Massad Ayoob: A Look at the SIG P320

Massad Ayoob: A Look at the SIG P320
Sig P320 Carry Nitron.

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.


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  1. Why is it the SA/XD line insn’t brought up in this thread? I carried an XD40 for 10 yrs with no “accidental discharges”. The grip and trigger safeties are excellent. Very good triggers. The M&P triggers are grainy without work or replacement. The Glock is a very reliable, straight shooter, but danerous in my opinion. You touch that trigger or catch it on something, it’s goin’ and I mean right now. No thanks. I will probably try a 320 if I can find the compact frame. The new Ruger LC9s is also a keeper.

  2. Quote “The Glock and other similar handguns are not really single action they are double action only. The trigger weight may be usually between 8-5lbs however there is a long trigger pull creating a safety zone before the gun fires.”

    A long trigger pull. Who are you trying to bull-crap anyway, someone who just got into this game. Get real. The Glock is a single actions pistol with an extremely short pull, it is not a double action in reality only in a technicality. True, the gun is on partial cock and pulling the trigger cocks it fully but it is the same , I repeat the same pull as you experience on a single action pistol like the 1911 gun. The Glock is in no way the same as a double action pull on say a double action only automatic like a Sig 226 double action only that has a very long hard travel of about 8 to 10 lbs. You really know when you are pulling the trigger on a true double action only or a double action / single action pistol. The Glock is a completely different animal as only a light very short pull sets it off.

  3. I love shooting 1911s at the range and in competition however for EDC I DO NOT want a safety. In stressful situations I have seen too many times where the individual has forgotten to flip off the safety. In competition you lose a few seconds. In the street you lose your life. This why most police departments, not all, prefer the simple point and shoot gun. Training time is limited and 90% of the officers will not spend their time and money becoming more proficient

    The 1911 has safeties because the trigger pull is usually 5lbs or less and VERY SHORT. So it is very is easy to lay your finger on the trigger while drawing and have a negligent discharge. These are not ACCIDENTAL discharges. They are avoidable with training and paying attention to what you are doing.

    The Glock and other similar handguns are not really single action they are double action only. The trigger weight may be usually between 8-5lbs however there is a long trigger pull creating a safety zone before the gun fires. The NY trigger which can be as heavy as 12-15 lbs has not been successful in curing the NEGLIGANT discharges because it is a training issue. It did however help make the officers less accurate under stress especially with follow up shots endangering bystanders. The heavier the trigger pull the more difficult to keep your sights on target.

  4. It seems almost incomprehensible that in this day and age the firearms companies continue to bring out such unsafe pistols. They are all copying the Glock which is known for an astronomically high accidental discharge rate because it is basically a single action mechanism with absolutely no manual safety. The New York police department had so many accidental discharges with Glock pistols they demanded a fix to the Glock unsafe trigger mechanism and got the New York Glock trigger system. While it was a heavier trigger pull it was still a single action pull which did not cure the problem of accidental discharges as much as they would have liked.

    When we have 100 year old plus pistols like the 1911 that have a manual, grip and passive firing pin safety, why cannot the Glock and the other copy cat pistols do the same.


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