Concord police, U.S. Army buy N.H.-made handgun

  • Robert Cormier of Defensive Strategies holds the new P320 at the company’s firearm classroom in Manchester. It has a metal frame but much of it is made of polymer materials. The grip, trigger assembly, barrel and other mechanism can be switched out to change caliber or made it accessible to add-ons like lights or a silence, but most importantly to change its overall size. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Robert Cormier of Defensive Strategies holds two of the different caliber bullets the P320 is capable of using because of its modular set up: .40 caliber on the left and the 9 mm on the right. Concord police are going with the 9 mm setup. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Robert Cormier of Defensive Strategies shows the modular features of the P320 at their Manchester firearms classroom in downtown Manchester. The P320 has a metal frame but much of it is made of polymer materials. The grip, trigger assembly, barrel and other mechanism can be switched out to change caliber or made it accessible to add-ons like lights or a silence, but most importantly to change its overall size. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • TOP: Robert Cormier of Defensive Strategies of Manchester shows the modular advantages ofSig Sauer’s P320. It has a metal frame, but much of it is made of polymer materials. The grip, trigger assembly, barrel and other mechanisms can be switched out. ABOVE LEFT: Cormier swaps out the configuration. ABOVE RIGHT: Two different caliber bullets the P320 is capable of using because of its modular setup: a 0.40 caliber (left) and the 9 mm. GEOFF FORESTER photos / Monitor staff

  • The P320 comes with three different grip sizes. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 1/31/2017 12:12:49 AM

It was big news for New Hampshire’s business community last week when the U.S. Army decided that the P320 made by Newington-based Sig Sauer would be its first new handgun in 35 years, a contract worth up to half a billion dollars over the next decade.

Big news, yes, but not entirely surprising to the Concord Police Department, which had already decided to switch over to the P320 itself.

“It’s a radically different weapon for us,” said Lt. Cori Casey, lead firearm instructor for the department and the man who led the team that chose a new semi-automatic handgun after 12 years of Concord police using a different Sig Sauer model, the P229R.

There are technical reasons many shooters like the P320. It is a center-strike handgun, so it doesn’t have an external hammer like the P229R and the Beretta M9, the handgun that it replaces for the Army, and it has a consistent trigger pull as compared to its double-action-single-action competitors, in which the first shot requires a harder, longer pull than subsequent shots.

“In a semi-automatic, you have to release the trigger to reset so you can shoot again. The Sigs have a nice, smooth trigger pull and a short and quick reset,” said Mike Briggs, a firearms instructor and owner of New England Tactical in Hopkinton. “They’re easy to use, reliable, very shootable. They’re much easier to train the (Army) servicemen and women than with the Beretta, which were just a pain in the neck.”

“It’s a good shooter,” agreed Robert Boilard, co-owner of Defensive Strategies, a firearms training facility in Manchester. “The first time I took it out to the range, right out of the box, brand new, I was making a paper plate dance at 25 yards. Awesome shooter, it really is.”

But perhaps the most noticeable difference is that the P320 is modular. It has a metal frame but much of it is made of polymer materials. The grip, trigger assembly, barrel and other mechanism can be switched out to change caliber or make it accessible to add-ons like lights or a silencer, but most importantly to change its overall size.

This is increasingly valuable as more women, who usually have smaller hands than men, occupy the front lines in police departments and the armed services.

“We have a police department with very large officers and very small officers. This gives you the ability to customize the gun to the officer. It’s valuable from an instructor perspective. You can make sure it’s the right gun for the right person,” said Lt. Casey.

Boilard agreed. “You can basically convert to almost any size you want. The frame size will adjust to individual shooter’s hand, length of the fingers and all that.”

The Army plans to purchase more than 280,000 P320 handguns and could eventually order as many as 500,000, and Sig Sauer said it will manufacture all of them in New Hampshire. The company hasn’t said what effect this might have at its Newington plant.

Sig Sauer, a name that comes from its German predecessors, moved to New Hampshire in 1992 and brought its training academy to the site in 1996. It has more than 1,200 employees in a 200,000-square-foot facility that it completed in 2014.

The Army seems to be getting a good deal with their purchase. Its reported price is about $240 per handgun; on the civilian market, where the P320 has been sold since 2014, it costs about $600.

The Concord Police Department plans to buy 95 guns all told, at a price higher than the Army but lower than the retail, Casey said.

A second benefit for Concord, Casey said, is that the department is switching ammunition from 0.45-caliber to 9 mm bullets, which are smaller and less expensive.

“Nine millimeter was once not viable, but now is comparable to larger caliber. This gives us additional magazine capacity, at less cost,” Casey said.

The department has ordered its handguns, but Casey said there’s a 180-day wait, and he’s been told not to expect the order to arrive until the very end of that time due to competition for the model.

“They’ve taken off in popularity,” he said.

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or dbrooks@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @GraniteGeek)




Concord Monitor Office

1 Monitor Drive
Concord,NH 03301
603-224-5301

 

© 2019 Concord Monitor
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy