Last Friday we ran a post, “SIG SAUER: P320 Striker-Fired Pistols Are Drop Safe.” The post contained a SIG press release issued after the Dallas Police Department temporarily withdrew their approval for officers to carry the P320 on duty. The DPD had heard rumors that the gun wasn’t drop safe. SIG determined that those rumors of “safety issues” were greatly exaggerated, noting that the DPD had not experienced any unintentional discharges.
SIG told TTAG that the P320 has been extensively drop-tested, both in-house and by literally dozens of state, military, and other government entities, in multiple countries. No issues were found. With hundreds of thousands of guns sold commercially, they’d received zero reports of a gun firing when dropped.
TTAG had also been in contact with online firearms retailer Omaha Outdoors and Andrew Tuohy who does their testing and evaluations. Omaha and Mr. Tuohy drop-tested four SIG SAUER P320 pistols and released their video yesterday. According to their tests which we reported, when a P320 is dropped from approximately four feet onto a hard surface in a very specific orientation — on the back of the slide behind the rear sight — it can fire.
During our discussions with Omaha we discovered that some of the SIGs used in their drop-testing — both 9mm and .45 ACP — had undergone the full California DOJ drop test protocols (which they passed) before being dropped at the angle described above. And before that, they’d launched at least one of the tested pistols fifty or more feet in the air (via trebuchet, no less) and torture-tested them in dirt and mud.
So while three of their tested guns had fired when dropped, it was reasonable to question whether Omaha Outdoors’ tests were meaningful or fair given what the guns had previously endured. With those questions surrounding Omaha’s results in mind, we decided to test a brand new P320 for ourselves.
We purchased a box-fresh SIG SAUER P320 Compact from our local gun store, Sportsman’s Finest. Jon Wayne Taylor set to work pulling bullets from 9mm cartridges. Soon we had a pile of primed, but otherwise empty 9mm cases and were ready to go.
We were concerned that that we might have to construct a fancy jig to get the P320C to fall in the Omaha Outdoors-identified orientation. As it turned out, when the pistol is held by the forward corner of the trigger guard, with the normal weight of an inserted magazine, the P320C balanced in the exact way necessary to land on the top rear of the slide when dropped.
Just to be clear about safety during our testing, for each drop a primed, empty case was chambered. The top round in the magazine was a snap cap. The rest of the magazine was loaded with normal 9mm rounds so the gun would have the appropriate weight.
Then we started our tests. We dropped the P320C from a height of 4-4.5 feet onto a concrete floor.
Drop #1: The gun fell a little off-kilter. It didn’t hit squarely on the back of the slide and did not fire.
Drop #2: The gun fell right on the intended spot. And it fired. Full-on, striker-induced primer dent and an ignited primer.
Drop #3: Another good drop. And it fired again. Three drops, two discharges.
We dropped the gun another seven times and the P320C fired on impact once more. It should be noted that after the third drop, the slide would occasionally pop off of the front slide rails. We re-mounted it and the pistol still seems fully functional.
After our discussions with SIG and Omaha Outdoors, we did our test fully expecting to debunk the claim that the P320 isn’t drop safe. As you can see in the video above, we couldn’t have been more surprised when it fired.
When we reported our findings to SIG SAUER they were no less shocked. They reiterated that the P320 platform had been tested six ways from Sunday and had never previously failed to pass a drop safety test.
How these and other findings may affect the Army’s decision on the Modular Handgun Program (if at all) can’t be predicted.
I’m in New Hampshire with Jon Wayne Taylor this morning. We’re visiting SIG HQ to learn how the company will be handling this situation. We’ll have much more detailed information on the response from SIG SAUER soon. Stay tuned.