Key Point: The gun's features make it a jack-of-all-trades for interested civilians.
Sig Sauer’s new P-320 pistol is enjoying a considerable streak of publicity, in large part due to the U.S. Army’s adoption of the it as the service’s new handgun. One new variant of the rapidly growing P-320 line is the X-Carry, a compact handgun designed for concealed carriers and those that want smaller firearms with the handling qualities of full-sized pistols. The P320 X-Carry carries on a tradition of compact firearms that don’t compromise on performance.
One of the first compact firearms was the Colt Commander, a variant of the Colt 1911A1 .45 ACP service pistol.
A 1911A1 service pistol, more than eight inches long, could be difficult to draw and manipulate in the cab of a truck or armored vehicle. It also needed to be smaller and less obtrusive in case the soldier carried a full-sized rifle in the field.
For this weapon, the Commander maintained the same size grip and ammunition magazine as the full-sized Colt Government but was half an inch shorter in length. Designed for use by vehicle crews, officers, and senior noncommissioned officers, the gun was designed for the confines of mechanized warfare. It was a reasonable tradeoff between compactness and barrel length, and required minimal retraining to transition between the two gun types.
The P-320 X-Carry carries on the Commander tradition, a pistol with the grip qualities of the original P-320 but with a shorter overall length.
Introduced in January 2017, the X-Carry is basically a P-320 behind the trigger, with virtually the same grip module and grip length as the larger, full-size P-320 X-5. The X-Carry grip module does have an extended beavertail which helps seat the user’s hand in the gun quickly and more easily. The P-320 series use a common internal chassis inserted into the grip module that contains the fire control group in a stainless steel sled. Unlike other firearms the P-320’s chassis, not the lower receiver, is legally considered the firearm.
The P-320 X-Carry differs from the larger X-5 in several ways.
With an overall length of 7.4 inches, the P-320 X-Carry is more than an inch shorter than the X-5. The P-320 has a barrel length of 3.9 inches, as opposed to 5 inches for the larger gun, which results in the P-320 also being 1.1 inches shorter. The X-Carry’s lack of a flared external magwell means it is also a third of an inch narrower than the X-5. The X-Carry is also slightly shorter, again likely because of the absence of a magwell. The X-Carry is also significantly lighter than the X-5, at 27 ounces a whole half pound lighter than the larger, full-sized gun.
Unlike previous Sig Sauer pistol offerings, the P-320 X-Carry is a striker-fired handgun. The gun features ambidextrous slide stops and magazine releases for left handed shooters. Unlike other versions of the P-320 it has a straight, flat-faced trigger that the manufacturer claims will help shooters avoid inadvertently shooting to the right or left, a common problem rooted in improper finger placement on the trigger.
Sig Sauer’s X-Guns are all chambered in nine millimeter Luger. The X-Carry takes a double-stacked 17-round magazine, and each pistol ships with three such magazines. Most modern handgun designs are readily adaptable to other calibers however, and it is probably inevitable that the company will release .40 Smith & Wesson and .45 ACP versions of the X-Carry.
Materials-wise the P-320 X-Carry breaks down primarily into polymer and steel. The grip module is made of polymer finished with stainless steel. The slide is made of stainless steel finished with Sig Sauer’s Nitron coating to resist rust and corrosion, and the barrel is made of carbon steel.
Although the X-Carry has a very good pair of night sights, one of the most interesting features of the pistol is the ability to change out and replace them with a powered optical sight for rapid target acquisition. The X-Carry’s rear sights are actually mounted on a steel sled that, once removed, make room for a Sig Sauer Romeo 1 reflex sight.
The X-Carry carries on the tradition of compact pistols ergonomically similar to their older, larger siblings. The X-Carry was recently adopted by the Danish Armed Forces, and it seems likely that other European armies on the lookout for a new service pistol may choose it as well. The new pistol would also make a very good choice for civilians as a carry or all-around handgun.
Kyle Mizokami is a writer based in San Francisco who has appeared in The Diplomat, Foreign Policy, War is Boring and The Daily Beast. In 2009 he cofounded the defense and security blog Japan Security Watch. This piece was first featured in 2018 and is being republished due to reader's interest.