Without a doubt, the centerfire P322 prototype in the form of the SIG Sauer P320 is probably the most versatile service pistol in the world. Thanks to its stainless steel modular trigger assembly (FCU, Fire Control Unit) with integral slide guide rails, the polymer grip frames can be purchased in all sizes and colors and thus adapted to the desired application. From the compact pistol for concealed carry to the sporty 5" version, everything is possible. In addition, the SIG Sauer P320 X-Five Legion is a complete pistol or an interchangeable grip module that can add more weight to the scale thanks to its symbiosis of long-chain polymer and tungsten powder. This is joined by the P320 AXG Pro with an aluminum grip module. We dare to look into the crystal ball and suspect that there could soon be a steel-grip P320, because there it's not a long way to go from aluminum to steel. In addition to the available calibers .45 Auto, .40 S&W and 9mm Luger, the brand-new P320 X-Ten has given a new platform to the 10 mm Auto, which is currently booming again in the USA. However, the "downsizing" of the P320 for the popular .22 LR rimfire cartridge is likely to be far more interesting and successful – and the model designation P322 fits this like a glove.
What makes the SIG Sauer P322 in .22 Long Rifle so special?
"Downsizing" is only to be understood in a general sense, as the P322's technology is, of course, quite different from the P320. Instead of the positive-locking Browning-Petter-SIG system of the large-caliber centerfire pistol, the rimfire pistol is a blowback-operated gun with a fixed barrel. The slide spring encasing the barrel is secured by the barrel thread protector so that it cannot pop off during disassembly and removal of the slide. With an included threaded adapter, silencers with ½"-28 threads can thus be mounted – where allowed by law, of course. The aluminum slide features a steel insert, which also serves to hold the firing pin and its safety. Despite the high magazine capacity, the polymer grip with a large undercut at the transition point of the frame front to the trigger guard underside pleases with its effective ergonomics, while the discreet surface texture provides sufficient grip. The P322's manual safety and slide stop are designed for ambidextrous operation, and the magazine release can also be swapped from left to right. A trigger shoe is included so that the curved trigger blade can be converted into a straight one.
The trigger shoe has a small “nose” at its end so that the trigger finger can always be positioned safely. The measured trigger pull weight was around 1,560 grams, which is quite a good value for such a rimfire pistol. What sets the SIG P322 apart from many of its competitors is, on the one hand, the 20-round magazine and, on the other, the ability to mount a mini red dot sight directly on the slide. However, red dot users will have to rely on the SIG Sauer Electro Optics Romeo Zero, which comes from the same stable and features a lightweight polymer frame and lens.
Weighing only about 14 grams, it has no significant impact on the rimfire pistol cycling. We have the small red dot sight with manually adjustable brightness and 3 and 6 MOA dot sizes starting at about 250 euro. This is only an option, because the P322 is factory equipped with elevation- and windage-adjustable mechanical sights with green fiber optic inserts, which are quite practical. While we're on the subject of options, a 25-round magazine is also available.
On the shooting range with the .22 SIG Sauer P322
Manufacturers of .22 LR pistols with a one-piece full slide do not have an easy time adapting their guns to the sheer variety of ammunition. From medium to HV loads, to different bullet weights and shapes and a wide variety of quality grades – the range is hardly as wide for any other cartridge. Added to this is the 20-round magazine, which is also an ambitious project for a rimfire cartridge in terms of functional reliability. If you research the new SIG Sauer P322 on the worldwide web, you'll find a lot of negativity on U.S. sites and in forums regarding its functional reliability and quick barrel lead. Therefore, we were curious to see what the tests on the shooting range would reveal. In terms of accuracy, the CCI Standard and the Mini-Mag from the same company shared the victory with an average of 38 mm from two 5-shot groups. This was followed by the Federal discount brand American Eagle with the 38-grain hollow point bullet at 44 mm. Third place went to the Aguila Standard with a 50-mm grouping which, like the Interceptor (64-mm shot group) from the same stable, had a failure to fire. At least on the second strike, these cartridges were then coaxed to function. The Aguila Interceptor, with its roughly 340 m/s and nearly 150 joules, already gave a bit of a magnum feeling. Once the 20-round magazine is filled, the low price of ammunition literally invites it to be emptied in dynamic drills. There were a total of four feed malfunctions in the test. Whether this was due to the magazine could not be definitively determined; we also used the spare magazine included in the scope of delivery. Nevertheless, the user manual recommends marking them to better identify a problematic magazine.
SIG Sauer P322 in .22 LR specs and price
|Model:||SIG Sauer P322|
|Magazine Capacity:||20 rounds|
|Grip:||Polymer with steel inserts|
|Slide:||Aluminum, black coated|
|Barrel Length, profile:||4”/102 mm, 6R rifling|
|Rear Sight:||3.7 mm, fully adjustable, with green fiber optic inserts|
|Front Sight:||3.4 mm, with green fiber optic insert|
|Sight Radius:||170 mm|
|Trigger Action, Pull Weight/Span:*||SA:1,564 g, 24 gram|
|Weight (incl. Magazine):||491 g|
|Dimensions (LxWxH):||178x34x138 mm|
|Extras:||Hard case with spare magazine, straight trigger shoe|
|Price (MSRP in Germany):||709 euro|
| * Mean of 10 measurements with the Trigger Scan System:|
SIG Sauer P322 in .22 LR: test conclusion
Despite the negative "premature comments" from the USA, the SIG Sauer P322 left a good impression on us in testing. A sleek design, good handling characteristics, ambidextrous operation, usable function and good shooting performance coupled with the special features of high magazine capacity and the elegant method of mounting a red dot sight speak for the new East Coast original. After about 500 rounds, there was also no excessive barrel lead, at least on our test gun. However, with a price of 709 euros, the P322 is not quite cheap compared to competitors, but in our opinion it still has a lot to offer.