The New King of Polymer Guns: SIG P320 X5 Crusader Edition

“No army can withstand the strength of an idea whose time has come.” – Victor Hugo

It is not often I find a weapon that actually changes my core preferences. Being a soldier is a strange mix of knowing when and where to adapt, without falling prey to every new whiz-bang improvement that comes down the line. The upper echelons of the military are obsessed with technology, but those of us that have spent our lives at the pointy end of the stick are often more inspired by dinosaur technology.

I wouldn’t go to a fight without my Night Vision Goggles, but there is a Randall knife on my belt too. There is a lot to be said for tradition, and we tend to grow fond of the tools we used in combat. Try convincing a Korean War veteran to adopt an AR-15, and you will see exactly what I mean.

Welcome to the New Age — SIG’s P320 X5

The last day of SHOT Show 2017, Phil Strader put a pistol in my hands that absolutely blew me away. Never a fan of SIG handguns, I was nonetheless intrigued. Now, I am not so young and foolish to think of handguns as a serious implement of war. But I do think, in this day and age, especially given the price of a decent pistol, our Soldiers should have them. I have spent more in a single night of training on chemlights and AA batteries than a pistol costs. For that matter, five flashbangs are about the same price, and we throw those like candy at a parade.

For myself, I have a preference for Glocks. Not only is that what I carried in the war, it is what I trained countless Green Berets on at the CQB school. I also competed in Three Gun and USPSA with a Glocks, achieving a Master rating in the latter. There is nothing more fun than blowing the doors off of someone shooting a custom $4,000 gun, using a $500 chunk of combat Tupperware.

It is a safe bet I have over half a million rounds on the Glock platform, and probably well North of that. Hell, I was on the Glock poster at one point. And in my personal advice to students as a civilian instructor, I have one bit of advice. If you want to be good at shooting, stop buying guns and start buying ammo.

Practice matters more than gun choice.

Safe to say, I was entrenched in the Glock lifestyle. It was going to take something truly incredible to make we switch platforms.

I can also say, I get more access to different weapons than most. I shoot at least two new guns a week, and I am often at the manufacturer-sponsored release event. So far, in several years of playing this game, nothing made me consider swapping my personal preferences. Good options abound, but nothing reached the high bar of enough better to warrant a full changeover. Until now.

A Game Changer

When the SIG P320X5 arrived at my doorstep, I was still skeptical. I didn’t want to love it. If I did, I was going to eat a lot of crow for all the smack talk I handed out about SIG over the years. But I couldn’t help myself. I fell head over heels. Now, after six months of testing, I am fully prepared to declare a New King.

SIG’s X5

When you pick up the X5, it just feels good in your hand. There is something to be said for that, but it’s not the end all test. The way the grip forces your hand to sit just feels, for lack of a better phrase, natural. Bringing the gun up puts the sights exactly where your eyes want them to be, as in it points well. From the first second, you start using the gun, you don’t have to hunt for the sights. SIG clearly had some magic up their sleeve on this one. It was especially telling when I went to the Glock Academy two weeks after my X5 arrived. My brain had already switched to P320 as a preference. After 500 rounds into the new Gen 5 Glock, my eyes were still hunting for the sights. That is a big deal.

Article Continues Below

Much has been written about the X5 model, and the P320 series in general. No need to rehash all of that here. The balance is perfect, the recoil is soft ( even for caliber), and the gun is easy to drive. The biggest gains over every other gun on the market are the sights and the trigger. The sights impressed me from day one. Instead of making a solution in-house, SIG opted to use Dawson Precision, the choice of champions. A narrow blade fiber optic front pairs with an adjustable flat black rear, which is the preference of many competitive shooters, myself included. The slide is also precut for a red dot optic if that’s how you roll.

The trigger, however, is the true game changer. My trigger gauge says 5 pounds, but it doesn’t feel like it. Importantly, the trigger has little takeup, then a nice clean break. None of the crunch and grind of a usual striker-fired trigger. Out of the box, the X5 has a trigger on par with the best aftermarket jobs of any other striker fired gun. It is really beyond words, approaching the mythical 1911 trigger. And I’ll also be sending mine into Bruce Gray of Gray Guns for further improvement.

Range Time

I have heard some whispering of the X5 lacking accuracy, mostly from fanboys of other platforms. I am equating this to a bunch of jealous groupies, clearly angry that the X5 is crushing it. Good news, reports of the P320X5 lacking accuracy have been greatly exaggerated. I did a walk back on a 11×11 inch steel plate, with first and second round hits at 100 meters, finishing at 125 meters with a second round hit. Beyond that, it became more of a hold and front sight post issue, not a weapon inherent accuracy issue. I don’t even consider myself all that accurate of a pistol shooter, I’m not a bullseye specialist. If I can keep them on steel past 100, the gun is very accurate.

Out of the box, this gun is absolutely ready for anything. No need to change sights, no other upgrade mandatory. It ships with 4x 21 round magazines, so you have plenty of those too. At an MSRP of $1005, this is the best value going in handguns.

Lasting Impressions

Unusual for me, but reflecting my decision to fully board the P320 train, I liked my X5 so much I decided to have it Cerakoted. With no other accessories needed, I liked the idea of personalizing this one. My friends over at MCM firearms gave it an incredible look, at the bargain price of $369. That isn’t just for me, that is retail on what this pattern costs. The Templar Shield paint job gives the gun a unique feel that it is mine. It matches the tattoo I have on my left shoulder, shared by many others from the GWOT. If I was going to face down Jihadi’s today with a pistol, this would be my choice. It has pushed all my other pistols to the back of the safe, and I will gladly tackle the expense of new spare magazines and accessories.

If you haven’t shot a P320, I highly recommend it. And if you buy a new handgun this year, it should be the X5 model. I have my fingers crossed they release it in 40 S&W next because I would buy that one too.

For more information about the SIG Sauer X5, click here.

To purchase a SIG Sauer X5 on GunsAmerica, click here.

About the author: Clay Martin is a former Marine and Green Beret, retiring out of 3rd Special Forces Group. He is a multi-decade and -service sniper, as well as 3-Gun competitor and Master ranked shooter in USPSA Production. In addition to writing about guns, he is the author of “Last Son of The War God,” a novel about shooting people that deserve it. You can also follow him on twitter, @offthe_res or his website, Off-The-Reservation.com

{ 34 comments… add one }
  • David Boerboom June 13, 2020, 3:28 pm

    Practice doesn’t make perfect. PERFECT PRACTICE makes perfect.

    But then again, you already know that; don’t you Mr Clay.

    Sound the Charge.

  • Paul June 1, 2018, 2:36 pm

    You don’t have to convince me … I’ve been into the 320 since I first picked up one in my LGS back in 2015. I now have two, both 9s, one compact and one sub-compact. Both have been returned for the safety tune-up, no big deal. Both have night sights and APEX flat triggers ….I just like the feel of the flat trigger better. My next gun purchase will be the X5. However I think I’ll pass on the showy paint job and buy mags and ammo instead.

  • Lee February 6, 2018, 10:48 am

    Dear Clay,

    Why did you have to post this…. now I have to buy another gun. 🙂

    I don’t often get that love at first sight with guns anymore. I own most of what I want already. Never been a fan of battle worn cera-kote. But gosh darn it if I didn’t get all warm fuzzy tingly when I saw that P320 X-five!

    So I got an P320 X-Five on order, as soon as I get it I’ll be giving MCM a call..

    Thanks again for causing me to buy another gun, my wife will be mad I spent more money.

    Your fan,

    Lee

  • loupgarous January 24, 2018, 9:21 pm

    “Practice matters more than gun choice.” Amen, Clay, amen. Inuit women are said to take polar bears down with .22LR rimfire rifles because they know where to shoot them and practice enough to do it reliably. I’d have to actually see that before I repeat as fact, but it explains why foreign armed forces equipped their officers and those who didn’t carry a rifle on duty with pistols chambered to fire smaller calibers than Americans in those positions carry. Practice enough, and you’re acceptably deadly for most situations you’re apt to be in.

    While, after the 1986 Miami shootout, FBI went to the flinch-inducing 10mm, then went to the new, kinder and gentler Smith & Wesson .40. It makes sense that between accelerated wear on pistols and agents not firing as many practice rounds for proficiency, the FBI decided to go back to weapons their people would practice on and which broke less regularly. I can shoot 100 rounds through an XD40 in S&W.40 before my groups start spreading out from fatigue.

    I’m with Clay in hoping this weapon comes out on S&W.40

  • Joshua January 22, 2018, 11:24 pm

    There are guns I (have to) use for work and guns I (get to) use for sport, they rarely look the same! Why not do a custom paint job on your race gun?? Have all forgotten here that guns are more than just for “combat” or concealed carry??
    I love the Templar cross design, that looks awesome.

  • Section8 January 22, 2018, 9:03 pm

    I to have put a few hundred thousand rounds through a the Glock and still know it is king. I do have the 320 X5 and really like it. It has many great features with only one down side for me. I do not like the front sight, not good for combat or comp. It is small and sharp as a knife. It will catch on anything that comes near it and even though the very small sight is good for pin point shooting it’s so small it doesn’t bring in enough light to be great. I have also put my Glocks down for the time and an enjoying shooting a new platform. Time will tell.

  • RANDY W. January 22, 2018, 3:37 pm

    Uh, when does it come out in pink?

  • 3DJL January 22, 2018, 1:08 pm

    I rarely meet a gun that can’t be improved with a trigger job. My P320 X5 needed one. ( I hate trigger creep). The X5 accuracy gives me great confidence. However, I feel faster with my HK VP9. It fits my hand nicely and points naturally. (VP9 needed a trigger job too.)
    I don’t see any other way for Clay Martin to give his credentials. He earned them, so why shouldn’t he benefit from them? I’m glad that my tax dollars are coming back to me with his unique perspective.

  • John Mark Vaughn January 22, 2018, 12:26 pm

    I’ve owned the P320 X5 since it’s introduction, and through two years of IDPA, USPSA and Steel Challenge Matches, find absolutely no fault with the platform. I initially bought the pistol to complete in the Limited Division due to the mag well; after one match, I removed the mag well and. fire it in the Production Class, where it is King!
    I was SO impressed with Sig’s 90 Degree Flat Trigger, that I now have them installed on ALL my 320’s, from the Romeo, to my factory Production, to my Compact Carry… game changer for very little money and only a few moments time thanks to the Sig Modular System! Try it, you’ll have no regrets!

  • Dan January 22, 2018, 12:06 pm

    I don’t like any finish that tries to simulate wear. It never looks authentic and it’s an odd effect to desire anyway. If you’re dying to make your new gun look worn (because that’s more kewl), use it until it does.

  • lukeum January 22, 2018, 11:58 am

    i think clay was truly excited about these trials its hard put to say it aint from his heart and the truth has a lot to say about a weapons preformance is he shooting better from shear satisfaction or is the better shooting from the better gun guess ya gotta git yer self an excited one and find out

  • Jake January 22, 2018, 11:54 am

    I think it looks “cool.” I am not going to do it to mine but it looks really good.
    Any clues where a guy might find more magazines at a less confiscatory price?

  • wiscogunner January 22, 2018, 11:49 am

    Wow, sure are a lot of haters regarding the paint job. I get it that many people don’t like the fancy artwork on guns these days, but to each their own. The Templar cross is very cool. Kudo’s to the artist on the colors and design! I actually got a steal on a new Glock 17 that had the olive drab battle worn finish. I loved the paint job on the frame but not the slide so I painted the slide a matte black with a misting of the same OD as the frame and it looks awesome. That said, what matters to me most is…how does it shoot? Answer: Great! That is why I love it. The paint is simply frosting on the cake.

    I enjoy a good gun review, but I always test everything and hold on to the good. I NEVER buy before I try anymore…and that, has saved me a lot of buyer’s remorse and $$$. My advice is watch as many reviews as possible, then go to a good range and try their demo gun and see if it is everything advertised. If you like it and it checks all your boxes, buy it…then, paint it like a disco ball, post a picture on your favorite gun blog–and wait for the abuse to poor in. 😉

  • gunjunkie January 22, 2018, 10:46 am

    When are they Sig Going to make an optics ready 45 in P320 X5 ? ?

  • Tailgunner January 22, 2018, 10:22 am

    Another must have $1,000 plastic pistol. For only $369 more, I can make it look like it was drug behind my pickup in gravel for 500 miles. Fabulous trigger — that is only slightly inferior to a 1911 design. I may need to have two of these.

  • Mario P January 22, 2018, 9:58 am

    I found as well when I rack the p-320 now it does feel like a train wreck. I did the trigger upgrade as well.

    • Geordi Farquat January 22, 2018, 9:39 pm

      Yea, the recall upgrade gave something but also took something away. The slide racking and trigger reset almost feels/sounds like cocking a pump action shotgun, and resets at differing stages depending on if you have the trigger pulled back when the slide cycles.

  • Al January 22, 2018, 9:49 am

    So, a non combat tested NEW gun is crowned King for what reason?!?!?!?!
    Sure. it’s possibly and probably going to be ok, but until it has REAL WORLD time in service, crowning it “King” is rather arrogant and presumptive Clay.
    Yes, you made a reasoned argument, but you also slightly contradicted yourself in the beginning of the article talking about Randall knives and “dinosaur” tech.
    Many seemingly great guns have shown flaws with time, remember?
    Just sayin’!

  • Chuck Hickman sr January 22, 2018, 9:11 am

    Who does paint job like That?

  • Brandon January 22, 2018, 7:37 am

    Good article, would have been better if you didn’t spend half the time verbally blowing yourself.

    • Bucksnort January 22, 2018, 9:06 am

      You got that right, listen Clay we know your a self acclaimed “bad hombre commando” kinds like Billy Jack right ? Stick to the guns and not your blow hard self induced ego . Seriously

      • Rob January 22, 2018, 10:27 am

        I don’t know the author from Jack, but I do like to know the credentials of who thinks a pistol is the cats meow. I’d say he is, after relating his background, entitled to an opinion about them. I love Glocks, but my SHTF pistol is a SIG 226 in .357SIG, its big, bulky but will never ever let me down. Others that go in harms way think that too. I would have no problem carrying one of my Glock too, but…. SIG seems to be more of a combat pistol to me, not that my opinion matters. I only have 20 years in the Army, 2 tours in the 82nd, and over 2000hrs flying military helicopters. You two guys may not be impressed with his background, or care to hear it, but I do like to know what an opinion is based on even if its biased. You can put yours up against his, but I think you may come up short…. in more than one way so to speak..
        Ohh I like the graphics too…. the meaning not the look is what he is trying to convey here in-case you missed it.

        • Idahodude January 23, 2018, 11:30 am

          Many thanks to all of you for your military service! I missed the Vietnam draft by a wisker. I wish now that at some time I should have performed some military service. Those days are long gone, however, I enjoy the stories from guys like yourself and Clay. Many of you saw combat and indescribable scenarios, experiences and images guys like me will never see, and some we cant even begin to imagine. Some of the training you men and women received, we will never be exposed to. I enjoy the reviews and opinions, and colors of custom firearms of all kinds. As a company we always try to purchase product from veterans where we are able to. Keep the reviews and experiences comming! Many thanks to all!

      • Jimmy Joe Meeker January 22, 2018, 3:17 pm

        Billy Jack! Ah, that brings back the memories. I saw Born Losers at the drive in with my Dad, who was recently home from Vietnam with the USMC. I remember the old man rolling his eyes and saying “Green Beret my ass. That guy’s a Commie.” I also remember Billy Jack always letting his guard down at the most obvious times and letting the bad guys get the jump on him. And Clay’s spot-on about that AR15 comment. Not sure what the old man carried in Korea (might have been a Springfield rifle) but he would not trade his M14 for a Stoner rifle. Carried it through three tours of Vietnam. I have a picture of him with his men, they all have M16s piled up like cordwood in front of a tent, and he’s got his M14 on his back. He was a great father, and a hilarious guy who didn’t talk a lot. I was there the first time he (and I) saw a Glock. Major Lang showed up to the house with one when they were brand new. (He was an early adopter of technology. I remember when he showed up with an early rotary Mazda .) The old man’s reaction to the plastic pistol with no safety was priceless, and classic. He didn’t say a word, but visibly winced when he squeezed the trigger. He’d wince the exact same way when Tom Selleck slammed the magazine of his pistol home during the opening scene of Magnum, P.I., and also whenever he’d see someone twist a revolver quickly to close the cylinder. Billy Jack. Good memories.

  • Cyrus January 22, 2018, 7:30 am

    Is it just me or does that gun look stupid with those graphics?

    • Christopher Sourp January 22, 2018, 8:55 am

      No, it’s not just you. Your view is correct and it does look just this side of stupid. To go a step further, I don’t like any of it. I own a P320 and am just fine with the stock look. Some people just go to far. Sorry but I’ve just watched about ten videos on YouTube about stippling. Talk about going a little too far……..

    • Larry January 22, 2018, 9:03 am

      It’s not you, this pistol looks absolutely foolish.

    • Bucksnort January 22, 2018, 9:07 am

      It looks super stupid,but remember he’s hawking them for his buddy.

  • Jeffrey L. Frischkorn January 22, 2018, 6:23 am

    To each his own but I prefer the maker\’s stock black finish to the unfinished look of the cosmetically induced pistol\’s exterior look. Even so, with a manufacturer\’s assigned price of about $1,000; indeed, I believe this pistol should appeal to many handgun enthusiasts.

  • PA January 22, 2018, 6:17 am

    Clay,
    The gun looks great, but I have a couple of questions for you.
    I have had a P320 9mm for about 2 years, and I loved it. I just recieved it back after the “volutary trigger upgrade”, and I now hate the trigger. It feels like an airsoft gun trigger. Also when I rack the slide it feels like a train wreck. I have a XD-9 I use as my CCW gun. I liked the SIG trigger better before, but now the XD-9 fels WAY better than the SIG.
    I thought you used a springfied XD-S as a cary gun. Do you think the Springfield XD-9 is reliable enough to be a primary weapon?
    And how the hell do you shoot so fast?

    • Bucksnort January 22, 2018, 9:09 am

      he simply pulls the trigger

      • PA January 22, 2018, 6:41 pm

        It may be simple for you to shoot that fast and hit your target, but not me.

    • clay martin January 27, 2018, 12:04 am

      The XD-9, for reliability, absolutely. No doubt in my mind.
      I do carry an XD-S normally, though I have been using my XD-E more and more. Those are from my personal collection. If I am writing a CCW gun review, I normally carry it for a while, after I make sure it goes bang first.

      The X5 could be a carry gun, but it is on the large side. It fits better as a duty gun or combat sidearm, and in that capacity I see it as King.

      On the shooting fast- I have a metric shit ton of practice, and this is a very forgiving platform.

  • Boomer January 20, 2018, 10:23 pm

    Graphics are the 🐝 Bees Knees!!

    SWEET GRAPHICS! SHOUT OUT MCM 💬👍🏼🇺🇸

    CAreful, not on roster haha

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