Massad Ayoob: A Look at the SIG P320

SIG P320.

For years now, traditional double action police service pistols such as the SIG P-series have been pushed out of the spotlight by polymer-frame, striker fired pistols, a revolution begun by Glock in the 1980s. SIG had entered the polymer pistol market twice, both times with polymer frame guns that were hammer-fired with double action triggers.

The SIG P320 full-sized Nitron.

The SIG P320 full-sized Nitron.

The SIG Pro, introduced some twenty years ago, is still in the line as the Model 2022, currently produced in 9mm Luger, .40 S&W, and .357 SIG. A perfectly good pistol, it is seen largely as a budget-priced version of the P-series guns, and is not on the radar screen of buyers – individual or institutional – who are locked into Glock or Glock’s arch competitor in that market, the Smith & Wesson Military & Police pistol.

SIG’s next foray into the polymer pistol market was the P250. Its selling point of interchangeable frame sizes, calibers, etc. was not what the law enforcement market was looking for. While it had an excellent double action only trigger, it was markedly different from the short-throw triggers cops were being trained on with Glocks and M&Ps at their departments, and police interest was scant.
SIG finally decided to meet the striker-fired polymer pistols on their own ground.
P320 development

Superstar engineer Ethan Lessard led the project of what would become the P320 pistol. The early versions were done on the P250 format, with the first two prototypes being a “straight drop in” for the P250 production line. A button takedown was designed: Lessard told me, “SIG protocol is for the user to HAVE to remove the magazine and HAVE to lock the slide to the rear to begin disassembly.”

Sig P320 Carry Nitron.

SIG P320 Carry Nitron.

Stagnant for a time, the striker-fired pistol project resumed in 2011. One prototype was, said Lessard, “Way, way outside the norm for striker-fired guns because it cocked on opening like a hammer-fired pistol. Most striker-fired pistols cock on closing.” Eventually, Lessard and SIG chose to make their new pistol cock on closing, too.

The result is a good-feeling pistol with its own distinctive look, lively in the hand, with the relatively low bore axis which the striker-fired concept promotes. This results in less muzzle rise and therefore less time between accurate shots.

As was necessary for the market SIG wants to penetrate with it, the P320 has a consistent trigger pull for every shot. Lessard tells me that trigger pulls will be able to be adjusted for weight by replacing parts, giving end-users and departments the option of trigger pulls in the 5.5-pound to 7.5 pound range. Price should be competitive with the Glock and the M&P.

I handled the early model in June of 2013, but did not have the opportunity to test-fire it. Introduction of the P320 took place at the SHOT Show in January of 2014. This pistol will definitely be an important chapter in the history of SIG-Sauer.

Gun Digest Book of SIG Sauer, 2nd EditionThis article is an excerpt from the Gun Digest Book of Sig Sauer, 2nd Edition.