July 16, 2018

More Legal Problems for SIG's P320

The Loudoun Times-Mirror website is reporting that a Loudoun County (Virginia) deputy has filed a lawsuit against SIG Sauer alleging that her fully-holstered P320 duty weapon discharged and sent a bullet into her leg.

According to the newspaper's account, the incident occurred this year on Feb. 7, "when 37-year-old Loudoun County Deputy Marcie Vadnais went to the Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Academy to attend a general instructor course."

The Times-Mirror further reported, "In accordance with academy policy, Deputy Vadnais began removing her firearm from her belt when she arrived."

sig sauer p320

SIG’s voluntary upgrade of the P320 trigger shoe replaces the thicker original design (shown, arrow) with a thinner, lighter shoe.

According to the lawsuit, as she fed the belt through the holster’s first tooth, her SIG Sauer P320 somehow “fired one nine millimeter bullet, which hit her in the upper right thigh.”

“At no time during this incident did she touch the trigger, which at all times was inside and covered by a SIG-manufactured holster,” the lawsuit reads. The round shattered the deputy’s femur in several places and caused "massive blood loss and other internal injuries,” according to the suit.

Deputy Vadnais, a seven-year veteran of the force, still has shrapnel and bone fragments embedded in her leg. A steel rod now holds her femur in place.

"At Gun Tests, our shooters have had no problems with the P320 in terms of reliability and had no malfunctions with it," said Todd Woodard, editor of Gun Tests magazine. "We gave it a 'Grade B' rating in our first report on it in 2015. Many of our readers have told us they won't buy 'B'-rated guns. Especially when there was another handgun in the test, a Heckler & Koch VP9 9mm Luger, which earned a 'Grade A' rating and was 'Our Pick.'"

"In the November 2016 issue, we tested a different version, the SIG Sauer P320 Carry 320CA-9-BSS, which earned an 'A' grade," Woodard said.

“If our team had experienced a safety problem with a test firearm like what’s been reported,” Woodard said, “we would have given the P320 an ‘F’ or failing grade — and we would have unequivocably told our readers not to buy it. But we bought two over-the-counter handguns and simply didn’t have a problem with them.”

Still, Woodard said, “It’s incumbent on us to follow up our reviews with some of the reported problems and legal actions affecting the P320."

In the most recent legal action, Deputy Vadnais is seeking $10 million in damages and to have SIG Sauer recall the pistol. In the suit, the deputy suggested that the company issue an “enhanced, unambiguous warning to all purchasers of the P320, stating that it can fire without a trigger pull in its existing condition.”

sig sauer p320 trigger replacement

SIG Sauer

If you have a P320 with the thicker trigger, click here to learn more about the upgrade.

SIG has released a statement that “reaffirms the safety of the P320 pistol":

In response to social media rumors questioning the safety of the P320 pistol, a variant of which was selected by the U.S. government as the U.S. Army’s Modular Handgun System (MHS), SIG SAUER, Inc. has full confidence in the reliability, durability and safety of its striker-fired handgun platform. There have been zero (0) reported drop-related P320 incidents in the U.S. commercial market, with hundreds of thousands of guns delivered to date.

The P320 meets and exceeds all U.S. standards for safety, including the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute, Inc. (SAAMI), as well as rigorous testing protocols for global military and law enforcement agencies.

All SIG SAUER pistols incorporate effective mechanical safeties to ensure they only fire when the trigger is pressed. However, like any mechanical device, exposure to acute conditions (e.g. shock, vibration, heavy or repeated drops) may have a negative effect on these safety mechanisms and cause them to not work as designed. This language is common to owner’s manuals of major handgun manufacturers.

As a result, individual attempts to perform drop tests outside of professionally controlled environments should not be attempted.

“SIG SAUER is committed to producing only the finest products,” said Ron Cohen, President and CEO of SIG SAUER. “Safety and reliability have been and always will be paramount to the SIG SAUER brand.”

For more information on SIG Sauer safety:

1. Gun Tests March 2015 Review

2. Gun Tests November 2016 Review

3. SIG SAUER Issues Voluntary Upgrade of P320 Pistol (August 2017)

4. P320 Upgrade Program: Explanation Of Changes Made To The P320 Pistol

5. Trigger Warning  (CNN, June 6, 2018)

6. Vincent A. Sheperis Civil Suit (Stamford, CT; January 5, 2017)

7. Omaha Outdoors SIG P320 Drop-Testing Video

Comments (14)

Having a negligent discharge in a crowded room would probably earn you at least a reprimand. Your very first thought is "No, I didn't Do that. I couldn't do anything that dumb." Along with the chaos of a bullet in your leg you could easily convince yourself that you are the victim. Problem is, removing the holster from your belt doesn't even mildly shake the gun. Yet Something made it go bang.

Posted by: Dho | August 1, 2019 10:28 AM    Report this comment

I recently purchased an XCarry, which I thoroughly enjoy shooting. To date I have fed my Sig about 600 rounds of varied 9mm ammo without a hiccup. Now that I am familiar with it, I am ready to conceal carry, but find myself a bit hesitant. I certainly don't want to wait to the cause of this incident is found-- that could be a long time or even never. It may have been a poor choice of words, but if she was "removing" her holster would she have "fed" the belt through the holster? I believe there is likely more to this story than we have been told.

Posted by: SCSigOwner | August 30, 2018 4:01 PM    Report this comment

I have a 320 in 357 SIG; the gun fired out of battery using Buffalo Bore ammunition.

SIG denied any responsibility but repaired the gun free of charge; they did imply that it was the ammunition's fault.

I wrote to Tim Sundles of Buffalo Bore, but received no response.

Can provide photographs of the damaged gun and the casing. There was also a witness.

Needless to say, both the 320 and SIG are now on the "Do not trust" list.

Posted by: Chiguy | August 24, 2018 6:57 PM    Report this comment

Discharges from firearms can occur when debris, clothing or items follow the trigger guard into the holster. Holsters vary in the ability minimize those events. I know of one verified case of a striker fired gun going bang in the holster with no involvement from the shooter. This was not with a Sig P320 and the firearm was defective. It was an older duty gun in a duty holster. It was a lefty. The left frame rail of this 40 caliber pistol was cracked and the firing pin safety was worn. When the individual leaned on a table, the slide seperated raising the firing pin lug from the cruciform. With a defective firing pin safety plunger, the pin went forward enough to ignite the primer. In other cases during holstering, it is generally an article of clothing that snags the trigger. Had she dropped the gun I might give the story credence. Had she had a handgun that was old with 10 thousand rounds of 40 caliber cycled through I might think something broke (although the frame rails on the Sig are solid unlike the one that I described earlier), In this case, there is a likelyhood that something snagged the trigger. From the article it said she was using a Sig holster. I would like to know which holster since the Sig ships with a paddle and she was threading it through her belt which indicates it may have been a different Sig holster.

Posted by: TP8433 | July 24, 2018 10:11 AM    Report this comment

I am confident that the real circumstances of the officers misfire will be uncovered. I agree about using blanks to attempt to duplicate the problem. Since this is such a rare event it must be understood as some form of malfunction unique to the situation. Of course, our enemies will seize upon any such incident to amplify their opposition to gun ownership. This is why we all must take these events very seriously. Lets get to the bottom of it soon.

Posted by: GreyFox 73 | July 18, 2018 1:36 PM    Report this comment

As ex law enforcement, hate to doubt another officer however if a P320 can be fired so easily , supposedly without touching the trigger, I think we would have had many more such incidents.

Posted by: montanagun | July 17, 2018 10:33 PM    Report this comment

She would not have shot herself if she had followed one of the most important rules of gun safety. Never point the muzzle at anything at anything your not willing to destroy. When I put on IWB holster I put my gun in the holster first and then clip it over my belt.

Posted by: Ray S | July 17, 2018 6:34 PM    Report this comment

I owned a Ruger Rifle chambered in 30-06 and I handed it to a hunting buddy to lay in the back of a pickup truck and it discharged. He swore his hand was no where near the trigger and I "though" the safety was on. Sent the rifle back to Ruger for inspection and they returned I with a note detailing the tests they had run and could NOT duplicate the misfire. Years later "My Friend" admitted he held the gun with his finger inside the trigger guard. I never had the courage to admit to Ruger about our FUBAR.

Posted by: Carl Casino | July 17, 2018 2:53 PM    Report this comment

I have owned and shot my P320 and can honestly and truthfully say I have not had any problems with premature misfiring or any problem at all. I am not saying that this officer had not had a problem but mighty curious as to how it happened and needs to be checked into further before Sig has to spend a lot of money to find out the accident was on her and not the gun.

Posted by: Fred T | July 17, 2018 12:18 PM    Report this comment

I feel bad when anyone gets injured, but this simply sounds false. If her story is true, it should be easily repeated. Just safely test the gun with blanks in the same fashion that she alleges it fired. Guns don't go off while holstering unless the trigger is pulled in some way.

It's also important to note that the Sig voluntary upgrade was for a potential discharge after the gun had been dropped at certain angles. This is completely unrelated to the deputy's claim that the gun went off while placing it in her holster.

In the meantime Sig has to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend against what was likely user error. Who do you thinks pays for that? If it turns out my opinion is wrong, I'm happy to accept that, but I'm also weary of frivolous law suits made by people who either don't want to admit their error or are simply hoping their ship will come in. It happens all the time and it hurts us all. Remember McDonald's being sued for coffee that was too hot?

Let common sense prevail--please.

Posted by: GalenH3 | July 17, 2018 11:27 AM    Report this comment

Sounds like a BELT problem to me.

Posted by: Glockman | July 17, 2018 10:35 AM    Report this comment

I have read similar accounts involving other brands of pistols. I remember in the 70s and 80s it was not unheard-of for a revolver or automatic fitted with a trigger shoe to accidentally fire. In all of these cases the discharge resulted from something dragging against the trigger, usually the holster. If analysis of her Sig pistol and holster show this to be the possible cause, it could prove quite costly for Sig.

Posted by: Colonel K | July 17, 2018 10:17 AM    Report this comment

I have had and carried and drawn my P320 Compact pistol thousands of time with no issues. Apparently there is more to this outlandish story than you read here. Poor handling is probably the culprit. This is the first time I have heard of such an incident.

Posted by: roadstar | July 17, 2018 10:11 AM    Report this comment

Had her P320 been upgraded by Sig? ...and why was a law enforcement officer using a "Sig" holster and not a level II or III retention holster? I have had my P320 for over a year now and shoot AND carry it often, never had a problem of any kind.

Posted by: triad999 | July 17, 2018 9:33 AM    Report this comment

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