UPDATE: Gun maker Sig Sauer has issued a response to the safety concern regarding the P320 handgun, saying it will offer a voluntary upgrade to customers to address the drop safety and other issues.
An independent test may have verified a possible issue in the Sig Sauer P320 design, the handgun recently selected as the official sidearm for the U.S. Army, when exploring rumors alleging the gun has a faulty drop safety.
While the design met industry drop safety standards — dropping a pistol from 1 meter and 1 centimeter at six different angles onto a concrete pad — it would discharge when dropped from angles not included in the test, explained Andrew Tuohy, a popular gun writer who conducted the test for online retailer Omaha Outdoors.
“We found in our testing that the P320 will fire if it is dropped at a certain angle,” Tuohy said in a video showing the test results. “This angle is not found in any of the previously mentioned drop tests.”
Tuohy explained the P320 met official standards requiring the gun fall with the bore axis perpendicular or parallel to the ground. Yet, the video shows un-commanded discharges when dropped in a reverse direction.
“If the pistol is allowed to drop with the bore in an upward direction and the frame and the slide contact the ground at the same time, the trigger continues to move to the rear and the pistol will fire,” Tuohy said.
He said they conducted their test with four variants of the P320 handgun and a variety of factory ammunition (note: they pulled the bullets and used the primed cases for the tests). Three of the models discharged when dropped at that angle, but the fourth did not.
They hypothesize that the issue maybe the weight of the gun’s trigger. The latter model had been equipped with a smaller trigger whereas the other three have the same large trigger, which weighs more. To test this theory, they replaced the trigger on one of the vulnerable models with the smaller trigger and then a modified trigger. When dropped, they saw fewer un-commanded discharges.
In a blog post, Tuohy said the retailer has given its findings to the New Hampshire gun maker and has suspended the sale of all P320 pistols until Sig addresses the drop safety issue.
Sig last week aimed to dispel rumors that the P320 had a safety issue after a memo by the Dallas Police Department came to light. Dallas officials suspended use of the design by its officers, saying Sig had identified a defect in the handgun that could cause the gun to discharge if dropped.
The P320 was selected earlier this year as the U.S. Army’s Modular Handgun System, beating out Glock, Smith & Wesson and Beretta for the contract. Glock challenged the $580 million contract award, but the government dismissed the company’s claims.
Sig is currently embroiled in a lawsuit regarding another pistol design, the P229, which New Jersey State Police say the handguns sent under contract have been continuously malfunctioning.
Article updated Aug. 8, 2017 at 2:52 pm EST