Dig the SIG!
John Milewski tests the all-action SIG P320
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 SAUER HISTORY
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.
NON-LEAD PELLETS SHOOT TO POINT OF AIM
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.