The SIG SAUER P320 is one of the most popular striker-fired pistols on the market today.
The company established a reputation of reliability and precision through years of service in the hands of military units, police officers and armed citizens. The P320 is quickly taking its place among the company’s classic designs like the P220 and P226.
From full size to sub-compact, SIG SAUER now offers a wide range of options in the P320 lineup. Today, I’m focusing on the P320 Compact and its great potential as a detective, back-up, or off-duty pistol.
Let’s dive right in…
SIG SAUER P320 Compact
Originally released as a full-size combat pistol, the P320 line expanded to include a range of size and style options. The P320 Compact is just one of those.
SIG SAUER designed the gun to use a chassis system. The chassis is the serialized part which makes it the legal “gun.” Even without a barrel, magazine or other parts, the chassis is considered a firearm.
The benefit to the serialized chassis is that the slide assemblies and grip modules are swappable. You can change the configuration of the pistol merely by changing one part or another. Since the grip modules and slide assemblies are not considered firearms, there is no background check and fee to get a new one.
On this variation, SIG uses a compact grip module and compact slide assembly to create a medium-sized package. It seems like a great choice for concealed carry. From a detective working plain clothes to off-duty carry, the handgun offers a balance of controllability and concealability.
The P320 Compact is still large enough to properly grip with most hand sizes and maintain 15 round capacity (9mm). However, the shorter 3.9″ barrel and matching slide give the shooter a greater potential for concealability.
Not every police officer is the same size. Ask the quartermaster how many different sizes of the uniform shirt he or she has if you think everyone is about the same size.
Just like your chest, arms, legs and gut are different than the guy sitting next to you at roll call – so is the size of your hands. Not everyone has the same palm size or length of fingers. So why should we expect a single gun size to fit all officers?
The P320 Compact could be an acceptable alternative for on-duty uniformed officers who have smaller body structures. The P320 Compact maintains all of the features of the full-size P320, just in a smaller overall pistol. Instead of trying to get every officer into the larger full-size P320, the P320 Compact could be an ideal fit for those with smaller bodies or hand sizes.
Detectives often prefer carrying a smaller handgun because of the need to keep their firearms concealed in their civilian clothing. Full-size handguns are also much more difficult to carry when you don’t wear duty belts to work. The P320 Compact could be a perfect fit for detectives, offering the same features, reasonable capacity, and yet a smaller overall package.
Of Sizes, Frames & Grip Modules
Since this is a modular pistol, you can swap grip modules (sometimes incorrectly referred to as the P320’s frame) with ease. This allows you to change the gun’s overall size, color and more.
For example, you can purchase:
- small, medium or large grip modules
- grip modules in black or tan
- grip modules with integral aiming lasers
- SIG X-Series modules in all sizes and colors like black, blue, white and coyote tan
- third party grip modules in grey, FDE, OD green, cobalt blue and black
Factory options in the P320 series include the Full Size, Carry, and Sub-Compact P320. The full-size P320 is a formidable pistol, 8.0 inches long, and 5.3 inches tall. The full-sized grip and long slide make the full size impractical for almost anything besides on-duty work.
The P320 Carry helps with the large size by changing to the compact slide, but the Carry maintains the full-size grip module. More on this pistol in the Carry vs Compact discussion below.
The P320 Sub-compact pistol uses the compact slide with a sub-compact frame. This variant loses an accessory rail and adds a curved trigger guard. While reducing the height of the grip module helps with concealment, it makes it more difficult to get a full two-handed hold on the pistol.
SIG P320 Compact Specifications
Here are the standard specifications for the SIG P320 Carry handgun:
9mm (other calibers available)
SIGLITE Night Sights
Responsible gun owners are always concerned with safe handling of pistols. Some designs seem to be better than others for helping shooters safely handle guns.
SIG SAUER designed the P320 with a unique 5-point safety system:
- field stripping the pistol is impossible without removal of the magazine
- the slide must be locked to the rear to field strip (or take down) the pistol
- you do not pull the trigger to disassemble the P320; instead a takedown lever allows disassembly without tools or trigger manipulation
- an internal striker safety
- an internal disconnect safety
P320 Carry vs P320 Compact
So, how does the P320 Compact compare to the Carry version?
As I mentioned earlier, the SIG P320 is a modular handgun with a serialized chassis. This allows you to mix and match grip modules and slide assemblies.
Guess what – SIG does the same thing. Enter the P320 Carry pistol.
Like the P320 Compact, the Carry variant is designed for improved concealment while maintaining full fighting trim. In this case, the company uses a compact slide assembly with a 3.9″ barrel. However, they use a grip module with a full-length grip.
The Carry-sized grip module allows for the use of full-sized magazines (17 rounds of 9mm). Additionally, buys with big paws can fit their full hands on these pistols.
Recently, Richard at GunsHolstersAndGear.com reviewed the Wilson Combat WCP320 Carry pistol. This handgun uses the SIG P320 Carry as a base for the company’s customizations. Short story: that’s an awesome pistol.
Off-Duty and CCW Carry
When officers or civilians look for a handgun to carry off-duty, or in CCW situations, there tend to be several features that stand out in the selection process:
- Overall Length
- Grip Size
- Change in Features.
The Sig Sauer P320 Compact is a viable alternative to the full-size P320, without compromising grip size and capacity when you drop down into the sub-compact size. Having a comfortable grip when shooting is critical to performance. This is why so many people who carry sub-compact pistols add magazine extensions – to regain the proper grip lost in the smaller handgun. The Sig P320 is a solid medium-sized pistol combining a smaller overall pistol with adequate grip size and capacity.
The SIG SAUER P320 Compact is a very well-built handgun, with incredible features. It definitely matches the smaller size, with adequate capacity. The P320 series of striker-fired handguns have become very popular, and the Compact could become even more popular with civilians or off-duty officers.
When I carry off-duty I prefer mid-size handguns, like the Glock 23 I currently carry. I get the benefits of a smaller, lighter handgun while still maintaining a decent capacity. Since I carry the Glock 22 on duty, the Glock 23 is a perfect match for me. The Sig P320 Compact is slightly larger and heavier than the Glock compact handguns. However, if Sig is to your liking the P320 Compact could be a very nice selection for you. I know I would not have any problem carrying any of the Sig P320 handguns on or off-duty.