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Sig’s New P320RX Competition & Defense Pistol—Full Review

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Sig Sauer joins the pistol makers that are offering their popular models pre-milled to accept an optic with the P320RX. The P320 (if you’re interested in more detail about the P320 design, visit last year’s review of the P320 in .45 ACP here: https://www.gunsamerica.com/blog/sig-sauer-p320-grows-up-to-45-acp-review/)has been a huge success for SIG Sauer since its introduction, offered in four chamberings (9mm, .357 SIG, .40 S&W and .45 ACP) and four basic configurations (subcompact, compact, carry and full-size). And now it can now be obtained with a mounted red-dot RMR optic. And not just any optic – the SIG Sauer Romeo1. Here is a first detailed look at the P320RX, tested in full-size 9mm.

SIG has taken a slightly different approach with their pre-milled-for-optics model than their competitors. Rather than cutting the slide to accept generic accessories and offer adapter plates to fit the mounting needs of common brand optics, initially SIG has dedicated itself to pairing the P320 pistol with its own branded optic – the SIG ROMEO1 optic. What this means is an optimal fit between slide and optic, but it does limit the choice to one. At least for now. SIG says they do plan to broaden the options for consumers eventually but are putting the focus on building as perfect a partnership as they can with their products. One upside is that right out of the box, this pistol and optic are ready to go. The ROMEO1 was even zeroed and dead on. SIG confirmed that each unit is bore sighted at the factory.

specs-1
specs-2

WHAT COMES IN THE BOX

The P320RX is literally range-ready out of the box.

The P320RX is literally range-ready out of the box.

As hinted to above, the P320RX comes complete with the SIG Sauer ROMEO1 installed (and presumably zeroed). It also sports extra tall, suppressor height night sights – which are excellent quality, and essentially are SIGLITE night sights on stilts. The gun comes with two magazines (9mm 17-rounders with the full-sized, unless your state has infringed on your rights). It also comes with the manual for the ROMEO1 and a kit that includes a mounting hex-key wrench, an adjusting screwdriver for elevation and windage, and a lens cleaning cloth.

On the test sample received, the ROMEO1 optic was pre-zeroed right out of the box.

On the test sample received, the ROMEO1 optic was pre-zeroed right out of the box.

WHAT DOESN’T COME IN THE BOX

What does not come in the box at this time are any adapter plates that would accommodate other brand optics, or a cover plate that would protect the milled area of the slide if you remove the optic from it. SIG already provides mounts for 1913 Picatinny and KeyMod, as well as adapter plates for various handguns separately. I can live without the adapter plates, because the ROMEO1 is as good an RMR as I’m likely to ever need on a handgun (more about the optic in a bit), but I’d like to see them include a cover. Why, you ask, would you want to remove the sight anyway? Let’s say your gun budget is not unlimited, and you figure you can buy the P320RX and shoot steel matches and USPSA with the ROMEO1 installed, and then remove it to make the handgun IDPA legal. That sounds like an awesome bang-for-your-buck use, but without a protective cover you risk damaging the milled area and delicate machine threads. Also conspicuously absent in the box is the polymer holster that is provided with the regular P320 Series pistols. I was not initially concerned about that, since I own several versions of the P320 line. I just reached for the one that came with my full-sized model. And then I realized that the extra tall sights on the RX were not going to allow the gun to fit the holster. So, add buying a holster to the list of musts – and allow ample time for the aftermarket to have them available. I called my go-to holster company, Multi Holsters in Michigan – they have never failed me. And they just kept on not failing me, by sending me an excellent OWB Kydex rig (called “Torn Kydex”) complete with speed clips. It fits the pistol perfectly and the sight channel is just right for the high sights. All from a photo I took with my phone and said, “I need one for this.”

Because the front sight is so tall, special holster considerations exist - and unlike the regular P320, SIG does not provide one right now.

Because the front sight is so tall, special holster considerations exist – and unlike the regular P320, SIG does not provide one right now.

The only holster the author knows for sure is available is this "Torn Kydex" model from Multi Holsters. It is a perfect fit, and a nice fashion statement.

The only holster the author knows for sure is available is this “Torn Kydex” model from Multi Holsters. It is a perfect fit, and a nice fashion statement.

P320 v1.5

First off, there is no such thing, officially. I personally dubbed the term “1.5” to the updated version of the P320 that is now shipping from the factory – which includes a few small but very SIGnificant changes. First, the grip frame has been modified to accommodate a new style ambidextrous slide stop control. The new slide stop control is much smaller than the first offering, and rolls considerably inward, rather than just being a metal tab that was fairly flat. This I understand to be in response to some operator types that were having trouble about holding the control up (and thereby prematurely locking the slide back before the gun ran dry) accidentally with their strong hand thumb. The newly designed control, combined with an improved barrier molded into the new style grip frame should greatly reduce that concern. I also find that the new design of the slide stop control makes it a more effective slide release as well – allowing more reliable ‘thumb swipe’ charging of the pistol after reloads.

Improvements to the P320 include a flat takedown lever and a smaller slide stop.

Improvements to the P320 include a flat takedown lever and a smaller slide stop.

The steel sights are the perfect height to co-witness and serve as backups.

The steel sights are the perfect height to co-witness and serve as backups.

The other SIGnificant change for v1.5 is the takedown lever. I whined about this as my only real pet peeve of the initial P320 design – and I’m taking full credit for driving the improvement (a mere fantasy, believe me). The original control was unnecessarily bulky, tapering outward at the bottom to a very annoying size that interfered with the “thumbs forward” grip style and added needless thickness to the gun. The new version is flat and unassuming and still works just fine – a huge improvement, in this writer’s opinion.

Those familiar with the P320 Series will recall its modular design that allows the user to quickly change sizes and/or calibers.

Those familiar with the P320 Series will recall its modular design that allows the user to quickly change sizes and/or calibers.

This chassis is the serialized part of the gun and is considered the "firearm." This parts allows for a very modular approach to the design.

This chassis is the serialized part of the gun and is considered the “firearm.” This parts allows for a very modular approach to the design.

All of this is on top of the already innovative P320 “chassis” system. For the unfamiliar, the serialized portion of the pistol – the actual firearm, by BATF definition – is a removable assembly that consists primarily of the fire control group (trigger, trigger bar, sear, etc.). Remove this chassis and what remains is a collection of “gun looking parts.” The inherent beauty of this system is that you can purchase caliber kits in several sizes and calibers and go from a full-sized duty gun chambered in .40 S&W to a subcompact 9mm in seconds – using the same serialized “gun.” You can also purchase just the grip frames at a very economical price – under $50. It is not yet known whether a “RX” kit might be sold in the future without the internal chassis for current P320 owners that would like this upgrade option. Knowing SIG Sauer, the land of ten thousand SKU’s – I wouldn’t rule it out.

THE ROMEO1 OPTIC

SIG Sauer has become the renaissance firearm company, it seems. After decades of making what many consider the finest production combat pistols in the world, they have branched into innovative long guns and AR-style pistols; a complete line of top quality ammunition; polymer framed modular handguns; and now a full line of firearm optics. And like everything that SIG Sauer does, they’re in it to win it.

The P320 slide is milled precisely to fit the ROMEO1, providing a fit and stability that no adapter plate can match. The fit is actually dovetail style – you must slide the ROMEO1 in from the side.

The P320 slide is milled precisely to fit the ROMEO1, providing a fit and stability that no adapter plate can match. The fit is actually dovetail style – you must slide the ROMEO1 in from the side.

The ROMEO1 is a rugged miniaturized sight made for handguns and rifles, but some companies forget the rugged part. But not SIG Optics, who have produced a high quality and rugged little optic. The recoil of a semi-auto handgun is very high energy and produces incredible shock and jarring to anything attached to the slide. The ROMEO1 is purpose-built to withstand this punishment and deliver consistent quality performance. I didn’t copy that from any marketing brochure – that is my opinion based on my own observations and testing.

The sealed battery compartment is easy to access with the optic mounted.

The sealed battery compartment is easy to access with the optic mounted.

The ROMEO1 is easily adjusted between 5 brightness settings using the "up" and "down" buttons.

The ROMEO1 is easily adjusted between five brightness settings using the “up” and “down” buttons.

Let’s take a quick look at the specs for the ROMEO1, as provided with the P320RX. I say, “as provided,” because you can get the ROMEO1 in several configurations as a standalone product and with many mounting options from 1913 Picatinny or KeyMod to a multiple handgun mounting plate kit. Expect to pay between $300 and $400 from your favorite retailer or online outlet. Yeah, suddenly the $869 price of the P320RX seems quite good, doesn’t it! The ROMEO1 is a 1x30mm sight – meaning the magnification is 1x (normal view) and the visual surface of the glass lens is 30mm measured diagonally. That’s a nice generous size, nearly twice the lens area of others I’ve used. The reticle is a 3MOA with 5 brightness settings, easily selected using up and down arrows on the left side of the base. I find the brightest setting best for quick acquisition and relative close range use – while the lowest setting provides a very fine point of aim for distance and those careful accuracy shots. It uses what SIG calls “TruHold” Lockless Zeroing System to maintain a true zero setting even under the routine punishment of handgun recoil. While I’m describing the SIG trademark names and acronyms, l must mention my personal favorite – the MOTAC system. This stands for MOTion ACtivated Illumination System, and what it means is that you don’t have to turn the optic on and off – it’s automatic. Turn it on the first time and select the reticle size you desire. When you’re done shooting, just put the cover on the ROMEO1 and stow the gun. After about two minutes of inactivity, it will shut itself off. When it senses motion, it will turn back on – here’s the best part – remembering the last reticle brightness setting used. I can’t tell you how many batteries I’ve killed by forgetting to turn my red dot off, only to find it dead as a doornail next time I need it. When the time does come to change the battery, the cover is easily removed without removing the optic or risking changing its zero.

For the author, the ROMEO1 seemed like a natural extension of the P320.

For the author, the ROMEO1 seemed like a natural extension of the P320.

Putting the ROMEO1 on the P320 isn’t just a good idea because the brand names match, but because this is a superb optic at a mid-range price point that is ready for serious work. And it’s even waterproof to a full meter. Constructed of magnesium, it is tough and light (the whole thing weighs only 0.8 oz.). I like the ROMEO1 enough that it will be on my short list for future RMR purchases.

SHOOTING THE P320RX

I’ve liked the P320 Series since its inception, even though I never paid much attention to the P250 Series that preceded it. For those not familiar, the P250 is also polymer framed but is a hammer fired pistol. Not saying I don’t like them or they aren’t good – just didn’t grab me. However, when SIG announced the polymer framed, striker fired P320 – I was interested. The bar for a top-performing polymer framed, striker fired pistol is high and its champions are well established. If you’re the company that many consider the top name in metal-framed, hammer-fired handguns – you’re laying it on the line to jump into that fray. SIG Sauer not only jumped in, they kicked butt and took names. And it’s all about the shooting. The success of the P320 Series has been very good.

The P320 Series are natural shooters. Adding the ROMEO1 only increases the fun.

The P320 Series are natural shooters. Adding the ROMEO1 only increases the fun.

The trigger system in the P320 Series is well engineered to have both a traditional SIG feel and also deliver what striker aficionados expect – crispness with limited slack, no over travel, reasonable lightness, and above all – consistency. I’ve shot a dozen or more separate P320s of various configurations and the triggers always feel and perform the same. That might seem like a fluff statement to make – but believe me, that is not guaranteed even among some of the biggest brand names in firearms. Recoil is handled well by the ergonomics and flexing of the poly frame and the recoil spring and fairly hefty slide. The pistol is a natural pointer and a smooth shooter in every caliber, and in 9mm it’s a double-tap machine. Putting a high-quality red dot sight on it only widens one’s smile.

The ROMEO1 co-witnessed nicely with the tall iron sights for the author.

The ROMEO1 co-witnessed nicely with the tall iron sights for the author.

Shooting a red-dot optic, like shooting a gun with a laser, takes some re-training. Simply put, the eye needs to change its focus from front sight to target – and that goes against everything we’ve trained in all these years. The good news is that it is a fairly easy thing to re-train yourself to do, but it does take a few minutes and some reps. The suppressor height SIGLITE sights co-witness perfectly with the ROMEO1. Once you condition your eye to stay downrange, you’ll find that transitions between targets (or just between areas on one target) can be done faster and with better shot-calling. I’m not pretending to be an expert in eye/brain/hand coordination by any means, but it seems obvious that if the eye can remain focused on the same (or similar) focal plane, fractions of seconds are automatically saved. Therein is the advantage of RMR optic over open sights for action shooters. For static shooters, the advantage is primarily a finer point of aim. Both result in better accuracy. For a cross-dominant shooter like me (right handed and left eye dominant) it means using the wrong eye. I only use the wrong eye (my right eye) when shooting slow distance shots for accuracy. For rapid fire, transitions, and standard shooting I use my dominant eye and tolerate a fuzzy reticle. It still provides about the same size against the target as a front sight blade at around 10 yards.

The author tested the pistol with Freedom Ammunition loads.

The author tested the pistol with Freedom Munitions loads.

He also shot Aguila ammo.

He also shot Aguila ammo.

He also used Sig's own FMJ ammo.

He also used Sig’s own FMJ ammo.

But Sig's own V-Crown ammunition did the best of all tested.

But Sig’s own V-Crown ammunition did the best of all tested.

accuracy_sig-p320rxTesting the P320RX at 25 yards produced good results overall, with outstanding performance from the SIG Sauer Elite Performance 124-grain V-Crown ammo. The reticle was dialed down to its smallest size to allow as fine an aim point as possible. It was a real treat compared to open sights testing at this distance. I felt like the handgun had suddenly become a rifle as far as consistency and quality of aim was concerned.

And while accuracy testing and punching holes in paper is fun enough, there is no better way to experience a handgun than to compete with it in practical shooting sports. I took the opportunity to do just that while testing and evaluating the P320RX, and took it to a Steel Challenge match. There aren’t many better ways to test how well a mounted RMR sight will perform than to subject it to the fast transitions, quick draw-to-sight time, and stress of timed competition in a steel shoot. The feedback you get from keeping your eyes focused downrange and moving the dot into the shot zone is an “ah-ha” moment for a lot of shooters that haven’t previously used a red-dot sight.

The P320RX shone on the range, with lightning-fast target acquisition.

The P320RX really excelled on the range, with lightning-fast target acquisition.

Transitions in steel matches have to be fast and accurate. This is where the ROMEO1 truly shines.

Transitions in steel matches have to be fast and accurate. This is where the ROMEO1 truly shines.

CONCLUSION

The author would like to see a protective slide cover plate supplied with the P320RX.

The author would like to see a protective slide cover plate supplied with the P320RX.

I like red-dot optical sights on handguns as an option. There is no doubt that it is this year’s  hot trend – and probably will continue through next year as more options continue to reach the market. The P320RX was first seen at SHOT way back at the beginning of the year and is just now headed into the distributor network. To date, this is the only offering of which I am aware that pairs a branded optic and pistol. And unless Burris starts making guns or Smith & Wesson gets into the optics business, it’s likely to be the only such pairing for a long time. Whether this provides advantages or even disadvantages is difficult to say, but the pair performs as one marvelously. Another thing I noticed, though I cannot offer any specification or evidence to make a real conclusion, is this: Of all the optic-equipped handguns I’ve shot, this is the only one that did not have a single ejected case impact the optic. This is significant because some practically destroy the optic with ejected brass. There was not one that I was able to perceive, capture on video, or see any resulting nicks from. And I’ve seen it so many times from other combos that I was specifically looking for it. Just luck or brilliant engineering? You decide. Looking closely at the ejectors, extractors and ejection ports, I can’t make out any difference versus the standard P320. Maybe this has been on the drawing board from day one and was considered when those parts were designed … maybe. The bottom line is that this handgun and optic combo is top quality and performs. Optics-ready handguns are becoming a staple at the gun counter. Some gun makers are partnering with optics makers to provide an out-of-the-box-ready solution. SIG takes that up one notch by doing the partnering in-house. And at an MSRP of $869, this writer thinks it is a great value. You could say that the RX is just what the doctor ordered!

SIG Sauer is quickly becoming the soup-to-nuts manufacturer. Everything you need under one roof.

SIG Sauer is quickly becoming the soup-to-nuts manufacturer. Everything you need under one roof.

{ 17 comments… add one }
  • Dave Cat October 27, 2016, 11:23 pm

    Does it come with a holster like other 320\’s ?

  • Dave Cat October 27, 2016, 11:22 pm

    Does it come with a holster like other 320’s ?

  • Scott October 13, 2016, 11:50 pm

    When are these going to hit the market? I see posts from March where people have purchased them after SHOT and then nothing….

    • John October 17, 2016, 4:50 pm

      Check Cabela’s if you don’t mind SS Slide…going for $799.

  • Sean Waters October 4, 2016, 7:38 pm

    Not a die-hard fan of striker fired pistols .”.one slip away from BOOM…”..owned flocks for years. I doubt I’ll own Anything but a CZ have a p-07 , po6 .40….of course that doesn’t include my gold cup , Springfield armory, Kimber …. .45 ACP

  • Dale Fricke October 3, 2016, 3:16 pm

    We make a full line of Red Dot Sight Holsters for all weapon types..
    Seraphim and Michael Holsters.

  • Gene October 3, 2016, 9:43 am

    You completely left out that the P320 is also offered in the quite formidable .357 Sig caliber.

    • Eyecatcher October 3, 2016, 2:53 pm

      He mentioned it in the 4th line of the article!

    • Justin Opinion October 3, 2016, 3:37 pm

      I did, and I apologize. Our fantastic Editor has since swooped in like a hero and updated the information. (that’s why he makes the huge bucks!). 😉

  • Nick October 3, 2016, 7:41 am

    Why would Sig go to all the trouble of making a pistol that you can sight with a suppressor mounted, but then leave out the threaded barrel?

    • Eyecatcher October 3, 2016, 2:57 pm

      Sig makes the M/320 TACOPS model with a threaded barrel.

  • Bruce jenner October 3, 2016, 5:51 am

    I think i have a bonner

  • Steve Kundzala October 3, 2016, 5:25 am

    Overall, I LIKE it, but the lettering on the slide looks rough, and I know that’s incidental, but it detracts from giving me a feeling of quality.

  • Gary Stelter October 3, 2016, 5:18 am

    What is with this big push toward striker fired guns. I hate those things and the Sig stamp is not going to make me buy one. Love Sig but strikers? Low budget.

    • W.P. Zeller October 3, 2016, 7:50 am

      Sig is doing the RX variant on the 226 as well, if metal and hammers are needed.

    • Paul Strickland October 3, 2016, 5:41 pm

      To each his own I guess……but I’ve owned a SIG P-320 compact, a striker fired pistol. I have fired about 1000 rounds through it and it has shown to function flawlessly and runs everything I’ve put in it. With the 3.5 barrel’s short sight radius it is very accurate for a compact gun. I have replaced the trigger with an APEX model that is really more ergonomic than performance. I’ve owned a few of most every handgun designs every made (revolvers, autos, SA, DA, whatever) ….I see a strong place in the gun market for these striker fired pistols…..I’m a fan!

  • will drider October 2, 2016, 10:57 am

    Great article and accuracy results @ 25 yards: Outstanding!!!! Too many handguns are accuracy tested at inappropriate distances.

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