U.S. Army soldier shooting the SIG SAUER P320 MHS (courtesy ammoland.com)
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SIG’s P320 is having a hard time staying out of the news. Regular readers will remember our ongoing coverage of the polymer pistol’s drop safe problem, leading to a “voluntary recall.” We now learn that SIG knew about the issue long before it hit the media . . .

Two days ago omahaoutdoors.com ran a blandly titled post entitled Pentagon Weapons Testing Office Report on the SIG MHS / XM17. The revelations contained therein are anything but bland.

Inside the Pentagon’s DOT&E FY 2017 Annual Report, a standard bureaucratic work product usually full of dry legalese regarding expensive weapons systems soon to be canceled for cost overruns, there is a section on the Sig Sauer XM17 / XM18 pistols. It contains several interesting facts about the pistol program.

One of the more interesting statements in the report is the fact that the Army discovered the drop fire issue with the XM17 pistols prior to it becoming known to the world with the P320 pistol.

The wording of the report is not entirely clear on the exact date, but it states the Army directed SIG to develop an ECP, or Engineering Change Proposal, to lighten the weight of the components in the trigger to fix the drop fire issue. This ECP-updated, non-drop-fire pistol was the one which took part in PVT, or Product Verification Test, beginning in April 2017.

TTAG cannot verify whether the U.S. Army knew about the P320 drop safe issue prior to our coverage in August 2017.

When we asked about the P320 drop safe issue that August, SIG SAUER told TTAG they had modified the military model’s trigger to enhance the trigger pull and eliminate the “click” about which many users — including the U.S. Army — had complained.

SIG told TTAG that their work on the P320 trigger coincidentally fixed the drop safe issue. Be that as it is, the aforementioned report reveals that the Army had other serious issues with the P320’s performance. taskandpurpose.com:

The Pentagon’s overview on its gear and tech programs in 2017, conducted by the Office of the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation and released earlier in January 2018, indicated that both the XM17 and XM18 pistols demonstrated a series of persistent problems, including accidental discharge, ejecting live ammunition, and relatively frequent stoppages when firing ammunition encased in a full metal jacket.

Even worse, the report recommends the Army engineer some fixes “upon identification of the root cause” of the ejection issue — a statement that indicates the branch hasn’t yet identified the source of the issue.

TTAG has placed a call to SIG SAUER for comment.

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      • Never heard of that one before.
        The army should have just modified them to a G model, put some thin grips on them and called it a day. Exceptional guns.

        • The slide of the M9 (92SB) as originally adopted could fly off if the locking block broke. A Navy SEAL was injured this way when they were using overpressure ammunition in it. That’s why they changed the design from the Beretta 92SB to the SB-F, and why the SEALs switched to the P226 when everyone else was going to the 92. Oddly enough the SEALs had never had issues with the 92 until then, even though they had been using them since the late 1970s. It’s almost like a repeat of the turn-of-the-century Colt automatics which had the same problem of slides flying off. Having bugs that need to be ironed out should be expected with new guns. The military wanted a modular pistol and that’s what they got. At least no one got hurt this time.

        • The Beretta’s were not flying off due to using overpressure ammunition. That is a myth that was purposely spread by Beretta. The GAO report is quite clear. And it was more than one slide. Three Seals were hit in the face due to flying slides. Only one of them could positively say that they were using hot ammo. A total of 14 slide failures were documented with only 3 by the Navy Seals all of which were in operational use. The 11 by the army were in testing. With in spec ammo and multiple failures at below 5,000 rounds. The issues were most likely due to metallurgical issues with the Italian made slides. There was never a documented issue with any of the American made weapons.

        • So, Seans, I had the details wrong, but the way you put it actually sounds worse than I thought it was.

        • Exactly. This beretta slide crap was addressed before most soldiers were born. This SIG is a full on boondoggle.

        • It was not the locking block, it was tellurium in the steel. Tellurium is added to increase machinability, by increasing chip breakage. It also reduces fatigue resistance. The slides would have fatigue cracks at the corners of the notches where the locking block ears would engage the slide. Going to a tellurium free grade steel and adding radii to those corners fixed the issue.

      • correct. They also need better maintenance programs. As far as slides flyinig off give me a break. Fixed a very long time ago

    • I’m feeling nostalgic for the Glock 19. Its been around about as long as the Beretta, but somehow is totally modern

      • Hooray for backstraps, (lack of) finger grooves, ambi controls that make previous generations’ slides and barrels incompatible, a safety that we just Dremeled into the plastic, and a needless second lanyard loop that makes previous generations’ magazines incompatible! 😀

    • Of course they did. The Army put out specs to specifically exclude Glock (which had to make a bunch of modifications to even meet the basic requirements). Someone in the chain simply did not want Glock winning.

      • It is, however, a well-known and understood design issue that increases the amount that point of aim jumps on recoil unless you don’t believe in physics.

        • Oh I love the “cuz physics” argument. Because the same physics exist when the slide returns to battery, putting the pistol right back where it was. Did you know some shooters put lighter recoil springs in competition pistols to prevent…wait for it…muzzle dip! That’s right, they want to avoid the slide causing the sight picture going down too far!

          But yeah, cuz physics. *rolls eyes*

        • Cool. So you’re saying that, no matter what other physics concepts effect recoil (and there are many), the return of the slide will always, no matter what, 100% of the time, no matter what other variable there are, completely negate any kind of recoil or loss of sight picture? Well shit, this changes everything! I guess it’s time to go buy that Desert Eagle, since I’m now aware of these magical slide properties.

          Look, I’m sorry that you were educated by the American Public School system, and that you think very basic physics concepts don’t exist; it’s not your fault. But it IS your fault when you’d decide to be a condescending ass about it (and yes, I’m aware that I’m also being a condescending ass. The difference is, I’m not doing so completely unprovoked)

        • Maybe you should try actually gripping the gun instead of letting it flip around. The majority of common semi-auto pistol calibers don’t have that much recoil in guns that you can get a whole hand on.

        • Physics what?

          Bore axis is only one factor. More important is what’s being shot out of the firearm and how much that firearm weighs.

          In other words, you simply square the velocity of recoil, which is easily calculated when we know the weight of the bullet and powder charge and its velocity when exiting from the muzzle. Multiply by the weight of the gun and divide by twice the acceleration of gravity, and you get the recoil energy in foot pounds.

          This is why the Ruger LCP sucks to shoot, even though it’s shooting a wimpy bullet, to give one of many examples.

  1. So much ado about nothing.

    It’s a huge project. Issues were discovered, issues will be discovered.

    Training problems will happen, user error will come into play, all kinds of things will pop up.

    That’s what happens when an organization as big as the army makes a change to a system as big as the M17 project.

    How did the introduction of the M16 go? How about the F35, How about the FBI Glock, How about the ….

    It’s the nature of the beast.

    I am quite certain there are mean failure ratios in the contract that have to be met or the contract will either be adjusted or Sig found in breach.

    Everybody wants perfection but the fact of the matter is perfection isn’t in play in business deals – acceptable levels are.

    • This is not leading edge technology. Small arms using 100+ year old technology should be off the shelf ready.. This is not rocket science. The M9-A3 addressed all the Army’s issues except for the slide mounted safety. It should have been the Army’s choice. If they wanted to have a compact pistol for CID then there were many off the shelf options available.

      I do not think that polymer framed hand guns are suitable for US military use. I don’t care how many foreign garrison based Armies use a Glock. It isn’t the same thing as being deployed in the field.

      • “I do not think that polymer framed hand guns are suitable for US military use.

        But they’ve been using rifles made out of recycled Schlitz cans and melted Pringles lids for years.

      • But pistols barely get issued, the training regimen is woeful for pistols, because they’re really are very few folks using them in combat. If the M17 is going to be a primary weapon in the future, or at least integrated more, then the training curriculum really needs to change, so it might be an issue, in 3 years.

      • Why? US shooting competitors run their handguns a lot harder than the Army does and they have universally moved to polymer framed pistols.

        • Most every “competitor” I know uses a 1911 style, double-stack pistol. Polymer is as far as you can get from “universal” adoption.

        • It’s not the number or rounds fired. It the abuse the equipment gets in the field. Private snuffy uses gear in ways it was not intented. Soldiers have been know to use the butt end of 1911 as a hammer. That is the kind of abuse that I am talking about.

    • As the poster above said, this is not new tech. This is not an F-35 or even an M16. The only reason that this failure in action is happening is because Army Procurement decided to reinvent the wheel and didn’t test properly- or did test propery and didn’t select properly.

    • He’s right. I’m guessing no one bothered looking at the source of the report, and the other programs that were evaluated, and much more significant problems noted.

      The bureaucracy that fielded the report exists to find problems. If they didn’t find any, they wouldn’t be doing their job and probably wouldn’t exist for too long. It’s in their interest to find problems.

  2. Obviously Glock should have been in ….In both 9mm and 45 acp ! Or, just go back to solid reliable modern 1911 s…….

  3. There is another problem that is concerning. The Executive Summary (linked in the article) states that after the drop fire problem was fixed by installing a lighter trigger, two triggers broke (splintered).

    “There were two trigger splintering hardware deficiencies observed during the IOT&E. Preliminary analysis indicates that this may be correlated with the ECP developed by SIG SAUER to correct the deficiency of the pistol firing when dropped with the safety not engaged.”

    So, I suspect that the lighter trigger installed for the Sig Voluntary Upgrade Program and in current production, has the same weakness.

  4. It usually always comes down to quality vs quantity.
    Unfortunately the gov’t will NEVER go with quality, and the higher (but manageable) costs that come with it.

    • “….Unfortunately the gov’t will NEVER go with quality…”

      My experiences have been different. There’s a reason why there is so much xm855 and xm885 on the market. The government actually has pretty high standards. The problem is getting a committee of soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines to agree on those standards….. by the time that committee agrees on those standards for that something, that something has become over complicated (i.e. unreliable) and obsolete…. then changing or updating those standards becomes an exercise in frustration and failure….. it actually becomes easier for a service branch to start from scratch with a new something and exclude the other branches…. xm17 (Army) & m27 (USMC) vs F35 (everybody).

  5. Just go to a P226.

    “But it’s heavy and expensive.” I hear what your saying and Imma let you finish, but I counter your argument with the fact THE DAMN THING WORKS!

    I don’t know, I’ll stick with systems with a proven track record, not this LATEST AND GREATEST BS.

    • But why not just keep the M9. Its fine, its a pistol for an armed forces that doesn’t use them.

      They’d be better off if they just looked at some ammo that doesn’t befoul the 1899 Hague Convention. The US never signed on, but we’ve abided by it, so look at something like the Lehigh Xtreme Penetrator/Defender that isn’t a hollow point, can defeat at least level II armor, is fairly barrier blind, and functions within spec pressures. There are quite a few options out there that would increase effectiveness, and little of it actually has to do with the launching platform.

      Heck, you only save 5 Oz between an M9 and M17. If you’re adding an RMR as a future standard, I’d be in favor of that, then that might change things as the M9, without a significant slide redesign, couldn’t use one, and the M17 already has a cut, but the rear sight is on the adapter, who thought that was a good idea.

  6. So Sig knew their POS P320 wasn’t drop-safe, and they foisted it on us consumers anyway. And when we proved that it wasn’t drop safe, they bold-face said “yes it is, you don’t know what you’re talking about.” And finally when it was a firestorm they couldn’t hide behind, they still refused to issue a recall, they instead called it a “voluntary upgrade” — so it puts the responsibility on the customer to find out about the problem.

    That isn’t just irresponsible, that’s irresponsible to the point of depravity.

    I changed my mind about that P365. I don’t care if it fits a hundred rounds. F*** Sig. They had a defective product, they knew it, and they shoved it on us anyway.

    They can suck on their own barrels and drop-safe their triggers right in their mouths for all I care. They’re dead to me.

    • Jesus, Ted, did they make you buy one? That sucks. Thankfully, their Jedi mind trick didn’t work on most of us.

      • They KNEW it was defective and not drop-safe when the Army testing showed ’em it wasn’t.

        They then knowingly, consciously brought it to market and sold it to innocent customers.

        They stood by and didn’t say a damn thing when an officer got shot in the leg by their defective pistol.

        When people PROVED that it wasn’t drop-safe, they said “shut up, go away, you don’t know what you’re talking about” — when they knew for a FACT that it wasn’t drop-safe.

        When people didn’t go away, when multiple people PROVED the damn thing was unsafe (which they already KNEW it was!) then they invited the press in and said “look, we already had this other trigger, we put it in and all your problems are solved.” HOW DID THEY “ALREADY” HAVE THIS OTHER TRIGGER? Because they KNEW the sodding things were defective because they already knew about the army tests and they’d already fixed it!

        But they consciously, knowingly put the unsafe version in the hands of Americans. And at least one cop was shot by it.

        That’s unconscionable. That’s EVIL. Sincerely, truly, with all my heart — FUCK Sig. They’re worse than Cheaper Than Dirt. They’re worse than Springfield. They knowingly, purposely, sold a known defective product that could hurt people, to innocent customers. That’s the worst of the worst.

        The whole scenario has left a Sauer taste in my mouth.

        • I mean its not like your timeline is wrong or anything. Its not like the P320 was introduced to the public in 2015 and the MHS tests in 2016. I mean a truly evil company obviously used their time machine to manipulate the laws of time and space to ensure they’d make tens of thousands pistols with the flaw, but only after they’d discovered it, went back in time and un-fixed it so that….or something.

          Time is a flat circle-Rust Cohle

    • But if you do that the data might point away from what you’ve already decided.

      Weren’t you paying attention in science lab? First draw the curve. Then plot the data.

      • This is it, no question. Looking at the requirements- stuff like “no finger grooves!”- the test was written for the answer, not the other way around.

  7. Would it be inappropriate to interject at this point that if one is going to copy Glock, then one should copy them properly?
    Is it time to mention that Glocks don’t fire when dropped, only fire when the trigger is depressed, and feed FMJ ammunition rather well?
    Is it a good idea to buy military pistols that fire when dropped, sometimes fire when the trigger isn’t depressed, and that won’t feed FMJ ammunition properly, just because you can remove the firing mechanism quickly and swap between ‘frames’ (which is, realistically, not really a huge consideration on a military pistol, but never mind. . . “Hey, Sarge! I know we’re in a firefight, but my pistol isn’t very comfortable! Quick, throw me another frame so I can swap it out! Oooh, that’s MUCH better!”)?
    Ah, the Schadenfreude is rich with this one. . .

    • Those FBI Glocks didn’t have any problems at all, oh wait, the locking blocks and triggers fell out and the slides jettisoned but PERFECTION! Maybe you’d remember that if most of these people and blogs didn’t worship at the feet of Gaston…

      • +1

        Glock has plenty of issues but they are routinely ignored because of the amount of Glock worship in the gun community.

        Yea I own a P320, 💯 reliable and no issues. I also know how to handle my firearm and don’t go around dropping them either.

        • Few of us are foolish enough to actually believe that any tool made by Man is ‘perfect;’ Neither are we foolish enough to confound a mechanical defect that does NOT result in a negligent discharge with one that DOES. I would far rather have a pistol that defaulted to ‘safe’ if something goes wrong, than one that fires itself instead.
          Speaking of perfection, does it bother anyone when someone claims that they will never, EVER, with absolute certainty, do a certain thing? “I will NEVER drop my gun, therefore it doesn’t matter if it is drop-safe” smacks of 1st-Degree Hubris. That statement implies that the person making it will never stumble, trip, sweat, bleed, have a mini or major stroke, a coronary event, a muscle cramp, or a momentary inattention, and is, in fact, ‘perfect.’
          Must be nice.

        • I’m sure that Swat Officer who got shot in the leg felt the same way, before he got shot in the leg. Yes, I own a P320. I am a fan of many platforms but not a fanboy of any, shit happens.

  8. Pardon my density, but in a world with on-demand, just in time, batch-oriented logistics n for realz mass customization … easing internal logistics with “commonality” seems off point.

    I get putting less work on the shooty guys. Reducing the clerk-burden by having one part number for all the frames seems … off-point? Misguided? Helping the wrong people with the wrong thing?

    Heck, even in supply chain land, the cost of “stuff” skews ever more toward clerking and tracking. Get more stuff n track it looser.

    Or am I confused, again?

  9. The problem with the contract was that the military never finished the testing and just went with the cheaper bid(not modularity like some have claimed.) Now we are seeing the results. I don’t even like Glocks that much but this should be grounds for a lawsuit.

  10. All this because someone in Washington wanted to punish Beretta for moving out of Maryland after the state passed an assault weapons ban.

  11. As a mechanical engineer I’ve been saying this all along–the P320 (along with its parent, the P250) is a dog turd. The Army will regret it.

    I’m not saying they should have gone with the Glock. I’m literally saying they should have gone with any other of the entrants that were submitted.

    The P320 is an abortion that should go back to formula (i.e. start over from scratch).

    • What makes it a turd?
      I’m no Sig fan, and don’t want to start an Internet brawl. I’m just trying to learn.
      What specific design or production elements render it poop?
      Please dumb down the answer enough so that a lowly 11 year experienced manufacturing engineer, like myself, can understand. Thanks in advance.

      • Take two or more P320’s. Mic a few of the dimensions via a set of lowly calipers. Note your shock and awe when there are gross inconsistencies between dimensions on seemingly the same model.

        Also, tempering issues. Hardness all over the place on the same key parts varies wildly from one gun to the next.

        Without knowing the “proper” temper, it just reeks of gross inconsistency.

        Also, load-bearing contact surfaces seem undersized in some areas, and oversized in others. It’s like a gun designed by a committee and none of the committee members were talking to each other.

  12. All animosity aside, how exactly does a pistol eject live ammunition? Asking seriously, not as a joke. Best I can figure, if they’re not talking about a light strike that they are manually racking out of the chamber, is one spectacular double feed.

  13. As a Beretta fan (love my Beretta 96) I’m near overdosing with schadenfreude. For 30 years us Beretta fans have taken grief from Sig fans about how the Sig should have won and the Sig was better. Now we get to sit back and watch Glock fanboys tell Sig fanboys how the Glock should have won and the Glock is better.

    Meanwhile I’ll just pop some popcorn, enjoy the show and keep enjoying my Beretta 96.

  14. 8/5/2017, Sigforum. “I am here to tell you there are no safety issues with the P320….
    I and others knew this entire thing was b*****it from the start….
    And, for the record, there has never been a verified instance of any P320 firing when dropped…
    The recent youtube video… is an obvious fake.”

    Thanks TTAG, for uncovering this report.

  15. Another turd Sig has laid. I really think that the United States Army should shitcan Sig Sauer. The pistol they presented was a huge piece of trash. They should have spent more time testing the weapons system before handing it over to the civilian populace for their beta testing. Sig Sauer how about you get off your ass and actually beta test your product before turning it over to civilian populous to use as a self defense weapon system! I’ve had a lot of problems with Sig Sauer over the years with customer service and just junk breaking Inside their pistols. And these are the die-hard P-Series Pistols that have been around for years. I really believe that Sig Sauer is cutting the production cost of their firearms to the point that they are not quality Firearms anymore they’re living off their name. Bring back the Beretta and get over this modular handgun system crap. Nobody fights of war with a handgun anyways I don’t know why they thought it was such importance to update their handgun. Christ we’ve been using the same rifle System since 1965 what was the big fire to carry a new handgun. This is why it baffles me when they had a pistol system that worked but it didn’t fit good and smaller people’s hands. So what when I was in the military if you were left-handed or if a weapon system didn’t fit you correctly you got over it you made it work. If your left handed you should learn to shoot right-handed before basic training was over. Just doesn’t make any damn sense to me whatsoever wasting all this money on a pistol program that turned out to be crap just like six hours usually are.

    • Yeah, but this is the same military where an entire unit will now be made to conform to the gender demands of a single person. “Get over it”, and “make it work” hurts feelings, and as you know, in an organization whose sole purpose is ultimately to kill enemies and break their shit (and who have historically done a phenomenal job at that), ensuring that nobody has their feelings hurt is the #1, and #2, and #3, and possible also #4 priority. Anything else, including THE ENTIRE PURPOSE FOR THE EXISTENCE OF THE MILITARY, is now at least 5th down the line in terms of importance.

  16. Don’t worry about SIG problems. Most units will never get the pistol despite the plans for secondary arms because no unit has the additional training time for a weapon that is only useful for looking friendly during Key Leader Engagements.
    New pistols and pistol training rank lower than a new PT uniform or pinks and greens. – the Army will have M9s for the next 10 years at least. Marines have not even begun to budget for these and are buying G19Ms for deployed.

    • Buy Glock…..its not “Americas got talent” or a beauty pageant…it has to work and work well…….and GLOCK WORKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂

        • The M-9 is also…

          Too heavy
          Too large
          Has a safety that has to be engaged and disengaged with the other hand
          Only useable by those with gorilla hands
          Front sight cannot be changed
          Does not have a rail for a light

          Don’t give me that G decocker crap or tell me about the M9A3 BS…not interested. As someone who used an M9 for more than not looking too unfriendly during a meet and greet with your local terrorist enabler I hated the M9. Much better for our troops is a modern polymer frames compact sized handgun like the G19 or P320. I prefer the G19 and its what I carry now.

        • I know a lot of guys who have had meet and greets with your local terrorist enablers who are just fine with the M-9. As you know, the outside of SOF the military cannot accommodate personal preferences.

  17. “The Pentagon’s overview on its gear and tech programs in 2017, conducted by the Office of the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation and released earlier in January 2018, indicated that both the XM17 and XM18 pistols demonstrated a series of persistent problems, including accidental discharge, ejecting live ammunition, and relatively frequent stoppages when firing ammunition encased in a full metal jacket.”

    ……..I see no problem here…..SAYS NO ONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!….GOOD G#D ALMIGHTY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙁

  18. Hell, the USMC settled this argument…its called the G19 Glock!!!!…NaHell!!!!! just reinvent the wheel…. 🙂

  19. Seeing as the pistol is 100% with hollowpoints, and still 60%-75% with NEW SPEC ball ammo, I’m betting it’s some ammo QC issue rather than SIG engineering.

    The Army isn’t exactly a stellar handgun teacher to begin with, and I’d bet a lot of problems would disappear with proper training and maintenance cycles.

    • I am certain that every single Glock that fires when dropped, or fires without a trigger pull, has been recalled.
      Oh, I’m sorry. They don’t DO that.
      Never mind.

  20. There will always be problems encountered when mass producing enough guns to accommodate the armed forces and the public. That’s a shit ton of guns. In the meantime. I have a P320, with upgrade. It’s been 100% reliable from the first day, which btw saw 250 rounds through it that day. Then 250 the following day. Then 300 about a month later. That’s it so far, but there’s been nary a bobble with either Blazer Brass FMJ or Speer Gold Dot (150rds). And yeah, I’m buying the P365 ASAP. The Beretta is an excellent gun as far as function too. A friend of mine has carried one his entire LE career with me, and fired untold number of rounds through it in that 30 years. I just don’t like the way it feels, it’s just too damn big to be wrapped around the 9mm cartridge. If I’m going to tote around gun that big it’s gonna be launching a bigger bullet too.

  21. Can any body just say GLOCK……It has been around alot longer and in 8 yrs of carring a G19 and 1000’s of rounds I’ve never had a failure. Course I guess from a civilian prospective now that would be wayyyy to easy.

  22. To me, isn’t this REALLY similar to the Smith .38, the 1911, the Beretta, issues, when they started shipping them to the Army? And according to my Dad when I had him read this, why he threw a fit when they took away his M14 and gave him a “…piece of junk, jam-o-matic, pansy M16”, cause they jammed all the time and hence he had no time for one, yet that’s still the basic design used by our Military… They fix this and that as needed and that’s why you’ve got a 30 year history of M9 use. Give’me a break…they’ll get it worked out. Not one weapon on the planet hasn’t had some sort of “glitch” to be fixed.

  23. M 9 is history. Marine Corp and Special Forces still use the 1911. Military is dumping the .223/556 also. Way overdue.


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