Last week, Sig Sauer announced a voluntary upgrade for their P320 modular pistol platform adopted by the U.S. Army, as well as multiple law enforcement agencies around the nation, due to the pistol’s apparent propensity to fire when dropped at a certain angle (beavertail first). The flaw in the P320’s design was not apparent during legally mandated drop testing, as current standards require the pistol to be dropped only in specific ways in order to meet their requirements.
Despite the pistol retaining its drop test certification per the letter of the law, YouTube videos began surfacing of owners demonstrating how their pistols did indeed fire a round when dropped at that certain angle. While these videos prove the pistol will indeed fire if dropped, Sig had no legal requirement to address this technical deficiency, as it fell outside drop testing guidelines. However, the public relations fallout for Sig’s popular new pistol was likely too significant to ignore, prompting Sig Sauer to announce that they will resolve this issue in pistols already sold to public and private owners.
The P320 meets and exceeds all US safety standards. However, mechanical safeties are designed to augment, not replace safe handling practices. Careless and improper handling of any firearm can result in an unintentional discharge,” Sig Sauer’s voluntary upgrade “how to” page reads. It’s a fair assessment of the situation, though some customers may take issue with their wording.
No one should drop their pistol, particularly while in condition one (loaded with a round in the chamber), but considering these pistols are intended to be the general issue sidearm for soldiers in combat and police officers patrolling our streets, it seems likely that the P320 will see its fair share of rough and tumble circumstances. A soldier who drops his pistol after taking a round to the chest doesn’t really fall under the category of “careless,” though the drop could still result in one of his teammates falling to the friendly fire nonetheless.
The new release also seems to indicate that initial analysis provided by Omaha Outdoors, who first revealed the defect on a video they posted to their YouTube channel, that the problem is tied to the weight of the trigger assembly.
“The new design has a physically lighter trigger, sear, and striker assembly with the addition of a mechanical disconnector.” Sig Sauer explained on their page.
Sig’s PR department, of course, underplayed the prevalence of the drop-firing issue, saying, “Although extremely unlikely, it is still possible for any loaded firearm to discharge when dropped.” Omaha Outdoors’ analysis, however, seemed to indicate that pistols equipped with the heavier trigger assembly will actually fire when dropped at a certain angle more often than not, and videos uploaded by a number of other YouTube accounts would seem to support that claim.
“As it relates to the ad hoc media drop tests, these were not part of standardized testing protocols, and they were performed using firearms in unknown conditions.” Sig said of those videos.
In either regard, the lighter trigger assembly that will be installed as a part of the upgrade should resolve the issue, per both Omaha Outdoors assessment and Sig’s.
Sig Sauer anticipates a 4-6 week turnaround time to have your pistol upgraded, so you may have to wait a while before you start breaking in the new trigger assembly, but it’s important to note that this bit of bad press hasn’t undone the great engineering work at play in the P320. Although this upgrade is the culmination of a pretty public black eye for the platform, the pistol has received a number of good reviews from experts in the industry and promises to be an even better platform thanks to this upgrade. No platform is without its faults, and the P320 will now have one fewer. Whether or not that’s enough to bring concerned buyers back to Sig’s table, however, is yet to be determined.
If you have a P320 and want to use the voluntary upgrade program, you can find out how here.
Image courtesy of Sig Sauer