In 2017, Sig Sauer’s P320 won a $580 million USD contract from the US Army for M17 and M18 Modular Handgun System, intended to replace its aging Beretta M9 pistol.
That same year Sig Sauer’s Canadian distributor, M.D. Charleton, won a $4.5 million CAD contract to supply “miscellaneous weapons” the special forces unit JTF2.
It was an auspicious start for a 3-year-old pistol that quickly devolved into a public relations nightmare for the famed German firearm manufacturer as the P320 suffered numerous failures, including discharging while holstered.
Last fall, a Sig Sauer P320 discharged while holstered during a JTF2 training exercise, wounding the soldier in the leg, CBC reported. The new pistol was immediately removed from active service while an investigation into the issue is completed. Until further notice, Canada’s elite special forces unit will use their older and reliable Sig P226 pistols.
The day after that CBC story broke, Sig Sauer issued the following statement, first slamming the CBC for their erroneous reporting, then explaining what actually happened:
SIG SAUER is working with Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM) to resolve an incident involving the unintended discharge of a P320. An inaccurate and incomplete report of this incident was recently published in the Canadian media that called into question the safety of the P320.
The firearm involved has been extensively tested by SIG SAUER and it has been determined to be safe. The investigation revealed the use of an incorrect holster not designed for a P320. The use of a modified P226 holster created an unsafe condition by allowing a foreign object to enter the holster, causing the unintended discharge.
It’s the latest in a long line of bad press for the pistol and its manufacturer.
The P320 is known to fire without the trigger being pressed as well as if it’s dropped and lands at a certain angle, an issue well documented in U.S lawsuits.
One American class action lawsuit, HARTLEY V. SIG SAUER, INC., was settled in March 2020, with the gun manufacturer issuing the following statement:
Although plaintiffs have not proven their claims, SIG SAUER has reached an agreement to resolve a class action lawsuit alleging that P320 pistols manufactured prior to August 8, 2017, have the ability to fire when the pistol’s slide and barrel are in an unlocked condition.
SIG SAUER denies plaintiffs’ claims. By entering into this agreement, SIG SAUER is not admitting that any of plaintiffs’ allegations have merit, and plaintiffs have not proven their claims.
In fact, it is SIG SAUER’s position that the design of the P320 pistol – both pre-upgrade and post-upgrade – prevents the P320 pistol from firing in an unlocked condition.
Despite this statement from the famed firearm manufacturer, problems with the P320 persist, and so do the lawsuits.
On February 19, 2021, Military.com reported:
A former U.S. Marine and federal agent has filed a $10 million lawsuit against Sig Sauer Inc. alleging that his holstered Sig P320 — a pistol that the Army’s new sidearm is based on — accidentally discharged, firing a 9mm bullet into his right leg.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday on behalf of Keith Slatowski in U.S. District Court in Pennsylvania, alleges his “substantial injuries” were the result of the handgun’s “potentially deadly design defects” that allow it to fire without the user pulling the trigger, according to a news release from Slatowski’s attorneys, Jeffrey Bagnell and Robert Zimmerman.
Slatowski was issued a P320 as his service weapon to use as a deportation officer for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Pennsylvania.
On Sept. 21, 2020, Slatowski was conducting his required, quarterly firearms training in New Castle, Delaware, according to the lawsuit. While on the firing line, he was instructed to draw and fire two rounds at the target.
When Slatowski “placed his hand on the pistol grip to draw it out of his holster, the weapon fired,” according to the lawsuit.
“Slatowski never touched the weapon’s trigger,” the suit alleges. “The bullet struck him in his upper right hip and exited out the back of his lower thigh, causing substantial injury, maceration of tissue, blood loss, and nerve damage.”
Furthermore, the lawsuit alleges that this defect in P320 has caused at least 28 accidental discharge incidents involving law enforcement officers, including 15 incidents that resulted in injuries.
How this will ultimately play out in court remains a mystery. My bet is this lawsuit will be settled out of court in an effort to stop negative press for the company in general and this pistol specifically.
Another lawsuit announced on July 6, 2020, also remains outstanding.
A Hillsboro man is suing Newington gunmaker Sig Sauer alleging his Sig P320 pistol fired, without him pulling the trigger, causing a bullet to be discharged into his thigh.
Kyle Guay’s six-count federal lawsuit mirrors claims from across the country and seeks double or triple damages for his injuries and loss of employment. He’s also asking a judge to order Sig Sauer to recall all P320 pistols, with a warning to owners that, “the weapon can fire without a trigger pull.”
“This is a dangerously defective gun that has already seriously injured many people, including Mr. Guay and law enforcement and other civilians,” said attorney Benjamin King, who is local counsel with CT attorney Jeffrey Bagnell. “Because Sig Sauer failed to correct design defects, the P320 stands to injure others. We hope this lawsuit sheds light on that danger.”
In Guay’s lawsuit, he alleges he was removing his outside-the-waistband Sig Sauer holster, in which his Sig P320 was secured, “when the pistol fired and hit him in the right thigh without him ever touching the trigger.”
“The hollow point bullet it discharged left a gaping wound in his thigh, caused nerve damage, and left pieces of the blown apart holster across the floor” on Jan. 28, according to the suit.
In August 2017, a Stamford, Connecticut, SWAT officer sued Sig after his holstered pistol fell and discharged a bullet into his knee, Guay alleges. Four days later, Sig “issued a press release stating that the P320 could fire without a trigger pull under certain conditions, including vibration, but ‘reaffirmed’ the safety of the P320 to all end users,“ it’s alleged.
That was followed by the voluntary upgrade program, which Guay alleges, was used by 20% of P320 owners, “ leaving hundreds of thousands of dangerous P320s still in circulation in the United States.”