Sig Sauer announces "Voluntary Upgrade" to address P320 drop-tests

What seemingly began as Internet rumors about Sig Sauer's striker-fired semi-automatic pistol, the P320, has now developed into an issue the company officials decided they must address.

Speculation about the safety of the P320 began circulating on the Internet, with some commenters citing language in the owner's manual warning about the potential for the pistol to fire if dropped. Others judged the language to be nothing more than "legalese" that appears in manuals for other guns as well.

News of the gun being recalled by the Dallas police department in response to an accidental discharge ramped up the intrigue, but were soon dampened by a follow-up report that the department had in fact had no such accidental discharge, and that the department had only issued a temporary suspension in order to seek clarification from Sig about the language in the owner's manual.

Following the DPD news, Sig issued a follow-up statement that included the following:

There have been zero (0) reported drop-related P320 incidents in the U.S. commercial market, with hundreds of thousands of guns delivered to date.

The P320 meets and exceeds all U.S. standards for safety, including the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute, Inc. (SAAMI), as well as rigorous testing protocols for global military and law enforcement agencies.

All Sig Sauer pistols incorporate effective mechanical safeties to ensure they only fire when the trigger is pressed. However, like any mechanical device, exposure to acute conditions (e.g. shock, vibration, heavy or repeated drops) may have a negative effect on these safety mechanisms and cause them to not work as designed. This language is common to owner’s manuals of major handgun manufacturers.

As a result, individual attempts to perform drop tests outside of professionally controlled environments should not be attempted.

Despite Sig's suggestion that drop-tests not be attempted "outside of professionally-controlled environments," at least two organizations - firearms retailer Omaha Outdoors and the blog TheTruthAboutGuns.com - set about to do just that. The two organizations posted their results on YouTube:

Following on the heels of these tests, The Outdoor Wire is reporting that Sig conducted its own tests and was able to cause a discharge, in laboratory conditions far more rigorous than internet video tests.

And for that reason, the company has issued a voluntary upgrade program for the P320 pistol. 

SIG SAUER Issues Voluntary Upgrade of P320 Pistol

Published Date: 08/08/2017

P320 pistol meets requirements for industry and government safety standards; performance enhancements optimize function, safety, and reliability.

Newington, NH (August 8, 2017) – The P320 meets U.S. standards for safety, including the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) / Sporting Arms Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute, Inc. (SAAMI®), National Institute of Justice (NIJ), as well as rigorous testing protocols for global military and law enforcement agencies.

The design of the SIG SAUER P320 overcomes the most significant safety concern in striker-fired pistols today: the practice of pressing the trigger for disassembly. This can be performed with a round in the chamber which has resulted in numerous incidents of property damage, physical injury, and death. The disassembly process of the P320, however, uses a take-down lever rather than pressing the trigger, eliminating the possibility of discharge during the disassembly process.

Recent events indicate that dropping the P320 beyond U.S. standards for safety may cause an unintentional discharge.

As a result of input from law enforcement, government and military customers, SIG has developed a number of enhancements in function, reliability, and overall safety including drop performance. SIG SAUER is offering these enhancements to its customers. Details of this program will be available at sigsauer.com on Monday, August 14, 2017.

The M17 variant of the P320, selected by the U.S. government as the U.S. Army’s Modular Handgun System (MHS), is not affected by the Voluntary Upgrade.

“SIG SAUER is committed to our approach on innovation, optimization, and performance, ensuring we produce the finest possible products,” said Ron Cohen, President and CEO of SIG SAUER. “Durability, reliability and safety, as well as end-user confidence in the SIG SAUER brand are the priorities for our team.”

Firearms recalls are by no means rare. Ruger recently issued a recall on all of its Mark IV pistols produced prior to June 1, 2017 after  discovering they have the potential to discharge unintentionally if the safety is not utilized correctly. 

News on other firearms recalls can be found here.

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Secretary, BFA PAC Vice Chairman, and a NRA-certified firearms instructor. He is the editor of BuckeyeFirearms.org, which received the Outdoor Writers of Ohio 2013 Supporting Member Award for Best Website.

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