I’ve been searching for the perfect carry pistol for 15 years. I started large with a Beretta 92FS full-size. Then I suffered through the miniscule uber-compact stage. Now I’ve figured out that the confidence I gain from shooting a larger pistol with a generous ammo supply far outweighs the extra size and weight. Yes, as George Fisher once said, “When you aim for perfection, you discover it’s a moving target.” The great football-philosopher Vince Lombardi offered a different, but equally valid take: “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.”
Since seeing and handling the SIG Sauer P320 XCompact at the 2019 NRA Annual Meetings, I’ve been wondering if I’ve found my carry excellence. Just as improvements in optics toughness and reliability once made scopes on rifles the default configuration, I think the time is now for carry-pistol red dots. It’s hard to beat the visibility and fast precision.
Enter the SIG Sauer P320 XCompact. Based on the P320 basic design, the XCompact brings a host of improvements to a small and portable package, one of which is its optics-ready construction. Most other features of the pistol are pure SIG Sauer P320. It’s a striker-fired, polymer-framed, stainless-steel slide pistol. You’ve got a three-slot rail up front, front-cocking serrations, relief cuts under the trigger guard and an ample beaver tail. Considering its portable overall size, its 15+1 capacity is generous.
I was eager to get my hands on a XCompact because I’m an admitted trigger snob. This one packs a Grayguns’ designed model. It’s straight and has a flat face that’s perfect for pad-of-trigger-finger placement. The trigger has one-eighth of an inch of grit-free take-up followed by constant pressure for another quarter of an inch before a crisp break at five pounds. The reset, also right at a quarter of an inch, is audible and you won’t miss the tactile sensation. If you pay close attention, you might detect a very subtle “pre-reset click” about halfway through the reset cycle. When testing the trigger next to my ear, I could hear and feel it. When shooting at the range, I didn’t notice.
If the competition-ready X5, standard P320 and P365 pistols had a grip baby, you’d get the XCompact grip ergonomics. The XCompact doesn’t ship with replaceable grip panels; it’s a one-size-fits-all design. When I first picked up the XCompact at home, I thought the grip was a bit small in circumference. If I was being nitpicky, I might prefer a smidgen of extra front-to-back grip length. In fairness, while I don’t have huge hands, I wear size “large” gloves, so your feel might be different.
When I got to the range, I figured out that this grip is actually just right. With a normal grip, the barrel lines up exactly with my forearm bones—it’s a direct extension of my arm—which results in near-perfect recoil control and true natural point-of-aim consistency. Pistols with larger grips might “feel” right, but I notice that they rotate toward my firing-hand thumb, causing the barrel to sit at an angle relative to my arm bones.
Sights and Optics The standard XCompact comes with SIG X-RAY3 front and rear sights. The front sight is a steel body, dovetail mounted to the slide that contains a green Tritium vial surrounded by a larger fluorescent green circle. What makes it particularly visible are its subtle rear sights. The Tritium dots are set in a blacked-out steel body, so they appear small and subtle compared to the front. That’s a big visibility aid—the front sight leaps into view and there is no ambiguity when you see all three in darker conditions.
The rear sight mates with a removable cover for the optic-mount cutout. To remove the optics plate, you also remove the rear sight. If you use the Romeo1PRO that the XCompact was designed for, this is no big deal. The Romeo1PRO has a notch built in and two aiming dots on the rear of the sight body. It’s not a true co-witness solution as you can only see the top of the front sight post, but it serves just fine in a backup role to the red dot.
If you want to use other optics, like the Trijicon RMR for example, there are aftermarket solutions available. I’ve been testing this pistol with an adapter plate manufactured by Springer Precision. It fits in the slide cutout and allows you to mount an RMR on P320 and M17 pistols. I installed it in minutes as Springer included all necessary screws for the plate and the RMR along with a tube of blue Loctite. Since the optic-mount screws go through the bottom of the slide, you do not want them to work loose and interfere with the action.
This is an easy pistol to shoot well, especially with the optic installed; it has enough weight to be gentle in the perceived-recoil department and for me, it points naturally thanks to its excellent grip ergonomics. Once I finished with the sandbag routine, I set up targets at 15 and 25 yards. One benefit of the optic is that it’s much, much easier to shoot well at longer distances as precise sight pictures don’t require 20/10 vision. At comfortable speeds, I found it easy to keep shots inside the six-inch circles of the Birchwood Casey Dirty Bird targets.
As for carry, the holster choice was a no-brainer. I’ve long been a fan of the No Print Wonder holster by Clinger Holsters. It’s a Kydex holster with a twist, or more accurately, a hinge. The front clip is a 2-inch-wide leather flap, while the back joins via a rigid piece of Kydex. This creates a hinge effect that allows the holster to draw the grip of the pistol tight to the body. I regularly carry full-size pistols with No Print Wonders so the diminutive XCompact is invisible under a T-shirt. Security is excellent as the holster mold locks to the trigger guard while the Kydex still presents a smooth draw.
This pistol looks to be a winner in the concealed-carry category. While I like the Trijicon RMR, I’m eager to get my hands on the new Romeo1PRO. Its larger “window” and iron-sight groove will make this package complete.