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‘The Gun Blew Up In His Hands’: Sig Sauer Guns and Their Horror Stories

The proverbial trouble in paradise arose with both of these guns. The P320 in particular has been hit with a slew of horror stories about drop safety shortcomings. 

Sig Sauer P320. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
Sig Sauer P320. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

To have overall objectivity and to give fair assessments of the firearms available on the market, it is important to include SIG Sauer pieces in sessions at the range. However, I generally place SIG Sauer semiautomatic pistols further down on my personal list. I simply derive more personal enjoyment from shooting competing brand pistols from Beretta, Glock. Ruger, HK, and CZ firearms. 

Objectively, I acknowledge SIG Sauer as accurate, reliable, and combat-proven pistols with a huge and loyal following. And what’s more, even regarding the subjective sentiments, there are notable exceptions to that rule, such as the Scorpion 1911 and P220 Legion, both in .45 ACP.

Among the SIG pistols that I’ve previously reviewed that I would categorize as good-but-not-great hands-on shooting experiences are the P320 aka M17/M18 and P365 9mm pistols. These two particular guns are arguably their most popular current products.

The flip side to that coin is that the P320/M17/M18 and P365 are also arguably their two most controversial products, in terms of durability, reliability, and safety issues. That raises the question: do these controversies pose legitimate cause for concern, or are they mostly overly overblown exaggerations and much ado about relatively little? 

SIG P320 and P365 Brief Histories

The P320, of course, gained its biggest boost of fame in 2017 – three years after its debut – when it was selected by the U.S. Armed Forces to replace the Beretta M9 (Model 92FS in civilian parlance) that had been serving as the official American military sidearm since 1985. This was met with mixed reactions among pundits and enthusiasts. In turn, the Beretta had generated its own fair share of controversy when it was selected to replace the beloved and venerable M1911 .45 ACP

As for the P365, it debuted in 2017 and was an immediate smash hit with the gun-buying public, becoming the bestselling handgun of 2018 and 2019

The Controversies and Gun Range Staff Members’ Observations

The proverbial trouble in paradise arose with both of these guns. The P320 in particular has been hit with a slew of horror stories about drop safety shortcomings

Instead of relying solely on the Internet rumor mill, this reporter decided to do some asking around with several local ranges about whether any of their rental 320s and 365s were having any issues. One respondent replied with a simple and curt “No!” whilst three other experts gave me much more substantive details upon the condition of anonymity.

Two people told me that the P320 had occurrences of the firing pin engaging while the slide was out of battery, and one of their customer’s own P320 blew up in his hands. Conversely, one of these fellows told me he’s seen plenty of other P320s go through thousands of rounds without a hitch. 

As for the P365, all three of these anonymous interviewees told me that that gun’s trigger springs and/or sear springs routinely need replacement every 2,000 rounds, with one specimen having these parts fail after a mere seventeen rounds.

Shooting Buddies’ Impressions

Full disclosure: I’m conducting this research project (dare I say “mini-investigative report?”) at the request of my buddy Itshak “Ike” Sarfati – an Israel Defense Force (IDF) combat-hardened veteran of the Six-Day War and Yom Kippur War – whom I’ve quoted in several previous gun reviews. Ike is a huge fan of the SIGs, and here’s what he had to say: 

“Don’t get into the accidental discharges, that is almost impossible to prove; just look at how durable the guns have been. My SIGs have thousands of rounds through them and never had any issues … I also asked other friends that run ranges if they were having problems; let’s see what they come up with … This is something I have heard also the trigger spring breakages … The firing pin activating out of battery has been investigated by Gray Guns and found out not possible.”

Meanwhile, Lou Chiodo, USMC and California Highway Patrol veteran, President of Gunfighters Ltd. Combat School, and a mutual friend of mine and Ike’s, added: “Well in the last three sessions with the PD I train we have shot about 12,000 more rounds. No stoppages or issues with their 320s and the 365s that some have for secondary and off-duty use worked flawlessly. At the end of this training cycle with them, we will have shot about 400,000 rounds through the 320s. There have been several combat shootings the 320s performed flawlessly and the HSTs worked exceptionally well.

Updated (Abbreviated) Personal Shooting Impressions

In order to eliminate the risk of having a mere proverbial bad apple from too narrow a sampling, I wound up trying five different samples at two different rental ranges. At one facility, they hooked me up with the mil-spec M17 full-size and the “baby” P365, i.e., the Micro-Compact. At the other range, I ended up with the P320 XCompact with a Romeo optic, a P365-XMACRO, and a 365 XL.

Ammo used for all five guns was the 9mm CCI Blazer Brass 115-grain full metal jacket (FMJ). I fired 50 rounds through the first two guns, but time constraints only allowed me to shoot 30 rounds through the latter three. I divvied the strings of fire evenly between head shots at 7 yards and torso shots at 25 yards, all from the Classic Weaver Stance. 

The most important takeaway here is that out of 190 total rounds sent downrange, there were ZERO malfunctions or breakages. Accuracy-wise, the M17 was simply a-MA-zing, the best shooter of the bunch, with the XMACRO a fairly close second, and followed in descending order by the XMACRO, the 365 Micro-Compact, and the P320 XCompact. I absolutely loved the trigger and sights on the M17 and all of the 365s, whilst the P320 XCompact was merely “okay” in those arenas (which ‘explains why it scored dead last for me).

Sig Sauer P320 AXG Equinox. Image: Creative Commons. Sig Sauer P320

Author Expertise 

Christian D. Orr is a Senior Defense Editor for 19FortyFive. He has 34 years of shooting experience, starting at the tender age of 14. His marksmanship accomplishments include: the Air Force Small Arms Ribbon w/one device (for M16A2 rifle and M9 pistol); Pistol Expert Ratings from U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP), Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) Criminal Investigator Training Program (CITP); multiple medals and trophies via the Glock Sport Shooting Foundation (GSSF) and the Nevada Police & Fires Games (NPAF). Chris has been an NRA Certified Basic Pistol Instructor since 2011.  

Written By

Christian D. Orr is a former Air Force officer, Federal law enforcement officer, and private military contractor (with assignments worked in Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Kosovo, Japan, Germany, and the Pentagon).