Sig Sauer P320 Fails Drop Test

When Omaha Outdoors set out to review firearms, we wanted to provide top notch and very thorough reviews in every aspect, from detailed testing to outstanding video and audio production quality. We had something of an ulterior motive in doing so – by putting out good reviews, we attract people to our website, thereby selling more stuff. This doesn’t negate the fact that all of us truly wanted to provide honest reviews and tell the truth about the products we sell so our customers can make the right decisions.

When we heard the rumors on the internet that the Sig Sauer P320 would fire when dropped, we decided it would be worthwhile for us to test the matter ourselves. If the rumor was false, we would be reassuring ourselves and our customers that we sell only reliable and safe products which can be depended upon in the gravest of situations. If the rumor was true, we needed to know immediately because we do not have a desire to sell unsafe products.

Before we get to the testing, please note: we did not use live rounds for this drop fire testing. In accordance with drop testing protocols from every known organization and our own common sense, we pulled bullets from factory ammunition, leaving us with primed cases which were safe to use for these purposes. Still, you shouldn’t try this at home, even with primed cases.

I had four P320s on hand for the test: a P320 TACOPS 9mm, a P320 X-Five 9mm and two P320 Compacts in 45 ACP – one black and one FDE. All but the P320 Compact 45 in factory FDE had been previously torture tested.

My initial investigation consisted of refreshing my memory about what drop testing entails, as I had conducted some a long time ago but not thought about it much since. The first drop test we engaged in with our assortment of four Sig P320 pistols was structured on the California DOJ drop test, conducted at one meter and one centimeter above a concrete pad with the pistol dropped precisely at six different angles, all of which require the bore to be parallel to or perpendicular to the ground. All of our P320 pistols passed this test, which matches neatly with statements from Sig on the matter.

Sig Sauer P320 Fails Drop Test

However, I decided to continue testing using other protocols, which call for drops from 1.5 meters, or approximately 5 feet. In doing so, I accidentally dropped the P320 Compact 45ACP at an incorrect angle. As the pistol fell, I thought to myself, “What a waste, we’re going to ding this pistol up again for nothing.” When it hit the ground, a loud POP echoed through the building, and the muzzle flashed as the primer exploded. We were surprised.

This was a bone stock and meticulously cleaned P320 that had seen some abuse, but was by all appearances serviceable and fully functional. We followed this up with a drop of a P320 Full Size TACOPS in 9mm at the same angle. It, too, fired the primed case in the chamber. This was followed up with similar drop tests of the P320 X-Five in 9mm which did not yield any uncommanded detonations.

At this point, we had enough information to contact Sig with our findings, but unfortunately these discussions did not yield any useful technical information, and the company reps we spoke with told us this was the first they were hearing of any such issues. Since we had already dropped the guns and did not have anything else to do, it seemed only logical to continue dropping them. It was at this point that the third P320, a compact 45 in FDE which had not seen previous torture testing, failed the drop test and regularly fired primed cases upon contact with the ground at the correct angle.

I discovered that these uncommanded discharges would occur even if the pistol was dropped from below waist height, even as low as 30” off the ground. They occurred whether we used duty (Federal HST), practice (PMC Bronze), or match (Federal Gold Medal Match) primed cases. They occurred in 9mm as well as 45 and they occurred in firearms which had been torture tested as well as a firearm which had not been torture tested.

Sig Sauer P320 FDE 45 ACP

The only differentiating factor we were able to identify between those pistols which would fire and the pistol which would not was that the latter had a lighter trigger than the other pistols – not in terms of pull weight, but the physical mass of the trigger. When we swapped that lighter trigger into one of the P320s which would regularly fire when dropped, the incidences of uncommanded discharges were drastically reduced. When we went a step farther and reduced the weight of a stock, standard P320 trigger by 30% and shifted its center of gravity towards the center of the pistol, we observed no discharges in over 50 drops. This would appear to be one potential solution to the P320 drop fire issue.

Another solution would be to replace the standard P320 trigger with the other trigger introduced by Sig when the P320 was brand new – a trigger which featured an integrated trigger safety. Listed as optional at the time of the pistol’s introduction and shown on pistols displayed at SHOT 2014, we have not seen this trigger in the wild. The addition of this trigger safety would block the trigger from, in effect, pulling itself when the pistol impacts the ground at the right (wrong) angle. Best of all, this tool is already in their toolbox, preventing Sig from spending unnecessary time figuring out a revised trigger weight as suggested in the previous paragraph.

While there are several possible solutions for this problem, there is only one possible course of action for Omaha Outdoors: we are immediately suspending the sale of all P320 pistols until this issue is adequately addressed by Sig.

  • http://www.3guysupply.com Darryl Hadfield

    The video you posted on YouTube suggested that you lightened the stock trigger.

    It would be useful for the tinkerers out there, if you’d share what you did and how, to the trigger, so that we can effect our own changes.

    • http://isaac-online.com/ The_Nothing

      You can see in the photo they cut off the bottom half of the trigger shoe

      • http://www.3guysupply.com Darryl Hadfield

        I wondered about that – that doesn’t strike me as a “little modification” – that’s a hack-job that makes the trigger effectively destroyed and the pistol’s functionality dramatically reduced.

        I’m hoping that’s not what they meant. I’m going to mess with my stock trigger, as I don’t need it, to see if I can reproduce different results with my own lightening process.

        • Cactus Air Force

          Seems to me they cut the trigger just to get the fastest weight reduction for testing. If there’s extra weight elsewhere, I’m sure you could reproduce their findings with preserved functionality. The information is there for Sig to pick up the torch. I imagine if this drop test info widely disseminates, you can expect to see a recall from Sig, which hopefully would include a new trigger at no cost.

          • http://www.3guysupply.com Darryl Hadfield

            Fair assertion. Here’s hoping sig simplifies things and just offers a trigger replacement for each serialized FCU they’ve shipped – it’d be a serious pain in the ass to have to send your whole firearm back.

          • Rick Holley

            Sig Sauer is supposed to release details by August 14th on what exactly will be required to get them fixed. Considering all the safety features added/built into this series though I feel there is a good chance the fix will require more than just a trigger replacement. Fingers crossed for you though, could end up being just that simple to fix.

          • http://www.3guysupply.com Darryl Hadfield

            Recoil and SoldierSystems are both saying that it’s a MUCH bigger issue – striker, chassis, disconnector, sear housing, and slide milling. That suggests all cal-X kits will need to be re-done as well… What a nightmare.

          • Rick Holley

            I saw a few mentions about a “voluntary upgrade.” If the issue really is that big then I can totally see how this is less of a fix and more of a replacement kind of issue. Nightmare indeed. Good luck to you Sir.

          • Kivaari

            SIG wants your gun.

      • zukifan na

        They also swapped a X5 trigger which is lighter…did you watch the video? Either of you?

  • Stew Pidasso

    So, let me get this straight… you kept going and increasing drop height until you produced the desired result. Ok.

    • Avgas

      Stew, a drop from shoulder height isn’t unreasonable. They didn’t drop it from the top of a building or anything.

    • http://www.jabarihunt.com/ Jabari Hunt

      He clearly stated, “I discovered that these uncommanded discharges would occur even if the pistol was dropped from below waist height, even as low as 30” off the ground.”

      • http://bwolfeboro.runboard.com/t147099 wolfeboronian

        “Uncommanded”?
        My Smartphone can fire my SIG-Sauer?

    • Kivaari

      SAAMI spec is 42″. The mallet test advises hitting the gun hard enough to “drive a nail”.

  • Royce Williams

    The simple and straightforward drop testing by OO revealed exactly why Sig opted to print the following disclaimer on page 25 of the P320 owners manual:

    “If dropped, the pistol may fire. Keep the chamber empty unless actually firing. ANY FIREARM MAY FIRE IF DROPPED!”

    Good work OO, you probably prevented needless future tragedies.

    • Reazione Catena

      Glock is drop safe… dropped em outta helicopters didn’t fire…

  • tiago tj

    please , test the Taurus models 24/7 , serie 800 e millenium , same problems

  • Bryan

    I am curious if any of the Apex Triggers would fix this.

  • Geoff Timm

    The military testing, according to later articles were done with the safety on. Geoff Who notes the guns tested here have no manual safety devices.

  • Eric Kennard

    Can I ask if you tested any other pistols this way??

  • Mike Gardner

    I would also ask if you tested other manufacturers this way. ?? is this verified by any peer groups, did you have a control group etc. I for one used to buy products from your store but no longer, this is just joining social media hype.

    • Rick Holley

      This gun was advertised as being immune from discharges from drops or accidents. Sig Sauer advertised “the P320 won’t fire unless you want it to” and that they “incorporate effective mechanical safeties to ensure they only fire when the trigger is pressed.” I feel that because of the supposed drop-proof design of that series then it is fair to test those claims made by Sig Sauer to prove them as accurate or not. I don’t see how that makes anything here biased or unfair in any way. In fact this type of testing should increase your faith in Omaha Outdoors, not lower it. Blindly believing in marketing/advertising could have gotten someone killed, Omaha Outdoors helped to raise awareness that the P320 can, in fact, discharge at times you don’t want it to. Also worth noting is that because of this testing Sig Sauer is supposed to issue a statement by August 14th with details on how owners can get them fixed. Bravo to OO for helping to bring this potentially deadly issue to light and initiating the push for Sig Sauer to get these things fixed.

      • Mike Gardner

        Rick this has been blown up and it’s in the manual it may occur. Sell yours. Go get a revolver and stop sniveling

        • Rick Holley

          The company clearly states in all their marketing that it is designed to fully eliminate exactly what has been proven to happen here. Not sure how pointing that out counts as “sniveling” or how buying a revolver (which I have one of anyway) has ANYTHING to do with this. And “this has been blown up” lmao yeah it has. By a gun that “doesn’t fire unless you want it to.” Or, you know, drop it. Dallas PD took them out of service, a pending 7 million dollar lawsuit against them, but yeah this is all just people sniveling.

          • http://bwolfeboro.runboard.com/t147099 wolfeboronian

            A live round would’ve intensified the results.
            (And it’s “sniffling”).

  • Hawkeye

    Very informative, I originally thought that this official drop testing would involved dropping the gun on the hammer or back of the slide. I guess not, I thought modern pistols included a trigger to firing pin block that would prevent this, but the inertia of the trigger appears to be enough to overcome the firing pin block without manually pulling the trigger. Seems reasonable given the physics and mechanics of it all.
    This problem would tend to be endemic to all pistol types with a very low trigger pull weight and a sufficiently heavy trigger part. One more reason for a bit heavier trigger pull setting, maybe.

    “SIG advertises as between 5.5 and 7.5 pounds. The pull on my sample measured 7.75 pounds” from Handguns magazine review. Not exactly a light pull, so it might be the short trigger travel or perhaps the shock at that angle just causes some trigger parts to flex and let the hammer fall due to the trigger part weight. In that case it might not be applicable to any other brand of pistol. Sig does have brand new design here for a removable trigger/firing mechanism that is different from any other brand. Sig may have to tighten the tolerances on the parts to prevent the flexure if that is what’s happening.

    Meanwhile, don’t drop your gun on the hammer side!

    • Kivaari

      SAAMI spec does require a muzzle up drop. They also do a mallet test.

  • Pingback: Sig’s P320, The Army’s New Handgun, Is In Hot Water After Multiple Reports Of Safety Defects – News Feed Center | The Internet At A Glance()

  • Rick Holley

    It is worth mentioning that these pistols are supposed to be drop safe. It is not “unfair” to subject these pistols to all manner of drop test because Sig Sauer themselves built them to never discharge unless you pull the trigger. Most pistols are not built with so many safety features into them and it is expected that drops and mishandling may result in unintended discharges. When you design and market a pistol to be immune from that, then it SHOULD be fully tested to ensure they are in fact “drop proof.”

    Also Sig Sauer is to release details by August 14th on how owners can get them fixed.

  • Reazione Catena

    Please say 10 Hail Mary’s and 10 Our Fathers! My god did you awaken the unruly! Remember when it was funny to make fun of Glock, or S&W M&P issues? Come on now we will get through this..first thing is TO RECOGNIZE THE PROBLEM… after that it get much better… itsa machine it has some bugs work them out…move on

  • Kivaari

    SAAMI spec has the gun dropped both muzzle down and muzzle up. They also have a mallet test. The SIG would fail that test.