SIG's P320: Owning An Issue

With a firestorm of controversy swirling around videos which have demonstrated that in a particular circumstance (a drop at the angle of -30 degrees) the SIG P320 pistol is capable of firing, a single question seems to be at the forefront of everyone's minds: is the SIG SAUER P320 pistol safe?

"The P320," Tom Taylor, SIG SAUER's CMO & EVP of sales, declares flatly, "is the safest striker fired pistol on the market today."

That having been said, SIG is making no attempt to dodge the question raised when a video from Omaha Outdoors appeared to show a SIG P320 firing when dropped. And Omaha Outdoors said the problem wasn't limited to a single gun, but more than one, in different calibers, with varying types of ammunition.

In fairness, Omaha Outdoors' guns weren't pristine. In fact, three of them had been "torture tested" in a variety of ways, from being subjected to mud, dirt, dust and cold to being fired from a trebuchet "more than 65 yards and 50 feet into the air." They weren't typically treated.

Despite that, SIG, in a frantic 72 hours of testing, 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. 

The program, while still being finalized, will incorporate a number of "enhancements" in function, reliability and overall safety- including solving the potential -30 degree drop issue.

It's also important to make clear that the M17 variant of the P320, the version selected by the U.S. government as the Army's Modular Handgun System (MHS) already incorporates the changes covered in the voluntary upgrade. 

Those changes include weight reductions in the physical trigger, striker and sear, along with a disconnect mechanism that is new to the pistol. It's important to note that the weight reduction is in the physical trigger itself, not the pull-weight necessary to fire the pistol. Those weight reductions were made to overcome potential inertia issues identified in SIG's own testing.

It's also important to make clear that the M17 variant of the P320, the version selected by the U.S. government as the Army's Modular Handgun System (MHS) already incorporates the changes covered in the voluntary upgrade. 

For consumers, the details on the program will be made available at sigsauer.com on Monday, August 14, 2017. 

But there's a simple question in the minds of the 500,000 P320 owners around the world: is my P320 safe? 

If you go by the battery of tests the P320 is routinely subjected to in sales to military and law enforcement worldwide, the answer is an unequivocal yes. The P320 has passed each of a battery of tests required by ANSI/SAAMI, NIJ, FBI/DOJ, TOP (U.S. Army), and the states of Massachusetts and California.

And, says SIG SAUER's CEO, Ron Cohen, it was designed to address the most common problem in striker fired pistols: the counterintuitive need to pull the trigger to disassemble the gun.

"We waited years to build a striker fired pistol," Cohen says, "we've never seen the rationale of having to pull a trigger to disassemble a gun."

But, Cohen added, the idea of "drop safe" is in itself counter-intuitive. No gun, when you consider the infinite variables involved in an accidental drop is ever completely safe. But if you look at the statistical improbabilities that introduces, it's simple to make the same argument: the odds of coming up with the exact angle with the exact amount of force and the exact height necessary to cause a discharge is about as likely as being struck by a meteor.

There are still many details remaining to be ironed out as SIG addresses the P320 issue, from ramping up customer service to handle customers and their questions to the physical demands on people, equipment and workspace to quickly turn the voluntarily returned P320s.

But there's one important point that we can't emphasize strongly enough: no one should try and replicate the -30 degree drop. There are already videos posted where idiots are testing their P320s with live ammunition.

Republished from The Outdoor Wire.

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