Hello and welcome back to another edition of The Rimfire Report. This ongoing series is all about the rimfire firearm world and its various firearms, ammunition, shooting sports, and trends! A few weeks back SIG Sauer dropped the new SIG P322 22LR semi-automatic rimfire pistol. This new release was understandably met with a mix of excitement, apprehension, joy, and skepticism. Although everyone loves to see new rimfire firearms make it to the market, a lot of people know that the semi-auto rimfire pistol game is one that is both extremely competitive and often mixed with overhyped expectations and underdelivered results. However, today I hope to bring all of you fellow rimfire junkies out there a smidgen of hope for the future in regards to semi-auto rimfire pistols with this review. I received a copy of the SIG P322 a short time after the initial SIG P322 media event that was hosted in Orlando, Florida and attended by TFBTV’s Hop and myself. Since then I have been rapidly and meticulously attempting to break my P322 to see how much torture, neglect, and abuse it could deal with before breaking or causing consistent malfunctions. So today we’ll be taking a look at its general characteristics and performance, as well as how it’s holding up so far.
SIG P322 @ TFB:
- SIG-Sauer is Back in the Rimfire Game: The New P322
- SIG Sauer’s NEW P322 Rimfire Pistol – 20 Rounds of 22LR on Tap!
- SILENCER SATURDAY #222: SIG SRD22X Review With The New SIG P322
The Rimfire Report: NEW SIG P322 – 6,000 Rounds Later
To keep this review more focused, I will not be listing out the specifications, pricing, and all that here. The links above should give you access to all that information so we can focus on the performance of the P322 here. To start, the P322 doesn’t really fit in any one category perfectly. The P322 is not the same size as a P320 in any of its forms, nor is it as small as the venerated P365. However, as Pete mentioned in his SIG SRD22X review with the P322:
Rimfire pistols and rifles definitely have utility; hunting, survival, and in limited cases, self defense. Although for me, shooting rimfire guns is the embodiment of pure fun and joy. Group sizes, center mass, reload speed, malfunction drills – all of those things fall away in favor of enjoyment.
I’ll have to wholeheartedly agree with Pete as would the dozen or so people I’ve shared my P322 with since I started testing it. The pistol is just plain ole fun. I can’t exactly quantify this feeling of joy that I get when you screw on a suppressor and start sending 22LR downrange at targets or maybe just nothing at all. Hearing the *slap* of the backstop is almost as addicting as pulling the trigger itself. Am I biased? Yes, but only because I love anything and everything rimfire and I honestly think that almost any rimfire gun out there is fun in some shape form, or fashion unless it proves itself to be overtly unreliable – however in my experience the P322 is more than reliable enough to not only be fun but perhaps more than suitable enough to adequately fulfill the role of a field or survival pistol.
Everyone is going to make comparisons when it comes to any new release – you simply can’t avoid this. When initially heading out to the SIG Sauer P322 Media Event, I had a handful of expectations in mind that would make this pistol a hot item. First, it had to be made in the United States by SIG Sauer and not outsourced to another manufacturer – check. Second, the pistol had to be optics-ready – check. Third, it had to be suppressor capable and not subject to the whims that a tilting barrel design gives you – check. Last, I really was hoping that it wouldn’t have your typical SIG Sauer pricing – double-check.
Those above expectations were derived from years of being disappointed from a lot of newer 22LR pistols that arrived on the market were missing one or more of these features and to me, it just felt like centerfire semi-auto pistols were advancing far faster than rimfire pistols and us, rimfire junkies, were left with guns that didn’t quite fit the same form factor as a “normal” semi-auto pistol.
Is SIG Turning a new Leaf?
However, despite learning that all of my requirements had been met even before I had touched a P322 for the first time, I was still skeptical. Phil Strader, the Director of Firearms Product Management at SIG SAUER, gave a pretty light-hearted and fun presentation before myself and my fellow firearms compatriots headed out to the range to shoot them.
In that presentation, Phil talked about how his and his team’s goal with the P322 was to make the P322 and by extension the SIG brand more fun and light-hearted compared to a lot of their other product releases which are often marketed directly towards long time concealed carriers, competition shooters, as well as military and law enforcement people. You’ll notice that the marketing campaign for the P322 steps away from the typical cold, calculated, and stoic SIG branding and adopts a new, warmer, family-friendly tone – I absolutely love this and I hope they do more of it in the future.
All that being said, the presentation also revealed that there were more features than I could have hoped for including ones I didn’t even anticipate such as field swappable trigger shoes, a dust cover rail, a beveled magazine well that accounts for the possibility of over-insertion, completely ambidextrous controls, and of course a thread adaptor that wasn’t an afterthought nor an extra product or SKU.
If there is anything negative I can say about the P322, it would be that I really wished SIG would have followed the same design goals as the P320 and P365 and made the Fire Control Unit (FCU) the core of the design. Instead, the frame and fire controls are one unit so there isn’t any room to expand the P322 lineup as they did with the P320 and P365. Additionally, the P322 doesn’t fit in any pre-existing holsters made for either of those above-mentioned platforms so you’ll likely have to either use a universal holster you already have or spend more money on a new one (holsters for the P322 already do exist, and are available for sale).
The first thing you’ll notice upon picking up the SIG P322 is that it’s extremely light. The unloaded pistol with its standard thread protector weighs in at just a hair over 1-pound. This makes it feel handy but still controllable due to the size and shape of the grip which includes a nice subtle undercut near the trigger guard. All of the controls functioned nicely and didn’t seem to loosen up over time. A neat feature that has been mentioned several times is the swappable triggers.
The P322 comes with both a flat-faced and a curved trigger bow that can be easily replaced using a punch or similar tool but I’ve found that with a little practice you can easily remove the trigger shoes and replace them using just your hands – this ease of replacement didn’t seem to make them fall off or become unattached in any way and even though they’re made from polymer, the actual trigger itself is metal and quite firm. The only issue I can see with the replaceable trigger shoes is that if you swap between them repeatedly, I could see the plastic getting worn away enough to permanently damage them beyond use.
The trigger with either shoe on it breaks clean right at the 6 o’clock position at just 2 lbs 12 ounces on my Lyman trigger scale. This is extremely light and makes the pistol easier to shoot in my opinion. I have not been a huge fan of SIG’s stock striker-fired triggers for the P320 and P365 but the SIG P322 breaks from this mold and gives me not only a light trigger pull, but predictable takeup, a clean break, and a more normal audible and tactile reset akin to a Glock trigger.
Before I even made it back home from Florida, I had probably fired close to 1,000 rounds or more from the P322. Hop and I participated in a casual Steel Challenge match with the likes of famed shooters such as Max Michel, Gorka Ibanez, and 22Plinkster just to name a few. All of them seemed to be quite impressed with the performance of the little pistol and aside from a handful of light primer strikes caused by fouling of the breech face, our squad didn’t encounter any malfunctions despite our best efforts to induce some sort of consistent malfunction.
With this experience in my back pocket, my goal was simple – make the SIG P322 fail in some way by running absolutely everything I can through it in as little time as possible. To this end, I spent a couple of hundred bucks on various 22LR ammunition including CCI Mini Mags, CCI Quiet, CCI Standard Velocity, CCI Stingers, CCI Velocitors, Remington Golden Bullet, Winchester Super X, Winchester Bulk, Herter’s, Federal Bulk, CCI Quiet, Remington Thunderbolt, Federal Subsonic, Federal Punch, Aguila Super Extra, and a couple of oddballs like Aguila 60-grain Sniper Subsonic, and CCI 22 Short CB.
In total, my personal pistol has seen over 6,000 rounds to date and has received no cleaning except for a couple of cautionary runs of a bore snake after about 2,000 rounds. After the first 5,500-rounds, I took the pistol to yet another steel challenge match without cleaning it and was able to complete the match using CCI Mini-Mags, and only then did I start to see a handful of light primer strikes similar to the ones we saw during the media event. Simply put, the pistol will indeed get dirty but that’s nothing a simple finger swipe of the breech face can’t fix in literally a second.
Through all of this testing, I did notice one flaw in terms of ammunition compatibility. I didn’t expect any of the CCI Quiet, or CCI 22 Short CB, to cycle the gun so there were no surprises there. However, I noticed that Truncated cone-style bullets and some hollow points tended to get hung up inside of the magazine or didn’t want to feed correctly. In the first 2,500-round ammo torture test, about 500 rounds of Winchester 36-grain copper-plated hollow points were run through the gun and we had in total about a dozen of the same type of malfunction pictured above. Surprisingly, Aguila 60-grain Sniper Subsonic ammunition not only cycles the pistol but it’s beyond Hollywood quiet with a suppressor and once again this just makes the pistol super fun to shoot.
On the converse side, one of the worst 22LR ammunition (Remington Thunderbolt) ran flawlessly through the pistol even after it had seen over a thousand rounds. My buddy Seth, who donated much of the ammunition for the initial testing, and I collectively ran two 500-round boxes of the stuff through the gun and only saw a single hiccup which turned out to be a dead primer spot, we ejected the round, rotated, and reinserted it and it went off no problem. Needless to say, I was stunned that the cheapest of cheap 22LR ammunition ran through this pistol like it was made for it – I can’t even get any of my 10/22s or my Ruger MKIV pistol to do that. Ironically enough, Aguila Match Pistol 40-grain refused to work in the pistol as well as Norma’s new Eco Speed 24-grain lead-free ammunition. Every other ammunition type I tested ran flawlessly through the pistol without issue. My assumption is that lighter loads that aren’t loaded up hot enough will fail to cycle the slide even with the added back pressure of a suppressor.
How Is it holding up?
Durability. What good is an affordable 22LR pistol if it just breaks on you after a couple thousand rounds? After my last Steel Challenge competition where I ran the pistol (4/2/2022), I decided to break down the pistol to get a look at its internals and see how it was holding up and check for any damage such as cracking of the frame or slide as well as any missing finish. So how are things looking after 6,000 rounds?
First off, the thread adaptor is absolutely trashed, this isn’t the fault of the thread adaptor itself, and all of the lead buildup inside of the adaptor was caused by that single run of 1,000 Remington Thunderbolts which are notorious for leaving barrels, muzzle devices and internals caked in lead deposits. I’m certain that the thread adaptor can simply be dipped and it’ll be good as new. The rifling is holding up inside the barrel and the pistol remains accurate enough to form tight groups at middling pistol ranges.
The aluminum slide’s finish did start to wear off at certain points about halfway through the testing but since then it hasn’t seemed to progress any further than that. If I can make it to 10,000 rounds without the pistol giving up the ghost or running into more critical malfunctions usually associated with a dirty gun, I probably won’t elect to clean it until then. All that being said, as you can see from the litany of pictures, the pistol’s internals are absolutely filthy. Despite this, the pistol just keeps on truckin’.
Closing thoughts – but More to come
So far I’m beyond impressed with the new SIG P322. It has just about everything I’ve been hoping for in a 22LR pistol. It’s mostly fun for plinking and with that in mind, I think its best use is to just have fun! It’d be a great pistol to introduce new people to shooting and I think it could even make for a great pest control pistol or survival pistol when paired with a red dot and a suppressor.
What I think will really attract people to the SIG P322 is that it looks like a normal gun. When I first brought the SIG P322 to the range I had a ton of people asking me if the P322 was some sort of weird P365 or P320 and one person even mistook it for the new SIG P365 Spectre Comp. The fact that SIG was able to fit in reliable 20-round magazines into a compact(ish) sized frame and still give it a threaded barrel and optics mounting capability is beyond impressive and I personally think that this should be the new standard for semi-auto rimfire pistols that aren’t like the MKIV, S&W Victory, or Browning Buckmark.
The SIG most definitely won’t beat the pants off of a raced out MKIV in terms of speed and it won’t outshoot a Colt Match 22LR in the accuracy department, but for a jack of all trades, I think it’s a must-buy for any rimfire addicted individual (myself included). In the coming year, I’m going to continue to run the pistol in various situations and I think next I’ll be comparing it head to head with my go-to Steel Challenge gun (a highly modified Ruger MKIV) to see how close it comes to being competitive in the rimfire steel challenge world.
As always I’d like to hear your thoughts, comments, and observations on the new SIG P322. Furthermore, were any of your concerns about the pistol alleviated by this review? Let me know! Thanks again for stopping by to read The Rimfire Report and we’ll hopefully see you again soon for the 10,000-round and maybe even 20,000 round retrospectives! Happy spring plinking everybody!
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