Review of the SIG Sauer P320 X-Five
I have to admit, I’m pretty excited to share this review. The excitement started back in January at SHOT Show 2017 when I got my hands on the pre-production version of the P320 X-Five which SIG was showing in their booth:
As a competitive shooter in several action shooting sports, the new X-Five really looked like an answered prayer. Designed from the ground up to be a competition handgun, it sported features which would make the X-Five ideal for many different shooting sports. Removeable flared mag well, 5-inch slide and bull barrel, Dawson fiber optic front sight, a weight-reduced slide, and a weighted back strap to help reduce felt recoil are among the many features the P320 X-Five features for competition use.
After receiving it from SIG (to whom I’m eternally grateful for the opportunity to test this firearm) I headed out to the range and ran about 300 rounds of SIG’s own Elite Performance 115gr. FMJ (range ammo), and about 100 rounds of my 124gr. Blazer Brass FMJ. It should be no surprise that there were no failures (in either the gun or the ammunition) in the 400 rounds I fired.
Before I talk about my range session with the X-Five, I should probably explain that I compete with and conceal carry a P320 Compact with a Trijicon RMR milled into the slide. Before getting my RMR’d P320 Compact (which I’ve been shooting the last couple of years) for four years I shot a S&W M&P Compact which also had a milled slide to accept a Leupold Deltapoint red dot. So it’s been at least six years since I’d shot a gun that didn’t have a red dot optic. Quite honestly, I expected a steep learning curve with the X-Five, transitioning from P320 Compact with an optic. After about 100 rounds down range though, I was shooting the X-Five quite well – and by the end of the session, I was shooting the X-Five as well or better than my P320 Compact. I compared my performance with the X-Five on a standard six plate rack, standing 10 yrds./30ft. from the target. Here are my results with the P320 X-Five:
Just a couple of months ago, I recorded a video of my shooting this same plate rack with the RMR’d P320 Compact. Here was the time from my best run at the same distance:
This was really astonishing to me – my performance with a firearm that had iron sights would come anywhere near to my performance with a red dot optic…much less one that I just took out of the box and started shooting. Those numbers are darn close – which tells me that with some practice, I should be able to improve my performance numbers significantly with the X-Five.
The X-Five has amazing balance and just wants to come out of the holster and up on target every time. The Dawson Precision green fiber optic front sight lined up with the adjustable rear sight makes target acquisition a breeze.
The long sight radius combined with the Dawson Precision sights made shooting “iron sights” with speed and accuracy at levels I simply didn’t think I was capable of doing without a red dot optic. Stock trigger felt surprisingly good – especially considering the fact that I didn’t think I’d like shooting a flat faced trigger.
It’s important to note that the rear sight is mounted on a panel that can be removed, revealing a milled area in the slide where a red dot optic (like the SIG Romeo 1) can be mounted. My primary use for the SIG P320 X-Five is for “iron sights” use, but I plan on doing a seperate article testing the X-Five with a red dot optic.
Many competition shooters are going to be very curious about the X-Five trigger as it comes from the factory. The standard P320 trigger is one of the cleaner, crisper, and better feeling triggers available on any striker fired pistol. However, it is heavier than optimal in pull weight for competition use – about 7.5 lbs. SIG equipped the P320 X-Five with a flat-faced trigger – something that’s only been available as an aftermarket part for the P320 up until the X-Five. Flat-faced triggers are growing in popularity among competitive shooters in recent years. Previously to shooting the X-Five, I viewed them as a “flash-in-the-pan” trendy gimmick, and never really gave a flat faced trigger a chance. Having spent some time with the X-Five trigger, I’m officially converted. With a curved trigger, when you draw, you’ve got a fairly small margin of error for finger placement for optimal performance. When competition shooters who are trying to go as fast as humanly possible draw, it’s easy to not hit that sweet spot. As I learned in my first outing with the SIG P320 X-Five, that margin of error widens considerably with a flat fast trigger.
SIG lists the trigger pull of the X-Five right at 6 lbs. That’s very consistent with the measurement results on the model I was sent (average of 5 trigger pulls):
SIG lists the pull weight of the standard P320 at 6.5 lbs. on their website. Most that I’ve tested come in closer to 7 lbs., and even Bruce Gray in his PELT installation video states that most P320 triggers average about 7.5 lbs. in weight. But the X-Five trigger pulled at a lower weight than the standard P320 trigger and also felt better too.
Early this year Grayguns (GGI) released the PELT replacement trigger for the P320. I had a couple of extra trigger kits (one curved, one flat faced) so I decided to experiment a bit. I mixed and matched various configurations of the stock trigger, the GGI trigger spring, and the GGI replacement trigger. The combination that yielded the lowest trigger pull weight was the GGI replacement spring coupled with the GGI flat faced trigger. You can read my review of the GGI PELT trigger, but the characteristics of that trigger in the X-Five remain consistent with those in other P320 models. The reset is slightly less discernable and tactile than stock, but very little over-travel.
A 4.5 lb. trigger weight isn’t bad at all. I look at the SIG P320 X-Five as SIG’s answer to the 2011 platform in competition shooting. Heck, with the flared mag well and the cuts in the slide, the X-Five even looks a bit like a 2011. STI is one of the larger, more popular brands of 2011 type firearms for competition, and their models typically have a trigger pull weight of about 2.5 lbs. – or a difference of about 2 lbs. In the action shooting sports for which this firearm was designed, that 2 lb. difference may or may not be a big deal depending on the shooter. To me, it’s not a big deal – certainly not a difference that I feel will show up on the score sheet. Again, going back to my initial range session with the P320 X-Five with the stock trigger, I was challenging the performance numbers I’ve seen with my RMR’s P320 Compact which has the GGI PELT trigger. For shooters who are concerned about their defensive skills, having a trigger in the competition gun that doesn’t feel or pull radically different from their carry gun will be seen as an advantage.
Going back to the 2011 analogy, I really do think the P320 X-Five is in many respects SIG Sauer’s answer to the 2011 competition platform. What they’ve produced in the X-Five is a legitimate alternative to going the 2011 route. Is it better? It depends on the qualities you value. I’ve observed a LOT of guys drop ~$3000.00 on a top 2011. The P320 X-Five retails for $1005.00 – with two more magazines included than most 2011 manufacturers will include. Purchase an X-Five and you can literally leave the gun store and go right to a match and shoot it. Can you do that with a 2011? How much “break in” is usually required? Is a 2011 a more customizable, tunable platform that’s more capable of reaching bleeding edge performance? Yes. But the X-Five counters with inherently greater reliability – a huge advantage. Another advantage in favor of the X-Five are the magazines. Right now, SIG is the only one making them, and they’ll run you about $50.00 each, but that’s literally half (or less) of what top 2011 magazines will cost you. And you don’t have to hold your breath every time you eject a magazine, for fear the impact on the ground will warp the delicately tuned feed lips. Of course, the P320 X-Five isn’t perfect. As good as the X-Five trigger is, many competition shooters will want to either replace it or have custom work performed. But the same could be said of nearly any firearm a competition shooter purchases. The grip texturing on the new X-Five grip module is also very good, but there again many competition shooters will want to customize the grip texture to suit them. The point here is that out of the box the P320 X-Five offers a very compelling product for the competition shooter – even if they have no previous experience on the P320 platform. But for those who already shoot a variant of the P320 platform for concealed carry or home defense, the P320 X-Five is almost a no-brainer for use in competition. The advantages of shooting a firearm in competition with the same battery of arms as the firearm you carry for defensive purposes cannot be over emphasized.
Clearly the new SIG Sauer P320 X-Five well meets my needs as a competitive shooter. Potentially the same model with slight adjustments could be successfully used in three different USPSA divisions – Productions, Limited, and Carry Optics (as of this writing, the X-Five hasn’t been officially approved for use in USPSA). It certainly will be a strong choice for 3-Gun competition, and potentially even in IDPA. Striker fired polymer firearms (“service pistols”) like the P320 line have successfully been used in the action shooting sports for years. But to do so, it usually required extensive, time-consuming customization and modification. The X-Five takes everything that’s great about the P320 (proven reliability chief among them) and put it inside a package that’s ready to race in most any action shooting sport right out of the box at a very reasonable price point – that’s no small accomplishment.
Watch out 2011 – plastic just got a whole lot more fantastic.
For those sold on getting an X-Five, but are wondering what to do for a holster, allow me to offer up a recommendation. William Martin of Defensive Training Solutions, located in Troy, Ohio. Bill put this fantastic carbon fiber and kydex competition holster together for me to my specifications:
He’s one of the few guys in the US who can actually make a holster for the P320 X-Five right now. Click HERE to order your own custom holder, and drop Bill a line at firstname.lastname@example.org – tell him John from ThruMyLens sent you! I’ll be doing a full review of this holster in the next week.
In addition to this written photo review, I’ve recorded a supplemental video review of the SIG Sauer P320 X-Five:
John B. Holbrook, II
John B. Holbrook, II is a freelance writer, photographer, and author of ThruMyLens.org, as well as LuxuryTyme.com and TheSeamasterReferencePage.com. *All text and images contained in this web site are the original work of the author, John B. Holbrook, II and are copyright protected. Use of any of the information or images without the permission of the author is prohibited.