The single most underrated firearm in the shooting world is arguably the .22 LR semi-automatic pistol. Of course, it is not because of stopping power, concealed carry attributes, or proven grit on the battlefield. It is simply because these little marvels provide never-ending fun on the range, especially if being used to “ping” steel targets. There is also no better option when training new shooters in the fundamentals of handgun shooting. This is due to the almost nonexistent recoil impulse and relatively quiet “pop” when compared to the louder “boom” associated with larger centerfire cartridges.
Having fun should always be a priority when we go to the range. Discretionary time outside of work and other obligations is too limited not to enjoy, even when doing serious training that might one day be utilized to save innocent lives. The only thing that can get in the way of a good time at the range with the .22 semi-auto is if it doesn’t work well. Gun designers in the firearms industry have struggled for years to make a truly reliable .22 pistol.
When Sig Sauer’s enormous team of big-brained engineers sat down to begin imagining the company’s new rimfire pistol designated as the P322, their focus was on building a cool, innovative handgun that would change the gun community’s perception of .22 pistol reliability and feel. They were dead set on making an ergonomic, eye-catching gun that went “bang” when the trigger is pulled—every single time.
So, with all of this in mind, it should come as no surprise that I sat up in my chair and leaned forward as I watched a YouTube video from the immensely popular trick shot magic man and gun reviewer known as 22PLINKSTER. It was at the moment when he began to rave about the reliability of the Sig P322. The details then blew my mind.
22PLINKSTER attended a class in Florida where he and others shot 3,000 rounds through a P322 that had an unknown number of rounds through it previously without ever being cleaned. The pistol had two light primer strikes in the 3,000 rounds fired. This is a 99.93 percent reliability rate. At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, I am going to go ahead and say this is unprecedented for a .22 LR pistol, especially out of a dirty gun. The first rule of .22 LR pistols is to keep them clean. The one he shot violated this rule like I did my curfews in high school.
When I acquired my new, unfired, perfectly clean P322, my expectations for how it would shoot on the range were ridiculously high. Some of this was due to my more than 32 years of shooting Sigs but most of it could be attributed to the glowing report from 22PINKSTER, who is known for his brutal honesty in his reviews.
I have tens of thousands of rounds of .22 LR in my collection, and I counted at least 15 different types from various makers as I was preparing for the range. I was going to do my best to make this pistol misbehave by shooting a wide array of loads in the subsonic, standard velocity, and high velocity realms. A few of the boxes were definitely of the bargain-basement variety. Sig’s engineers had sought to build a gun that would fire all types of .22 LR ammunition, and I was going to put it to the test.
All told, I shot more than 450 rounds during my session that was abbreviated due to darkness. The gun tore through everything without a single hiccup. I expected the most reliable .22 LR pistol, and all indications pointed to having found it in the P322. The two 20-round magazines that come with the gun are the most generous offered by any manufacturer in the compact .22 pistol realm. I loaded them to capacity each time I shot as another means of testing reliability. The included magazine loading device works like a charm. Place the floor plate on a firm surface, slide the loader around the magazine, and push the spring and follower down just enough to allow each successive round of joy into the magazine.
The accuracy this pistol displayed was icing on the cake. Out of the box, the gun shot about four inches low and two inches right at 15 yards, but this gave me the opportunity to experience how easily the sights could be adjusted. Repeatedly, the rounds landed precisely where I aimed, at least during the limited scenarios when I wasn’t pulling the trigger as fast as I could make my finger move.
The P322 feels and acts like a defensive, centerfire pistol more than any .22 pistol I have ever handled. This may be its single greatest attribute after reliability. The beefier slide and aggressive serrations allow for easy manipulation of the slide with a full palm-four-finger grip. The wider magazines and flared magazine well provide for real, meaningful opportunities to practice speed reloads. The long, wide, ergonomically designed grip unquestionably feels like the gun being held is ready for life-saving duty.
Other components of the stunning package include a threaded barrel and adapter for a suppressor, an optics-ready stainless-steel slide with bright fiber optic, adjustable sights mounted from the factory, interchangeable curved and flat trigger shoe, 1913 accessory rail, ambidextrous safety, and reversible magazine catch. I have been trying to think of something Sig’s engineers missed, but I have concluded the effort is futile.
The diminutive .22 LR pistols are designed for plinking and training, not the battlefield, but the P322 would likely win military contracts if the Geneva Conventions were ever amended to prohibit centerfire ammunition. Reliability is king in battle, and this gun is as reliable as it is impressive in design and rich features. The P322 is a winner by every possible measure.
– ACTION TYPE: Single-Action-Only Hammer Fired w/ Enclosed Hammer
– CHAMBERING: .22LR
– GRIP: Polymer with Texture
– SLIDE: Alloy
– FRAME: Polymer/Stainless Steel
– BARREL TYPE: Carbon Steel
– BARREL LENGTH: 4 inches
– MAGAZINE: 2 20-round Polymer (25-Round Available for Purchase)
– SIGHTS: Fiber Optic Front and Rear with Adjustable Rear
– TRIGGER: Interchangeable Flat and Curved – 5.5 pounds
– OVERALL LENGTH: 7 inches
– WIDTH: 1.4 inches
– WEIGHT: 17.1 ounces
– ACCESSORIES: Threaded Barrel Adapter, 1913 Rail, Optics Ready, Magazine Loader, Sight Adjust Tool
– MAP: $399.99
– URL: sigsauer.com/P322