By David Bahde, Gun Digest
Even at my early introduction to striker-fired pistols as a law officer in the 1990s, there were positives and negatives. Weight was always a consideration, as carrying a pistol 10 hours a day changes your perspective. Reliability was solid, maintenance minimal and operation simple. We parted company when it came to fit, trigger feel and accuracy. Early triggers were gritty, with significant stacking, and there was that annoying trigger safety. My large hands just did not like the square fit.
Once a personal gun could be carried, a 1911 was in my holster most of the time. Another choice was a P220 or P226, but de-cockers have always been a no-go for me. What I needed was a solid striker-fired pistol with a normal grip, standard grip angle and a metal trigger with nothing attached to it. That finally came to be with the introduction of the Sig Sauer P320 pistol.
While a few polymer striker-fired pistols addressed most of my issues, the P320 was the first to address them all. The metal trigger has no safety on it unless you want it. Take-up is minimal with a feel closer to a single-action pistol.
Accuracy is astounding given the price, and it is boringly reliable. Using a grip angle comparable to a 1911 in a contoured grip and steel dovetailed sights, it was about perfect for me. Testing the full-sized P320, it was flawless over thousands of rounds. Its only downside was size. The design allows you to switch lowers and slides, but I wanted a dedicated carry version, and Sig Sauer came through with the P320C.
C is for Carry
Sig Sauer’s P320 Carry is a commander-sized pistol, suitable for concealed carry, yet large enough for duty carry. Although my test pistol is 9mm, it is available in, or can be converted to, .40 S&W or .357 Sig with .45 ACP on the way. It can be configured with safeties that meet most agency needs. The fire control system meets the drop test with or without a trigger-mounted tab.
Shooters that require them can get what they need, others can leave them off providing a clean trigger, and a metal one at that. There is a distinct reset with little take-up and a crisp break at around 6 pounds. Using an ambidextrous slide stop (or release) fits either hand, and the magazine release can be switched easily. Both standard and threaded barrels are available. Carry grip frames come in small, medium and large, all with a lanyard loop, and they swap out in minutes using no tools.
Sig Sauer’s SIGLITEs are excellent night sights. Along with tritium inserts, the dots are large and easy to see. A pronounced ledge on the rear sight facilitates unconventional reloads. The pistol can also be ordered with contrast dot sights. Magazines are metal, and a cutout in the grip allows you to pull on it to clear malfunctions or to properly seat the magazine. Carry magazines hold 15 rounds, but full-size (17-round) magazines fit and function perfectly. A full-length rail accommodates lights and lasers of your choice.
Standard and threaded barrels are available for the P320C. Disassembly is easy and safe as you cannot turn the takedown lever with a magazine in the pistol. Author photo
There is no need to press the trigger for disassembly and cleaning. Remove the magazine and lock the slide back. Turn the takedown lever completely and the slide comes right off. Repeat in reverse when done. You cannot turn the takedown lever with a magazine in the pistol (loaded or not), making it the safest and easiest to maintain striker-fired pistol yet.
As good as the factory sights are, my 55-year-old eyes just prefer the Trijicon HD sights. Using a U-notch provides for quick aiming, and the oversized yellow or orange front sights are easy for me to see. Tritium inserts keep you on target in low-light conditions. No dots at the rear mean there is only one dot to find under stress. Tritium tubes without outlines keep them visible at night, yet subdued. A ledge for unconventional reloads and malfunction drills remains.
All of the testing was completed using my Milt Sparks 55BN holster fit to my full-sized P320. Milt Sparks remains one of the finest leather holsters you can buy. Fit is solid, finish is excellent, with construction to last a lifetime. This rig is my primary carry rig most of the time.
On the Range
The P320C spit out brass in a neat little pile no matter how fast the trigger was pulled. It ran everything thrown at it, including some steel cased ammunition. Ejection patterns are incredibly consistent. It worked with the two carry magazines supplied, as well as all of my 17-round full-sized magazines.
It worked incredibly well as a carry pistol, carried comfortably in my Milt Sparks, as well as in a custom Kydex IWB holster. This pistol was on my hip for several weeks. Weighing in at 26 ounces, it is similar to its competitors.
Accuracy was excellent. Fired from 15 yards from off hand, it put five rounds of Sig Sauer Elite Performance into roughly an inch grouping. Just about every carry round fired did the same thing. Even my Black Hills FMJ was accurate; it just stacks rounds on top of each other. Recoil is minimal, no real difference from the full-sized pistol. This trigger measured 5.6 pounds using my trigger gauge. Crisp and predictable with little take-up, it lends itself to accuracy.
Reset on the trigger is positive for those in need of making fast split times on multiple shots the norm. Short of my custom 1911 pistols, nothing tested has been any faster. Using the full size in a couple 3-Gun and other matches, it is plenty fast and 100 percent reliable.
The P320 Carry is about perfect for attachment to a tactical vest. Mounting the P320C without a light on the chest rig using a Safariland ALS holster, it was easily accessible and fast. Adding various lights, it fits in my SLS holster designed for a G20 nicely. If you are an officer or other professional, this pistol will do it all with no issues. It can move from the duty holster to the tactical rig, and back into your off-duty holster, never losing effectiveness or compromising your ability to fight in most any condition.
During testing, both the Orange and Yellow HD sight was tested. The yellow became my preferred choice. The factory night sights are excellent, so most will not need to change. It also confirms the sight is the same as the P226, making personal choices possible.
Given only one pistol (full sized or carry), the Carry would be my choice. You can even add a threaded barrel. Like most pistols in this size, it remains about the perfect compromise between a true compact and a full-size pistol.
As many pistols as go through my hands, it is rare to be excited about a polymer pistol. Sig Sauer’s P320 has been a solid exception. Accurate, reliable, comfortable to carry and shoot, they are very pragmatic. Normally polymer pistols are used from need, not desire, but the P320 has changed that for me. If you are looking for a solid striker-fired pistol with unmatched modularity, make certain this is one of your choices.
The Sig Sauer P320C
Type: Semiautomatic striker-fired
Caliber: 9mm (tested), .40 S&W, .357 Sig
Weight: 26 ozs.
Overall Length: 7.2 in.
Barrel Length: 3.9 in.
Grips: Polymer / interchangeable grip frames
Sights: SIGLITE Night Sights / Trijicon HD Sights Tested
Magazine Capacity: 15+1, accepts full-size magazines (17+1)
This handgun review appeared in the October 9, 2014 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine. Be sure to take advantage of Gun Digest’s free downloads to learn all about Gun Values, AR-15 Optics, Glock Accessories and Concealed Carry Holsters.