In this article, I will review the SIG P320 Carry chambered in 9mm. In addition to evaluating it in terms of Fit, Function, and Finances, I will also provide a range report on its reliability and accuracy.
A Little History
Since 1853, high quality durable products and innovation have been the hallmarks of Sig Sauer. Known for producing the most sophisticated railway cars in Switzerland, the Swiss Wagon Factory made an ambitious move to build rifles for the Swiss Army. After successfully winning a military contract to manufacture 30,000 Prelaz-Burnand rifles, they officially changed their name to Schweizerische Industrie-Gesellschaft (Swiss Industrial Company) or more simply: SIG.
For the next 100 years, SIG continued to manufacture small arms for the Swiss Army and Police while also expanding its product line to include hunting and target firearms. With their sights literally and figuratively set on becoming a world leader in the firearms industry, SIGARMS established a footprint in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia in January 1985. After initially importing the SIG P220, SIGARMS expanded their offerings to include the P230, P225, P226, P228, and P229. On October 1st, 2007, SIGARMS changed its name to SIG SAUER to reflect the worldwide growth and demand for its ever-expanding line of rugged and reliable products.
With a well-established pedigree in reliability and innovation, it was no surprise when SIG SAUER defied convention and revolutionized the handgun market in 2007 with the SIG P250. Whereas polymer-framed handguns and caliber conversions were commonplace, the SIG P250 introduced the concept of a self-contained and serialized modular ignition group which could be inserted into a wide variety of different sized modular grips and could be combined with other calibers and barrel/slide lengths.
While the average shooter, myself included, appreciated the versatility and cost savings of using the same ignition group in multiple handgun platforms, the market responded as well. The SIG P250 won the NRA’s Golden Bullseye Award, Shooting Illustrated’s Handgun of the Year, and American Rifleman’s Tactical Handgun of the Year.
However, in spite of all the praise and adulation, SIG P250 has one major flaw. The trigger is terrible with an exceptionally long double-action pull compounded by an alarmingly long trigger re-set. While this is fine in many applications, it can be difficult for novices and frustrating for competitors.
Like many SIG P250 owners, I quietly wondered how much better the gun would be if SIG would only improve the trigger.
Wish Granted – Introducing the SIG P320
Boasting the similar concept of a self-contained and serialized modular ignition group which could be removed and inserted into a wide variety of grip sizes mated to different calibers and slide/barrel lengths, SIG SAUER introduced the SIG P320 on January 15th, 2014. The main difference, however, was that the SIG P320 was a Double Action Only (DAO) striker-fired platform!
I have to admit, I wasn’t impressed when I first saw an advertisement for the SIG P320. Harboring ill-will and bad memories of the SIG P250’s trigger, I didn’t give the SIG P320 much thought. They looked very similar, so I errantly assumed that they handled the same and I wasn’t interested in adding another striker-fired handgun to my collection.
I WAS WRONG! VERY, VERY WRONG!
I received a long-overdue education on the SIG P320 when David Hinkell, senior instructor at the world-renown SIG SAUER Academy, gave me an in-depth look at the new gun. On the outside, the textured polymer grip module has roughly the same dimensions, weight, and integrated light rail in full size and compact models as the SIG P250. The operating surfaces are similarly configured (take-down lever, ambidextrous slide lock, and reversible magazine release). The slide differs a bit, though. Whereas the SIG P250 has vertical rear-cocking serrations, the SIG P320 has deeper and more aggressive forward slanted front and rear cocking serrations, which is a plus to many shooters. Also, both the SIG P250 and P320 have inertial firing pin/striker safeties, which prevent the guns from firing if they were dropped.
The BIG, and I mean BIG, difference is what is on the inside. The SIG P250’s modular ignition group includes a DAO hammer to initiate the firing sequence when it contacts the firing pin embedded into the slide. Conversely, the SIG P320’s modular ignition group activates a striker assembly embedded into the slide. Fully DAO, the SIG P320’s striker rests fully forward and locked in place by the inertial safety until the trigger is pressed which retracts the striker fully rearward before releasing it to contact the primer and initiate the firing sequence.
But there is more! Impressive technical specifications aside… the trigger in the SIG P320 is not only light at a consistent 5.5lbs with less travel than the SIG P250, the trigger re-set on the SIG P320 is fast, tactile, and only a TINY fraction of its cumbersome sibling. This makes it a vastly superior platform for novices, competitors, and professionals alike!
To analyze it even further, let’s look at the trigger measurements.
SIG P250 – Fully extended = 2.879″; Fully depressed = 2.236″; Re-set = 2.847. So, the DA trigger travel is 0.643″ and movement to re-set is 0.611″. Both are over 1/2 inch!
SIG P320 – Fully extended = 2.712″; Fully depressed = 2.523″; Re-set = 2.615″. So the DA trigger travel is 0.189″ and movement to re-set is 0.091″. More simply, the SIG P320 requires 5.5lbs of pressure for just less than 1/5th of an inch of travel to initiate the firing sequence and then requires just under 1/10th of an inch to re-set the trigger.
While we are comparing popular handguns, let’s compare the SIG P320 with its very popular cousin, the Glock 19. With a fully extended measurement of 2.745″, fully depressed measurement of 2.489″, and re-set of 2.629, the Glock trigger travel is 0.247″ and re-set is 0.131″. Again, the SIG P320 comes out on top!
With three basic grip modules in full size, compact, and sub-compact, all are ergonomically designed to accommodate double-stack magazines providing sufficient capacity. Additionally, a generous grip tang sits high across the web between the thumb and index finger for consistent grip and recoil management without being so prohibitively long to “print” when carrying concealed (i.e. the standard S&W M&P models). Lastly, the P320 grip is recessed on both sides above and behind the trigger for a more solid grasp of the thumb and index finger.
Overall, the P320 “points” naturally and the recoil is easy to control during rapid and sustained fire. The wide-body, however, makes it a bit challenging for concealed carry, even with the shorter grip modules. I rate its Fit at 4 out of 5 stars.
With four basic configurations (full – 4.7″bbl/full size grip; carry – 3.9″bbl/full size grip; compact – 3.9″bbl/short grip; and sub-compact – 3.6″bbl/short grip) and four caliber choices (9mm, .357SIG, .40S&W, .45ACP), there is a SIG P320 to fit just about any function from concealed carry to duty and competition. What makes this handgun truly versatile is that the same modular ignition group can be transferred between nearly any combination of configurations and calibers. The one limitation, however, is that the .45ACP modular ignition group is a different size and is incompatible with other calibers. With a .45ACP ignition group, you can only change grip module sizes and barrel lengths whereas the smaller ignition module can be interchanged among 9mm, .357SIG, and .40S&W. Due to this limitation, I rate its Function at 4 out of 5 stars.
With an MSRP of $628.00 for the basic platform with contrast (three-dot) sights and $713 for SIGLITE night sights, the SIG P320 is comparable to other quality polymer-framed handguns. Gun Store prices are quite a bit less than the MSRP. Quantico Tactical advertises the SIG P320 Carry for $439 (contrast) and $499 (night sights) for military, law enforcement, and first responders. If you’re willing to shop around, you can easily find them in the low-$500 range elsewhere.
Since the SIG P320 ships in a hard-case with three magazines and a quality kydex holster, I rate its Finances at 5 out of 5 stars for exceptional value!
I chose the SIG P320 Carry in 9mm since the large grip fit my hand very well and accepts a 17 round magazine. I was also drawn to what I perceived as a better balance between the shorter slide with 3.9″ barrel and the very light grip module compared to the greater weight differential inherent to the full size slide and 4.7″ barrel. When I first picked-up the gun from Quantico Tactical, I conducted a thorough function and safety check before taking it to the range to test its “out of the box” performance. The SIGLIGHT night sights are bright with sharp outlines and easy to focus on for precision shooting and quick to acquire for rapid-fire shooting. The ergonomics and streamlined function of the operating surfaces made it easy to load, chamber a round, and begin firing immediately.
I put the gun to the test by firing a variety of 115gr and 124gr ammunition from different manufacturers. Here is where I was a bit surprised. All of my other 9mm handguns, to include the SIG P226, P226X-5, P250, and P938 had no problems firing Full Metal Jacket and Jacketed Hollow-Point ammunition ranging from gunshow reloads to Winchester White Box and up to premium manufacturers. However, the SIG P320 is the very first handgun I’ve owned that exhibited a preference of one type of ammunition over another. This particular SIG P320 consistently failed to extract Winchester White Box 115gr ammo as well as lower quality reloads… even after a break-in period of 350 rounds and a thorough cleaning. However, it has had zero malfunctions through over 1,000 rounds with 115gr and 124gr ammunition from premium manufacturers and my new favorite, Expansion Industries remanufactured ammo. So, I was a little concerned that the P320 didn’t function with the wide variety of ammunition that my other handguns typically do.
Once I broke-in the new gun and got used to it, I gave the SIG P320 a thorough cleaning and returned to the range for accuracy testing with Expansion Industries 115gr FMJ ammo. I put it through my normal “battery” of tests, drawing and firing a single shot in a 2 second time limit and measuring a 5 shot group at 10ft, 15ft, 20ft, 25ft, and 30ft before conducting an untimed accuracy test at 75 feet/25 yards. Aiming center-of-mass, two things became immediately clear as my shot groups trended high and left: (1) the rear sight needed to be adjusted; and (2) these fixed sights require a 6-O’Clock hold.
In addition to drifting the rear sight to the right, I also took the opportunity between range sessions to apply a set of rubberized Talon Grips to even further enhance my control of the pistol. While the SIG P320 has a generous amount of stippling on the majority of the grip surface area, it is noticeably absent from the recesses where the thumb and index finger ride. The Talon Grips rubberized surface covers the side panels, backstrap, frontstrap, AND the thumb/index finger recesses. Also, while the rubberized surface considerably adds to a consistent grip across a greater surface area, it is smooth enough not to snag the inside of a shirt during concealed carry. For less than $20.00 it was well worth it!
So, during my next range visit I shot the same battery of tests with the Expansion Arms 115gr FMJ with the rear-sight drifted to zero, Talon Grips installed, and used a 6-O’Clock hold. The images below show a notable improvement in precision shooting.
To take the test one step further, I conducted a series of sustained fire drills, drawing from the holster and firing two shots into a series of 5 three inch circles at a distance of 15 feet in a time limit of 10 seconds. I conducted this test in two runs with the first 10 second run engaging the circles clockwise and the second 10 second run shooting the same circles counter-clockwise.
As you can see, the combination of the SIG P320’s inherent handling, accuracy, and excellent trigger augmented by my increasing comfort/familiarity with the gun and grip enhancements demonstrate how well this platform performs.
In addition to the Fit, Function, and Finances listed above, the SIG P320 Carry 9mm possesses the near-perfect balance of precision and performance. The full-size ergonomic grip fit my hand very well and the relatively short 3.9″ barrel was able to produce impressive accuracy even out to 25 yards while also being light and fast enough to draw from a holster, acquire multiple targets, and deliver sustained fire, largely due to the outstanding trigger and sublimely short re-set.
While I noted a few negative attributes, such as the caliber conversions not universally including .45ACP, limited concealability due to its thick body, and its inability to feed all types of ammunition, I must say that the positives FAR outweigh the negatives. This is a very impressive and versatile handgun. I highly recommend it to anyone from novice to expert and for everyone from the recreational user to duty professional. Considering its price and utility, it is an exceptional value.
Stay safe and shoot straight
- Howard Hall
Disclaimer: The information and opinions above are objective, based on personal experiences, and are provided for your information and consideration only. Although I have purchased the items listed above under law enforcement/military discounts, I have not been compensated in any way by SIG SAUER, Quantico Tactical, Expansion-Industries, or Talon Grips.