The P320 is linked to multiple cases where users allege they were injured by an unintentional firing.

The Honolulu Police Department is considering replacing its current service weapon with a pistol that is the subject of numerous lawsuits alleging it is prone to unintentional discharge including firing when it is dropped or when it is still holstered.

HPD listed 2,400 Sig Sauer P320 RXP pistols for purchase in its fiscal year 2024 operating budget at a cost of $3.8 million, including training, ammunition and related equipment.

The department is planning for the replacement of its decade-old inventory of fourth generation Glock 17s but itemized the P320s under “priority items not included in the budget request.”

The P320 will be tested alongside the fifth generation Glock 17 this summer, HPD spokesperson Michelle Yu confirmed Thursday.

“HPD began researching different firearms models in 2021, primarily due to advances in design, including red dot sights and flashlight mounts,” Yu said. 

The Sig Sauer P320 9 mm pistol has a track record that includes well documented allegations that it can discharge without the trigger being pulled. (Rouven74/Wikimedia Commons )

The Sig Sauer P320 RXP that HPD is considering is effectively the same as the P320 with a red-dot sight attached.

But more than 100 people have reported that their own P320 fired without someone pulling the trigger, wounding at least 80 of them, according to a recent investigation by The Washington Post and nonprofit news site The Trace.

The firearm has injured at least 33 law enforcement officers across 18 different agencies after it discharged unintentionally, and at least six agencies have stopped using it due to safety concerns, the investigation found.

At least 70 people have filed lawsuits against manufacturer Sig Sauer, saying the model it has aggressively marketed to police and civilians is defective.

Sig Sauer did not respond to a request for comment, but the company denied that the P320 could fire without its trigger being pulled, in comments to the Post and The Trace.

The Milwaukee Police Department is currently transitioning from the P320 to Glock after the wounding of three service members while the weapons were allegedly holstered, WTMJ reported.

The Milwaukee Police Association had brought a lawsuit against the City of Milwaukee last year because of concerns over the continued use of the P320.

State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers President Robert Cavaco said in a statement, “We have every expectation that the Department tests all the firearms it purchases to ensure they are safe and meet the tactical needs of our officers in the field.”

The P320 is the current service weapon for sheriffs and is used by correctional officers while patrolling or transporting inmates, Department of Public Safety spokesperson Toni Schwartz said. Sig Sauer announced in a press release that it delivered 725 of the pistols to the department in 2015.

Honolulu police operating budget, detail’s the departments plan to purchase the Sig Sauer P320 RXP as a replacement for current Glock service weapons. (FY 2024 Budget/City and County of Honolulu)

The department was unaware of allegations that the P320 could discharge unintentionally when it purchased the guns in 2015, Schwartz said. After learning in 2017 of “allegations of possible problems related to the weapon discharging when dropped,” the department upgraded from the “Generation 1” P320 to the “Generation 2” version “as a precaution,” Schwartz said.

“The Gen 2 upgrade was supposed to address any of those alleged issues,” she said.

HPD officials were also aware of the concerns raised in 2017 and the availability of the upgrade, Yu said.

The Glock is the service weapon of choice for officers in the Kauai Police Department, Maui Police Department and Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement, officials said. None has a record of the Glock ever firing unintentionally, and each has no plans to change it out.

Upgrade But No Recall

Sig Sauer announced in 2017 that it would fix the P320 after the Army discovered in testing that the gun would fire on its own when dropped a certain way. The company fixed the guns for the Army but went on to sell half a million of them without the same fix to civilians and agencies, CNN reported.

“Recent events indicate that dropping the P320 beyond U.S. standards for safety may cause an unintentional discharge,” Sig Sauer said in a press release which has now been removed from its corporate website.

Sig Sauer started a “voluntary upgrade” program in August 2017 that allowed P320 owners to send back their guns for a free adjustment. That program continues.

The original Sig Sauer P320 manual included a warning about the potential for firing when dropped. The manual has now been modified. (Court Documents/Sig Sauer P320 Manual 2015)

While the company said the upgrade addressed concerns about the gun firing when dropped, at least 35 of the unintentional firings documented happened with guns that were sent back for the upgrade or had the newer design, the Post and The Trace reported.

The P320 is classified a “striker-fired” gun, meaning that when the trigger is pulled, a spring-loaded pin releases and strikes the bullet’s primer that ignites the gunpowder to eject the projectile. The trigger releases the pin without having to pull it back significantly. If the trigger has been slightly depressed, the gun’s two internal safeties apparently do not prevent it from accidentally discharging when it is jostled, the Post and The Trace found.

The Sig Sauer P320 is a striker-fired pistol, and has been named in lawsuits from at least 70 people who allege the weapon unintentionally fired causing serious injuries. (Court Papers/United States District Court)

The same investigation detailed numerous incidents where it appears a person did not touch the trigger but the P320 still fired. A school resource officer in a Florida school set his P320 in its holster when it discharged; he was dismissed from his job. An officer with the Somerville Police Department, in Massachusetts, was carrying bags to her car when her P320, in its holster, fired into her thigh.

A 2020 memorandum from the Milwaukee Police Department’s Range Master, Sgt. Allen Groszczyk, details a conference call between the department and Sig Sauer’s lead engineer and designer of the P320, Sean Toner, and three company sales executives:

“The gun can’t go off if the gun is dropped, or slammed, or jostled?” Capt. James MacGillis, director of training, asked.

The Sig Sauer representatives did not answer his question, the memo states.

“I believe our department should immediately start to find a replacement pistol for issue,” Groszczyk concluded.

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