Like other world powers in the 1980s, South Africa adopted the Italian Beretta Model 92 semi-automatic pistol as its standard sidearm. It was engineered locally to the same dimensions as the Model 92, due to the U.N. arms embargo placed upon South Africa, but the guns were of same form and function as their Italian counterpart. These guns began production in 1989 under the designation of "Z-88". By the early 1990s, an improved form was sought and it was decided to evolve the Z-88 some, primarily for introducing broaden cartridge support and magazine counts. The resulting design became the Vektor SP ("Service Pistol") series introduced in 1992.
The SP appeared in two distinct primary model forms known simply as "SP1" and "SP2". The SP model was chambered for the ubiquitous 9x19mm Parabellum pistol cartridge while the latter chambered the .40 S&W - the difference also varied ammunition counts in the respective magazines, 15 rounds in the 9mm form and 11 rounds in the .40 S&W form. Both models maintained their short-recoil operation with Double-Action (DA) triggers. The frames were stout and filled the hand quite nicely in the full-size models and more compact forms arrived later to improve carrying. Iron sights were standard and included a Tritium light arrangement allowing effective ranges out to 160 feet. The hammer was exposed at the rear of the frame and the safety made ambidextrous. Of particular note was the shift away from the cut-out slide of the Beretta Model 92 as seen in the Z-88 - instead the slide of the SP now completely shrouded the barrel assembly.
Beyond acceptance with the South African military, the SP series pistol was adopted by Malaysia and Singapore. Production is said to have also taken place in the Philippines by Arms Corporation.