Advanced Sport Pellet (ASP) brings to mind a small specialized operation devoted to performance, not unlike the local “speed” shops in many towns back in the muscle car era that helped the owners of Barracudas, Camaros, and GTOs go faster. Until recently it was the name of the air gun division of SIG Sauer. No more. When SIG committed itself to be a major player in this arena, and mapped out a strategic plan to get there, the manufacturer realized the division’s name didn’t reflect that commitment. So, it rebranded ASP as SIG Air.
The original name, however, lives on as SIG Air’s breakthrough rifle, the ASP20. According to Joe Huston, SIG Air’s general manager, the idea behind the development of the ASP20 was to design a magnum-power break-barrel air rifle that would be consistently accurate and more pleasurable to shoot than other break-barrel air rifles currently on the market.
“Break-barrel technology hasn’t really changed in thirty years,” he says. “Any advancements have been like putting lipstick on a pig.”
Huston and his team didn’t want to put band-aids on what they felt was outdated technology. So, they started from scratch, in what he says was “a true collaborative effort between SIG’s air gun engineers and its firearm engineers.” That effort yielded three major innovations, all of which are incorporated into the new rifle.
First, the GlideLite cocking mechanism requires only 33 pounds of peak force, the lightest in its class. “This is a major achievement, as many such rifles require around 50 pounds of peak force,” he says. “In addition, the cocking shoe provides a low-friction bearing surface for smooth rotation of the cocking arm and decreased contact pressure.”
Second, the proprietary breech lock ensures the barrel locks up to the breech in the same spot every time, and stays in place. “The pivot hole is drilled simultaneously through the receiver and the barrel,” he says. “By completing this as a single operation rather than a multi-stage operation, we ensure that the two parts fit perfectly. These developments eliminate barrel droop, meaning your shots will hit where you aim, every time.”
Third, the rifle features a patented trigger. “SIG is known for making precise, crisp, two-stage triggers, so we had one of our best trigger engineers make us a very special trigger for the ASP20,” he says. “The MatchLite trigger was designed with safety, performance, and ease of use in mind. It is adjustable for both pull weight and length of second-stage pull and provides a smooth pull and clean break throughout its wide adjustment range.”
The trigger-weight-adjustment assembly allows for eight distinct settings, in approximately two-ounce increments. Just as important, the design will not allow the user to make adjustments that go beyond a safe operating mode.
Dani Navickas, SIG Air’s product manager, notes another reason for the enhanced accuracy of the ASP20—its barrels are rifled on the same precision machines used to make the barrels for SIG’s firearms. “And that’s not all. The rifling has been designed to minimize unnecessary distortion of the pellets and create a highly effective seal on the pellet skirt. And that helps the rifle deliver excellent accuracy.”
Another key point is the built-in durability of the ASP20. SIG Sauer subjected the rifle to the kind of testing normally reserved for military contracts. All in all, it’s the product of a company dedicated to quality and durability.
“No one is testing its air guns as rigorously as we are,” she says.
The ASP20 is available in .177 caliber and .22 caliber, with wood-stock and synthetic-stock versions. Unscoped wood-stocked ASP20s will retail for $489.99. Synthetic stock versions will retail for $399.99.
The new Whiskey3 ASP 4-12×44 scope, designed by the SIG Sauer Electro-Optics Division especially for the ASP20, can withstand the dual recoil impulse of magnum-power break-barrel air rifles. (This is why you can’t use a scope designed for centerfire rifles.)
“Factory rifle-and-scope packages will include the SBT (SIG Ballistic Turret) that allows for the correct pellet-drop compensation and pinpoint accuracy,” says Navickas. “Furthermore, SBT turrets that come with the kitted guns mounted at SIG will be set with the ballistics of the most common weight pellet for the caliber.”
Wood-stocked rifles with the scope retail for $649.99. Synthetic-stock rifles with the scope will retail for $559.99. “The scope alone retails for $359.99,” Navickas says, “so the combo is a great deal.”
“The innovations incorporated into the ASP20 will remove the stigma that magnum power-break barrel air rifles are too hard to cock, suffer from heavy recoil, experience barrel droop, and have sub-par triggers,” Huston says. “It’s a true game-changer.” Another major product coming this year from SIG Air is the M17 ASP, a .177 caliber pellet pistol. “It has the same look and feel as the U.S. Army-issued P320 M17,” Navickas says. “It utilizes a 20-round belt magazine that contains a 12-gram CO2 cartridge, and the metal slide with blow-back functionality makes it a lot of fun to shoot.” (SRP: $139.99)
Lastly, SIG Air will also release the Super Target, a single-stroke pneumatic target pellet pistol modeled after the P210 Target pistol. SRP: $399.99.
I had an opportunity to shoot both the ASP20 and M17 recently at the SIG Sauer Academy. Huston is correct that the new break-barrel rifle requires far less effort to cock. The trigger is precise and crisp, which definitely enhances the rifle’s overall accuracy. The M17 was a hoot to shoot. It does have the heft and feel of the real thing, and like the rifle, is accurate.
As we were casing the rifle, Hutson told me, “The aim of SIG Air is to bring air gun technology into the 21st century.” From what I saw, the company has made an impressive start.