In military parlance, the letter “X” attached to an object’s nomenclature usually means experimental. By no means is the SIG Sauer P320 X-Five an experimental firearm, but rather the sophisticated relative of the big Army’s replacement for the Beretta, sans bilateral thumb safeties.It also joins SIG Sauer’s X-Five fine family of steel and alloy, single-action-only and double/single-action precision pistols, whose prices range from $1,696 to $3,042 and are designed to meet any sport or practical shooting requirements.
A slick-looking pistol, it is the group’s first polymer/steel handgun. With a suggested retail a tad over one K (but usually selling for hundreds of dollars less), it is the least expensive of the X-Five line up.
The brainchild of former Capitol City Police officer, gun industry gypsy, and respected shooting competitor Phil Strader, the P320 X-Five will find a home in USPSA/IPSC’s Production Division if its flared magazine well and grip weights are removed and magazine base pads are flush with the base of the pistol’s butt.
Extremely flexible, it can also be adjusted for SSP (Stock Service Pistol) and ESP (Enhanced Service Pistol). With a red dot system, which it is designed to accept, it could compete in the new Carry Optics Division.
My most recent contact with IDPA officials indicates they are still trying to figure out what category the X-Five will fit into. Unfortunately, SIG seems to have ignored one of the most popular shooting venues. Perhaps the biggest clue to Strader’s intentions are its four 21-round magazines. IDPA limits loading magazines to ten rounds only.
Steel Challenge competitors should also give the pistol a good shake. For a reasonable investment with an approved holster, ample ammunition, and sufficient practice, a shooter could enter one of several action shooting disciplines with a race-ready pistol.
For those who do not focus on punching paper and slapping steel, the X-Five is available in two other versions. Both the X-Five Carry and X-VTAC feature the new frame and slide lightening cuts, but are designed for self-defense.
Of course, they could compete in one or more of the plethora of defensive class pistol divisions, whose organizations are attempting to be all-inclusive.
Opening the sturdy padded and lockable polymer carry case, we find the X-Five and four 21-round steel magazines with large and laterally stippled base pads that extend 5/8 inch below its yawning flared magazine well. The big stick’s extended profile and stippling aid forced magazine removal should such a stoppage occur.
To seat full-sized (FS) P320 17-round magazines or remove the non-ferrous grip module weight, the mag well has to be removed. Additionally, the case contains the obligatory security padlock, a sample of recommended gun oil, red and green fiber-optic front-sight replacement rods, a manual, factory decals, and documents.
Immediately noted is the absence of SIG’s polymer paddle holster, which can accommodate the X-Five. I don’t think they were embraced by serious shooters, but the X-Five readily slipped into my P320 Blackhawk SERPA holster.
BEAUCOUP FIRE SUSTAINABILITY
As previously mentioned, measurements and weight are designed to meet USPSA/IPSC match requirements. With pistol, three fully loaded magazines, and 63+1 115-grain rounds on board, its GTWW (Go to War Weight) is 69 belt-tugging ounces.
In hand, a fully loaded X-Five with 22 115-grain rounds starts out weighing 43.0 ounces; heavy for a Tupperware pistol, but still two ounces less than a fully charged 1911.
With four hi-cap tubes, the X-Five ensemble can potentially have 85 rounds on tap. All it would need is a shoulder stock and it could assume the military’s personal defense weapon’s mission.
Incidentally, the X-Five magazine will fit other P320s. A personal protection specialist packing a P320C might find the 21-round reservoirs useful for fire sustainability, augmenting reload should circumstances preclude the open carry of shoulder weapons.
There is no mechanical or design reason that the P320 X-Five could not be recruited for SWAT or special operations tasks. Its adjustable rear sight is rugged, but if they are tactical anathema, aftermarket fixed sights could be substituted, with the forward fiber optic replaced with a Tritium post.
Its flared magazine well concept is tactically sound, but I would prefer a smaller, subtler well that enhances reloading speed. It’s very high capacity magazine would minimize reloads and be an ideal sidearm for ballistic shield drivers, whose support arm is continuously occupied holding the portable armor while the dominant hand operates the handgun.
Rarely used in competition, its polymer frame features a Picatinny rail for mounting lights and lasers. Preceded by a small amount of take-up, its X-Five family’s flat/straight steel trigger breaks crisply and trips the sear at the 90-degree mark with no overtravel. Its consistent six-pound trigger is near ideal for tactical team work.
Other P320 Fire Control Assemblies (FCA) can be exchanged with the X-Five, so if desired, a curved trigger could easily replace the straight/flat lever.
The manual references a “Tamper Resistant Takedown Lever Screw” that is located on military-issue P320s’ frames just in front of the trigger guard. Apparently, soldiers will not be authorized to remove the FCA for field maintenance.
The X-Five is slightly larger than the FS piece, but fits many P320/P250 holsters. Adding heft is the 1:10 twist bull barrel that is recessed and crowned.
A front/rear 50/50 ratio is considered ideal for race cars. When SIG included the grip weight in the X-Five platform, such a balance ratio was Strader’s intent.
Dry, the X-Five feels muzzle heavy, but when a full magazine is onboard, that weight bias shifts significantly toward the grip, and the firearm achieves a neutral feel. Of course, as the magazine empties, weight gradually moves toward the muzzle, but is unnoticeable while acquiring targets.
UNIQUE FEATURES AND ERGONOMICS
As indicated, the X-Five is not just an FS P320 with several cosmetic changes. Essentially, it’s a new gun in a familiar profile. These upgrades have resulted in a 7.6-ounce weight gain over its antecedent. However, its slide features lightening cuts and is actually lighter than the FS P320’s.
Ostensibly, this speeds up slide cycling time for reducing shot-to-shot split times, but most likely to enable the pistol to accommodate custom match loads that produce lighter recoil. Bilateral slide stops facilitate port and starboard slide locking and releasing, which aids strong- and support-hand shooting.
Its grip has abandoned the bilateral thumb rests and is squarer and more angled than its earlier rounded siblings. Grip angle and 360-degree stippling remain the same. The hand adhesion stippling, though a bit more aggressive than on the older guns, is comfortable and works quite well.
The grip is undercut where it meets the trigger guard and is deep enough to function as a finger groove. Its reversible magazine release is enlarged and retains the arrow shape. The hooked trigger guard can accommodate Nomex-style flight gloves. The X-Five is currently available with a medium-size frame. It is not known if other size X-Five frames will be offered in the future.
INTERIOR AND DISASSEMBLY/ASSEMBLY
The fusion of the two halves of the receiver is almost flawless. You have to look carefully to locate the seam. Internally, the X-Five is unremarkable. You could be examining any version of the P320 line.
The slide rides on four small FCA rails, yet the slide-to-frame fit feels quite tight. In addition, the slide glides along the grooved polymer frame, and a minor degree of support is realized at the muzzle.
This internal sameness includes the slide and FCA, illustrating its modularity. Like the FS P320, the X-Five’s recoil spring is a single 4.67-inch flat 15- to 17-pound coil arrangement on a 1.4-ounce weighted guide rod. The fully throated barrel locks up at the breech.
Fieldstripping remains the same for all P320s. Point the pistol in a safe direction, remove the magazine, and lock the slide to the rear. Visually and tactilely check the chamber. Rotate the takedown lever clockwise to the six o’clock position. Retract the slide and it slide off the frame. Remove the recoil spring and lift the barrel up and out of the slide.
If you want to do a more thorough cleaning, remove the FCA by rotating the takedown lever back and forth while pulling it toward you. Remove the takedown lever. Push the FCA forward and lift out. Reassemble in the reverse order.
One of my shooters was a former SEAL who was one of the best marksmen to graduate from that esteemed fraternity of warriors. Also involved was long-time USPSA/IPSC competitor Jerry Wisecarver. He evaluated the X-Five from a competition perspective. Active in three-gun matches, he opined that the X-Five would be excellent for that demanding style of competition.
Former Federal Air Marshal Ken Trice evaluated the pistol from both competition and duty perspectives.
We all found the factory trigger acceptable but would like a lighter trigger for serious competition. Its flat/vertical trigger was interesting and we appreciated its vertical break, but its value will have to be determined over a period of time.For the type of shooting the X-Five is intended, its fiber optic sight, near seven-inch sight radius, and wide open rear sight aperture facilitated rapid sight alignment and tracking and presented a crisp sight picture.
For the T&E, I employed SIG’s superb ammunition. Shooters stated the SIG 115-grain FMJ and JHP loads felt “snappy” and thought they might be +P. Shannon Jackson of SJPR advised that both are standard-pressure rounds and SIG only loads .38 Super and .38 Special to +P pressures.
It seemed to go on forever when I ripped off 22 rounds as fast as I could and noticed that during my prolonged hosing, I never had to regrip the pistol. Control is exceptional.
We unanimously opted for the 147-grain fodder for run-and-gun matches. Its recoil was soft and displayed less muzzle climb than the lighter loads.
SIG’s 115-grain FMJ produced the highest average velocities at 1,232 feet-per-second (fps), and 124-grain VTAC JHP cut a 0.987-inch group at 75 feet.
All loads tested exceeded the USPSA/IPSC 9mm Power Factor of 125.
The X-Five has a different operational feel, but a good feel. Overall performances validated its race-ready claims, and the X-Five will perform as advertised. Reliability was 100%.
Considering its build quality, bells and whistles, and notable performances, the P320 X-Five is a sport pistol bargain. It is a great entry-level pistol, but will serve the veteran shooter as well. Its value is in its competition flexibility and readiness to race out of the carton.
With minor changes, tactical team studs and personal protection specialists should consider the P320 X-Five’s potential for their respective missions or at least obtain the 21-round magazines to augment fire sustainability.
Phil Strader and SIG have hit a home run.
Bob Pilgrim holds an MS degree, was a Marine Infantry officer during the Vietnam conflict, and retired as a special agent from the FBI, where he was the field SWAT program manager. His Special Operations and Research Unit created and trained the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team.