Regardless of the sport, once the top player releases their Signature piece of equipment, it becomes an instant hit. While often, this equipment has zero effect on the purchasers’ performance (looking at you, Air Jordans), this isn’t always the case in the world of shooting sports. The Sig Sauer P320MAX falls into this category.
The Sig Sauer P320MAX
Sig’s latest was developed with the input of USPSA champion Max Michel. It has been his carry-optics gun for the entire 2021 shooting season. Built on the XFive Legion footprint, this 9mm striker-fired beast has everything you need to dominate the production-based class.
Get Competition Ready
When you first pick up a Sig Sauer P320MAX, you will likely notice its heft. This is thanks to the tungsten-infused polymer grip module that has been getting tons of attention lately.
For those not familiar with the P320 platform, a grip module is essentially a frame without any of the bang parts. Those parts are simply dropped in via a self-contained unit called the FCU (Fire Control Unit).
Back to the grip frame. This union of plastic and metal yields the necessary weight to soak up nearly all of the felt recoil. Additionally, it provides a surface that accepts stippling easily so that the shooter can obtain their best purchase.
This is evident by the skate tape-like panels that are found around the grip’s entirety. This grip module also comes with a removable mag-flair, which answers the question of “why is it there if it’s not division legal.” The module came first.
The P320MAX was an afterthought. Luckily, there’s just one hex screw that stands in the way of you and the carry-optics division. Or simply leave it installed if you don’t plan on competing. I like that Sig leaves it up to the shooter.
It also provides a bit of futureproofing if there is ever a change to the rules. Hey, it can happen. After all, flashlights are match legal now. For this reason, this module also includes a five-slot Picatinny rail underneath to attach the heaviest one possible. This helps to compensate for not having a compensator (that’s fun to write).
ROMEO3 Max Optic
This fantastic grip module hosts the star of the show—the slide. The slide of the P320MAX is built from stainless steel construction and houses a 5-inch bull barrel. These components comprise the majority of the remaining weight and make for an extraordinarily balanced package.
Deep serrations cover the entire surface of the slide and allow for effortless racking. It doesn’t matter how sweaty your hands get from the rigors of competition.
While the gawdy cocking serrations aren’t a show-stopper, the pre-mounted ROMEO3 Max just might be. This 6-MOA red dot sight is built with a massive 30mm window that might as well be a Cadillac windshield. The oversized lens makes picking up the dot simple and instinctive.
If you are looking to make the changeover from iron sights, this optic is going to expedite the process. Powered by a single CR2032 battery, a side-mounted compartment allows you to change it out without having to unmount the entire sight. However, with a battery life expectancy of 25,000 hours and an auto on/off feature, it’s almost a moot point.
First Shots with the P320MAX
The idea behind the P320MAX is that there are no steps between the gun store and the range to fire your first shots. So, after signing some paperwork, I went straight to work. Once I was at the range, I unpacked the gun, a variety of Federal Syntech ammunition, and a specialized holster from my friends at 3i and set out to put Michel’s rig to the test.
I started with a quick zero confirmation and found that out of the box, the impacts were close but not perfectly centered on the target. I set an NRA B-3 target at 25 yards and zeroed with the 124-grain offering. This is the middle ground of the three weights that I had with me.
I chose this distance because it made the math easy (four clicks equal one inch). Likewise, it’s also an appropriate distance for accuracy testing a full-size pistol. After centering up, I shot five, five-shot groups. I found that groups inside of 3 inches were no tall task for this pistol. It liked all of the loads just about equally but seemed to favor the 124-grain range fodder best.
The Need For Speed
Accuracy testing is necessary for any gun evaluation. However, you don’t buy a P320MAX for slow-fire precision; you buy it for speed. The remainder of my testing addressed the intended purpose of the gun. This included presentations, transitions, shot recovery, and the essential manipulations that you could expect when shooting an IPSC stage.
The first thing that I realized is that this thing is stupid-fast with follow-up shots. The weight has a lot to do with this. Since we’re talking an overall weight of more than 3 pounds (when fully loaded), the tiny 9mm recoil is like a gentle breeze trying to move a brick. This lets you drive the gun as fast as you can press the trigger while remaining inside of the A-zone at conventional IPSC distances.
Getting the gun out of the holster was lightning quick, thanks to 3i. But finding the dot so fast has to be credited to the engineers at Sig. I’m not a pistol optics guy by any stretch. However, after just a few dozen draws, I was able to pick up the dot fast as I do my iron sights.
Between the enlarged lens and the natural rounded shape of the housing, I barely had to modify my presentation to get on target out of the holster. If time allows, I am 100 percent certain that I can be faster with this red dot than I am with irons. The key phrase here is “if time allows.”
Putting Rounds on Target
One of the benefits of Federal’s Syntech ammo is that it doesn’t contain a copper jacket. As a result, it’s far safer to shoot at steel targets. That shouldn’t be read as frangible, but it does take away a little bit of the pucker factor.
That being said, it would be foolish to send these all on cardboard. Especially when I have an entire shooting bay full of steel at my disposal. My initial rounds were directed at a full-sized IPSC target. Here, I worked on getting my target acquisition up to par with my iron-sight setup.
After a few magazines worth of ammo, I was able to muster a time of 1.15 seconds for a single round in the A-zone from 12 yards. That’s pretty good for my first day with the gun. After which, I worked on transitions from that target to a pepper-popper that we’d set up from a previous match. I found that the gun swung without a ton of effort and stopped on the next target as if I had smacked a wall.
I finished the day off by banging away at the club’s plate rack from a distance of 20 yards. From the holster, I was able to get a clean run in as little as 4.27 seconds. This is slightly better than what I’m good for on an average day.
During all of my work, I performed both tactical, and emergency reloads of the firearm and gained an appreciation for the ambidextrous slide release. As a lefty, I had no issue actuating the mag release with my trigger finger, nor reaching it with my thumb when I shot it weak side. Of course, if your experience differs, this control is reversible.
The Sig Sauer P320MAX is an Exceptional Performer
The Sig P320MAX turned out to be an exceptional performer, which wasn’t much of a surprise. With a street price of around $1,500, it is a bit pricey. But remember that you can take that same FCU and drop it into a carry setup. This offsets the cost when you consider two pistols that have the same trigger and controls.
It also pays to remember that this gun includes four 21-round magazines and a high-end optic already installed. This also makes it a little easier to open your wallet. Money aside, the P320MAX was a lot of fun to shoot and shaved a few seconds off of my times. While it didn’t quite make me quite as good as Max Michel, it definitely pointed (me) in the right direction.
For more information, please visit SigSauer.com.
Sig Sauer P320MAX Specs
Barrel: 5 inches
Overall Length: 8.5 inches
Weight: 43.5 ounces (empty)
Grips: TXG (black/gray)
Sights: ROMEO3 Max 6MOA
Finish: Nitron (slide); Stainless steel (frame)
This article originally appeared in the January/February 2022 issue of Tactical Life magazine. Get your copy today at OutdoorGroupStore.com.