols and rifles. SIG decided to get into the target pistol market. With the help of Hämmerli, they came out with the Trailside, a gun much cheaper than Hämmerli's products and intended to be more durable - suitable for casual use and, as the name implied, woods carry.

The Trailside is an autoloading, blowback operation .22LR pistol. It doesn't look nearly as 'space-age' as some of Hämmerli's more exotic competition guns, but it's still somewhat striking with a very square profile and a partial slide (akin to the Desert Eagle). Originally available with 4.5" or 6" barrels, the Trailside sold for between $400 and $600 new. It is based at least partially on the Hämmerli 208 - but where that gun has a parts count of over 135, the Trailside has 42 which explains why it was over $1400 cheaper. The Trailside is a very, very accurate pistol. When bought new they came with a proof target showing that they met spec - any gun unable to hold three-quarters of an inch groups at 25 yards was rejected and sent back.

SIG has since sold Hämmerli to Walther. The European version of the gun is still available as the Hämmerli X-esse (Xesse).


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