If there is such a thing as love at first sight, I felt it.
It was at the SIG Sauer VIP Range Day at SHOT 2017. I saw Kyle Lamb of Viking Tactics standing there, and next to him sat the prettiest little thing. She had svelte lines and a look that said, “Performance.” Her top looked as if it had been kissed by the sun; in the sunlight, it was a dazzling, golden-tan hue. Her bottom was all black and had curves that fit nicely in my hand.
I’m talking, of course, about the SIG Sauer P320 X-VTAC.
You’ve read reviews and background info on the P320, and it’s hard not to hear the buzz that followed the U.S. Army’s MHS contract announcement. But what makes the X-VTAC different?
NO CHOICE NECESSARY—FORM AND FUNCTION
The X-VTAC is the sexiest, out-of-the-factory, striker-fired gun on the market. But the things that give it its good looks have a point besides just standing around, looking amazing. I’ll take function over form every day of the week, but if given a choice, I want both. And the X-VTAC delivers.
The top of the slide has been machined to give it a fl at top, and the sides are machined from the top at a steeper angle. It’s almost impossible to miss the lightening cuts that are machined in. All of this is done to help mitigate the muzzle flip inherent in the P320.
Of course, all these things do enhance the look. In particular, I like how the front and rear sights are given a slight “hump” as a result of the machining on the slide top. It’s a great esthetic touch slightly reminiscent of an M9.
The flat-top slide has 11 line serrations that give it a “custom 1911” look. At the front of the slide are cocking serrations, which some people don’t like. As far as utility, I don’t routinely use them, but they do look good. Both front and back cocking serrations have wide grooves machined out with narrow ridges. It’s effective for getting good purchase on the slide, even with gloved or slippery hands.
The frame used for the X-VTAC is the X-Carry frame (and where the “X” in X-VTAC comes from), which will be available on different models and will come in different sizes. The front of the frame has been cut back at the dust cover; on the X-VTAC, it’s purely for cosmetics. It allows the front of the slide to extend past the frame, giving it a 1911 look.
Standard P320 grips keep with the feel of classic SIG handguns such as the P229 and P226, whereas the X-Carry grip uses fl at sides instead of a swell. The P320 grip back is mostly rounded; the X-Carry has a flatter angle at the top with a swell only at the bottom. It feels good and reminiscent of a CZ-75—one of the most ergonomic grips found on a metal gun.
The grip texture is the same one found on the standard P320 grip, and I like it. It’s kind of sandpaper-like and provides good purchase, but it’s not as aggressive as other textures out there.
The slide stop is ambidextrous and forward swept to get it out of the way. This helps prevent inadvertently locking the slide to the rear. It must work, because I didn’t have any issues when I fired it. The magazine release is swappable for left-handed use.
TAKE IT DOWN
Takedown is very simple and safe. To do so, the magazine has to be removed, and the slide must be locked back. All the user must do is check the chamber to make sure it’s clear. Then, rotate the takedown lever clockwise until it stops. Release the slide and ride it forward (do not release the slide catch and watch it fly) until it’s off. There’s no need to pull the trigger at any time. Remove the barrel and guide rod/spring assembly, and that’s it.
To remove the fire control group, pinch the takedown lever and wiggle it out completely. Grasp the front slide rails and pull forward and up, and it will come out.
A couple of observations from testing: One knock on the P320 is that it doesn’t do well with low-powered ammo. From the small sampling of offerings tested here, the X-VTAC doesn’t appear to have that issue.
On velocity, the Black Hills ammo was the most consistent, with the DoubleTap 77-grain following close behind it. I used a Caldwell Ballistic Precision Chronograph G2, which is one of my favorites. It’s “upside down” from other chronos and uses an active light source emitted from bottom up instead of relying on a passive light source from the top down. It almost entirely eliminates false readings and errors caused by inconsistent lighting from the sun. It also makes it reliable for use with indoor range lighting.
Regarding accuracy, my sample seemed to prefer the 124-grain and 147-grain loads. The best group of the day was from the Colt National Match (manufactured by DoubleTap) 124-grain FMJ, at 1.223 inches; and the best average of three five-shot groups was also the Colt National Match ammo, at 1.416 inches. The SIG 124-grain did far better than it showed. The first two groups were 1.328 and 1.381, and the first three shots on the third group were averaging 1.23 inch; then two fliers spread it out to 3.281 inches.
Another factor was that it was 23 degrees (F) when I shot, and all I had were shooting gloves. By the fourth string, I couldn’t feel my trigger finger, and my trigger pull suffered. But these are real-world factors.
|Load||Velocity (FPS)||Spread||Average accuracy (inches)||Smallest|
|SIG Sauer 124-grain V-Crown JHP||1,232||43||1.997||1.328|
|Colt National Match 124-grain FMJ||1,084||56||1.416||1.223|
|DoubleTap 77-grain Lead Free||1,589||24||2.457||1.901|
|Black Hills 124-grain JHP +P||1,253||19||1.537||1.241|
|Browning 147-grain BXP X-Point||986||37||1.507||1.479|
|Hotshot 115-grain FM||1,141||60||2.209||2.115|
|Aguila 115-grain FMJ||1,148||113||2.205||1.788|
NOTE: Accuracy testing was three five-shot groups at 12 yards. The velocity average was derived using five shots. A Caldwell Ballistic Precision Chronograph G2 was used.
So, what’s the scoop on the X-VTAC? According to SIG Pistol Production Manager Phil Strader, his goal is to have the X-VTAC ship no later than June 1, 2017. The two primary forces against him: getting enough sights and the P320 backlog SIG is contending with since the MHS announcement. It’s going to be in 9mm only—no .40 S&W, .357 SIG or .45 ACP. It’s only going to be available in FDE, and the MSRP is going to be set at $918.
Is it worth the extra cost over a standard P320? Well, I am buying one at the first opportunity. The MSRP for a standard P320 is $679. Add the VTAC sights for $200 and the trigger for $99, and you’re already up to $60 more than the X-VTAC—and that doesn’t include the upgraded slide with reduced muzzle flip and all-around good looks.
Author’s note: Special thanks to MJ Gunshop for helping me get my hands on the X-VTAC for testing.
ACTION TYPE: Semiauto
SLIDE: Stainless steel, FDE
FRAME: Polymer. Carry X-Series medium
MAGAZINE/CAPACITY: 17 rounds; includes three
TRIGGER: Striker-fired, X-Series straight trigger
SIGHTS: VTAC day/night sights
BARREL LENGTH: 4.7 inches
OVERALL LENGTH: 8.2 inches
HEIGHT: 5.6 inches
WEIGHT: 28.7 ounces (with empty magazine)
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the May 2017 print issue of Gun World Magazine.