Saturday, January 21, 2017

We Return Now to Our Regularly Scheduled Programming!

Well, it appears I have survived another SHOT Show, not to mention a week in the Belly of the Beast, Las Vegas! My Sweetie has been smitten with the SHOT Blight, which, unless I am willing to go into a complete isolation chamber, will undoubtably spread to me later in the week.

Of course, the news of the Big Army's choice of the Sig Sauer 320 as the replacement for the aging Beretta M9s overshadowed pretty much everything at SHOT…it's not every day a company picks up a $580-some-odd million (over 10 years) contract.

I must say I was pretty surprised at the announcement. Not that the Sig 320 isn't a great gun — it is all that and more — but most of us figured that the Modular Handgun System program would crash upon some unseen shoals, as those programs have in the past, or that the Army would suck it up like the SOCOM boys and the FBI and take the easy path of the proven Glock 17/19. That's certainly what Glock thought!

The implications are pretty obvious. As with the Beretta M9, the Big Army contract, the most coveted handgun contract in the world, will launch the already successful 320 into the stratosphere. Validation by the U.S. military makes the gun an easy chose for a potential flood of other agencies. Over the years I have seen estimates of at least the same amount of sales to other Federal agencies, law enforcement and civilians clamoring to own the same gun the military uses. While the caliber was not announced, let me go out on a limb here and suggest that it will be 9mm. Why? I would say logistics…the huge military pipeline is already set up to provide 9mm ammunition worldwide, and changing to a different caliber would be a nightmare. I once had a very long and fruitful conversation on military logistics by one of the most knowledgeable men in the industry — Ron Cohen, the head of Sig Sauer. Funny, that.

The military contract will also open the floodgates of aftermarket parts to support the gun. That aftermarket will be increasingly driven by civilian and LEO acceptance of the 320 as a platform. Obviously, this is already underway with the relationship between Sig and GrayGuns. Bruce Gray, one of the greatest minds in the firearms world, has hammered out the 320 trigger, working essentially as an in-house R&D guy, and has a huge head start on aftermarket 320 parts. There will be lots of others!

Part of Ron Cohen's particular genius is platform expansion, figuring out ways to expand from a single gun into as many niches as possible. Being modular — the gun part of the gun is the stainless steel frame fire control unit — changing the polymer grip frame to different sizes is a snap. But Sig has already gone beyond that. Sig brought former USPSA President Phil Strader on board and charged him with building a competition version of the 320.

I talked to Phil last year, and he outlined to me a very aggressive plan to create an out-of-the-box competitive 320. This year, a justifiably proud papa showed me the 320 X-Five, a full-sized 5-inch 320 with their top-end competition trigger (amazing, but they way), a full profile bull barrel, an internal weight in the grip frame to balance the gun, removable flared magazine well and fiber optic front sight. The rear sight is a neat trick…Phil worked with Dawson Precision, a longtime supplier of competition guns and accessories, to create a removable plate to carry the fully adjustable Dawson-designed rear sight. The plate can be removed so the gun can be fitted with a ROMEO3 red dot optic. The package in 9mm will be delivered with 4 21-round magazines.

A year ago Phil told me his goal was the ultimate competition pistol, and I'll be damned if he didn't hit that goal. The 320 X-5 out of the box can be used in USPSA Limited, Production and with the ROMEO3 Carry Optics division, IDPA SSP (we think) and ESP divisions, 3-Gun and specialty matches like Bianchi. With the included 4 mags, add a holster, mag pouches and ammo, and you're pretty much good to go…all for roughly a grand, MSRP!

There are 2 other guns in the X-Series, including an X-Carry with a 3.9-inch barrel, and a VTAC version as spec'ed by VIKING CHRONICLE's Kyle Lamb. The VTAC is striking gun in FDE with lightening cuts on the slide.

I gotta say the competition X-5 p320 shot irrationally well. I've shot a bunch of 320s, including Bruce Gray's personal competition pistol, and I have to agree that the X-5 is competition-ready out of the box. I stand in awe of a striker-fired pistol with a trigger as good as the trick p320s. Not surprisingly for a champion of Phil's stature, the gun is perfectly balanced, which shaves off critical seconds on stages of fire.

The competition component is important because it will provide a billboard for the p320 platform (it doesn't hurt that Sig has Phil, legendary competitor Max Michel, IDPA champion Tom Yost and…oh yeah…Lena Miculek on board). Combine that with the sheer weight of the Army contract, and the p320 will be a freight train, running over the other "Glock-ish" pistols in the market.

I have said before that the problem other polymer-framed striker-fired manufacturers have is they have to make the "value proposition" of why to choose their products over the the Glock 17/19. That is a lot harder than it sounds. You can talk function and features, but on examination there aren't any huge differences (I might exclude a manual safety from that list). Gaston Glock's evolutionary strategy and the Glock's "long tail" of aftermarket parts, ease of modification and performance enhancements have made making that value proposition a pretty high hurdle. I'd say the p320 just vaulted over that hurdle, and then some.


Anonymous said...

Were you really at SHOT Show if you come out without the SHOT Show Crud?

Overload in Colorado said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I can see a P320 full-size in my stable soon. It all started 2 weeks ago when I realized that Sig was discontinuing their P250, Double-Action-Only (SAO) version of their modular gun. It preceded the P320. It seems that the P320's striker-firing mechanism was more in demand than the SAO version and sales for the DAO P250 may not have been what they needed to survive. Anyhow, I found myself being drawn-in to one of our local dealers, "just to see if they had any 250s left". You see, I'm an Old-Schooler who will not carry a gun that is "half-wound-up", or cocked-and-locked in an appendix or pocket carry, so the DAO of the P250 seemed to be a good alternative, along with its 12-round, plus 1 in the "pipe" capacity. That's way better than my "242" Airweight. So, in I walk and what do I see right in front of me, but a P250 Sub-Compact. Just what I was dreaming of. Once I picked it up and it seemed to get smaller when I held it, I dry-fired it and could not believe the trigger. SOLD! And here I was, one who said that I had no need for any swap-caliber-barrel-grip gun. The trigger is what I wanted. The fact that all of the P250 grips, Sig accessories AND magazines are common with the P320 are another BIG benefit. I'm going to follow-up with a P320 full-size, as a belt-gun.

After buying a Sig 1911 a short time ago, I'm sold on their quality. That P250 Sub-Compact is a shooter to boot.

I think that the Army made a good choice.

Life Member

Anonymous said...

OOPS! I did mean "Double-Action-Only" = DAO in the first part of my note.


Mr.shawn said...

I'll stick with my butt ugly g19 ty.

How'd the knee hold up? Or were you a little rascal on a little rascal.
Can't wait to hear more about shot, looking forward to the podcast.

DMD said...

Note the safeties on your 2 pictured FDE Sigs--that should satisfy many of Big Army's objections ---how will Sig get a bib foreign contract past Trump ??? Now what will Beretta do with all of its recently expanded production capacity ? DMD

DMD said...

Bib really means big !!!! DMD

Anonymous said...

The announcement by Sig is getting a lot of negative press from liberals and other nay-sayers, mostly on the news sites. The "Yeah but, where do the profits go?" and "Isn't this a foreign company?" questions keep coming up. The Sig guns are made here and sold here. Just as FN's are. Some will be exported as well. Then, the guns are used all over the world.

The profits from the sales for each company are also re-invested here. That's why we keep seeing other foreign companies building factories here and existing ones expanding in capacity. Kalashnikov is in the process of launching their US-made "AK", built here/sold here; just as Steyr has done with their AUG. Same for FN. This means jobs and more jobs and guns that we want for our market. Global companies do that. It also applies to companies that are fleeing oppressive states and their draconian and punitive gun laws. They move to "free states". Tax revenues follow manufacturing. The rule is: manufacture and generate your revenue where you sell. That way, workers can afford to buy the products produced.

Do profits travel back abroad? OF COURSE. But, what do we expect from the owners of the company? If they can't make money, why would they invest in these new markets and why else would they be in business in the first place? Remember, it was Obama who told "Joe the Plumber" that "We need to spread the wealth around"! That means TAKE THE FRUITS OF ONES LABOR AWAY FROM THOSE WHO WORKED FOR IT AND GIVE IT TO THOSE THAT DON'T WORK. How'd that go over with all of us. (Well, maybe there was one who still thought it was the way to go!) These companies are already paying the US government the highest corporate tax rate in the world, before any residual profits go to the owners. They're also paying their respective states and local governments taxes.

Last, of the guns mentioned here or not, I cannot site one single example where they are non-competitive in price, or features. I see good economics here.

Life Member

Tam said...

Of course we're already hearing people making wild allegations about shady deals in return for missile bases in New Hampshire and stuff like that...