SIG SAUER has stopped production of their P320 pistol. Responding to “drop safety” issues, the New Hampshire gunmaker has halted production of one of the company’s most popular handguns until they can include the new “enhanced” trigger in all new P320 models. SIG wouldn’t provide a date for restarting production.
During yesterday’s visit to SIG HQ, the company recognized the issue with the -30 degree hard surface drop discharges brought to light in the Omaha Outdoors and TTAG videos. They drop-tested P320s in the prescribed manner and reproduced the worrying results at their Exeter, NH manufacturing plant.
SIG then swapped the commercial P320 trigger for their new enhanced trigger, combining a lighter trigger shoe with a new disconnect. Performing the same -30 hard surface drop test with the upgraded pistols — “more than 200 times” — SIG’s engineers didn’t experience a single discharge.
SIG invited TTAG and other members of the firearms media to watch the tests, using three P320 pistols equipped with the enhanced trigger. All three pistols were dropped multiple times on the back of the slide, striking a concrete pad. None fired. All remained in working order, demonstrated by an intentional trigger pull after each drop.
In high-resolution slow-motion video provided by SIG, we watched the original commercial trigger move when the gun was dropped at a -30 degree angle. The trigger didn’t move a great deal — but it was enough to release the striker and discharge the firearm. In a slo-mo video of a P320 equipped with the enhanced trigger, the trigger shoe still moves slightly — but to a much smaller degree than the current trigger. Enough to prevent an unintentional discharge.
SIG claims that recent feedback from government agencies evaluating the P320 inspired the enhanced trigger design. The changes were intended to improve trigger feel during the pull and reset. The result just happens to fix the drop safety issue, too. According to SIG, they intended to incorporate the changes in all P320 models — at a date the company didn’t specify.
We expect this process to move forward quickly. SIG SAUER’s rapid manufacturing model enables engineering-to-production changes on the fly. Also ensuring a speedy changeover: SIG has already installed the enhanced trigger in some 50 M17s delivered to the 101st Airborne Division.
It isn’t known if the US Army intends to do any additional drop testing beyond their current standard protocols, given that the enhanced trigger pistols have already been delivered to the Screaming Eagles. It would be easy to visually determine if these pistols are so equipped. The most obvious identifier: the enhanced trigger’s striker has several cuts that diminish its mass.
For the commercial market, SIG SAUER has decided not to recall the roughly 500,000 P320 pistols already in customers hands. Instead, they’re offering a “voluntary upgrade” to the enhanced trigger. The company will announce full details of the offer on Monday.
SIG insists that the “voluntary upgrade” isn’t a recall by another name. They point out that the P320 has passed multiple safety tests by a variety of reputable organizations, including the U.S. Army and state governments. Judged only by these standards, the current P320 is “drop safe”.
That’s a claim that may be addressed in a court of law.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of P320s will soon be rolling back into the company’s New Hampshire production facility, once the upgrade details are announced. Customers opting for the upgrade will have to send in their complete gun; both the frame and slide have to be modified.
That’s an enormous logistical challenge. Given the number of P320’s already in the wild, SIG’s “voluntary upgrade” will be an extremely expensive endeavor — even if SIG decides to charge consumers a fee for the service. And there’s no way [yet] to estimate the amount of time customers will be without their firearms. Or the damage done to the SIG brand.
That said, everyone we met on the ground at SIG SAUER was taking the drop-safe issue extremely seriously, publicly and passionately declaring their desire to make this right for consumers. Watch this space.