It’s hard not to like any handgun chambered in .45ACP, with a few exceptions. I cut my teeth on a 1911 .45ACP and have owned hundreds over the years. There are some I really regret selling or trading, too. While on the Illinois National Guard Rifle and Pistol Team, back in the early 1970s, I was issued a match grade M-14, as well as a match grade 1911with all the ammo I wanted. (You’d better believe I took full advantage of that, too.) I had .50 caliber ammo cans stacked high in my bedroom. However, most of the matches we competed in were only high-powered rifle matches. Very few were handgun matches. I’m the first to admit that back then I wasn’t the best pistol shot, but I still loved the grand ol’ 1911.
One thing that surprises me is that many gun companies come out with new handgun designs in 9mm and .40S&W long before they do one in .45ACP, and everyone I talk to wants a new handgun design in .45ACP. Then again, none of the gun companies consulted me. Additionally, many gun companies come out with full-sized guns when the buying public wants smaller, more concealable handguns. Once again, none of the gun companies asked for my input on this.
When the new SIG Sauer new P320 came out, the first model was a full-sized version, and it was in 9mm. I sat back and waited and waited for one to come out in .45ACP. All the printed gun magazines featured the 9mm P320 on the front cover of their publications. It helps sell guns when your new product is on the front of a magazine. Boy, does it ever sell guns! Still, I waited….
I placed an order for the SIG P320 in .45ACP, and I wanted the “Carry” model. What I received was the full-sized gun. (Sigh!) Still, I was happy that it was in .45ACP! The SIG Sauer P320 is the company’s first try at a striker-fired handgun. SIG seems to be late to the game with a striker-fired pistol. However, they aren’t about to be outdone. A quick look at the P320 in .45ACP is in order. The gun weighs 29.4 ounces because of the polymer frame, so it is fairly light weight for a full-sized, duty handgun. The barrel is 4.7 inches long. The overall length is 8.0 inches and height is 5.5 inches. The slide is stainless steel; however it has the SIG Nitro coating on it in flat black, which is very tactical looking. My model had the contrast sights instead of night sights. Night sights can be ordered, if you want them. Two 10-rd magazines came with the gun, and they were easy to load, too. That is nice! The trigger pull is 5.5-lbs to 6.5-lbs, and it is double action only (DAO). (I’ll talk more on this in a moment.) There is also a Picatinny rail on the frame for attaching lights or lasers. I would like to see SIG offer the P320 without this option, for those of us who don’t attach things to our handguns.
The grip frame is polymer with a great feel to it. My sample came with the medium grip frame that fit my hand perfectly. However, you can order a larger grip frame or a smaller one to fit your hand, and you do not have to go through an FFL dealer to order a new grip frame. Here’s the thing with the P320 line-up; the trigger control group is easily removed from the grip frame. Simply field-strip the gun and then push out the take-down lever. You pull the trigger control group out of the grip frame, and it is this stainless steel trigger control group that is the actual “firearm”. It has the serial number on it. So, if you want to convert your P320 to a smaller version– the Carry or Subcompact– all you have to do is order the grip frame you want directly from SIG for $40. You put the trigger control group into the new grip frame, and it is a drop-in affair with no fitting required!
You can also order a shorter slide and barrel. Again, you can order directly from SIG without going through an FFL dealer for this. The combinations would seem to be endless. From one trigger control group you can convert your P320 to fit your needs, whether it’s a full-sized duty gun, carry gun, sub-compact, and different sized grip frames to fit your hand; it all seemed too easy to my way of thinking, but it works. I read several articles on the removal of the trigger control group, and many writers said that everything stayed together. It was not so with my sample. The first time I removed the trigger control group, a pin fell out. I figured out where it went; it is the trigger stop pin that stops over-travel of the trigger. The pin just kind of “floats” in the hole where it goes. I did some checking on the ‘net and found that many P320 owners had the same problem; the trigger stop pin fell out. That’s not good! I found a very easy solution. I installed the trigger stop pin, and then I placed an “E” clip on it; the pin no longer fell out. I don’t know how SIG missed this problem, and I understand the trigger stop pin doesn’t fall out of all the guns. It’s just some of them. Plus, the gun will function just fine without the trigger stop pin, but you will have some trigger over-travel.
The DAO trigger pull is probably the best on the market today. If it’s not the best, it is very close to being the best. The trigger pull is short and crisp. It’s hard to describe, but you have to experience it to appreciate it. My trigger pull came in right at 5.5 lbs. Many DAO handguns have a long and/or mushy trigger pull, and you can’t get the best accuracy out of a pistol no matter how hard you might try. SIG might be a little late coming to the DAO game, but they didn’t follow everyone else. Yes, I’m aware that SIG came out with their P250, which was a double action only handgun. However, it was hammer-fired, and the P320 is striker-fired. I’m not at all sure how the magicians at SIG managed to come up with this trigger pull on the P320, but they did. I closely examined the trigger control group outside of the gun, and it just appears very simple in the way it operates. In my experience, simple is always better. I ran the P320 side-by-side with some other handguns, in particular, a couple of 1911s, and the SIG held its own in the accuracy department, even beating one of my favorite 1911s in the accuracy department. I was more than a little impressed.
I also wanted to comment on the sights. They are large enough, with the white dots, that my aged eyes had no problems seeing the sights; that is great! SIG also provides a polymer hip holster that comes in the nice plastic carrying case the P320 comes in. One thing that really irks me is having a new gun come on the market and then not being able to find a proper fitted holster. In that case, you have to resort to using a generic ballistic nylon holster that doesn’t fit properly. Way to go, SIG!
The only operating controls on the P320 is the slide stop, trigger, and take-down lever. There are no external safeties, so you have to rely on the one between your ears. The front of the slide is tapered for easier re-holstering, too. There are grasping grooves on the front and rear of the slide on either side of it for easy chambering of rounds, too. Overall, the gun is slick. There’s nothing to catch or snag on anything.
Seeing that the P320 was a new design, I really gave it a work out. I don’t normally compare one gun to another in my articles, as there will always be one I like better than the others; it’s just human nature. I mentioned that I shot the P320 against some of my 1911s just to see how the SIG would hold up in the accuracy department against a single-action semiauto handgun, and that’s as far as I went. I really shouldn’t have been concerned about this aspect. SIG is famous for making extremely accurate handguns and rifles.
Over the course of a couple of weeks, I gave the P320 a good work out. We’ve had several heat waves in our part of Oregon with temps rising above 100 degrees, and I don’t tolerate that kind of heat. So, I was out numerous times, early in the morning to do my shooting. In all, I fired over 600 rds through the SIG, and there was not a single malfunction of any type. From Black Hills Ammunition I had their 230-g FMJ, 185-gr Barnes all-copper hollow point TAC-XP +P , 230-gr JHP, 185-gr JHP, and their 200-gr Match Semi-Wad Cutter loads. From Buffalo Bore Ammunition I had their 185-gr FMJ FN low recoil load, 255-gr Hard Cast +P load, 230-gr FMJ FN +P, 160 and 186-gr Barnes all-copper hollow point +P loads. The P320 gobbled up everything without a hint of a malfunction. What’s not to like about this on any out-of-the-box handgun?
For my accuracy testing, I rested the SIG on a sleeping bag over the hood of my pick-up, and the target was 25 yards down range. Not a single load exceeded three inches, so long as I did my part. I had a couple called flyers. It was my bad, not the gun’s fault. The Buffalo Bore 255-gr Hard Cast +P Outdoorsman load was pretty consist with groups hovering slightly over two inches. The overall winner though was the Black Hills 200-gr Match Semi Wad Cutter load. As long as I was on my game, I was getting groups of 1 3/4 inches. I couldn’t do it all the time, though. Again, it was my fault and not the gun or the ammo. All other loads were in the two to three inch group, and that is nothing to complain about at all. The Buffalo Bore 185-gr Barnes all-copper hollow point +P load would be a great self-defense load, as would the same load from Black Hills. For hiking in the boonies, where you might encounter dangerous game, the Buffalo Bore 255-gr Hard Cast +P Outdoorsman load is the way to go. For everyday paper punching, the Black Hills 230-gr FMJ load is a great round to use; it never has let me down. It can shoot better than I can hold the gun.
I usually try to quote full retail prices on guns and knives, however, since the P320 is so new, prices are all over the place. I think you can probably find one in the $500 – $550 price range, if you shop around. Some places are charging a lot more, though, because it is a new model and samples are few and far between.
I honestly couldn’t find anything to complain about with my P320 sample, other than the trigger stop pin incident, and it was an easy fix with an “E” clip. Other than that, the P320 in .45ACP is a real winner in my humble opinion. I may, just may, get a P320 in 9mm, just because!
– Senior Product Review Editor, Pat Cascio