A lot of good guns from reputable manufacturers are out there, but the clear front-runner for decades has been Glock. Many would say Glock sets the standard for the modern handgun. The Sig P320 might just be reaching for that position, though.
Before Glock came along, the general public tended to buy what the U.S. Military used. From the early days of the Colt revolver to the 1911, the military took the lead on weapons. In 1985, they chose the Beretta M9, a well-made gun that gained some traction with law enforcement and citizens. But then Glock hit the U.S. market. It started off slow but then took off like fire in the 90s because Glock knew to target their marketing to police agencies across the country. They believed people would buy what the police bought, and they were right.
Once Glock established a U.S. headquarters, sales took off. Not just to law enforcement, but to gun stores across the country. Other good guns were being produced but Glock had something they did not. The Glock was lighter, more durable, accurate, and cheap. They set a new standard that even the legendary gun companies started to copy. Glock kept running and never looked back. You can now buy a Glock clone from most large gun companies. But then Sig’s P320 (or M17 for the military version) came along in 2014. Could it be closing in on Glock?
What does the Sig P320 have to offer?
For a firearms manufacturer to compete with Glock on a global scale, it needs to have something new that stands apart from all the other guys. Sig released the P320 model as a new modular semi-automatic handgun with interchangeable grip modules that can be changed to fit a person’s hand. With that, the days of wrapping the grip with grip tape or rubber are gone. The entire frame of the gun can be switched out for the color and size a person wants.
Sig, just like Glock, uses John Browning’s tilting barrel design. What Sig did differently, though, was make a frame that allows the entire trigger system (fire control unit) to lift out of the frame without any tools. If you want a grey frame, you can get one. If you want a Wilson Combat frame with a different feel to the grip, it will cost less than $100 and 60 seconds to change it.
While the P320 didn’t take off like fire, some law enforcement agencies started using them. They slowly continued to gain in popularity, but they got a good boost in 2017. On January 19, 2017, the US Military announced they had awarded the Sig the contract for the standard issue side arm for the US Military. The military version of the Sig P320 was named the M17 and would replace the Beretta. The Sig P320 was only the 3rd sidearm to be standard issue for the US Military since 1911. Guess who else was part of the competition but didn’t get selected? Glock.
Note: While the M17 had an added manual safety and some other minor changes like the sights, I will use the term P320 as a generic term for both the P320 and M17.
Setbacks for Glock?
Glock was passed over for the Beretta 9mm back in 1985 and still became the most popular handgun on the planet. So, should they be worried about being passed over for the Sig P320? Not necessarily. Just because the military chose them doesn’t mean Glock will falter. Some law enforcement agencies used Beretta’s but most of them jumped from revolver to Glock. Sig, however, has already started to become popular among police. And while quality and reliability were not the issues with Glock, they still got turned down by the US Military. This was in spite of the fact that most federal agencies and some Special Forces units of the military were already using Glocks.
There is debate as to what caused a slump in sales, but in 2017 (the year Sig won the Military contract) Glock sales were reported to have declined by 36%. After the Military started using Sig, citizens also started taking a closer look. To make matters worse for Glock, Australia and Canada announced this year that the P320 will also be their new standard sidearm. In 2020, Mexico placed an order for 50,000 of the P320s. That leaves us where we are today. Glock dominates the Law Enforcement market and Sig has a firm grip on the US and other military markets.
Who will come out on top?
Like the 1911, Glock has battled through the years without needing any major changes to their design. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it, right? The P320 platform has not been around for nearly as long, but it has started to challenge Glock for setting the standard. However, Glocks are good reliable guns, and the biggest thing they have going for them is their availability and aftermarket parts. I don’t remember the last time I went to a gun store that didn’t have Glocks for sale. More companies also make aftermarket mags, triggers, sights, and other accessories for Glock. The exception to this would be the 1911.
When it comes to aftermarket mags and accessories, Sig is still far behind Glock. But they are making improvements. Any of the vendors we use for police supplies carry about any type of holster for Glock and Sig P320s. Mags are starting to be more popular with companies like ETS, Pro Mag, and ACT. What the 320 does have going for it are the removable fire control unit and replaceable lower grips. One simple grip replacement can change the entire look of the gun. The P320 did well during the Military’s testing and is considered to be very reliable.
I don’t have the answer as to who will win this battle. Maybe Sig will surpass Glock down the road. Or maybe Glock will remain the standard even though they are not the appointed U.S. military sidearm. Glock was created as a military gun and yet became popular outside the military. The P320 was already on the market and modified to be a military gun, where it found its popularity. I own and train with both weapons and I can’t say I would be disappointed either way. Glock is a reliable and durable gun. I personally think they’re on the ugly side, but that’s not the point when you need a battle-ready gun. Glock has proven that missing out on a military contract does not keep you from dominating the market anyway.
The P320 has a look to it that makes me think it is a grandchild of the 1911. I like how they feel when shooting and the ability to customize them. Both guns are superior handguns that would work well for anyone wanting a solid firearm right out of the box. Holsters, mags, and other accessories are easy to find. Whatever your preference, you can’t go wrong with either one of these guns. As to which one will be on top in the future? Well, that will be up to the citizens.