What could be new or different about an AR-style rifle in today’s market to set it apart? They’re a dime a dozen, available from custom gunsmiths and in retail stores. Enthusiasts can build or customize their own with all kinds of accessories.

That was a recurring thought among about a dozen gun writers invited by Sig Sauer in late summer to New Hampshire to see the new M400 Tread rifle. After a tour of the Sig headquarters, details about the Tread were revealed and the questions were answered.

What’s new is Sig offering a premium entry-level rifle in 5.56 NATO backed by its guarantee of quality, along with a line of Tread-branded accessories. Flexibility and freedom to grow are the buzzwords. The rifle costs $951 and the accessories range from $29 to $149, providing a host of options for customization. The Tread is outfitted with a free-floating M-LOK handguard; whether you choose the Sig accessories or others, the M-LOK works for multiple ideas.

Sig’s commitment to innovation along with high standards weren’t put on the shelf for the Tread. That’s now how they operate. Ditto for the accessories. Affordable? Yes. But cheap? Not by a long shot. They have to withstand Sig’s typical rigorous testing along with what the Sig Academy instructors do to them on the range in dirt, sand, rocks, rain and sun.

“Sig Sauer has created a premium rifle, at a moderate price point, that is packed with innovation and flexibility, and does not sacrifice the quality our consumers demand from Sig,” says Tom Taylor, chief marketing officer and executive vice president. “The base model of the Tread is loaded with features that would be considered costly upgrades from our competitors’ base model.

“At this price point, most rifles are equipped with a barrel-mounted sight post that blocks your field of view when using optics. Right out of the box, the Tread features a factory-installed, aluminum, free floating M-LOK handguard for improved accuracy, and it can be easily removed with two hex screws to change out to the Tread accessory option.”

That’s another plus with the Tread that should be a great selling point. Instead of requiring a host of gunsmith tools or a home shop to switch accessories, it’s easy to change or add accessories. During our day at the academy we began the morning shooting session with Tread rifles straight out of the box. They literally were brand new, unfired other than testing in the Sig test tube at the factory, and were stock with none of the Tread accessories.

After a couple hours of clanging targets and getting the Sig Romeo red-dot optics dialed in, we broke for lunch. Anyone wanting Tread accessories added, such as the M-LOK hand stop or vertical hand-stop grip, could get them. Within an hour the dozen or so rifles were ready to go with the grips. Installing the grips, like a customer would at home or employee might in a store, took just minutes.

“It was important to us that Tread owners had the freedom to easily and affordably tailor their rifle for their preferences,” Taylor says.

About the Rifle

Sleek and streamlined, the Tread sports an aluminum frame that cuts down significantly on weight. At just 7 pounds and a shade over 30 inches long, it’s easy to carry and maneuver on the range and in the woods. Unlike some rifles that begin to wear on you after a few hours, the Tread seemed almost featherweight during our time at the academy’s target, woods ramble and urban ranges.

The 16-inch stainless steel barrel is fitted with the free-floating M-LOK handguard. Even with big hands, it’s easy to grip, point and adjust on targets. It has a single-stage polished and hard-coat trigger with ambidextrous controls. The mid-length gas system worked reliably all day, with only a couple of miscues attributed to “operator error” and not the rifle.

The Magpul SL-K 6-position telescoping stock allows for easy, quick adjustments whether you’re dressed for summer drilling targets or in the woods hunting in winter with heavier clothing. The Tread comes ready to accept your favorite optics.

Our group started the day with single shots, then doubles, then five-shot groups up to full magazines in repetition drills at close range. We then moved back to 25, 50 and 75 yards to further acclimate ourselves with the rifle and scope before breaking for lunch.

In the afternoon we alternated between the urban course with vehicles and shoot houses to the timed woods ramble with a target at 200-plus yards. We moved from station to station closing the distance while shooting from prone, kneeling and standing positions through the brush. It was challenging and fun, with the Tread excelling throughout the day.

About the Accessories

Customers looking to upgrade the Tread can choose from a variety of branded accessories specifically designed for the rifle. All are easy to install. Packaging is designed with a vivid bright yellow-and-black combo, which should stand out easily on racks and have good eye-appeal.

One other plus to the vivid packaging is customers can easily find what they’re looking for. Descriptions on the packages are easy to read and the product is visible through the clamshell. With only 10 accessories, it should be easy to carve out a spot on the store shelves with enough room and good visibility.

“We have created a full line of Tread-branded accessories that gives our consumers the freedom to grow, and customize their Tread rifle,” Taylor says. “The Tread accessories are premium interchangeable parts that require no specialty tools or armorer training.”

The accessories include 13- and 15-inch M-LOK handguards with lightning cuts to reduce weight; a 3-chamber compensator; an ambidextrous charging handle made of aircraft-grade aluminum and a dual roll pin design; a ROMEO5 optic featuring a 2MOA dot with 10 illumination settings, MOTAC and 50k battery life; flip-up front and rear iron sights; an M-LOK front sight adapter with co-witness height made of lightweight aluminum; multiple configurations of M-LOK grip kits made of high strength polymer; and a factory upgraded flat-blade, single-stage trigger.

The grip kits worked great during our afternoon range session when we were sweaty and needed better grasp of the rifle. We banged around in the woods, slammed the rifles on car hoods and trunks, and rammed them through shoot house windows without worry about the rifles.

SIG has hit a home run with this flexible Tread setup that screams affordability, style and quality. Available now in stores, it should be a hot seller for customers seeking a higher standard for their shooting and hunting needs.

M400 TREAD Rifle Specs:

  • Total Length: 30.8 inches
  • Barrel Length: 16 inches
  • Weight (with magazine): 7 pounds
  • Height: 7.5 inches
  • Width: 2.5 inches
  • Barrel Twist: 1:8
  • MSRP: $951

M400 TREAD Branded Accessories Specs (all prices MSRP):

  • M-LOK Handguard 15 inches: $149
  • M-LOK Handguard 13 inches: $149
  • ROMEO 5 Optic: $149
  • Adjustable Flip-Up Sights: $149
  • Single-Stage Trigger: $119.99
  • Ambidextrous Charging Handle: $49
  • 3 Chamber Compensator: $49
  • M-LOK Front Sight Adapter: $29
  • M-LOK Hand-Stop Kit: $29
  • M-LOK Vertical Grip Kit: $29