WEST TRENTON — The New Jersey State Police have filed suit against the manufacturer that supplied 3,000 guns they say are defective and put officers' lives at risk.

The Sig Sauer P229 pistols were first used in the summer of 2014, and some of those began to jam when the weapons would not eject the spent shell casing from the barrel after being fired, according to the complaint filed in state Superior Court and posted by NJ.com.

The malfunction resulted in the guns being unable to fire, rendering them "unfit for police use because a trooper may be unable to fire more than one round of ammunition in a life-threatening situation," the complaint said.

NJSP ordered 3,000 pistols at an expense of $1.6 million, plus $856,000 on holsters, according to the complaint.

SIg Sauer tried replacing extractor pins, and then a factory mold, it thought was causing the problem. After NJSP sent some of the weapons back to the company, Sig Sauer determined the defect was a misapplication of the coating on the barrels, and sent new barrels.

But the problem continued, and Sig Sauer sent a representative to New Jersey to watch officers fire the guns during firearms training. That representative found that two different models of the guns, the Elite and the Legacy, were being used by officers, each of which had different issues. The company agreed to a timeline to replace the Elites with Legacies, but did not meet its deadline by January 2016, according to the complaint.

The 364 Legacy pistols sent to NJSP continued to have problems, and by the end of January 2016, "State Police determined it needed to find a more reliable weapon. Each of Sig Sauer's 'fixes' had proved ineffective," and NJSP continued to be concerned about officer safety, as quoted in the complaint.

NJSP instead selected the Generation 4 Glock 19 as its new weapon, and also had to order new holsters.

The suit claims Sig Sauer breached its contract with the state, and seeks a refund for the pistols, holsters, and ammunition, plus compensation for the time spent trying to correct the problem.

Neither the state Attorney General's office nor Sig Sauer has returned messages seeking comment.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.

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