Dig the SIG!

John Milewski tests the all-ac­tion SIG P320

Airgun World - - Contents -

John Milewski gets to grips with the SIG P320, the sidearm of the US Army

Both the U.S. army and Home­land Se­cu­rity adopted the P320 as the stan­dard issue pis­tol in 2017. The arm has been termed the ‘M17’ and there is a more com­pact ver­sion, the ‘M18’. A mod­u­lar de­sign was spec­i­fied and the M17 can be turned into the M18 by an ar­mourer, sim­ply by swap­ping around a few parts.


SIG are a Swiss com­pany and are bound by lo­cal laws not to ex­port firearms. There­fore, in 1976, a part­ner­ship was formed with SAUER & Son in Ger­many, to en­able SIG-de­signed arms to be sold around the world. A fur­ther com­pany, SIGARMS, was formed in 1985 in

“Pulling the trig­ger in­dexes a pel­let to the breech and re­leases the striker”

the U.S.A. with the in­ten­tion of im­port­ing and dis­tribut­ing SIG SAUER prod­ucts through­out Amer­ica. SIGARMS changed their name to SIG SAUER Inc in 2007, so there are now two com­pa­nies trad­ing un­der the SIG SAUER name, one in Ger­many and the other in Amer­ica. Both be­long to the same group, but are sep­a­rate trad­ing en­ti­ties.


The U.S. SIG SAUER has in­vested heav­ily in ma­chin­ery and makes prod­ucts for the U.S. mar­ket. They also em­ploy nu­mer­ous ser­vice vet­er­ans and take note of feed­back from peo­ple who use pis­tols daily, to en­sure that their prod­ucts are what the ul­ti­mate users are look­ing for.

The civil­ian ver­sion of the P320 is avail­able in black or tan, whilst the M17/18 comes in a Coy­ote fin­ish. SIG SAUER have been quick to re­lease an air pis­tol ver­sion of the P320 and al­though not a mir­ror im­age of the firearm, the air pis­tol does come very close. The 9mm P320 ac­cepts 17- or 21-round mag­a­zines as stan­dard, whereas the .177 ver­sion comes with a 30-round, belt-fed mag­a­zine as stan­dard. Spares are avail­able, but are fit­ted with 20- rather than 30-round belts, which are closer to the ca­pac­ity of the orig­i­nal.


Al­though hav­ing a blow-back ac­tion, the P320 works on the same prin­ci­ple as a dou­ble­ac­tion re­volver. Pulling the trig­ger in­dexes a pel­let to the breech and re­leases the striker be­cause there is no ex­ter­nal ham­mer to cock. The trig­ger pull is a lit­tle spongy, and longer than the sin­gle-ac­tion pull on the SIG P250 or P226. The belt in­dexes pel­lets in an an­ti­clock­wise di­rec­tion and it is im­por­tant to be mind­ful of this if a mag­a­zine is filled to less than full ca­pac­ity. Leave the top cell empty and the first full cell in the 1 o’clock po­si­tion. The dou­ble-ac­tion trig­ger pull will then bring the first filled cell in line with the breech when the trig­ger is pulled.

On the P250 and P320 firearms, the

tri­an­gu­lar-shaped safety catch is re­versible and may be fit­ted to the right side of the pis­tol for left-handed shoot­ers. I do not like the mag­a­zine re­lease catch on the P250/320 be­cause it sits proud of the frame and just un­der the pads of my thumbs when I use a two-handed grip.


As a re­sult, I’ve in­ad­ver­tently dropped the mag­a­zine on more than one oc­ca­sion dur­ing test­ing. Whilst this demon­strates poor gun han­dling on my part, it also shows it is pos­si­ble to dump a mag­a­zine un­in­ten­tion­ally dur­ing a stress­ful sit­u­a­tion with the firearm. By com­par­i­son, a Colt 1911’s catch is also proud of the frame, but is sit­u­ated far enough out of the way of the right thumb dur­ing use. The mag­a­zine re­lease of the P226 is not quite so pro­nounced and sits far enough out of the way of the thumb for this em­bar­rass­ing prob­lem not to oc­cur.

CO2 is loaded in the grip, us­ing a con­ven­tional screw to pierce the cylin­der, so there is no need for a sep­a­rate tool or Allen key, which has to be re­mem­bered or can be mis­laid.


Shoot­ing pel­lets rather than ball is a pleas­ant ex­pe­ri­ence. A ri­fled bar­rel and the shut­tle­cock shape of a di­a­bolo pel­let are both in­her­ently more ac­cu­rate than a spher­i­cal ball. With Ex­cite flat­heads, my shots tended to land a lit­tle to the left, so I had to aim off, but non-lead H&N FTT Green landed ex­actly at the point of aim. The P320’s sights are prom­i­nent and white dots help to ac­quire the sight pic­ture in good and poor light.

I was able to keep most of my shots on an empty drinks can at 8 yards, us­ing a twohanded hold. Oc­ca­sion­ally, the pis­tol would mis­fire and miss a cell, or dis­charge a pel­let with lower than ex­pected ve­loc­ity. The hard­est part of the test was wait­ing be­tween strings of shots for the CO2 to warm up on a cold Novem­ber day. To be fair, this is to be ex­pected from all CO2-pow­ered arms and not a neg­a­tive fea­ture of the SIG. I guess with 30 rounds loaded in the belt mag­a­zine, the temp­ta­tion is to loose off as many as you can in quick suc­ces­sion.


Over­all, I was very im­pressed with the P320. Now that this is the ‘of­fi­cial’ U.S. ser­vice pis­tol, ex­pect to see them promi­nently in news re­ports, doc­u­men­taries and films. How in­no­va­tive of SIG to make an ex­cel­lent airgun vari­ant so quickly.

The live-ammo SIG P320 is now of­fi­cially the new U.S. Army ser­vice sidearm.

This rapid-fire, 60-shot group demon­strates the pis­tol’s ca­pa­bil­ity at 6 yards when us­ing a two-handed, Weaver-type stance.

Snap off the rear of the poly­mer grip to charge with CO2. There is no need for a sep­a­rate key or tool.

The pis­tol comes with a 30 shot mag as stan­dard, but spare ones are lim­ited to ‘only’ 20 shots. You’ll find some prac­ti­cal ad­vice on these mags from Russ Dou­glas on page 105 of this issue.

Al­though ap­par­ently set into dove­tails, I don’t think the sights can be drifted lat­er­ally and I didn’t want to risk dam­age by forc­ing them.

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