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SIG SAUER Acknowledges P320 Trigger Issues With -30deg Drop, M17 MHS Unaffected, Announces Voluntary P320 Upgrade

In response to recent internet reporting on the safety of the SIG SAUER P320, the company invited us, and other members of the gun media, to their facility in New Hampshire to address the issues. Because the US Army’s new M17/18 Modular Handgun System is based on the commercial SIG P320, I wanted to find out if the M17 is safe for use by service members.

Bottom Line Up Front – SIG acknowledges that the commercial P320, used by armed citizens and members of Law Enforcement, may unintentionally discharge if dropped at a -30deg angle. Consequently, they will be offering a voluntary upgrade. SIG is hiring additional customer service reps to work on this. As I will discuss below, this issue does NOT affect the M17/18 Modular Handgun System.

Initially, the group met with CEO, Ron Cohen. He was very direct and got right at the heart of the matter. Cohen began by stating, “SIG spends a lot of money on developing and producing products.” He went on, “We spend more on product development and testing than anyone else in industry. Most companies spend between 1.1-1.3%, but we spend 4% of our budget on product development.”

“Our customers make us who we are. They constantly drive us to make ourselves better.”

Ron Cohen

“The conversation of safety is complex,” said Cohen, “It has many layers.” For years, Ron Cohen didn’t want to develop a striker fired pistol. He worried about safety in disassembly as well as accidental discharges and didn’t want to disassemble the handgun by pulling the trigger. Consequently, it took 10 years to design and build a striker fired pistol. Instead, they relied on their tried and true SA/DA architecture.

“Drop safe,” Cohen explained, “Those two words don’t exist together. No gun is drop safe. It’s a function of angle, height and surface. If you build it completely drop safe, you legitimize mishandling. Inherently guns are not meant to be dropped, and are unsafe when dropped.”

All SIG pistols, including the P320 are tested to the following industry and government standards: ANSI/SAAMI, NIJ, FBI/DOJ, TOP, Massachusetts, and California DOJ as well as various others. They are very specific tests, most of which are conducted by outside labs. The P320 has passed all of those tests. Unfortunately, they don’t test the pistol’s performance when dropped at a -30deg unto concrete. They could drop test a pistol in every conceivable combination of angles on three axes, but that’s 46,000,000 different ways. Consequently, manufacturers build to a standard.

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When asked if the existing testing protocols were good enough, Tom Taylor, Executive Vice President of Commercial Sales replied, “not for us.”

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To that end, SIG engineers spent the weekend conducting 2,200 drops using 11 pistols across three different test protocols. They included dropping the pistol at a -30deg angle.  Interestingly, they learned that a beavertail doesn’t completely mitigate the danger of an unintentional discharge but it does help by absorbing some of the impact. 

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We were able to examine the test apparatus and demonstrated three drops each with three compact P320s equipped with the Enhanced Trigger.  There were zero unintentional discharges.  

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While the MHS passed DoD’s TOP 3-2-045 test with the trigger currently in the commercial P320, SIG proposed an enhanced trigger via Engineering Change Request E0005. As it didn’t result in additional cost to the government and only improved the firearm’s performance, M17s currently being delivered to the US Army have this trigger. Additionally, this trigger also eliminates the “double click” felt during P320 trigger pull.

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Although SIG was already working toward introducing the MHS-inspired Enhanced Trigger to the P320, this -30deg drop issue has hastened their effort. They have lightened the Trigger, Striker and Sear by about 30% overall and added a Disconnect (commercial only, not MHS). The trigger pull weight is unaffected, but rather the trigger part actually weighs less. The reason they lightened those parts is to mitigate the momentum gained by the heavier parts during a drop.

Taylor laid it out, “There is a vulnerability with the P320 at the -30deg drop.” They plan to incorporate the trigger enhancements for the M17 into the P320. They’d been working on them, but implementation wasn’t imminent. Based on what they’ve found, that has been accelerated. Details on their voluntary upgrade program will follow soon.

I want to put this perspective. Since it’s introduction in 2014, they’ve sold around 500,000 P320s. There are three recorded cases of unintended discharges in LE channels . There is one additional commercial incident which I am familiar with but was not formally reported to SIG. That’s four known incidents from 500,000 weapons, many of which are used on a daily basis. Additionally, those incidents have all been within the last year.

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Tom Taylor finished up with this statement, “We believe it’s the safest striker fired pistol on the market. We built it to address the most dangerous scenario.”

My take is that despite building their pistols to industry standards, SIG has acknowledged the issue and is taking steps to fix it. They didn’t waste any time. They’ve stopped commercial production of the P320 and are concentrating on the upgrade. It’s going to be more than just swapping parts. The slide and frame will need some work as well so the pistol will need to go back to SIG. Details will soon follow on how to participate in the voluntary upgrade program.

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45 Responses to “SIG SAUER Acknowledges P320 Trigger Issues With -30deg Drop, M17 MHS Unaffected, Announces Voluntary P320 Upgrade”

  1. Joe T. says:

    SOCOM ELEMENTS HAVE BOUGHT THOUSANDS OF GLOCK 19’S WITH VERY LITTLE PROBLEMS. IN 84 WE SHOULD HAVE GONE TO THE SIG 226 OVER THE
    BERETTA 92F, IT WAS VERY POLICICAL AND I BELIVE STILL IS. WE STILL USE THE SIG 228 (M-11) NOT A BAD PIECE WAS A BIG FED GUN. LETS SEE HOW THIS BIG DEAL PLAYES OUT.

    • PTMcCain says:

      @JOE T.

      WHY ARE YOU YELLING??!!

      • Marcus says:

        BECAUSE NOBODY LISTENS UNLESS YOU YELL, DARN IT:-)

        Lot’s of people running around with their hair on fire and arms in the air screaming “Lies!”. But I believe Sig articulated fairly well what happened.

        I’ll leave the efficacy and sagacity of their actions to others who have much better hindsight.

    • Steve Rock says:

      So if frames and slide have to go back, that also means spare grip modules and Xchange kit slides?

      And now there will be a huge population of unfixed parts that will always be in the wild. It will be an epic fail if they have to modify the slides and frames (fire control or grip frame?) to fix this problem, on what was supposed to be the Lego pistol.

      • R0CKnU says:

        I believe “frame” refers to the FCU, not the grip frame. I’d be really surprised if they had to make changes to the grip for this. But I guess we’ll find out soon enough. 😉

  2. Gerard says:

    Facingating story. Sig seems serious about reducing the Drop issues. I continue to believe the M17/320 is a better pistol than the Beretta 92 series

    • PNWTO says:

      I think it is better on paper but for a GP, mass-issue holster for conventional forces the M9A3 ECP was probably the better (cheaper) route.

      • Gerard says:

        The only issue I had with the M9 was the operating system. The safety/decock lever was not a good design for people with average or less training.

        • Roy Woodall says:

          Here is a crazy idea….give them more training.

          • PNWTO says:

            FWIW, a few of us in my old unit would hit the orange “death dot” on the M9 with some sole edge black and found we could have free range while on a FOB with the safety off.

          • Gerard says:

            I agree training is the key, but even major metro police like the NYPD dont get enough training and their Glocks have absurdly heavy triggers

        • PNWTO says:

          I would call that a software issue, but you are right. However, several units shot the M9 at a very high level for quite some time; although I would still say it was non-issue for those with below average training, since in all likelihood they would have an issued long gun and/or be surround by people with issued long guns.

          We can create exceptions to the above, but not enough IMO to justify a massive overhaul of the general, mass-issue sidearm. Maybe encourage and create more unit or base-level shooting competitions, I don’t know.

          • Bill says:

            The Beretta was bad because since 1987 they have been stored in the bottom of rucks. Played around with constantly. Cleaned until they were silver. Rarely shot and never maintained by the armories.

            Now you have a plastic gun that had a horrible reputation as the 250 and seems to be as bad now that it’s called the 320. How well does anyone think these things will hold up? Big Army does not love it’s troops.

        • Drew says:

          Calling the retarded slide mounted safety/decock “not a good design” is an understatement. And no amount of training makes it a good, or even minimally acceptable operating system.

          And if your issue pistol’s operating system is your objection, time to get a new pistol.

        • Defensor fortismo says:

          A simple G conversion, (which was a standard option for the m9a3) deals with the issues of the safety and eliminates the margin of error . Failing that, leaving the safety off and using it only as a decocker works fine and has been the standard manual of arms with air force security forces, among others, for years. In the event of retarded leadership, swiping the safety off in the holster is still a viable option .

  3. 29 says:

    If I can get free flat face trigger upgrade (ala x5) in the process of getting the upgrafe, that would be cool.

  4. Darryl Hadfield says:

    How will this address the tens of thousands of caliber exchange kits, which presumably will also require the new parts?

    • Ryan Doyle says:

      The problem is with the FCU (your serialized part), which does not come in the X-change kits.

    • Texpatriot says:

      Caliber exchange kits don’t have a trigger. The trigger is part of the fire control unit and is the serialized part.

    • Hodge175 says:

      Those kits don’t come with a FCU, hence the reason it can be shipped to your house.

      • Diddler says:

        I’m thinking his question is more the line that states that the slide and frame needs to be modified for the upgrade so you need to send the whole gun in for fix.

        • Steve Rock says:

          ^^^^ THIS. This article says the slide and ‘frame’ will need to be modified (without specifying if ‘frame’ means grip module or FCU).

          So if the slide needs to be modified, that means every Xchange kit slide also needs to be modified.

    • RefCopR106 says:

      Sig found a way to keep loyal customers by giving them a way to turn their Fullsize P320 9mm into a Subcompact rather than let Glock sell them a G26.

      Failing to upgrade customers’ caliber exchange kits would be a MAJOR customer relations disaster and throw the “modularity” advantage of the P320 out the window.

  5. Elwood Saxby says:

    Wow:

    “Drop safe,” Cohen explained, “Those two words don’t exist together. No gun is drop safe. It’s a function of angle, height and surface. If you build it completely drop safe, you legitimize mishandling. Inherently guns are not meant to be dropped, and are unsafe when dropped.”

    I’d invite Mr. Cohen to demonstrate this claim by dropping quality pistols (say an HK USP) and causing them to accidentally discharge.

    Making a claim that “all guns dropped are unsafe” without substantiation does not justify defects in the P320 design.

    • Samuel says:

      This is seriously the dumbest statement by Cohen. You can drop Glocks from helicopters without them firing, it does not happen to other guns.

      But stating that guns shouldnt be drop safe so you handle them carefully is probably the worst “fuck you, its a feature” I have ever heard.

      • Joe says:

        This was probably a dumber statement:
        “We believe it’s the safest striker fired pistol on the market. We built it to address the most dangerous scenario.”

        umm….no its not. You’re making this statement because its not drop safe. Therefore it isn’t the safest striker fired pistol on the market.

        • bloke_from_ohio says:

          I am impressed by the company kicking into high gear to fix the problem. I am not impressed by their CEOs comments. They are unaceptable.

          An unintended discharge that is not caused by manupilation of the trigger is the most dangerous scenario as it cannot be trainined around. The argument against trigger pull diassembly is understandable, but the risk can be mitigated through training and so forth. Further the discussion is not actually about negligently discharged glocks, but rather about a hardware failure in Sigs.

          His other comment is almost too dumb to parse. Obviously guns are not designed to be dropped. They are designed to be shot. But they should only shoot when the trigger is pulled becuase they might be dropped. Claiming that a drop safe design somehow encourages people to mishandle the weapon is at best assinine.

          Perhaps I am taking the man’s comments out of context, but as it stands I am not in anyway impressed.

      • JPD says:

        Samuel, you need to do some homework. Glock had a similar problem in 1992. Issued an “upgrade”. Affected 500,000 pistols. Here’s the link.

        https://web.archive.org/web/20080604164428/http://www.thegunzone.com:80/glock/upgrade-faq.html

  6. Pete says:

    I saw this article title and figured – “cool, they are owning this”.
    My benefit of the doubt faded as I read on.

    After reading the characterization of CEO Ron Cohen saying they test a lot, but somehow missed testing a highly likely, highest risk position for a dropped striker-fired gun – I have doubts. Talking about how much more you spend on product development seemed to have missed the boat, especially when their design was intended to work differently than the proven safety features of a Glock (and most other companies striker fired competitors). No engineer builds a perfect product, but the failure mechanism here seems to be easy to predict… Did high round counts or something else contribute to an unsafe trigger/striker condition?

    I was not in the room, so SSD’s read is likely dead right.

    For everyone involved, good there is a fix in the pipeline.

  7. CAP says:

    So… According to Sig, there was never a problem with the P320 being drop safe, but they modified their MHS submission for the Army, and planned to slowly integrate a new trigger design into commercial guns, just because?

    And now anyone can voluntarlily “upgrade” their triggers for free, even though there isnt a problem, just because Sig feels like being nice?

    And Cohen’s excuse is “No guns are drop safe”.

    Give me a break!!!

    • JC says:

      Great point. I would also add that had a fix very (too) quickly. It makes me think this might have been a known issue.

      • Rob says:

        A Stratfor, CT LEO was shot with an issued P320 when the gun was dropped while in the holster. This incident took place in January. They have sat on this for months.

  8. JM Gavin says:

    Mr. Cohen, those two words do, in fact, often “exist” together, including in literature YOUR company produces. “Drop safe” has a defined meaning, per the GCA of 1968. Some states have a “Drop Safety” requirement for firearms sold in that state. Your company certifies firearms as “drop safe” when you sell those firearms in states that require it (such as CA).

  9. Thomas M. says:

    Someone post this little gem. Link to MY SIG P320 FAILED WITHOUT IT BEING DROPPED.

    http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2017/08/08/p320-failed-without-even-dropping-no-plans-test/

  10. Richard Schagen says:

    Worried about a ND during disassemble because you pull the trigger??!!
    I have an absolute sure fire (excuse the pun) way of ensuring this doesn’t happen-I check to see if the weapon is loaded

  11. 32sbct says:

    While it is true that many/most of the existing pistols were in great need of replacement, I still question the need for a new line of pistols. The reality is that SOCOM units will get whatever pistol they want, no problem there. The rest of the force, except for M.P.s, may carry a pistol but almost never use it, and probably fire it once or twice a year. With so little emphasis on pistol marksmanship it almost doesn’t matter whats in the holster.

  12. SGT Heintz says:

    This is giving me flashbacks of the SIG 556 quality control failures with crooked rails, missing iron sights, and generally not working (556R). Screw SIG USA. The only SIG I’d ever consider is an old pistol like a 226 or a 232 made in Europe.

    I have actually taught my wife that if you drop a gun, let it fall, do not try to catch it because the chance of it going off by falling is far less than the chance of you catching it wrongly and discharging it.

    So, no SIG 320 will ever be in this house.

  13. Mohican says:

    Best solution for this supposed no problem is pretty simple, cheap, and immediate: just get any other gun you like (if you can choose). Problem solved!
    I won’t be considering the P320 for years, but that’s not because of this. I will wait till it is extensively tested by real users (those that fire it, not just carry) and the market is full of spares, accessories, and holsters.

  14. Donald Hohman says:

    Will Sig-Sauer contact all purchasing customers for any needed upgrade to the P 320???? I have two P 320 one in 9mm and one in .40 caliber. I was going to let my grandson select one or the other as he’ll be 21 years old and able to apply for a CCW. But with a iffiness to firing when dropped I’ll not endanger my grandson until Sig-Sauer assuring me they corrected this problem. Yours,Donald R Hohman CWO USA(ret)Pow 443 Hickory Lane ,Elizabethtown,Kentucky 42701. Cell phone 270-307-8343. Pleasure answer in kind. Thank You.

  15. John Reynolds says:

    Sig needs a new CEO.