I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of the so-called “Roland Special”, long before I even knew it was named such a thing. The general concept is a compact pistol, carrying a weapon mounted light, with a short compensator, bringing it to the same overall length of its long slide counterparts. Like a Glock 19 with a compensator giving it an overall length of a Glock 34. Since I wanted to check out the P320 it seemed like an appropriate time to put a SIG version of the Roland Special.
Starting with the P320 RX Compact (reviewed here) next came a Surefire X300U and the search for a compensator. There are not a lot of companies lining up to make P320 comps but thankfully Springer Precision brings a couple of options to the table. They offer an “open” or full size, if you will, compensator designed for competition along with a “shorty” version, more suited for my needs.
The comp is made to fit the stock SIG P320 threaded barrel, which is unique in its left hand thread. There’s no further installation beyond screwing it on. Since there is no set screw to be tightened Springer Precision recommends using, and includes, Red Loctite to secure the comp. Unfortunately this makes it a semi-permanent modification. Red is Loctite’s highest strength thread locker, requiring heat and tools to remove whatever you’ve attached with it. You won’t be easily popping it off for cleaning.
With introductions out of the way it’s time for a performance evaluation. I’m going to start with Aguila 115 grain which is reported to go 1,150 FPS. It’s the softest shooting ammo I have on hand and I want to see if the gun will run reliably. If more juice is required I’ll bring out some Winchester NATO 124 grain moving at 1,185 FPS.
If you’re wondering why I have concerns about reliability it’s because of the effect a compensator has on a pistol. In short, a lighter recoil spring can be needed for it to cycle correctly. Since I can currently find no lighter springs if it won’t run that’ll be a big problem.
The light itself adds a decent amount of weight coming in at 4.08 ounces. The comp and extra barrel length adds a small amount of weight itself, an extra 1.48 ounces. The extra weight at the end of the pistol helps reduce muzzle rise during shooting. Some may not like how the balance of the pistol changes though.
Shooting with the comp was an interesting experience, especially indoors. I handed the gun off to a friend who put through 50 rounds of Aguila. After a few rounds he was surrounded by a cloud of haze as the gasses were directed up and to the sides of the shooting lane. He encountered one stovepipe malfunction but other than that it ran smooth.
When I stepped up to shoot I grabbed the Winchester NATO. I had no malfunctions as I made my way through the box but when it came time to test it without the comp I was surprised. There just wasn’t that much reduction in recoil or muzzle rise. A while back I had a Glock .40 S&W ported and the difference was drastic. While the comp did have a noticeable effect it wasn’t what I would call significant. A bigger effect would require more ports but that would mean a larger comp.
As much as I wanted to like the compensator I can’t find a way to justify it for my uses. In a competition setting where tenths and hundredths of a second are important they have their place. In a defensive setting having a shot split time that’s .05 or .10 seconds less isn’t going to make a difference. The placement of your first couple of shots are much more important than how fast you can shoot.
There’s no doubt as to the quality of the compensator though. If I was going to build an open pistol using the P320 as a base I wouldn’t hesitate to pick up their 3-port ‘Open’ compensator. Also, the customer service at Springer Precision is top-notch. I’ve interacted with them a few different times and they were always quick to respond and thoroughly knowledgeable. If you’re look for a quality product from a good company check out www.SpringerPrecision.com