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.
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.
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.