(This is a reader gun review contest entry, click here for more details.)
By Charles Thompson
When I saw the first press release for the SIG SAUER P320, I was immediately intrigued. I had on several prior occasions handled the SIG P250 and liked how it felt in my hand. However, I couldn’t get past the double-action-only trigger. The modularity, while an interesting selling point, also seemed a bit gimmicky to me. For those of you who don’t know, the P320 is basically a P250, with a slightly different slide look. And the P320 is striker-fired fired. In fact, P250 magazines and frames are interchangeable with the P320. There are supposedly some barrels that can be swapped between the two, but the fire-control unit and the slide are completely different. Because the dimensions between the pistols are essentially the same, most P250 holsters will accommodate the P320, so you don’t have to wait around for all the holster manufacturers to get caught up. The P320 Compact Carry is the mid-sized gun from among three different frame sizes . . .
The closest parallel would be the G19 in the GLOCK 9mm lineup. Its purpose is for concealed carry, as the name would suggest. But everyone makes a compact, polymer, striker-fired pistol these days and SIG is reeeaaalllly late to the party. So, how does the P320 stack up to the self-defense competition, specifically the reigning heavyweight champion of the plastic-fantastics, das GLOCK? Is it worth the wait?
Polymer duty pistols are just that — duty pistols. They don’t have to look good to be good at home defense, but if they do look good, it’s an added bonus. The new P320 probably won’t win any prizes with most people for appearance alone, but it is definitely less brick-like than a utilitarian/utopian/Tupperware GLOCK brand GLOCK. Personally, I think the P320 is quite comely and, after all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
The SIG P320 has a simple and yet refined look to it that appeals to the eye but doesn’t overwhelm you. SIG decided to eschew the traditional lines on the slide from their other pistols, instead going with a gradual, tapered flow down to the muzzle. I suspect this was as much about differentiating the P320 from the P250 as it was about trying to make the carry pistol look good.
The front slide serrations are a nice touch, if nothing else, and for all you operators out there, you will be able to press-check to your heart’s content. As all duty pistols should, the P320 comes with a four-slot Picatinny accessory rail to attach lights, lasers and such to. The trigger guard is a very squared-off affair, having a flat face with serrations for those of you who like to rest your off-hand finger there. Some people have complained that the polymer frame looks chintzy. It does have a more matte finish than many other polymer pistols, which I’ll get to later. All-in-all, it’s a nice looking pistol, as far as polymer guns go.
I, for one, love the P320’s ergonomics. It seems to fit my hand perfectly. But if it doesn’t quite fit your hand size, have no fear; SIG has an answer for you. As you may have noticed, one of the selling points of the P320 is its modularity. Within each frame size, there are three different grip sizes (small, medium, and large) to allow the shooter to choose the one that fits his or her hand the best. All of the pistols ship with a medium-sized grip module, which just so happens to fit my hands perfectly. I consider my hands to be average in size, which is probably why SIG defaults to the medium as the standard compliment.
The different grips will change the overall circumference of the grip, to include palm swells, which provides a more natural feel then just extending the length of the grip with a back strap (cough…GLOCK…cough). The downside, however, is that if you want to try a different grip size, you will have to go buy the second frame, which will run you about $45 ($50 after shipping).
In their infinite wisdom, SIG doesn’t have an exchange program to swap out your medium grip for a small or large, which they absolutely should. That means you’ll be stuck with a second, useless grip module (unless you like to do coating, stippling, and cut-down experiments). And good luck selling that extra medium grip because everyone else already has the one that came with their own gun. Oh, and the frames aren’t even available yet. You could get a P250 frame, but it can be hard to come by the non-medium sizes. I’m not going to lie, this is a total fail by SIG and they need to correct it, and soon.
The grip angle is much more vertical than most other brands, even some of SIG’s own offerings. It may take some getting used to because you will naturally want to point the weapon a little low until you get accustomed to the different angle.
The magazine release can be reversed for either right-handed or left-handed shooters. It’s a bit triangular in shape and has serrations on it for a positive, tactile feel. I can easily reach it with my thumb without having to adjust my grip at all. The slide-stop lever is fully ambidextrous and very conveniently placed towards the rear of slide. This makes releasing the slide one-handed extremely easy. In fact, I don’t think I have ever used a slide release this easily before in my life.
Another thing that will take some getting used to is the P320’s high bore axis, and boy is it high for a striker-fired gun. However, while I did notice a bit more muzzle flip than I get from my M&P9c, it wasn’t to the point that I felt like I couldn’t quickly get back on target. Like everything else, YMMV. I can’t speak to how much more snappy the .40S&W/.357SIG and coming .45ACP version will be. For the 9mm, though, it was a pleasure to shoot. I ran several hundred rounds through it one session and didn’t experience any discomfort.
The slide serrations are comfortable and the slide racks easily with one exception; the magazine springs come from the factory extremely stiff. Consequently, when you have a fully-loaded magazine inserted in the mag well, and the slide is in battery, the upward pressure from the magazine spring makes racking the slide a bit more difficult. It’s doable, but a little stiff.
I really like how SIG made cutouts in the bottom of the grip to allow the user to grab the magazine and pull it from the magazine well more easily in the event that debris is preventing the magazine from dropping freely. It’s a nice touch that I wish more manufacturers would pay attention to. The texturing on the frame is very nice; not too aggressive, but allows for a very secure grip. It’s very similar to a sandpaper-style grip tape.
The P320 Compact Carry ships with either standard 3-dot contrast sights or SIGLITE Night Sights. Both are drift adjustable and of metal construction. There is a difference of about $40-50 between the two options. Mine came with the night sights, and I will speak to the effectiveness of them below in the accuracy section.
There is nothing more irritating than picking up a >$500 gun from a major manufacturer only to find that the trigger is terrible. You would think that companies would try to get it right the first time, rather than rush the pistol to market only to have to fix it later. And even after the fix still have a third-party manufacturer make a better upgrade kit that makes their stock trigger look like a Pinto sitting next to 1967 Mustang Shelby Cobra…I’m looking at you Smith & Wesson…seriously. I am happy to report that SIG decided to get it right the first time, producing a trigger that has very little take-up, minimal over-travel, and a nice, short reset. The break is crisp and clean. SIG lists the trigger pull at 5.5 to 7.5 lbs. I measured the pull weight with my trigger scale and it broke consistently around 5.5-6.0 lbs. I took 20 measurements and got the following results
Min: 5.5 lbs Mean: 5.75 lbs Mode: 5.5 lbs (12/20 observations)
Max: 6.5 lbs Median: 5.5 lbs
Keep in mind that these measurements are not out of the box. They were taken after firing 500 rounds. I’m not going to say that the trigger is as good as the Walther PPQ, but it is very, very close. It is more than acceptable in a duty gun and translates over to some very satisfying accuracy, as I will show below. The trigger is all metal and has a smooth face, though it is available with a GLOCK-style trigger safety. Personally, I hate plastic triggers and trigger-mounted safeties, so no external safety is a nice touch from SIG, in my opinion.
Fit and Finish
As I mentioned before, the polymer seems a bit on the cheaper side based on look and feel. I don’t really know much about polymers, so I can’t say for sure if it is lower quality or not. Based on my experience so far, I don’t think it translates over to any quality concerns in the frame when it comes to operation. However, I have noticed that it is starting to show some wear from using the takedown lever and from holstering and unholstering, and I have only had the gun about three months now, which is rather disappointing. The slide finish is Nitron that appears grayish-black in most lighting. It appears to be good quality and fairly resilient, as evidenced by the fact that I banged it around quite a bit at the range and it has nary a scratch to show for it. The slide rides on four steel contact points/rails that are part of the modular fire-control unit. Lock up is solid and reliability is superb. The dual-captured recoil spring has a steel guide rod and all of the controls are metal, including the magazine release. In fact, the only plastic I can find on this gun is the grip frame module itself and in the magazine. Every single other part on this gun appears to be made of metal. There may be an exception, but I have yet to find it. As far as the slide, barrel and fire-control unit go, it can all be summed up with this; Classic, West-German-style SIG quality. The magazines are metal with plastic base plates and plastic followers. They are supposedly made by MecGar, so you know they are solid quality. All of mine are stamped “Made in Italy.” I picked up two additional 17-round magazines which function perfectly in the smaller frames.
Disassembly and Modularity
Disassembly is fairly straight forward. Remove magazine, lock slide to the rear, rotate the takedown lever, release the slide and ride it off the frame. Remove the recoil spring and barrel pretty much like every other semi-auto.
For all you Safety Sallys out there, note that the operation did not require the trigger to be pulled. The slide must be locked to the rear, ensuring that a visual inspection can be made of the chamber. Also, the takedown lever cannot be rotated with the slide in battery or a magazine inserted. Reassembly is just as easy. Insert the barrel and spring into the slide, guide the slide back onto the rails and lock to the rear (make sure the takedown lever is the down position). Rotate the takedown lever up, release the slide and you are done.
To do a caliber swap or to change out the grip module, simply remove the slide as before and then pull the takedown lever out the frame. Then, push the fire-control unit forward and lift out. Honestly, I would still disassemble to this level just for cleaning because it is so much easier to get in all the nooks and crannies. The SIG P320 Compact is definitely the easiest-to-clean semi-auto I have ever used.
Grab your other frame, pop the unit in, reinsert the takedown lever (this admittedly takes some practice), reassemble as before, and you’re done.
Since we are talking about the modularity here, let’s talk about its real-world application. First, it’s kind of neat, and the ease of cleaning is an awesome bonus. Since only the fire-control unit is serialized, the ability to order all the conversion parts and have them delivered to your door is really cool. However, unless they can get the street price of the caliber conversion kits under $250, then I don’t see the modular aspect being any more successful than the P250. Where I did see some value, however, is swapping out the frame sizes on the same-sized slide. So, that is what I did. I found a P250 subcompact frame (it took forever to find one in stock) and ordered a 12-round subcompact magazine. All told, it was about $100 after shipping (because SIG is really, really proud of their magazines). The end result looks like this:
I get the 3.9” barrel on a subcompact frame, with a slightly more concealable grip. And I am happy to report that the gun functioned flawlessly in this configuration. After experimenting with this set up, I have come to the conclusion that you shouldn’t waste your money on the P320 Subcompact model when it comes out. Just get the Compact/Carry model and do what I did with the subcompact frame and magazine. The only difference between this configuration and the dedicated subcompact is .3” of barrel and maybe an ounce or two. That’s it. Since we are getting on the topic, let’s transition over to dimensions.
Using my own calipers, these are the actual measurements I got on the dimensions of the P320 Compact/Carry:
Slide width: 1.06”
Frame width: 1.07”
Width at Takedown Lever: 1.27”
Width at Slide Stop Lever: 1.31”
Width of Medium Grip: 1.34”
Overall Height w/Magazine Inserted: 5.27”
Overall Length: 7.21”
Slide Length: 6.62”
Sight Radius: 5.7”
Barrel Length: 3.9”
Unloaded Weight with Magazine: 25 5/8 ounces
Loaded Weight with 15+1 124 gr Federal HST: 32 3/8 ounces
For the subcompact frame (which was also a medium), I got all the same values, with the following exceptions:
Overall Height with Magazine inserted: 4.71”
Unloaded Weight with Magazine: 24 3/4 ounces
Loaded Weight with 12+1 124 gr Federal HST: 30 3/8 ounces
Basically, the only difference between the two frame options is 2 ounces of weight, 3 rounds of capacity, and a little more than half an inch of height. Is that enough to justify spending $100 on the subcompact frame? You be the judge. The real question, though, is whether or not the P320 Compact/Carry is concealable as it comes from the factory? I would say yes. While it is taller than the industry standard GLOCK19, the grip, the part that protrudes from the holster and impacts concealability the most, is basically the same length as the GLOCK. If you can conceal a G19, then you can conceal the Compact P320.
At long last we start getting to the good stuff. The day I went to the range for this review, I ran an assortment of ammo through the P320 and it ate every single one without a single issue. All told, I fired 355 rounds of the following:
- 115 gr Blazer Brass FMJ
- 115 gr WWB FMJ
- 115 gr Federal Aluminum Cased FMJ
- 115 gr Federal FMJ
- 147 gr Winchester Silver Tips JHP
- 135 gr +P Hornady Critical Duty JHP
- 124 gr Standard Pressure Federal HST JHP (my favorite carry load), and
- some brass-cased FMJ manufactured in Pakistan in 1980.
Coupled the 150 rounds I fired in a previous outing (which included 50 rounds of steel-cased Tula), I have 505 rounds through the P320 without a single malfunction…save for one recurring issue; inconsistent slide lock-back on the last round. The gun fires and ejects everything you feed it, and it shoots it all accurately, with either frame installed. However, the gun consistently failed to lock back on the last round. I take a very high grip, so sometimes my thumb can put pressure on the slide-stop lever. This is not uncommon, and happens on occasion with other guns. However, remember earlier when I said that the slide-stop was the easiest one to release I had ever used? Well, that’s where the problem lies. It takes a miniscule amount of pressure to keep the slide-stop from engaging. There were several times that I consciously kept my thumb away from the lever before I fired, but on the recoil my thumb moved and lightly grazed the lever and the slide failed to lock back. It did that over and over again. If I kept my thumb away it locked back every time, until my thumb barely touched it and then it didn’t lock back. I would say it didn’t lock back on about 2/3 of my strings. The slide stop might be easy to disengage for a quick reload, but it won’t do you any good if your slide doesn’t lock back on the last round. And in the heat of battle, you won’t be paying attention to where your thumb is. It is really disappointing, to say the least, because everything else was as reliable as it can be. That is going to hurt my overall assessment a little.
So, is it accurate? In a word, yes. In two words, heck yes! It only took me a few strings to get the feel for the trigger down, and maybe another string or two to adjust to the 6 o’clock hold. It is more accurate than I am, that’s for sure. I really wish I had been at an outdoor range to see what it could do beyond 25 yards, but oh well.
Towards the end of the day, I put up several targets for record. Here were my results:
Slow-fire from a bench rest. 5 shots @ 7 yds. 115 gr. Winchester White Box FMJ
Slow-fire, off-hand. 5 shots @ 7 yds. 115 gr Blazer Brass FMJ
W-fire, off-hand. 5 shots @ 10 yds. 135 gr +P Hornady Critical Duty JHP
Slow-fire, off-hand. 5 shots @ 15 yds. 115 gr Blazer Brass FMJ
Slow-fire, off-hand. 5 shots @ 25 yds. 124 gr. Standard Pressure Federal HST JHP
Rapid-fire, from the draw. 5 shots @ 7 yds. 124 gr Standard Pressure Federal HST JHP
I was very pleased, particularly with my rapid-fire group in which I fired as quickly as I could get the sights back on target. The sights are very easy to use and really line up nicely. The tritium is easy to pick up in low light and total darkness. Plus, they are metal. I really like the 6 o’clock hold; I feel I have a better view of the target.
All around, the P320 was very nice to shoot and I feel fairly easy to use. I think it would be a solid choice for anyone looking to enter the polymer world or just expand your carry-gun collection. I plan on rotating it in to my carry routine with my M&P9c. I am looking forward to the .45 ACP version and if they can get the conversion kit under $250, I may jump on one. If SIG got their act together and came out with a version in 10mm, I would jump on that conversion kit in a heartbeat. But I’m not holding my breath for that.
SIG SAUER P320 COMPACT CARRY NITRON 9MM
Caliber: 9mm Parabellum
Weight: 26.0 oz. empty
MSRP: $669 – $713 (around $549 street with night sights)
Ratings (Out of Five Stars):
(All ratings are relative to other similar guns.)
Accuracy: * * * * *
It’s about as good as it gets.
Ergonomics (Handling): * * * * *
It fits my hand perfectly and just feels natural.
Ergonomics (Firing): * * * *
It is very shootable and comfortable. However, that higher bore axis takes off a star.
Reliability: * * * *
It ate everything I fed it, but the consistent failure of the slide to lock back takes a star. Some folks might argue for two.
Customization: * * * *
Modularity, modularity, modularity. There is a lot you can do with this pistol. Want to paint the grip iridescent blue and then immediately regret your decision? No problem! Replacement frames are only $45-50. Since most of the accessories for the P250 will work with the P320, you should be in good shape…at least when SIG makes all the frames and conversion kits available, whenever that will be. Here is a list of holster manufacturers that make holsters for the P250. Most of them should work for the P320. This should be 5 stars, but the fact that you have to pay $50 to swap grip sizes is just asinine in today’s world of everyone and their mother shipping their guns with all the different back strap sizes included. But hey, it’s modular!
Quality: * * * *
I want to give it five stars because it’s reliable and clearly designed well. However, the quality of the frame is suspect and forces me to withhold a star.
Value: * * * * 1/2
Again, this should be five stars, but having to pay $50 a pop to just try out a different grip size is ridiculous. That being said, I have seen this handgun for sale for $539 + tax, with the night sights. Compare that to a GLOCK which will run you in the same price range with plastic, non-night sights. Considering the quality and the modularity, I would say the price is competitive.
Overall: * * * *
The P320 Carry is a solid sidearm that should serve you well. It really comes down to whether or not the ergonomics agree with you. I would have given it five stars if I had more confidence in the polymer frame and if the slide-stop lever worked better and if you could exchange your grip modules for free or at least pay shipping. Did I mention that I really hate that? Oh, and SIG wants you to know that it is totally modular.
Good review. I have the P250 and enjoy it, the DAO trigger is long but very good as far as DAO goes. I really want the P320 though, my LGS keeps coming up short, and since my P250 came with 4 mags I’m stoked they are compatible.
I seem to remember that there are some 1st gen P250 mags that are a little different. They may or may not be compatible. They were manufactured very early on in the P250 life cycle. I believe they changed them to accommodate some changes to the frame. I would double check to make sure you have some 2nd gen mags.
If the min is 5.5 lbs, the max 6.5 lbs, then the median is 6 lbs.
Unless the distribution is uniform not necessarily.
No, he’s correct.
The median is the value halfway between the minimum and the maximum.
The mean is the average, which is probably what you’re thinking of. The average would only be equal to the median if your data pool is uniformly distributed.
Not … exactly.
The median isn’t the average of the min and max values. Arrange all of your values in increasing or decreasing order. The median is then the middle value if you have an odd number of values, or the average of the middle two if you have an even number of values.
So if I have 1, 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 1000, the median is 4, not 500.5.
The mean (aka average) is equal to the median when the distribution is symmetric; this includes a uniform distribution but also includes Gaussian (normal), parabolic, etc. distributions as well.
See for instance http://www.purplemath.com/modules/meanmode.htm
Ahh, you’re correct.
Been a (long) while since my high school math days.
To elaborate further on your correct answer, the mean is equal to p(1)x(1) + p(2)x(2) +… + p(n)x(n)
The median is where half the values fall. The mode is the most common value. In a symmetric distribution the mean = median = mode.
6 lbs is definitely the mid-point (or mid-range) and is also definitely the arithmetic mean. 😉
Oh, and there is mode, because neither value is repeated i.e. therefore none appears most often.
(couldn’t help myself)
…I meant “no mode”…
Pretty weird that you guys are off on a math rant on comments regarding a pistol review….;-) !
Great place to learn about guns and math 101
I would have said der glock.
I would have been wrong, but still.
My EDC is the P250. I have plans to purchase the P320. A friend has a P320C. Three of us went to the range. None of us experienced the lock back issue. Reviewer admitted how is thumb rides the release. This is him, plus his individual pistol.
Must agree with assessment on mag cost and stupidity of frame cost. Currently, exchange kits can be purchased online dealers for $180. He may want to spend a little time price shopping. Buying direct from Sig is silly, based on their pricing (but that’s true from ALL the mfg’s)
My P250 had this slide lock problem, but it was a magazine issue. I got a free 10 round mag for the P250 and it was a Sig brand mag, but the slide would not lock back with that mag, and that was the only one it ever did that with.
First, my thumb “rides the release” because it is set further back than on other pistols like Glocks and M&P’s. If you take a high shooting grip, then you will experience my problem. It falls directly under the middle knuckle of the shooting-hand thumb. Directly under. Which means that in order for me to not “ride the release,” as you say, I would have to flare my thumb away from the frame in a decidedly unnatural fashion.
Second, I would love it if you provided a link to where someone is selling P320 caliber exchange kits for $180. I find that truly amazing since Sig’s customer service told me they haven’t shipped any yet, and when they do, they will be priced at $302. Also, I never said that I bought anything off the Sig website, or that I got any pricing off there either, because I didn’t.
Einstein said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting to get different results. The fact that the P320 uses the EXACT, SAME LOUSY FRAME components as used on the P250 is a testament to Sig insanity.
BTW, add to thaty insanity, the worst custromer service of any major gun manufacturer I’ve encountered. I had a recurring problem with my P250 THAT TWO TECHS simply blew me off after sending them detailed, annotated photos and a short video of the problem.
The P250 would be useful for enhanced interrogation techniques because the combination of a rectangular rat trap of a trigger guard combined with a DOA (sic) trigger twisted my forefinger counter-clockwise 120 degrees.
By the time my trigger finger overcame the progressively heavier pull of the DAO trigger un til it finally hit the break right before running out of room, the subsequent muzzle flip treated my hopelessly trapped finger like a wind-up toy….
After finishing off a box of 50, I had to soak my hand in ice water for an hour just to kill the pain. Needless to say, I put it up for sale the next day.
The other big issues I had with P250 also concerned the “ambidexterous” slide lock. For starters, it is NOT an “ambidexterous” slide lock, but a slide release. There is nothing on the right side except a clearance arc cut into the slide to allow the right end of the release lever to come out the righgt side of the gun so that it can be pressed with your left thumb. What locks the slide back is barely an 1/8th” of metal.THAT is the reason why it is so easy to disengage and inadvertently engage.
IKt is also a free-falling piece of metal and withso little surface area to hold the slide back, gravity will take over and release the slide for you.
BUT, here is the big issue that I wanted Sig to address and what they subsequently ignored.
I didn’t know what the cause of the problem was until I did a little brainstorming, but basically, the takedown pin would not turn for love nor money. The slide was locked back. The mag was out. But, the pin was going nowhere,
I nearly killed my left hand just trying to get that darned pin to turn. I squirted it with CLP, then silicone spray, but no dice. FINALLY, I took a pair of pliers, wrapped the jaws with a small towel, and proceeded to use the pliers to turn the pin fully to the right to where I could take it out.
Even in the revirw videos, everyone who turned the takedown pin initally had a struggle, so I knew it was not just me. But, as it tyurns out, the problewm was that stupid “modular” firing control unit.
The holes in each side were not lining up with the matching holes in the frame. They were off enough to cause the takedown pin to bind when I was trying to get it out, and now, with them out-of-alignment, I could not get the pin back in.
Enter Tetra gun grease. The greatest synthetic lube on the planet. I coated both ends of the takedown pin, and with the help of the grease, managed to get the pin back in and turning freely.
But getting the pin out and back in still required a bit of juggling.
I did not learn the source of the problem until I took a look inside the frame. The back of the FCU has a wide tab-like surface that is supposed to slide into a crevace in the frame and come to rest on top of a short platform. Hence, the reason you remove the FCU by pulling it forward and then out.
When I saw the crevace and platform, I noticed some polymer shavings clogging up the crevace that were preventing the FCU from being reseated in the frame so that the sides of the FCU were perfectly parallel with the sides of the frame. Only then would the two left holes and two right holes be in perfect alignment.
Was that too tough for the techs at Sig to comprehend? Apparently so. But their unwillingness tro work with the customer is unforgiveable.
Getting rid of that DAO torture trigger at least solved the most painful part of the P250. However, that longass trigger was the litigatgion mitigator. With a short-pull, light weight trigger, and no external safeties, they had no alternative but to install a Glock-like trigger blade.
Or, they could have chosen to do what Walther did with the PPX. Put in a bobbed trigger to go with their excellent 5.5lb pull that can’t be snagged or inadvertently tripped if pressure is applied only on a corner. Your finger has to be square on the face of the trigger and pulling it straight backwards to get it to discharge. Still, far from ideal in the world of safety, but better than nothing.
Oh, and when I ordered the P250, you could get any size framwe you wanted….as long as it was MEDIUM. And, that never changed for as long as the gun was on the market. A Hogue Tamer or Pachymar grip was the solution to that – especially given how this is one trigger you cannot afford to operate like a revolver – that you can only get the tip of your trigger finger to safely get in and get out.
Sounds like you have a bone to pick with SIG.
Is this comment section the place to do it?
Your assessment of the Slide Stop/Release is exactly right. If you take a high grip on this pistol, you will have trouble with it. Other folks on here commented that they didn’t have a problem. I submit that that was because they have a lower grip than I do.
Ron, I think your problem is that you’re just really, really, whiny.
Ron, you are 100% right. The P250 is a POS and a market failure. Anyone researching this gun knows it’s troubled past and SigSauer took the easy way out when they came up with the P320. SigSauer and even H&K are strugglihng because unlike Glock,S&W, and Springfield/HS Produkt-they are very late to the party. Ruger got lucky. This site is way too generous with it’s ratings as well.
“Me thinks the lady duth protest too much,”
I recently bought one of these, in FDE, and I’ve only taken it out for a spin once, but I like it very much.
Thanks for the advice on the frame sizes. I’d been planning to get a sub-compact frame but didn’t understand all the aspects. Yours is the most useful information I’ve seen on this.
Also, I didn’t have the slide lock back problem in that one shooting session.
It is all going to depend on how you grip the pistol. On the P320, the slide stop/release is set further back than on say a Glock or an M&P. It falls directly under the middle knuckle of my shooting-hand thumb, which naturally wants to rest against the frame, consequently preventing the slide stop from engaging. On my M&P, the lever falls near the end of my thumb, which is naturally curving ever so slightly away from the frame, and therefore not engaging the lever. I wish I had taken some pictures to demonstrate.
Wow. All of this for only $700? Pick up a couple of extra mags for another $700 and you’re all set. And best of all it’s plastic!
Street price is $549 or better. I’ve seen multiple stores in different states carrying this gun at that price point or better.
I just bought a new P320 Compact in .357 SIG with SIGLITE night sights for $499, shipping included, on Gunbroker, and am anxiously awaiting its arrival.
I’m a self-confessed Sig fan and carried and used them extensively while a peace officer and in the Army. I suppose I have been blessed with good luck and have never had a Sig fail to go boom when I pulled its trigger. Although I don’t yet own any of their long arms, I own an even dozen of their centerfire pistols (the 320 will be # 13) and a 1911-22. I own other makes but a Sig P220 backed by a P245 are my EDC. If I absolutely have to carry something really small I usually carry my P290RS 9mm.
Which brings me around to the P250. I had an opportunity to purchase 3 of them at an incredible price from a gun store that was closing. They’re all the updated Compact version and I ended up with one in each caliber available at the time: 9mm, .40 and .357 SIG. I’ve put approximately 500 rounds each through the 9mm and .40, and about 200 through the .357. Maybe I’m the odd man out but I enjoy shooting the P250s and have found them to be accurate and dependable. Since they were the first DAO pistols I owned (I don’t really think of the Glock as DAO) there was a short learning curve and, no, they aren’t as accurate as my P220 or P226, but I would never consider myself at a disadvantage armed with a P250 in a crisis. Shooting the P250 is very much like shooting a revolver and there’s nothing wrong with that.
If I understand correctly, the barrels are interchangeable between the P250 and P320, and if that is true I’ll be able to switch out the .40 barrel from my P250 and use it to convert the P320 from .357 SIG. (If my understanding is not correct, I invite being straightened out on the matter!)
All else to the side, I am anxious to do my own trials on the P320. Now I guess I’ll have to start reloading the .357 SIG since ammo isn’t yet very common and definitely isn’t cheap!
Very good nearly exhaustive review. If I had $ I might buy this too. Good job.
So, I *do* know my plastics decently well (having designed and tooled a number of polymer components). I also own a P320 and a P250.
The SIG modular concept is an interesting beast, but when judging the perceived flimsy quality of the grip shell, it’s important to keep a couple of things in mind:
1- Compared to other pistols, the P320’s shell is just that – a shell. The bulk of internal ballistic forces happening in on the lower of the pistol are being soaked up by the modular trigger housing. All the shell needs to do is transfer the load between the modular trigger assembly and the fleshy meat hook holding onto the weapon. That means it can have thinner walls and less overall material than other frames.
2- The frames of other polymer handguns feel as though they have more “heft” because they have insert molded metal components (frame rails and/or sub-frames) and must also contain enough meat around load bearing assembly features such as pins and slide stops. If you were to subtract those features from a Glock or HK frame and picked up the polymer component on it’s own, they would feel exactly like the P320.
3- The P320’s unique design means that there are no components exerting friction on the polymer of the frame, so they can use a very high fiberglass fill in the mix without fear of those fibers wearing away at internal components. The somewhat “brittle” feeling of the SIG plastic is a function of the fact that there is way more fiberglass in the SIG than there is in frames from HK (medium glass filled polymer) or Glock (very little glass fill). It is a very unique feeling polymer that is somewhat relegated to the sort of engineered components most folks never get an opportunity to touch, but it is extremely high strength stuff.
In the end, the feel of the frame is not something I would knock SIG on. From an engineering/design standpoint, it is a quite competently crafted component and I’ve never seen any reports of issues with it through the entire life of the P250/P320 being out in the wild.
Thank you for that explanation. It confirms my thoughts that the frame is solid. However, I wish it didn’t show marks so easily.
my only complaint is why didn’t sig extend the front slide tab(rails) further back to give it more surface area on the slide. Looks liek they could have easily done this and Would improve the function.
I have one, and I love it. I have run about 800 rounds through it running through my usual drills, and it has been superior to every other carry pistol I own. If I ever had to pick a single pistol with only stock features to carry in a gun fight, the p320 is it. But, do not take my word for it, try one yourself.
I love the feel of this pistol. I haven’t shot it yet, but will soon. It is up against the H-K VP9 and S&W M&P 9 in the final round of my decision. The gun will be used for HD, open carry while doing “outdoorsy” things, and CCW when I’m wearing enough clothing to conceal it.
Your suggestion (and photo) of a sub-compact frame on the Compact Carry upper assembly is a nice idea. Makes the gun more versatile for me and actually moves it up a notch over the other two as a result. I will have to be a clearly better shot with one of the other two for them to overtake this pistol in my standings.
One question for you: Why all the heartburn over bore axis when it doesn’t seem to effect your accuracy or your ability to get the gun quickly back on target? Is it just that you think it needs to be mentioned because that gets harped on a lot or do you really feel it effected you adversely here?
Have you shot the full-size version? If so, how do the two compare?
I have the same slide catch problem on all my SIG pistols due to my high grip. I try to train around it, but it’s always a lingering issue. Wish SIG would provide some kind of option to get it out of the way, but I guess its kind of a signature feature for them.
Are you able to get all your fingers on the sub-compact frame or do you have a pinky hanging off?
I bought a P320 CARRY from Bud’s in October and it appears to actually be a COMPACT. Has Sig’s lineup recently changed or what? It appears Bud’s is still calling the COMPACT which holds 15+1 the CARRY which is 17+1.
I’m confused. Love your stuff by the way.
I DO NOT LIKE polymer frame, striker fire pistols. I have owned berettas, 1911s, many many sigs and a few others. My issued duty weapons have always been Glocks which I do NOT LIKE and they have always found their way to my glove box or next to me on the seat as a lap gun. Having said all that, and after seeing Sig was doing this I said what the hell, its only $485 bucks. I LOVE THIS GUN. I got it in ,40 Carry. As far as the writer whining about the cost of changing the grips I really don’t understand what his gripe is as I have paid up to $50 bucks for other grips. My only complaint is that the recoil spring guide sticks out just a hair past the muzzle end of the frame which Sig says ok.
That “extra” protrusion is there by intent. It keeps the gun from going out of battery if the shooter is in a situation where muzzle contact has to be made. Same with SPRG XDs, and several other newer designs!
Love my p320. But beware if you buy the FDE. I have a factory FDE on both slide and frame and it shows wear real bad even after light use. If your using the plastic holster that you get with gun from sig be prepared to have very noticeable wear on both slide and frame but it really shows big time on slide. Eveytime you holster the gun it wears it out more amd more.The finish isn’t scratch resistant like the nitron finish. Also a good idea to keep the slide oiled as finish which I’m assuming is a cerakote finish dries out very fast and shows marks. I’m disappointed honestly at the finish on slide and how easily it shows wear
I agree with everything you said for the most part. I love this pistol so far. My only issue seems to be the opposite of something you LOVED; I seem to be having issues with the slide release. I shoot left handed, and am almost completely unable to drop the slide from the right side of the gun. It drops fine when I hold it right handed and use the left side release, but with all my might will not drop when I hold it lefty. I’m hoping with some more rounds through it it might loosen up, but I think I’ll take it in to sig just to be sure. Benefits of only living a few miles from sig I guess
It’s interesting that you have that problem with the slide stop. I recently picked up the Full Size 9mm exchange kit and I cannot for the life of me drop the full size slide with the lever. It seems to be having the same issues you are having. It really isn’t an issue for me because I train to pull the slide back with my off hand and release. It is easier to transition from one platform to another that way.
I picked up my P320 a few weeks ago and shot it for the first time today. I didn’t do any pre cleaning or disassembly. I like to know if ut works out of the box or not. 90% of my firearms have.
I brought my CZ P01 9mm & Sig SP2022 in 40 along. All three worked with no issues. The CZ was most accurate with me under the same conditions the SP2022 was next and not surprisingly the P320 faired worse but I was used to the others.
At the end I figured the P320 @ 7-10 yrds works with a 12 o’clock hold. The DAO trigger was significantly heavier than the other two and even though it is a .40 cal, the 2022 felt like the softest shooter.
I think the P320 would be potentially more comfortable to carry IWB than the P01 and as reliable. With practice/familiarity it would be accurate enough. I like the SP2022 better than either of those but it is just that much too big for me to conceal. I actually have a sub compact for that job.
I am intrigued by the conversion of the compact slide/barrel onto the subcompact grip. I was looking at the full size for HD and a separate CC piece. But with your use of the compact slide on the subcompact, that would be a game changer as I would then get the compact P320 up front and do what you did with the subC grip and mag. Have you kept that conversion as a CC setup and has it been reliable? Just wondering if that combo is a reliable sure-thing since it was not “intended” to be set up that way.
I have kept the subcompact frame/compact slide combo and it is now my daily carry piece. I want to try the thinner, small size grip frame for the subcompact since I have the medium, but I haven’t got around to ordering it. I have put another 1000 rounds through the pistol by now, half of that in the subcompact frame configuration and I have had no issues at all. I have also picked up a full size conversion kit in 9mm as well as a full size .45 ACP complete pistol. The more I shoot them, the more I like them. I sometimes run the compact frame and the full size 9mm slide. I like the way it looks aesthetically. If you can comfortably carry any other double stack firearm, you can carry the P320.
I was thinking about doing the same with my compact and trying the subcompact frame. What holster options work with this? I where both IWB and OWB.
There are a ton of holster options out there. Most manufacturers now make something for the P320. I have found that anything the Compact frame will fit in, the subcompact frame will fit in. I currently carry in a combination of a Gould and Goodrich pancake OWB holster, a Blackhawk Serpa holster, and a Crossbreed Freedom-Carry IWB holster. All are comfortable and work well.
“Compact/Carry”? Please check the SS website. The 320 comes in both Compact and Carry models but they are not identical. Otherwise, great article.
Shot the P320 the other day, and absolutely love it. On another note… Can anyone tell me what is with the picture at the top of the review?
The article was written at Christmas time and that is a Christmas tree in the background.
There is no such thing as a Sig P320 “Compact Carry”
The Sig website shows four models; Full size, Carry, Compact, and Subcompact. Albeit there is a very small difference between the Carry and the Compact, they are two different models.
P320 Carry owner.
When Sig released the P320, they initially called what is now the compact, the carry. However, sometime in 2015 Sig transitioned to two grip frames for the compact slide, the compact and the carry, with the carry having the full length grip. Subsequently, the Sig website has been updated. At the time that I wrote this article, they had not made that change yet. The reason I went with the compact/carry in the title is that the P250 midsize frame was called the compact from the get go but the P320 midsize was initially called the carry, yet they were the same size. Many websites selling this pistol at the time I wrote this article listed the pistol as a compact/carry. You correct that there is a difference now. However, I wrote this as a guest and I do not have access to change the article.
I might just trade in my g19 gen4 NIBX for this. had a few issues with the g19 and haven’t quite got over it since then.
is the recoil spring the same for the 320 and p250 sub compact
Did I miss something here? Did you say it costs approximately $100 to change the grip size? Glock gen 4s all come with 3 different grip sizes and beaver tail additions. Even if you can’t change the palm swells. I will admit however, most Glock owners end up spending $100 on different sights. Glock is the standard and beginning in which all manufacturers of polymers have measured up to. And as usual, none seems to match up with Glocks reliability. Worst part about Glocks…. Their sights. Best parts….reliability, low bore axis, decent trigger, a million after market accessories and holsters, cheap mags (compared to sigs), and contrary to popular belief, more accurate that any of us. (Watch Hickok45 videos). Did I say reliability?
Not quite. At the time (this was November 2014 when many of the conversion kits and grip modules were still not available) I paid $100 (including shipping) for a subcompact grip frame AND a 12 magazine from the SIG store, which is always more expensive than buying from retailers. If I had merely wanted to purchase a different size grip frame and not a magazine, it would have been about $55. But that was then. Now, the black grip frames are readily available in all sizes from retailers in the $39 – $43 range. Magazines have also gotten a little cheaper too. Yes, the Glock comes with the backstraps to change the grip size, but the execution is poor. It is clearly developed as an afterthought. Reminds me of my old 2005 Ford Taurus that had a stock 6-disc CD changer…but it was an after thought and there wasn’t room in the dash to accommodate it, so they put the actual CD changer in the trunk. That’s right, to change CD’s out, you had to get out of the car and open the trunk. The Glock backstraps merely make the grip longer, rather than adjusting palm swell size as many shooters desire.
Yes, GLOCK does have massive aftermarket support, but M&P’s are gaining ground fast. Give it time and the market will catch up to the P320 too. As police departments start switching to the P320 more and more, the market will respond. Look at the after market support for the traditional DA/SA SIG pistols; it is almost as good as it is for GLOCK. As to reliability, I use to carry both a Gen4 G19 and a Gen4 G26. Both had failures not attributable to operator error or ammunition (both at times had trouble returning to battery among other things). I have yet to have a single non-operator error with the P320, which I continue to carry today, and the only operator error is the above mentioned riding the slide stop. Incidentally, the 2016 versions of the P320 are shipping with an improved frame and slide stop lever that will eliminate that problem for most shooters. I have already tried it out and it works great. Best part is, you can retrofit all the old P320’s to the new lever and grip.
To be fair, I have a lot of respect for GLOCK. But I just hate the ergonomics. I know they can’t do much about the grip angle because it would make older magazines incompatible. But, if they ever remove those stupid finger grooves that don’t fit anyone’s fingers, I may consider picking up a Glock or 2.
As with everybody, I hate to admit when I am wrong. I was wrong! I was at a local gun shop a few days ago and took a look at the 320 subcompact and the compact. I must say that the trigger for this series is probably the best striker fire trigger I’ve ever felt!!! Even better that some Glock after market triggers I have. I went home and read some reviews and if these are as reliable as many say they are then what a great pistol! Also, with the comments above and some research, I found for the compact, carry and full size, grips can be had for around $45. The whole grip lower without FFL dealer. Not too bad. And those who would like to try their hand at stippling have a whole lot less sweating going on. With their ability to change caliber and sizes, people could now have different sized pistols for different purposes. All in all a pretty great product. I still love my Glocks but if they had a fault it would be slow to adapt to factory customization. Just like the iPhone. Not a ton of difference in all their generations of iphones either. Android beats the pants off iPhone in the customization world! And I have an iPhone. Hey apple, when you gonna make a water resistant iphone like everyone else? Sorry…. Wrong post. Anyway, looks like sig hit a homer run with this one!
If you like the trigger out of the box, have one tweaked and you won’t even believe how smooth and crisp it is. Grayguns.com has some services available and an improved drop in trigger for the P320. I did my own polishing of certain parts and I plan on getting the drop in trigger. Have heard only great things about it..The polishing alone was a nice improvement. The drop in trigger comes in flat and curved and breaks at 90 degrees, and it comes with a spring that reduces trigger pull to about 5.5 lbs which should make for a really nice improvement. The service that includes the polishing and the trigger is a bit pricey, but everyone claims that it’s well worth the cost.
Well Glock just took the back seat to the P320, at least to those who are willing to try it.
Also, I understand that Glock was not the first polymer pistol. But it is the first one that people took seriously.
Just left a shop where I compared the Sig 320 with it’s Walther counterpart. All the reviews I have read claim the Walther has a better trigger. I found that the Walther had a noticeably longer take-up on the trigger, before it stopped to break. The Sig had a much shorter take-up. Although it may be subjective, my opinion is that the Sig has the better trigger – at least while dry firing. The trigger is also significantly better than my gen4 Glock. BTW, a gunsmith friend had also touted the Sig, and suggested I not buy the Walther – He felt the sig was a better gun.
I owned a Walther PPQ at the same time as I have owned my P320. I no longer own the Walther if that tells you anything.
I don’t know why you PROPERLY refer to the “slide stop” as a slide stop and then say how easy it is to use it as the slide release! THAT IS A SLIDE STOP! It IS NOT a “slide release”!!! Using it as a release is about 20% less effective on chambering the next round since it does NOT hold the slide open all the way!!! Almost all “pros” will “rack” the slide instead to make sure the full chambering cycle!
On the newer iterations of the P-320 and included in with any NEW grip module, there is a new design SLIDE STOP lever incuded that has a greatly reduced pad to prevent inadvertent “thumbsies” releases of the slide.
I bought my Sig P320 Carry (17 + 1) about 2 months ago and I must say that after owning several Glocks among others this Sig is the best especially the trigger. The first 5 rounds were exactly on the mark right out of the box. Can’t say enough about this gun.
Great Job Sig.
Lets compare the Sig to the Glock.
The Glock’s striker is only 68.2 per cent cocked which means it will stay stronger longer before it weakens from being cocked and need replace because it becomes unreliable with its ignition. The Sig 320’s striker is supposedly 90 per cent cocked so it will have to be replaced sooner but its ignitions system when new should be a bit stronger being 90 per cent cocked.
Pre-loaded striker fired weapons have notoriously weak ignitions systems as compared to the traditional hammer fired guns like the Beretta and 1911 pistols. I have tested the ignition strength of both the Glock 17, 19, and Walther P99 and they all failed the high primer test 3 times in a row trying to set off the same primer in each test compared to the various bone crushing ignitions systems of hammer fired guns like the Beretta and the 1911 etc. Its interesting to note that some years ago Germany tested pre-loaded striker fired pistols and found the ignitions so weak in comparison to hammer fired guns they tested the pre-loaded striker fired guns had to have the ignition power factor reduced substantially to even pass the test.
Pre loaded striker fired guns also have open striker channels that let in dirt, dust, burnt powder , moisture etc which again makes them way less reliable than the closed firing pin tunnels found on most hammer fired guns.
Safety: “What people cannot see they do not fear”. Guns with hammers let the operator know the gun is cocked and ready to fire. In other words “it scares the shit out of people” especially new recruits that usually have never even held a real handgun before. Not so much with striker fired guns as they cannot see the gun is cocked so the caution value is not there.
Manual Safeties. The Beretta had a manual safety which was a plus both in carrying the gun and taking it apart. At least the Sig has a side lever for take down rather than the idiotic and totally unsafe Glock take down system that requires you to pull the trigger to take the gun apart. If you forget just one time to check the chamber you either shoot yourself or someone else. Brilliant system.
The military should demand Sig put a manual safety on the 320 as the average recruit again has not the gun savvy or experience to handle a weapon without a manual safety and ditto for civilians that shoot themselves with Glocks and copy cat guns every day.
Back Straps: Here Sig really dropped the ball as a person needing more trigger reach must replace the entire plasticky frame rather than just swap out another back strap that is much cheaper and quicker to do.
Although the Military claims the Sig 320 is one gun that does it all I am willing to bet they end up adopting the 320 compact for tank crews or for air force personal climbing in and out of helicopters and jet planes.
Since the Military has so many 92’s in stock now they will have to train recruits on two entirely different types of handguns. That takes time and money and in combat situation if you have to pick up the other pistol which you have never used everyday its a prescription for disaster. Another Brilliant move to adopt another totally different type of pistol especially one that is inferior in the ignition system.
As usual the Neanderthals that procure weapons for the military never think things out from beginning to end and simply replace one system that may not have been perfect and usually end up with another system that is even worse and this time that is certainly the case.
Of course now we will see Sig bring out a “look a like” military version of the 320 complete with military markings to give the civilian para-military lunatic fringe an orgasm as they believes that since the Military adopted the 320 it therefore has to be perfect in every way and now they all simply must have one.
If the Military would have had brain one and were hell bent o n adopting a “plasticky pistol” they would have been way better off just adopting the H&K P30S. Its has a reliable ignition system being hammer fired, a manual safety which can be left on when loading or unloading the gun, a safe take down system and an excellent de-cocker lever to safely lower the hammer and the hammer does not crash down against the slide but is caught on the way down to gently lower the hammer. Now that is how to build a pistol even if it is “plasticky” but “plasticky” is about as good as it gets in todays econo-grade “plasticky” world of pistols.
Just FYI, the Army is getting both the full size and the compact P320 in 9mm and will distribute them as they see fit. Also, the military version will have a manual safety as it was a requirement. Seems that you are one of those guy who prefers hammer fired guns. I don’t know about you, but if someone had a gun pointed at me, I don’t think I’d be looking to see if the hammer was cocked. There would be other things on my mind…
I have had a Glock 23 for over 20 years (It was new and unusual at that time) and even with the Sig P320 in “sub compact” the G23 is thinner and not that much larger while holding 13+1 of .40 S&W (very reliable after 1000s of rounds). I will take a look at the P290 for something to fill the gap between my G23 and my Ruger LCP 2.
It does seem that the hammer fired pistol would be a better combat pistol.
I also have a FNX 45 Tactical (DA/SA) and a FNS 9mm longslide (striker fired), I like them both. But after shooting Combat League, I prefer to carry the FNX 45T in an open carry situation. The trigger of the FNX 45T is great and can be carried cocked & locked with 15 rounds of 45 ACP (I like Underwood Extreme Defender, & Extreme Penetrator in the wilderness). Also the slide can be racked with the safety on. The FNS has worked well in IDPA (conceals almost as well as the G23, even though it has an inch longer barrel) where the FNX 45T must start hammer down and my wife has taken a liking to it.
I own a P320 in 40S&W. I have put maybe 1000 rounds through it so far. I have not had a single hiccup with it yet. I have not had a single failure to lock back on last round either. Must be you have sausage fingers if they keep getting in the way. Don’t know why you’d hold a star off because your fingers got in the way! As far as the polymer goes, these are very well made grips, and they hold very close tolerances as I have had a number of them. I use the Carry grip in size large. Yeah I did have to wait for a bit to find them, but didn’t have to wait more than a month or two tops to find one in FDE color. The olive drab and black were readily available if you look around. I have found certain places to have a much larger selection of grips available than others. The FCU has fit quite nicely in every grip I’ve had, and because I bought the carry grip in large, selling the ones I didn’t want was quite quick and easy. I even put one on ebay that brought more than I paid for it. I’m not a rich guy so I haven’t had a whole bunch of guns to compare this to, but I reeeealy like this gun. I love the grip and that it fits nicely in my big hands. I don’t know if there is any gun out there that is more reliable but I have to assume that there is going to be one or two out of a thousand that may have a defect. These are not Bentlys made 100% by hand and checked over with laser accuracy, so there will be the one or two out of a bunch that will have an issue, but Sig customer service is very good and if you have a gun with an issue, they will help you get to the bottom of it and likely replace any needed parts free of charge..I love my P320 and will probably buy another one in 45ACP.
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