Shooting for the peak
A term we often bandy about here at TFB is “peak handgun”, also known as the Glock 19. It is the ubiquitous, somewhat unavoidable baseline of a compact, striker fired pistol. Other handguns in this category, especially new ones, need to escape the black hole that the G19 creates by excelling in certain facets that the G19 does not. SIG’s new P320 X Compact comes loaded with a list of consumer serving features that the G19 does not have, namely:
- X-Ray night sights
- Beavertail grip module w undercut trigger guard
- Ability to change slide and grip around serialized chassis
- Grayguns Designed X series straight trigger
Full Specs, Per SIG:
CALIBER: 9mm LugerACTION TYPE: Semi-AutoGRIP MODULE: Compact Polymer XSeries
GRIP TYPE: Modular Polymer XSeriesGRIP COLOR: BlackFRAME SIZE: CompactFRAME MATERIAL: Stainless SteelFRAME FINISH: Stainless SteelSLIDE FINISH: NitronSLIDE MATERIAL: Stainless SteelBARREL MATERIAL: Carbon SteelACCESSORY RAIL: M1913TRIGGER: StrikerTRIGGER TYPE: XSeries StraightBARREL LENGTH: 3.6 in (91 mm)OVERALL LENGTH: 7.0 in (178 mm)OVERALL WIDTH: 1.3 in (33 mm)
HEIGHT: 5.3 in (134 mm)WEIGHT:25.3 oz (717 g)
Sizing up a compact
Upon opening the box, I could immediately appreciate a few things: The grip of the X Compact is quite different than that of the P320 compact, slightly angled more rearward, and is flat on the sides unlike the oval shape of the P320 Compact. An undercut trigger guard and slightly higher and longer beavertail allow one to get one’s hand ever so slightly higher up on the firearm. The X Compact also features an enlarged magazine well. The X-Ray night sights’ green front sight grabbed my attention instantly each and every time I brought the gun up on target, and was very easy to focus on.
The X Compact comes pre-cut for the Romeo1 Pro sights. Though I did not have a Romeo1 Pro sight on hand to test the gun with, I will describe the process to mount the sight: After removing the magazine and checking that the firearm is clear, one has to remove the slide. Then one can remove the backplate and striker assembly from the slide to expose the screws that hold on the optics plate. Remove the plate, replace it with the sight, and reverse the process in order to have an RDS on the X Compact.
It took me a bit of dry fire practice to get used to the shape, angle, break, and reset of the GrayGuns designed “flat” trigger. Slanting forward at an angle, precise placement on the trigger face took a while to dial in. The trigger does come back to a 90-degree angle before breaking (On my example) at 4lbs 10oz. The reset is a bit funky, with an audible and tactile false reset before the trigger is actually reset. Think of it as hearing the “click-click” of the half and then full cock notch on some single action revolvers.
The other main thing I noticed during dry practice with the X Compact that bothered me: During slow and deliberate trigger pulls, one can perceive the rear of the slide (and therefore the rear sights) move downward about 1-1.5 millimeters. When there are rounds in the magazine, this goes away due to the upward pressure on the slide from the round in the feed lips, but with the last round in the chamber, it was noticeable. Sure, it’s only an issue for dry practice or firing the last round in the magazine, but it still annoyed me. TFBTV’s James Reeves also had this issue during his excellent video review.
Equipped with 12 different loads of 9mm with as many different case materials, bullet profiles, weights, and powder charges I could gather, I was ready to put the P320 X Compact through its paces. Starting with steel drills, the 320X churned through all the ammunition with zero problems whatsoever. I deliberately tried to get the firearm to jam due to limp wristing, as well as firing it upside-down and sideways and it did not malfunction once during the 600 rounds I fired over the course of testing.
I then did some precision shooting and found that the P320 X Compact grouped the best with two loads: Federal 147gr Syntech for practice, and Federal HST 124gr +P LE for defense. At 15 yards supported off a bag, both were achieving 1″ groups. At 25 yards, groups opened up to 2.7″. Firing at IPSC targets from distances 25 yards and in generally resulted in easy A-zone hits. The X-ray sights were a boon to me, standing out bright and clear dawn, mid-day, and dusk. They are some of the best factory sights I have seen on a handgun, period.
One major facet I noticed while firing all the different loads of ammo: The P320X Compact does a great job of making all rounds, regardless of weight, +P, or +P+ feel the same when fired. Some compact (and even some full size) 9mms transmit very perceptible differences in recoil to the hand. The X Compact handled all of them with a smooth and comfortable recoil impulse. This is an advantage to the shooter, as with proper grip, there should be no major difference in feel between shooting one’s practice and one’s carry ammo with the X Compact.
The “false reset” negative definitely reared its head at the range. When trying to precision shoot and when trying to speed shoot at the range, this led me to short stroke the trigger more than once, resulting in a click instead of a bang. I ended up shooting the X Compact like I would a lesser trigger, by letting it all the way out before pressing it again. If SIG or GrayGuns could remedy this one aspect, it would be most advantageous to the consumer.
Comparison testing and carrying:
I shot the X Compact next to a SIG Germany X-Five and my old compact duty firearm, the HK P2000. Though I compete a bit with striker fired firearms, I have a lot more experience competing with a hammer fired gun. Therefore, the trigger on the SAO X-Five felt an order of magnitude better to me, with a precise reset. When it came to the compact guns, however, I could easily shoot the X Compact better than the P2000, especially with +P duty ammo. The X Compact simply has a better grip angle and much better sights than the old HK, with a much smoother recoil impulse.
The excellent folks at ANR Design were kind enough to loan us one of their Kydex AIWB holsters for carrying the X Compact. The X Compact’s grip, though short, provides plenty enough real estate for a positive draw grip, while still being compact enough to not print. People who know me very well (and know that I carry) could not tell me where on my body I was carrying the weapon, even when dressed with an everyday T-shirt. Carrying the X Compact for a few weeks, the grip texture and shape never caused me discomfort.
Objectively, the SIG P320 X Compact is a serviceably accurate, compact, reliable 9mm well designed for concealed carry. SIG has equipped this pistol with features that the end user should not have to modify in any way to have all the capability one can get out of this platform. Objectively, I found the pistol to have a very nice grip that was not too aggressive in texture and facilitated excellent recoil management across all loads. I also found the X-ray night sights to be some of the best sights I’ve ever utilized on a handgun. Where the P320X Compact fell short for me was with the funky, short-strokable trigger reset. If they remedy this issue in the future, this will truly be a great handgun. As is, the trigger is such an important aspect of a firearm that I could not seriously recommend the X Compact over any other striker fired 9mm compact in this fiercely contested category.
Does the P320X compact dethrone the Glock19 MOS? No, but it would be an excellent alternative selection. If you’re thinking about an optic ready compact 9mm, the P320X compact should be on one’s short list to try and possibly buy.
- Excellent Grip Module w Maxwell cut for speed and beavertail/undercut/grip cut and textured for optimum control
- X Ray Night Sights are X-cellent
- 100% reliable with a wide variety of ammo
- Easily concealable
- Imprecise, confusing trigger reset
- Adding/removing an RDS requires full disassembly of the slide
Thanks to ANR Design for the use of their holster for this review!
Thanks to HSS for Range Time and Logistic Support
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