The SIG Sauer P320

As seen in Thunder Roads Louisiana May 2017 Vol. 14 – Issue 5.

The SIG-Sauer P320 is probably the most searched of firearms on Google and the most popular handgun on the market right now. I don’t believe that there are many who would disagree with that statement. Make no mistake, the P320 was popular before the U.S. Army concluded their Modular Handgun System program and named the striker-fired SIG the winner. The key word there – and stone cold fact – being modular. I was fortunate enough to be allowed to borrow a full-size 9mm P320 from a friend recently. I must say; this SIG platform continues to leave an impression on me. I have had the opportunity to fire several 9mm Compacts and one .45 ACP Compact, in the past.

The full-sized SIG P320.

The P320 is defined by its modularity. The Fire Control Unit [FCU] is the serialized component (the “firearm”, per the ATF) which allows for the frame and slide components to be sold without the need for an FFL transfer – these are P320 X-Change Kits from SIG. Comparatively, a Glock is serialized in three places: slide, barrel and frame. This platform simplicity is likely one of the biggest factors to the Army’s decision on Beretta M9 replacement, over the Glock. Essentially, two Glocks would be purchased for every individual soldier due to the lack of a standalone FCU – as the Army wanted both a full- and compact-sized offering. However, this statement is based on my own assumption that Glock’s MHS variant is not radically different from either the current Generation-4 models or the recently seen, law enforcement-deployed “Generation-Ms”. I will mention that the closest thing to the MHS P320, that you can purchase, is a P320 RX slide and a separately purchased Massachusetts-compliant frame for the manual-safety feature – and it still won’t be a 1-to-1 match.

Compared to the older P220 lines of SIGs, the P320 has a more refined aggressiveness about it. This is due to the simple striker-fired design. The P320 is less busy to the eyes, but it retains the old-school, signature SIG slide-cuts with a less prominent beaver-tail. The slide is mounted up higher, in typical SIG-Sauer fashion, than on the Glock and it felt top-heavy. That did not hinder the shooting of the SIG. In fact, I shot better groups during strings of controlled-fire. The top-heavy nature of the P320 helped reduce muzzle flip while firing. In tandem with an even amount of pressure, applied to the trigger, I could form some accurate groups with the handgun. I would string the group if I didn’t pay attention to the pressure. Unlike the P229 that I run, the P320 practically threw magazines clear of the well when reloading. Depending on the reload drill, it was clear of the well by the time the next magazine was in; or it was firmly and deeply planted in the palm, to be retained in a dump pouch or the magazine carrier.

There are a couple of points to mention though. The Glock sights are still factory and it is almost universally agreed that they are the worst factory sights on the market. Furthermore, the P320’s trigger was modified by the owner. The factory, single-piece curved trigger was replaced with a GrayGuns Practical Enhanced Leverage Trigger [PELT – Straight], and the factory springs were retained. The GrayGuns trigger looks very much like the future X-Series trigger. The P320’s stock trigger is curved with a slightly longer take-up before the break, but it is smoother than most others. The P320 forgoes the trigger safety mechanism with internal safeties. Several safety options can be purchased: a tabbed trigger, the magazine disconnect safety and buying a ban-state compliant manual safety model.

[You can see some of the differences between the Glock and the P320 in this image.]

The frame of the P320 handgun is where it excelled, by a fair margin, over other brands. The grip angle was more natural overall and the reduction of the palm swell felt more comfortable – versus the Glock frame. I would say, think along the lines of a 1911-style grip. The texture of the grip is pleasantly subtle, but planting the hands felt nicer on the platform. The controls, sights, and the beaver-tail stand out prominently. When anchoring my index finger and thumb, utilizing a combat grip on a Glock, I would place them in the takedown recesses on a Glock. The SIG’s takedown lever is an external swing-arm on the left side and offers a nice shelf for right handed users to put downward pressure on, but it doesn’t work for left-handed shooters. The SIG gets a bonus for forward charging serrations on the slide, for ease in press-checks. Glock finally addressed this control with 2017 G17 and G19 FS models, this April.

Interestingly enough, Glock is putting out a number of different models this summer with additional features. They are special editions, but SIG-Sauer did it better. One model has the Front Serrations (wrong angle, in my opinion), one model has the tri-dot night sights, and of course the two-tone OD Green frames and the compensated models of the G17 and G19. The P320 that I bought came with proper angled serrations, front and back, with SIGLITE night sights and in FDE. All of it stock, from the factory.

The 9mm SIG-Sauer P320 Compact in Field-Dark Earth.

After returning my friend’s full-sized P320 to him and shooting another P320 Compact, I simply couldn’t stand it anymore. I went hunting that next Monday and found exactly what I was looking for. I do not know what it is with the FDE-colored models’ following me home recently… I will write an official review on the compact that I bought soon.

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