By Chris Ranger
What do you get when you take SIG SAUER’s popular P320 series pistol, a triangular magazine release, and the middle finger of your strong hand pressed right up against its bottom corner? Well, if you’re a competitive shooter who grips the pistol high enough to make the sights disappear, or if your hands are so big you can palm a medicine ball, the results are frequently the same…a sore finger.
But what if there was a product that optimally relocates and reshapes the button to enhance performance and comfort of anyone who uses it? As it happens, there is. It’s called the Align Tactical Offset Extended Magazine Release.
Align Tactical has redesigned the P320 magazine release’s triangular bottom-half to be flush, blending it perfectly into the surrounding grip area. This creates an inviting surface for your middle finger to rest across and fully utilize the P320’s generous undercut trigger guard.
While many have heard the term “GLOCK knuckle,” the Align offsent magazine release ergonomically relieves what could be referred to as “P320/P250 finger.”
This unique feature segues into their patent-pending “Stair-step” design. By making the button’s bottom-half flush, it forms the ‘floor’ and ‘rise’ of the stair step.
However, reduction in button surface alone would painfully focus pressure on the thumb when pressed, so they made the top of the step into an expanded ledge for comfort. The design effectively relocates or offsets the release’s button’s face higher up the grip module and out of the way of your middle finger, giving you the highest possible undercut grip (for the Sig P320, that is), since the height of your grip is still limited by the height of the beavertail.
Even so, I felt recoil-induced muzzle flip was slightly reduced, but that may be because I was focused on my higher-than-usual grip. World champion shooters who claim that even a tenth of an inch higher is “huge” would have to try it out and share their more experienced opinions.
How does it feel? In a word, liberating.
I installed the Offset Extended Magazine Release in both the standard and X-Series grip modules I own for testing. When slamming my hand down on a holstered pistol, I get a handful of grip all the way up to the release button. It’s super comfortable, so I’ll give it a double thumbs up for ergonomics and elimination of chafing.
Also, there weren’t any issues dropping it into my competition or carry holsters (clearance shown below), though I wouldn’t give it a second thought if I had to Dremel or heat-bend any errant bit that got in the way. It would clearly be worth it.
While the original factory release works for concealed carry due to its low profile, it can be difficult to consistently eject a magazine without shifting the pistol in your hand. That’s because fully depressing the release dips it below the widest part of the grip, so an arching thumb tip is often needed.
On the opposite side of the spectrum are performance releases that may utilize a rearwards paddle directed toward the palm of the hand. That requires greater height to avoid it from impacting the sides of the grip. Excessive height may inadvertently cause magazine ejection if the button presses against the body, and the paddle may dig into the support hand of a two-handed grip.
Align Tactical took a balanced approach between the two by extending their button’s ledge around 2mm. It provides less than a dime’s width of extension past the grip’s side width when fully depressed. They achieved this by relocating the surface higher up the leading curved edge of the grip. This shortens the distance of downward thumb travel, and allows it to be depressed with the edge of a straight and fully extended thumb.
The serrations provide good traction for comfortable carry, and the positioning of the button face nestles comfortably in the fold of the support hand when engulfed in a two-handed grip. I found the design just right when used in both everyday carry and competition guns.
With medium-sized hands, I experienced a night-and-day difference dropping mags with ease while maintaining a good firing grip. This is beneficial because it avoids having to shift the pistol in your hand. Reacquisition causes delays and can potentially throw off follow-up shots.
When running tests between the two grip modules, I’d give a slight edge to the standard (rounded) grip modules like the M17/M18 due to better leverage and a borderless drop-in channel. With the hand-filling profile of the X-Series grip modules, I was a bit more focused on getting a consistent grip, but it still worked really well if I did my part. That said, if you ever find yourself short on leverage with a mag release, check the following.
Are you “knuckle nuzzling”?
To find out, grab the pistol in your primary shooting hand and look at where the beavertail rests. Is it sitting in the center of the webbing of your hand or pressed along the proximal (innermost) knuckle of your thumb? To verify, align the pistol straight with your forearm.
If the centerline of the pistol aligns perfectly with the centerline of the forearm, you’ll get the forces of recoil going straight back into your arm, the web of your hand will be higher up the beavertail, the pad of the trigger finger will rest properly on the trigger, and you’ll get the thumb leverage you’ll need to eject a magazine while maintaining your grip. This is called a “vise grip” where you are applying a front-to-back clamping pressure.
If the pistol is off center, leverage shifts into engulfing more of the fingertips around the pistol’s grip while sacrificing grip height and magazine button reach, that’s because the thumb shifts back while the trigger finger rocks forward. If you’re shooting a double action pistol, you may require this grip just to get enough finger around the trigger. However you may find some pistols’ beavertails uncomfortably dig into your thumb’s knuckle.
So use what works for you, your hand type, size, trigger reach, and model of firearm. In the meantime, even if I had to shift my grip, I’d do it happily for the other benefits it provides and keeping it carry-ready.
At $34, the Align Tactical Offset Extended Magazine Release offers good value for performance. The magazine lockup, fit and finish were perfect in both grip frames and the release looked as if it could have shipped from the factory installed this way.
With attractive aesthetics, a lifetime warranty, and being made in USA from hardened steel, it’s a no-brainer for me. I’m replacing all my P320 releases with this one.
Specifications: Align Tactical Offset Extended Magazine Release
Measures: 1.31” x 0.47” x 0.42”
Weight: 0.2 oz
Street Price: $34
Rating (out of five stars):
Comfort * * * * *
The release offers the highest and most comfortable grip I’ve tried on the P320.
Quality * * * * *
Identical to factory part in quality.
Performance * * * * ½
Great performance with individual gripping style being a factor in maintaining grip
Overall * * * * *
I really like the flattened oval button’s profile and location. This is what the factory design should have been.