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Gun Review: SIG SAUER P322 .22LR Rimfire Pistol


SIG SAUER P322 .22LR rimfire semi-automatic pistol review

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No, SIG SAUER’s new .22LR pistol — the P322 — is not a P320. But you’d be forgiven for mistaking it for one at first glance. When SIG set out to fill the rimfire hole in their handgun lineup, they didn’t decide to have another company build the new gun for them. Instead, unlike other entrants in the rimfire pistol space, SIG embarked on a 15-month effort to design and build the new P322 themselves. Even the magazines for the P322 are US-made.

SIG SAUER P322 .22LR rimfire semi-automatic pistol review

SIG’s engineers obviously kept their competitors’ guns in mind as they spec’d out the new design because they’ve matched or exceeded them, building in virtually every feature consumers look for in a semi-auto rimfire pistol these days. The one spec that will catch the most attention, though, is the P322’s impressive 20+1 standard magazine capacity that beats just about everything else out there.

In the end, what SIG has come up with is probably the most complete .22LR semi-automatic pistol on the market.

Features

SIG SAUER P322 .22LR rimfire semi-automatic pistol review

It’s not hard to see the SIG family resemblance in the P322. Many of the design cues of the the P320 and P365 are there in the new rimfire gun. That said, unlike the aforementioned striker-fired pistols, the rimfire P322 is an entirely new-from-the-ground-up design utilizing a stainless steel frame and a nicely serrated hard coat anodized aluminum slide.

SIG SAUER P322 .22LR rimfire semi-automatic pistol review

Unlike the P320 and P365, the P322 isn’t a modular design. The fire control group can’t be removed by the user and dropped into another grip frame.

SIG SAUER P322 .22LR rimfire semi-automatic pistol review

The P322, with its four-inch barrel, looks a lot like a compact striker-fired P320 pistol. But this ain’t no striker-fired gun. The P322 is a blowback operated, enclosed hammer, single action only pistol. And unlike many rimfire pistols, you can safely dry fire it as often as you like.

SIG SAUER P322 .22LR rimfire semi-automatic pistol review
The P322’s grip is textured like the P320 and P365 with a slight undercut.

The P322’s grip is slightly smaller than a standard P320’s with the same texturing as you’ll find on standard models of that gun and the P365. With the P322’s slight trigger undercut, just about every shooter with almost any size hands will be able to get a good, full grip on the light-recoiling .22 pistol and be more than comfortable shooting it.

SIG SAUER P322 .22LR rimfire semi-automatic pistol review
P322 (L), P365 XL (C), P365 (R)

Sadly, Jeremy didn’t have a P320 when he snapped the photo above, but that’s the P322 (with its threaded barrel adapter attached) on the left, the P365 XL in the middle and a standard P365 on the right. If you’re wondering, the P322 won’t work in P320 holsters. SIG will be selling a holster for the pistol and third party holster makers will be turning them out as well.

Did I mention the P322’s capacity? I did? That’s OK, it’s worth repeating.

SIG SAUER P322 .22LR rimfire semi-automatic pistol review
The SIG P322 ships with two standard American-made 20-round magazines.

SIG ships the P322 with two US-made standard 20-round magazines, giving the pistol 20+1 rounds of capacity. That means more time shooting and less time loading, something everyone appreciates, but that we’ve had too little of with too many rimfire pistols until recently.

If 21 rounds aren’t enough, SIG expects to start shipping a 25-round extended magazine in a few weeks (they’ll also have 10-rounders for you poor souls who live in capacity-limited states).

SIG SAUER P322 .22LR rimfire semi-automatic pistol review
The magazine well is beveled making mag loads smooth and easy.

SIG was a little fuzzy on the price of extra mags, but it looks like 20-rounders will run about $29.95 and 25-round extended mags will be priced at about $34.95. Or thereabouts.

SIG SAUER P322 .22LR rimfire semi-automatic pistol review
Loading the P322’s 20-round magazine to capacity without the included magazine loader is easy enough.

Again, SIG was not unaware of their competition’s offerings when when they designed this pistol. The P322’s closest rimfire rivals, the FN 502 Tactical and the Taurus TX22, have 15 and 16-round magazine capacity, respectively. The similar-sized GLOCK 44 holds only 10 rounds. Yes, the KelTec CP33 packs 33 rounds, but that pistol is its own animal and not really directly comparable to the SIG, the FN, the Taurus, or even the GLOCK.

All told, the P322’s 21 rounds make it the highest capacity rimfire pistol in its class.

SIG SAUER P322 .22LR rimfire semi-automatic pistol review
SIG includes a magazine loader with each P322 pistol.

SIG includes a sleeve to help you slide those loading tabs down as you insert rounds in the magazine. That’s nice, but in my experience, after loading dozens of P322 mags, you’ll probably only need the loader if you have reduced hand strength or very sensitive fingers.

The tabs on both sides that drop the follower make it plenty easy to load the P322’s magazines all the way down to 20 rounds (we haven’t seen the 25-round magazines yet).

SIG SAUER P322 .22LR rimfire semi-automatic pistol review
The P322’s rear sight is fully adjustable for windage and elevation.

SIG has equipped the P322 with a good set of green fiber optic iron sights. The front sight is fixed and the rear sight is adjustable for elevation and windage.

SIG SAUER P322 .22LR rimfire semi-automatic pistol review
Fiber optic sights, front slide serrations and a three-slot 1913 Picatinny rail.

If you don’t like green sights, SIG will be offering red and yellow light pipes, too.

But wait…all the really cool kids are running optics on their pistols these days, aren’t they? You betcha.

SIG SAUER P322 .22LR rimfire semi-automatic pistol review
The P322’s slide is optic ready.

SIG is well aware of that trend, which is why they’ve included an optic cut in the P322’s aluminum slide that will mount RMSc and — of course — SIG ROMEOZero micro red dot reflex sights.

SIG SAUER P322 .22LR rimfire semi-automatic pistol review
SIG’s ROMEOZero Elite red dot mounted on the P322

While the irons are excellent, the P322 makes a really good platform if you’re new to pistol red dots and looking to get comfortable shooting with one.

SIG SAUER P322 .22LR rimfire semi-automatic pistol review

Being a hammer-fired single action only design, the P322 has a frame safety. All controls are fully ambidextrous.

SIG SAUER P322 .22LR rimfire semi-automatic pistol review
The P322 has fully ambidextrous controls.

The P320-style triangular mag release button can be reversed for lefties.

SIG SAUER P322 .22LR rimfire semi-automatic pistol review
SIG ships the P322 with both flat and curved trigger shoes that are easy to switch out.

While the P322 may not be a modular design, its trigger is. SIG ships the P322 mounted with an increasingly popular flat trigger shoe. But if you’re a fan of a traditional curved trigger, SIG includes one of those, too, along with a tool to switch them out (although you can do the job easily enough without the tool).

Whichever shoe you use, the P322’s trigger breaks cleanly and has a relatively short, very tactile and audible reset. That’s a recipe for fun through fast, accurate mag dumps.

SIG SAUER P322 .22LR rimfire semi-automatic pistol review

Takedown is as easy as any modern striker-fired gun. Lock the slide back, flip the takedown lever and tilt the slide up and over the P322’s fixed barrel.

SIG SAUER P322 .22LR rimfire semi-automatic pistol review
The P322 barrel has a thread protector. Remove it and screw on the threaded barrel adapter to add the suppressor of your choice.

At the end of that fixed barrel is a thread protector.

SIG SAUER P322 .22LR rimfire semi-automatic pistol review
The P322’s threaded barrel adapter is 1/2×28 so you can easily add your favorite silencer.

SIG includes a threaded barrel adapter with the pistol so you can shoot the P322 suppressed like the courteous, civilized gun owner we know you are.

Reliability

As should be pretty clear by now, the P322 is a full-featured pistol, to say the least. It has pretty much everything you could ask for in a modern rimfire handgun. But none of that means anything unless it’s reliable, and that’s a bar some rimfire semi-automatic pistols have had trouble clearing.

SIG SAUER P322 .22LR rimfire semi-automatic pistol review

SIG told us that they put the the P322 through the same reliability testing as they do their duty guns, not that anyone expects these rimfire pistols to be used that way. They tells us they’ve run the P322 to 24,000 rounds and counting, including 5000 dry fire trigger pulls.

I shot the hell out of the P322 at a press event, putting well over 1000 rounds through a number of the guns, and during that time we downright abused one of them.

We split up our group into three squads and shot an eight-stage steel challenge match. The other two squads brought a few guns with them. Our five-man squad, however, shot all eight stages using only one pistol chosen at random to see if we could make it fail. It didn’t.

SIG SAUER P322 .22LR rimfire semi-automatic pistol review
That’s a very dirty P322, trying to show the five flutes in the chamber.

As you probably know, rimfire pistols tend to suffer from, well, rimfire ammunition. It’s not the most reliable ammo that’s manufactured and it’s dirty as hell.

One of the things SIG did to improve the reliability of the P322 was to add fluting to the chamber. This much the same as some HK guns (the P7 and the MP5, for instance). The fluting redirects some of the high pressure gases between the case and the chamber to help blow the empty cases out. That’s particularly important with rimfire ammo.

SIG SAUER P322 .22LR rimfire semi-automatic pistol review
These casings show the P322’s fluted barrel does what it’s supposed to do.

Does that work? Apparently. Take a look at the cases above shot with the P322. You can see the carbon marks that indicate those flutes are working as designed.

In the hundreds of rounds the five of us shot during that eight-stage steel challenge (we were using CCI Mini-Mags), we had only one failure to fire. On closer examination, that failure was due to a bad round…hardly unusual for rimfire ammo. Actually, given the number of rounds we went through, that’s a lot less than you’d expect given the typical performance level of rimfire ammunition, even better stuff like Mini-Mags.

In fact, we only found one way to keep the P322 from going bang every time we pulled the trigger . . .

SIG SAUER P322 .22LR rimfire semi-automatic pistol review
Lower the follower enough to load one round at a time and you’ll avoid any feeding problems.

If you drop the magazine’s follower all the way down and dump rounds into it, the ammunition can sometimes nosedive and become misaligned (above left). If that happens, a misaligned round won’t feed into the chamber when it gets to the top of the stack. That’s easily fixed by pushing down the loading tabs and tapping the mag on a surface.

The good news is that’s a user error you’ll only make once. It’s easy to avoid by simply lowering the follower only enough to load one round at a time. If you do that, the rounds line up perfectly (above right) every time and you’ll have no feeding problems.

We certainly didn’t. In the thousands of rounds we shot at the press event, we didn’t have a single case of rimlock. The magazines naturally stagger the rounds as you load them and work extremely well.

When TTAG got another production P322 to test on our own here in Austin (see Jeremy’s video here) we fed it a variety of ammo — Winchester Wildcat, Armscor, Federal Gold Medal Ultramatch, CCI Standard, American Eagle Suppressor Subsonic, and Federal Hunter Match in bullet weights from 36 to 45 grains. Some were lead bullets, some were plated. Some were waxed, some were lubed. The P322 cycled all of it without fail.

SIG SAUER P322 .22LR rimfire semi-automatic pistol review

The Verdict

Yes, that’s a lot of words, but there’s a lot to say about the P322…more than you’d expect for another rimfire semi-automatic. We were honestly impressed by the pistol’s incredibly broad feature set, performance, and its value.

SIG SAUER doesn’t do MSRP. Instead, they have MAP (minimum advertised price). The P322’s MAP is $399. That’s a remarkably low price for everything you get with the P322, right in the box.

SIG SAUER P322 .22LR rimfire semi-automatic pistol review

That doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily see the P322 priced that low at retail, especially at first when the gun first hits stores and will be in high demand. Expect prices more in the $449 to $499 neighborhood, but over time, the price will probably settle down.

It’s hard to say enough good things about the P322. It’s refreshing to see a pistol into which so much thought and design time has gone to make it a product that gun buyers really want (and many have been clamoring for). This is going to be a very popular pistol, particularly at its price. Given everything the P322 does and does admirably well, SIG SAUER appears to have a certified hit on its hands.

Specifications: SIG SAUER P322 .22LR Pistol

Caliber: .22LR
Capacity: 20+1 (25+1 w/extended magazine)
Length: 7″
Width: 1.4″
Height: 5.5″
Weight: 17.1 oz.
Barrel Length: 4″
Action: Single action only, enclosed hammer-fired
Price: $399 MAP (probably between $450 and $500 retail)

Ratings (out of five stars):

Reliability * * * * *
This is where the pistol really shines. SIG claims it shoots everything they fed it and the P322 shot everything we could find to put into it, from lighter weight bullets to slower subsonics. They all went bang and cycled consistently. Literally the only way we found to make the gun fail (short of a bad rimfire round) was to load the magazine incorrectly.

Accuracy * * * *
Flat shooting and tight groups out to 25 yards from a 4-inch barrel. The P322’s clean-breaking single action trigger helps in that regard.

Ergonomics * * * * *
If you’re a fan of SIG’s striker-fired 9mm guns — and an awful lot of people are — you’re going to be very happy with the P322. It has a grip size that’s somewhere between the P320 and the P365 (closer to the P320). With the P322’s familiar texture, easy-access magazine catch button, and excellent slide serrations fore and aft, the P322 will be an extremely comfortable gun to shoot for damn near everyone.

Customize This * * * * *
Wow. SIG has included it all, right there in the box. Two trigger shoes. A threaded barrel adapter. An optics cut, good iron sights, and a three-slot pic rail. That means you can set up the P322 to be and do literally everything you’d want a .22LR semi-auto to do from getting new shooters started, range plinking, and low-cost skills training to competition or even hunting small game.

Overall * * * * *
SIG SAUER set out to add the best, most reliable .22LR pistol on the market to their lineup and it’s hard to see how anyone can claim they haven’t done exactly that. Not only is the P322 all kinds of fun to shoot, but it’s amazingly versatile, impressively reliable, and priced at a point that — given everything you get with it — makes it the clear favorite in the semi-auto rimfire market. You’re definitely going to want a P322. The only problem for a while may be getting your hands on one.

 

 

 

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