I never met a SIG I didn’t like. And I can always make good use of a .22 designed for training. So, when SIG announced the P322 I couldn’t wait to get one. But wait I did — and wait, and wait, and wait. Then, CheaperThanDirt! got one in stock and I snatched it up. I paid full price and was glad to do it.
The wait was worth it. I have two similar .22s, the Taurus TX-22 and Glock 44. Those two pistols brought something to the table that we pistol instructors really needed: .22 handguns similar in size, appearance, and operation to their centerfire brethren. SIG has gone one better and introduced a .22 similar to a couple of its popular centerfire models, but with a double-stack, 20-round magazine.
When I look for a rimfire training pistol, I want one that loads much like its centerfire sibling. The Taurus and Glock .22s have magazines that load much like a centerfire, but only hold 10 rounds. By providing a 20-round magazine, SIG has given us a training gun that will provide twice as many shots on the firing line before it’s time to reload.
I also look for a gun with operating controls similar to those on the centerfire guns. The P322 fits that bill. I want a gun that fits the same holsters. Check. And one thing I really want in a training pistol, that I rarely find in a .22 LR, is the ability to dry fire. SIG says it in the P322 manual page 69 — dry firing is OK! However, SIG does recommend inserting the chamber safety flag when doing so to minimize wear on the firing pin.
The SIG Sauer P322 has a threaded barrel and is supplied with an adapter for attaching a suppressor. I did most of the shooting to prepare for this article with a suppressor on the gun. Why are these features important? Because most of us need to shoot a lot, and we can shoot a lot with a .22. We also need to duplicate our centerfire shooting experience as closely as possible, and the P322 gives us that ability.
The P322 is indeed similar to the P320, from which its name is derived. In truth though, it’s closer in size to the P365. That works for me because I have a P365 that I carry often. I figure practicing with the P322 will enhance my ability to shoot the P365 well.
In weight and size, the P322 comes in on the small side of what we call a medium-sized gun. It has a polymer frame, aluminum slide, and weighs a mere 17.1 ounces. The overall length is 7 inches. The height tapes out at 5.5 inches, and the width measured 1.3 inches. Funny thing about that width… SIG lists it as 1.4 inches wherever the specs are printed, but my digital calipers cannot find that extra tenth of an inch. My calipers measure 1.3 inches at the P322’s widest places.
The barrel length is 4 inches, and the sight radius stretches 6 inches. The grip texture is perfect for a .22 LR. The grip angle is such that the gun almost puts itself into a good firing position as the hand slides into place.
The slide is flat on top with rounded edges. There are cocking serrations front and rear, and a Picatinny rail for mounting light or laser. A removable panel for mounting optics is just ahead of the rear sight making it an optics-ready pistol that will accommodate any of the red dot sights currently specified for the SIG P365 or P320. The sights feature fiber-optic inserts (front and rear). The rear sight is adjustable for windage.
SIG’s engineers added a trigger that can easily be swapped from a straight trigger to a curved trigger. I like the straight trigger that operates with less than ¼-inch take-up and breaks crisply at 4 pounds. It matches the straight Gray Guns trigger I put on my SIG P365. However, opinions vary, and some people are more comfortable with a curved trigger. Therefore, SIG offers the option of a curved trigger.
The rear of the trigger guard is undercut. This gives the shooter a naturally high grip on the frame. The magwell is flared for speedy magazine loads. The whole gun has the look and feel of the quality you expect in a SIG.
How does it shoot?
Semi-automatic .22s are known for being particular about ammunition. It’s because they must balance slide weight, spring tension, and the notorious variances in powder and bullet weight that make up the .22 world of ammunition. I’ve learned that I can always trust CCI, but within CCI there are the Stinger, Mini Mag, Stangers (not misspelled), Sub-Sonic, Velociter, Suppressor, Small Game Bullet, MeatEater, AR Tactical, and three or four more I haven’t yet encountered. CCI also has the Blazer brand it sells in bulk packs — which have always been a winner in my book.
Remington’s Golden Bullet works great in small packages, but its bulk pack has at time proven iffy for me. Winchester Super X is usually totally reliable. There are so many brands, and so many variables within each brand, I’ve learned to just work the gun with various types of ammo until you find one it totally likes and stay with that.
To gain an honest assessment of the Sig P322’s ability to handle different types of ammo, I took 15 different types of ammo to the range for a reliability/compatibility testing session. Included in the bunch were CCI Standard Velocity, Winchester Super X, Federal Lightning, Federal Premium Target, Remington Golden Bullet, Remington Subsonic, CCI Blazer, Norma ECO Power-22, RUAG Ammotech Geco, Aquila Super Maximum High Velocity, Aquila Golden Eagle, SK Semi-Auto, Armscor Precision, and a grand mix of loose ammo no longer in its original boxes, thus unable to be identified. I shot at least 200 rounds and was somewhat pleased with the results.
It wasn’t a 100% trouble-free afternoon, but the interruptions were few. There were five or six light primer strikes, about the same number of failures to eject, and approximately 10 failures to lock back after the last round was fired. These weren’t significant enough for me to write them down and tabulate them carefully, just some minor, easy-to-overcome interruptions.
Based on my experience that afternoon, I have two recommendations for anyone preparing to shoot one of these guns. The first is to use the magazine loader. It’s very important that the cartridges drop in level and stay level — using the magazine loader makes that easier to do. If you let a cartridge stand on end when it goes into the magazine, it will screw up your entire loading process and you may end up starting over.
The second recommendation is to accept that its performance peaks when you load it to a maximum of 18 rounds per magazine. Trying to get the last two rounds in is a pain that will slow you down and may elicit the exclamation of a “colorful metaphor” or two.
I didn’t buy this gun to be a tack driver, but I was pleased with how it shot. I did some backyard plinking at hickory nuts and golf balls. They were easy to hit and fun to send scooting across the yard. I shot 20 rounds into a single target from 10 yards and was happy with the results. While performing the reliability testing, I managed to produce several targets with tight groups, even though I wasn’t really trying. I’m not a competitive shooter. However, if a competition shooter wanted a nice .22 semi-auto with which to compete, this one would serve the purpose. All in all, SIG has a real winner here.