Is the Sig Sauer P320 Handgun Safe to Carry, or Can it Fire on its Own?
Back in 2014, Sig Sauer released their 9mm P320 handgun with outstanding success, even earning a United States military contract to replace the Beretta M9 service pistol in 2017. However, since 2017, people have questioned if the P320 has an inherent design flaw that makes the gun unsafe.
Trouble With the P320 —
Is the P320 Drop Safe?
The issues started when people reported the P320 could discharge if the back of the slide struck the ground at a certain angle after it dropped from a minimum height. Here is a post we published back in 2017 discussing the drop-fire safety issue.
Sig didn't release a mandatory safety recall after the issue came to light. Instead, they let P320 owners send their guns into Sig to receive a “voluntarily trigger upgrade”. Sig defended this by pointing to the fact that the P320 passed all the same drop-safe testing standards, and it's possible that any gun could fail in the same way as the P320 because manufacturers don't test any gun under the specifics that caused the gun to discharge. All P320s produced now have the “upgrade”.
Despite the upgrade and explanation, many in the industry didn't like how Sig Sauer handled the situation. Some even claimed Sig Sauer was selling handguns with known reliability issues, essentially ‘beta testing' their designs on the public. I'm not saying I agree with that sentiment, but the handling of the drop-safety issue probably didn't earn the company any favor.
Can the P320 Fire on its Own?
Then, in 2018, reports surfaced stating that P320s discharged on their own, without being dropped. Some reports came from law enforcement officers who stated their P320 discharged without trigger manipulation and while inside their duty holster. Others came from civilians who claim their P320s discharged with no physical trigger manipulation.
Because of the reports, some police departments no longer allow officers to carry the P320 for duty. Just as you could imagine, the discharges led to several lawsuits. Earlier this year, a judge ruled on a class action lawsuit brought by plaintiffs who claim their P320 is unsafe and Sig knew it. Sig asked the court to dismiss the case, but the judge riled against Sig Sauer, meaning the case continues.
Here is a recent account from a competitive shooter with a YouTube channel called Gungis_Khan. In his video, he states his P320 discharged with nothing interacting with the trigger during a competition. Others at the competition witnessed the discharge and could attest that the gun didn't fire because of user error, and no object interacted with the trigger to make it fire.
Just recently, the Milwaukee Police Department announced they were moving from the P32d0 for duty firearms. They say the reason is due to 3 unintended discharges of holstered P320s.
As far as I can find, some guns that “fired on their own” had the upgraded trigger, and some did not. I have found no instances where someone had installed an aftermarket trigger or done any modification to the gun's internals.
The Other Side of the Story —
The other side of the story is equally intriguing. Regarding P320s randomly discharging, it's difficult to say if they are all cases of mechanical, design, or human/user error?
While there are certain people who've stopped trusting the P320 design, there are many who've studied the gun and not only trust it, but say it is one of, if not the safest design out there. A pretty smart dude in Canada created a YouTube channel called Sig Mechanics. Sig doesn’t employ him and he doesn’t receive money from Sig. The guy just posts well-done videos explaining the design, safety features, and how to really understand the workings of the P320.
How then, are people so divided on something that would seem straightforward?
Well, if you watch the extensive explanation of the P320's safety features in several of Sig Mechanics' videos, you might wonder how it’s even possible that a P320 could fire with no trigger manipulation.
What is Going On—
There is a lot more invested in sorting this out than just winning some MEME war on social media.
First, there is the safety issue. If there is a safety issue inherent to the P320 design, we need to know. Not only for the individual carrying the gun, but for folks like me who write to an audience and make recommendations on different firearms.
We also need to know if this issue crosses over to any other similarly designed guns, like super-popular Sig P365.
Could this be an issue with quality control, where some guns have defective parts? Possibly. In the recent video from Gunghis_Khan, he mentioned he sent the P320 back to Sig to look at. According to Khan, Sig said a “defective firing pin return spring” caused the unexpected discharge.
Now this is just according to what Khan said in the video. Could it be a customer service rep sent a generic response to Khan? Possibly, but considering the ongoing legal case, I bet high-level employees handle any P320 issues like the one Khan reported.
For the same reason, I find it strange that Sig would essentially admit that a component in a relatively new P320 caused it to fire without pressing the trigger. Especially because understanding how the P320 operates would seem to eliminate a defective firing pin return spring from allowing the gun to fire on its own.
I'm not saying anyone is lying, just that even with this latest account, from the outside, it's tough to determine what is really happening.
So is the P320 Safe to Carry—
I don't know enough to say the gun has major design flaws that make it unsafe. I can only say there are too many claims of rogue P320s to ignore outright. Some claims are likely user error, or people trying to make some money at Sig Sauer's expense. But all of them? Probably not.
I don't carry a P320 but know many well-informed people who still trust the P320 design. Several of these guys are intimately acquainted with the P320 and find the design trustworthy.
If the current lawsuit gets resolved without a non-disclosure agreement, maybe we will finally get to see sworn affidavits from both the plaintiffs and Sig Sauer representatives. These discoveries may finally shed light on what is really going on.
Do you carry a P320? Have the reports of P320s firing on their own made you change to a different every day carry (EDC) handgun, or do you trust the P320? Let's hear about it in the comments.
I would like to listen to a podcast on this issue with Riley interviewing Bruce Gray.
Bruce knows this pistol, inside and out, better than anyone.
Bruce could dispel many of the myths.
I own a XFive version of the 320. I trust the gun complrtely. I am also quite certain SIG would not continue the design if thousands of the pistols were in user hands with a major design flaw..
This gun is UNSAFE.
Do you own one? What is your experience to make a comment?
Folks interested in a recent development on this topic will want to follow this latest incident…
“My Sig P320 fired on its own in the holster and tried to shoot me! (P320 X-Five)”
Michael the video you reference is the same one from Gunghis Khan I mention in the post.
Just a heads up, the Gunghis Kahn video failed to mention that his incident occurred in 2019.
I have several 320’s and since I carry aiwb for my edc I have stopped carrying them and now carry my SS MR920’s only. I may go back to the sig since I do shoot better with them but still on the fence.
Could this be an analogous situation to the Toyota Sudden Acceleration? It kind of has that feel. After all was said and done, no flaw was found and all evidence pointed to misapplication of the accelerator or an issue with the mat/accelerator interface.
I have appendix carried a glock for years or in recent the Shadow systems MR920. Great guns. I saw the sig p320 spectre and thought it was great with a great trigger. But if there is the slightest doubt then I can’t carry it. What I am doing is unloading and racking the slide and carrying it around to see if it ever fails. That way it will not fire. I don’t do this in situations where i may need it. I will carry it, put it in my back pack. Anywhere it can get jostled around. Each week I check to see if the trigger has pressed. May prove nothing but for now it is a range gun.
I believe nothing in the recent video. He claims the gun went off right after holstering and bringing his hand up to the ready position. I bet his hands were moving up extra fast after he pressed the trigger and the gun went off.
I have an early P320 and when the drop issue arose originally I decided to not cary it. It sits in my safe because I don’t shoot it and I do not want to sell it to someone else if there truly is a problem and put them at risk. SIG would have been best served to recall them all at the beginning of this and replace after corrections were made. Now I have switched over to Glock.
So you are unaware of the recall?
Jay I agree. I really want the new 10mm SIg has. But I would worry all the time I carried it. So glockenspiel 20 or 40.
Matthew, I have carried the p320 exclusively for years. I love this pistol; it’s practically part of me. Upgraded to the RXP last year. Never had an issue. Heck, I ran close to a 1000 rounds through the RXP at the Guardian Conference this year and the same through the Compact last year. Never an issue. Have heard this stuff before and paid little attention to it since mine were all the “newer” version. That said, I’d be lying if I said your article didn’t grab my attention. I honestly don’t know where I stand now. I’m probably right where I have been all this time with a little bit of hesitation mixed in. I still love the pistol. Always will.
I’m happy the article was interesting and thought provoking, but my intent wasn’t to persuade anyone against carrying or trusting the P320. I just hope the lawsuit produces some non-biased info that can put the whole thing to rest. It was good seeing you at the conference 🙂
Thank you for the article. I own a P320 and had an inadvertent discharge while holstering. I sent the gun back to Sig to be checked and they returned stating it was okay. I suspect my shirt got between the gun and the holster and caught on the trigger. I have since changed my holster to get some distance away from my body and lower the gun in the holster so I can visually ensure the gun is clear of obstacles.
I have carried and competed with the P320 for a couple of years now. Several people I shoot with regularly also compete with and carry the P320. Now, I know that’s a small sample size, but none of them have had an incident.
When I became aware of the supposed issue with the P320, I started doing research on the safety mechanisms designed into the pistol.
First, let’s talk about the firing pin block. If by some miracle of science, the first and second failsafes stopping the sear from releasing fail, the firing pin cannot hit the primer unless the trigger is pulled. There is a plunger that gets depressed when the trigger is pulled that moves the firing pin block out of the way. If you don’t pull the trigger, the P320 CANNOT FIRE. Period. End of story. We’ve all heard “trust the science” and in this case, it’s true. Physics don’t lie. The striker spring is simply not powerful enough to get past the firing pin block.
Now lets talk about how the sear is designed and how it has a primary position and a failsafe position. Should the sear become worn and slip off, there is a second position that will catch it before the striker is moved forward. So even if the sear fails…the gun PHYSICALLY CAN’T GO OFF.
All the safety features I’m referring to apply to a OEM bone stock pistol. If someone starts reducing the trigger pull weight with aftermarket kits…is it possible for the gun to fire “on it’s own”. No. The trigger would still need to be moved rearward…but it would take much less force…which many shooters consider a “good trigger”.
Most modern guns (sans some dedicated competition guns) have a firing pin/striker block. In all cases…the trigger MUST BE moved rearward to push the firing pin block out of the way. I don’t care what gun you are shooting. Glock, Walther, Sig, S&W, etc…they all have that firing pin block.
Just like most things spread around the internet, a few minutes of actual research (not just watching some videos) will empower you with knowledge. I’ve inspected my own pistols after researching the safety mechanisms in the P320. I’ve pulled the FCU out and attached the slide and watched them function. I’ve tried to force the gun to fire without pulling the trigger.
I’m satisfied that Sig has designed an extremely safe pistol and have one on my hip as I type this.
Thank you for the comment and info. I won’t assume you’re saying the article is based off of a few youtube videos. But, I want to make it clear that this phenomenon is documented in more than a few videos or social media hearsay, and to the extent not seen in other firearms in similar usage. For example, I’ve contacted law enforcement PIOs and received their ‘official statements’ on their agency incident(s). Again, I haven’t said what the cause of the problem is, I don’t know enough (nobody does). But again, in my opinion, there is too much to blame every incident on user error.
Amen, Chad!! Watch the Sig science guy videos from Canada. There are too many failsafes and simple laws of physics, safety backups in place on the p320. It can NOT fire on its own without human interdiction. It is physically and mechanically impossible.
“There is a plunger that gets depressed when the trigger is pulled that moves the firing pin block out of the way. If you don’t pull the trigger, the P320 CANNOT FIRE. Period. End of story.”
How do you know that the plunger goes back to re-block the firing pin after the gun is fired? Isn’t it spring loaded? Couldn’t it get clogged up with dirt and fail to return to the safe position? Physics don’t lie. But sometimes mechanical parts fail to operate as intended.
No, I don’t know if this is the case here. But your certainty that “physics don’t lie” doesn’t take into account the fact that the design may or may not be robust enough to continue to be safe after a certain amount of wear or dirt get into the system. And we all know that sometimes our guns aren’t quite as clean as we’d like them to be. And that plunger and spring are sitting in a place that’s really hard to see and clean.
I have competed in IDPA for several years with my Sig X5 and have about 30k rounds through it between competition and practice. I have a Sig P320C as my duty gun that I have been carrying for about 2 years and have about 4k rounds through. I have a P365 as my EDC and have about 2k rounds through. I’ve never had an issue with any of them.
I’ve been wondering if this could be an ammunition issue more than a gun issue. I’ve been asking if multiple “light”primer strikes can eventually lead to an unintended discharge. There seems to be significant agreement that a second full primer strike will fire a round when the first strike failed. Not so different? If a primer has been bumped lightly 20 or 30 time’s, might it go off with an additional small tap? It would explain a lot. I try to routinely rotate the carry round out of the chamber of my firearm because I worry.
My 320 jumped out of my holster ran and took cover and started firing at me. When it ran out of ammo I recovered it and to this day I continue to scold my Sig severely about its conduct.
Sadly, the articles, reports of lawsuits, videos, etc…leave “reasonable doubt”. As a retired Marine Corps officer, I have tried to research Armed Forces reviews of problems…can’t seem to find any. That alone would make me “reasonably confident” in the firearm. Question is…is “reasonably confident” enough when dealing with a tool capable of deadly results? It would seem to me, the prudent man would wait this one out. I’m a Sig proponent but will err on the side of safety.
Hi Steven, I’m not sure if this is exactly what you’re searching for but it may be a good starting point. https://www.concealedcarry.com/news/sig-p320-lawsuit-proceeds/ In that post, there is a link to the DOD’s report.
I carry my p320 in a shoulder rig. My worst scenario is being in public out church, and having a round discharge. It’s now an expensive paperweight because it’s not worth the risk. This sucks. I loved my p320
I own P320 compact 40 cal and have carried it for 3-4 years. I always have a round in the chamber. It has never discharged on its own without me pulling the trigger.
The challenge in determining the truth is (among other things) we don’t know exactly which models of the P320 had the “u/d,” their date of manufacture, their condition of maintenance (were they clean, a little dirty, a lot dirty), the environmental conditions at the time, the other clothing / equipment being worn or used by the shooter, the make and model of holsters… the list goes on. Sadly, we Sig owners will likely never know all the details.
I’m retired LE and carried the original P228 9mm for 20 plus years. I’ll bet I have 80k rounds through that pistol. I also spent many years as an instructor and four years – full time – as an armorer inspecting service pistols (mostly Sigs as the P226 was the issued oistol) and other weapons. From experience I also know how lack of cleanliness (and other of the issues mentioned above) can effect firearm operation, especially in all areas of the FCU (for Sig) and the striker/internal safety areas of other weapons. I moved to the P320 X Compact 18 months ago. I love it! That said, I’m pouring over everything I can find in this issue. (While simply “playing the odds” is not a good justification where major injury or death is a possibility, knowing there are a reported half-million P320s sold in the U.S. also needs to be taken into account.)
Your article is well-balanced and useful. Thanks for sharing.
I have a friend that has an Sig 320 M18 and no where in all the articles does it specify if M17 or M18 are involved in this issue?
Can you verify if they are?
I have talked to hime about the issue but we can’t find answer.
There was NO recall. There was a voluntary upgradr program. EXTREME difference.
I own a Sig P320 Spectre. Beautiful gun. Shoots really good. Most of my experience has been with Glock and over the last year or so the Shadow Systems MR920. I train a lot and wanted to experience a new pistol and the 320 was the gun I chose. I have no idea if it will go off on its own or not. Maybe something in the holster is the issue. But I appendix carry and I have chosen to stay with a Glock or a variation of. Maybe a trigger safety is the solution, I have no idea. Maybe the gun is safe but when it comes to a fire arm unless you are 100% confident in it then you are better off carrying something else. I only have one other thought though. If the gun is unsafe surely someone would by now would have shot their private area off. All I’m saying is why has the gun only gone off on side carry outside the waist band holsters? Or am I incorrect about that?
The black base model is the only one doing it supposedly
Matt- I just recently bought a P320 X-compact (3.6″ barrel). Has there been any instances of discharge with this model? It looks to me a lot of instances have been with the X5 or other full size models carried by law enforcement.
Hey Harry, I am sorry I don’t know for sure the barrel length in every supposed incident. The ones where it can be presumed or clearly been reported don’t seem to include the 3.6″ barrel, but I am not confident enough to say that they aren’t involved in any. If there is some design issue, it seems like it would be an issue in the FCU and barrel length wouldn’t play a role. But since there is a lot of speculation, I am not comfortable speaking with absolute confidence on what could or couldn’t be the issue or if there is for sure a mechanical issue. I really wish for the sake of safety, all the information comes out and people can make an informed decision.
My son has a Sig 320 compact in 45acp. He just texted me that it went off when he played it on the passenger seat and put a hole on the passenger door. He bought it new a couple months ago.
I have been looking at buying a Springfield EMP 4″ for a year or more, but when Sig offered the P210 Carry, I began to desperately want one, in spite of the difference in price. I have been squirreling away to buy one or the other, deciding to wait until I am ready to buy before making my final choice.
But with this issue, I am now leaning more to the EMP. Yes, I understand this issue, if real, is with the P320. As far as I have heard, no other Sig line is having such accusations.
Still and all, the issue adds to the price difference and is swaying me away from Sig. It is a shame. I think I would have loved the P210 Carry.
Maththew, thank you very much for an excellent, objective, and fair article. Appreciate it.
Thank you very much sir. This is an issue that I’m not trying to influence people’s opinions on. Just want to present info in a fair manner and let people decide for themselves. Thanks again for reading and a thoughtful response.
I can tell you from personal experience that the P320 gun is unsafe. I carried the P320 45 carry in a Kydex holster. I was sitting on my couch in the living room watching television, and out of nowhere, the gun discharged. I sent my gun into Sig, and they claimed nothing was wrong with it. This is now a worthless paperweight. My son was in the basement playing video games; I was lucky the bullet did not strike him.
I own several p320s in all sizes and variations like the m18, x carry, compact, full size, macro and 365 xl. I personally have had ZERO issues with any. My police agency also has them as duty weapons and non of them have had any unwanted discharges. I like Sig and I trust the math. It was previously stated the only issues that keep being reported are owb and hip placed discharges. I could be holster issues or a trigger snag with clothing which could happen to any pistol. So in my opinion, if you like Sig continue to buy them and trust the product. If you don’t like Sig and don’t trust them, don’t buy the product. Don’t bash someone who does. Because if it was this big of an issue hundreds of thousands of sig would’ve discharged on their own by now. This was a good article, I liked to see how this gun ticks it was informal and educational.
My SIG P320 has been loaded constantly for the past four or so years either in my duty holster (multiple variations of the Safariland 7TS series) or in one of my off-duty holsters (a Phlster IWB holster or a Milt Sparks Versamax 2), and it has yet to accidentally discharge. My P320 has been subjected to foot pursuits, a traffic collision (rear-ended by a car at approximately 25 miles per hour), and high altitude on a commercial flight while being carried on an out-of-state prisoner extradition: still no discharges. That’s just my experience. Not to diminish anyone else’s experiences, but I will continue to carry my loaded P320 and gladly edit my comment should anything change during my “ongoing experiment”.
I have a recently purchased WCP320, Wilson Combat version. I find it hard to believe Wilson Combat would put a handgun out there if they had any concern whatsoever, and I trust WC.
I just bought a sig p320-m17. Can someone tell me if the the accidental discharges were with the safety on or off?