Range Report: SIG P320 X-Carry
Written by Guest Contributor,
in Section Gun Reviews
Unless you’ve been under a rock for the past couple years, you’re likely familiar with SIG Sauer’s family of P320 striker-fired, polymer-frame pistols. They are fast becoming some of the most popular guns on the market due in no small part to the P320’s recent adoption by the United States Army as the M17/M18 modular handgun system and further adoptions by military and law enforcement agencies, large and small. As with any new firearm platform, there were some hiccups along the way—greatly amplified due to the high-profile military trials, and the Internet’s proclivity for going full-“Sharknado.” Now, with its teething pains in the company’s rearview, the P320 production line seems to be humming along.
One of the most notable features of the P320 platform is its user-removeable, serialized chassis—for legal purposes, “the gun”—which contains the trigger and fire-control assembly. This allows the “firearm” to be swapped wholesale between frames, slides and barrels of varying lengths, sizes and even chamberings. In conjunction with the bi-lateral slide stop/release and reversible magazine release, the P320 can really be tailored to suit individual shooters, mission sets and operational environments. The ease of customization has also allowed SIG to develop purpose-built models, with features and components specifically chosen for pursuits like competition or everyday carry—the latter being the premise for the subject of this review, SIG’s P320 X-Carry.
Pairing a compact slide and 3.9” barrel with a full-size X-Series grip frame, the X-Carry strikes a balance akin to Colt’s Commander-size M1911s—all the capacity and handling qualities of a duty-size pistol (in this case, 17 rounds of 9 mm Luger), but shortened and lightened for portability. The gun’s namesake X-Series grip frame is noticeably flatter on the side panels than the original lineup of P320 frames, and it features an extended beavertail and deep trigger guard undercut to allow for a high shooting grip and improved recoil management. The gun also comes with the X-Series flat-face trigger and SIG’s excellent X-Ray day/night sights which pair a very bold, green front sight with tritium inserts that produce a glowing three-dot arrangement in low-light conditions. As well, the rear sight is integral to a removeable plate that covers a slide cutout that is drilled to accept SIG’s Romeo1 red-dot sight—the X-Carry is red-dot ready. The final distinguishing factor of the X-Carry is a trapezoidal lightening cut in the top of the slide, just behind the front sight. Besides looking really cool, the weight savings achieved by the cut actually improve function, according to SIG engineers.
240 Rounds (240 Total)
After a zero-round clean, lube and inspection—a practice of mine whenever testing a new firearm—it was off to the range for the first few hundred rounds of familiarization fire. Immediately noticeable was how comfortable the X-Series frame is in the hand. The extended beavertail and triggerguard undercut really guide the hand into a high, deep grip. Also, the texturing is not overly aggressive or, really, aggressive at all. It feels really good, which is sometimes a bad sign on polymer-frame pistols—you need a little bit of grit to help the gun stick to the hand during recoil. Not a problem on the X-Carry, not only does it feel good, it also works well and provides plenty of purchase during firing without being at all abrasive.
Another thing I noticed is the sights. I already knew I was a fan of SIG’s X-Ray sights, I had seen them on the Legion-series guns, and more recently when reviewing the SIG P365 pistol. With a bright, bold front sight and tritium for low-light utility, they are right in the wheelhouse of my preferred sighting arrangements. Still, getting behind them again, and on a larger 9 mm pistol than the P365, I can’t help but grow even more fond of the X-Rays. The big green dot is easy to see, and the X-Carry shoots right where I point it.
In the first range session, I fired 200 rounds of SIG Sauer’s 124-gr. FMJ ammunition and 40 rounds of the company’s 124-gr. JHP V-Crowns. These are one of my favorite range/carry combinations, and in many, many firearm tests I’ve observed excellent performance from SIG ammunition. That proved to again be the case, and the X-Carry didn’t miss a beat either. Zero issues of any kind were experienced, and the gun was a pleasure to shoot—very comfortable, very accurate.
134 Rounds (374 Total)
Considering the X-Carry is pre-cut for SIG’s Romeo1, and considering I had one of those red-dot sights on hand, I thought it would be important to get the sight mounted and see how the gun performs in that configuration. I’m not going to go into detail about the installation process because we made a video detailing the procedure. I will say, though, it was quick and easy to accomplish.
Above and beyond being a service-grade red-dot, there a couple features that I really appreciate about the Romeo1. First, the battery compartment is very accessible. You would think this would be a no-brainer for pistol-mounted red-dots, but many still lodge the battery beneath the sight’s housing, requiring the entire optic be removed in order to change it. SIG even provides a handy little tool with each Romeo1 that features a hard polymer flat-head screwdriver sized for the sight’s windage and elevation adjustment dials, and a second retractable driver, of softer polymer, that is perfect for engaging the battery compartment’s lid without scratching the lens. I also like the Romeo1’s relatively large lens and robust housing. I find the design of optic really helps guide the eyes toward the lens and the 3-m.o.a. dot without obstructing or distracting my wider field of vision.
The Romeo1 was easily zeroed at 7 yds., and I fired a total of 134 rounds including: 40 rounds of SIG 124-gr. JHP, 26 of SIG 147-gr. JHP, 60 rounds of Aguila Ammunition’s 124-gr. FMJ and 8 rounds from the “Remainder Bin” of NovX 65-gr. +P ARX. There were no issues at all with function.
156 Rounds (530 Total)
For the last session of this report, I worked from the holster and practiced using the red-dot. I’m not sure how long I’m going to keep the Romeo1 on the SIG for this evaluation because shooting a red-dot-equipped pistol requires a different technique than shooting with traditional sights, and I really like the X-Ray sights. But I still found the red-dot to be easy to use, and I admire the very natural point of the X-Carry which makes finding the red-dot a lot easier—I didn’t have to change my body mechanics, simply presenting the gun as usual brought the dot into my sight line.
I also had my wife along for this range session, and she quickly came to prefer the X-Carry over some other, competitive pistols I had on hand for her to try. She had three primary reasons for preferring the P320: the ease of manipulating the slide (a very common concern for female shooters, as we found in our Ladies Pistol Project), the overall feel of the grip, and the bilateral slide lock/release. Did I mention she’s a lefty? When I told her I could even flip the mag release to the right side, she was even more confident in her preferred pistol.
Together we fired 156 rounds (50 NovX 65-gr. +P ARX; 100 SIG 124-gr. FMJ; 6 SIG 124-gr. JHP) without issue. We surpassed the 500-round mark without any failures or malfunctions, and the SIG is really starting to prove why it became the Army’s sidearm of choice. Plus, it’s a lot of fun to shoot.
Be sure to stay tuned for more installments of the SIG Sauer P320 X-Carry’s extended evaluation.
200 Rounds (730 Total)
Breezing past the 500-round mark without incident gave me confidence that SIG’s P320 X-Carry is a well-made, well-functioning firearm, and it may just go the distance. Of course it’s too early to say but, in my experience, most malfunctions caused by bad firearm design or poor quality control manifest themselves within the first few hundred rounds. Past that, you are looking at durability or construction issues—a well-made pistol should be able to go a few thousand rounds without major issues or broken components. And beyond that you get into the realm of normal wear and maintenance—parts wear out over time and use, so if you shoot a lot, expect to replace a few components. Coming back to the X-Carry, so far there have been no issues at all, we are just humming along.
For this range session I shot 124-gr. Federal Premium Syntech Total Synthetic Jacket (TSJ) ammunition. These cartridges look like 9 mm lipstick tubes thanks to the red polymer coating that covers the lead bullet. The benefits to such an arrangement include reduced bullet-to-bore friction, which can extend barrel life and reduce fouling—in fact, the synthetic jacket actually acts as a polymer wipe of sorts, filling the rifling grooves and pulling along any debris as the bullet traverses the barrel. The bore of the X-Carry was actually cleaner at the end of this range session than it was at the start. Federal’s TSJ loads also use “clean burning” propellants to, again, reduce fouling, and the jacket also reduces splash-back when fired against steel targets—though I didn’t realize that benefit since I was just punching paper.
I got a little more practice with the red-dot, and the Romeo1 is holding up just fine. I did decide, however, to replace the rear sight plate after 1,000 rounds. The red-dot works great, but the X-Ray sights are one of the features that drew me to the X-Carry. All in all, 200 more rounds in the books, and no issues of any kind to report.
277 Rounds (1,007 Total)
For this range session, I was back to SIG ammo—124-gr. FMJs (250) and 124-gr. V-Crown JHPs (27). The company sent me a pile for this evaluation, and I intend to use it. Thanks SIG! I did nothing in this range session except practice target transitions. I set up three pistol targets with some air in between them and just practiced engaging one and transitioning to the others in turn. In particular, I was working on moving my eyes first and letting the gun follow—I’d heard from an instructor I trust that this helps you get on to the next target quickly, without swinging through, or swinging past the target. I definitely noticed an improvement in my performance, far more center-mass hits and far fewer shots squeaking in around the edges.
I’ll tell you what, though, I am darn ready to get the red-dot sight off. Don’t get me wrong, the Romeo1 is a great sight and red-dot optics are serious force multipliers for handguns in many shooting situations. But you have to learn to use them, it’s a skill unto itself and I’m not ready to commit to that right now. I shoot handguns pretty well, and currently I’m a good deal faster with traditional sights than I am with the handgun red-dot—especially when those sights are SIG’s X-Ray Day/Night arrangement.
277 rounds, 1,007 total, zero malfunctions, stoppages or issues of any kind.
As I’ve stated before, these extended range reports are endurance tests, but not torture tests. My goal is to see if a gun is well designed and well made, and can be expected to perform for its owners as a reliable everyday carry companion. Too that end, I clean and lube the guns every 1000 rounds—I keep my carry gun cleaned and lubed because I want it to be in the best possible condition should I need it to save my life; I’m giving the test gun the same consideration.
With a few more than 1,000 rounds fired, the gun is definitely dirty, but it isn’t filthy, and there isn’t any grit or grime that is noticeably changing how the gun feels or functions. That’s a good sign; being dirty is ok, creeping towards malfunction is not. The P320 is definitely designed for hard-duty use, and the X-Carry is shrugging off typical range fouling without any issue.
Disassembly of the gun is one of the sterling features of the P320 family—with an unloaded gun, simply rotate the takedown lever clockwise until it stops (from 3 o’clock to about 7 o’clock), and pull the slide assembly forward off the frame. No trigger pull required. With the slide removed, the barrel and dual-captured recoil spring come right out. And, by removing the takedown lever from the frame, the chassis can also be withdrawn from the frame for cleaning—remember, the modular chassis is the “firearm,” legally, and can be used with other P320 frames, barrels and slides to create differently-configured, or even differently-chambered, P320 platforms without purchasing a new “firearm.”
Inspecting the components, particularly the barrel, I was concerned there may be more visible wear marks than I anticipated. Crescent-shaped striations on the top and bottom of the barrel looked like they may have been marring or permanently cooked-in fouling. Thankfully, I was completely wrong. In fact, the entire X-Carry and all its bits, inside and outside, cleaned up perfectly—quick and easy, good as new.
While the gun was taken apart, there were a couple components worth looking at closely. First, the skeletonized striker assembly used in the X-Carry, and now all P320s, is a solution to the “drop safe” pandemonium that gripped the Internet last year. The lightened component simply does not have the mass to ignite a primer except during its mechanically-powered firing sequence. Notice, though, that I said it is a solution, not a response, to the drop safe issue. SIG already had these rocking and rolling in the X-Series guns and the Army MHS guns, and had plans to use them in the standard configuration P320s as well—the company’s timeline for implementation simply got moved up. Anyway, cool looking component, though you will only see it during firearm maintenance.
The second part I wanted to look at quickly is the magazines for the P320 X-Carry, not because there is anything radical going on, but because I forgot to talk about them earlier. The X-Carry uses a full-size frame, so the gun comes with full-size mags—three of them out of the box, each holding 17 rounds of 9 mm Luger. For a few more beans on-board, the 21-rounders used with the X-Five competition model and the MHS guns also fit nicely. For this test, I got a handful of 17- and 21-round magazines, and so far they have all worked well. Spring tension can be a little tough to overcome during the first few loadings, but the magazines all seem well made and have performed well. For what it’s worth, some are marked “Made In USA” and others say “Made In Italy” (likely by Mec-Gar to SIG’s specs). In either case, they look identical and, most importantly, have functioned flawlessly. At the heart of a good pistol is a good magazine—the P320 has one.
While I had the gun apart, I did remove the Romeo1 red-dot and replaced the rear sight plate. I’m looking forward to shooting with irons again. Besides a little paint coming off its brightness control buttons, and bit of lint and powder on the lens, the Romeo1 was still in perfect condition. I also busted out the Lyman digital trigger gauge to check the gun’s pull weight. Prior to testing, the X-Carry had an average pull of 4 lbs., 12 ozs., and after 1,000 rounds, that number was unchanged—4 lbs., 12 ozs.
We’ve hit the half way point in the extended test of the SIG P320 X-Carry and have experienced exactly zero issues. Be sure to check back for more updates from the range.
This article first appeared on American Rifleman
by Joe Kurtenbach
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