Sig Sauer Inc. has agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit over its P320 pistol, on which the Army's Modular Handgun System is based. The settlement requires the gunmaker to reimburse owners of its Sig P320 pistol who paid for repairs or upgrades to prevent an alleged safety glitch, which could cause the weapon to fire accidentally.
The plaintiffs in the case -- who number more than 100, according to court documents -- claim that P320 pistols made before Aug. 8, 2017, do not include a mechanical disconnector, a feature that blocks the pistol's ability to fire when the slide and barrel are in an unlocked condition.
Sig Sauer, based in New Hampshire, makes the Army's Modular Handgun System. The service's M17 and M18 MHS pistols feature an upgraded design and have "passed the U.S. Army's testing protocols," according to Sig officials.
The new disconnector was included in the company's free Voluntary Upgrade Program (VUP) offered to all owners of P320s purchased prior to Aug. 8, 2017, according to a Sig Sauer statement.
"By entering into this agreement, Sig Sauer is not admitting that any of plaintiffs' allegations have merit," according to the statement. "However, to avoid the uncertainty and high costs of further litigation, Sig Sauer has reached an agreement to resolve this case. ... If this agreement is finally approved by the court, these individuals may be entitled to certain benefits, including continued availability of the P320 VUP free of charge, a lifetime warranty against specific kinds of damage to the firearms, and a potential refund of amounts previously charged to repair firearms or replacement of unrepairable pistols."
The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri is scheduled to hold a hearing June 25 to consider whether to approve the settlement and a request for attorneys' fees and expenses of up to $850,000, plus a payment of $1,400 to $2,800 for each named plaintiff, according to Sig Sauer.
"It is Sig Sauer's position that the design of the P320 pistol -- both pre-upgrade and post-upgrade -- prevents the P320 pistol from firing in an unlocked condition," according to the company's statement. "SIG SAUER has conducted extensive testing of both the pre-upgrade and post-upgrade P320 pistols to confirm its position that the pistol will not fire with the slide and barrel in an unlocked condition."
The upgraded design and implementation of the VUP are intended to further enhance the drop safety of the P320 model pistol, according to the statement.
The P320 pistol met and exceeded all U.S. safety standards, but it was discovered during additional testing that the P320 pistol could discharge if dropped at a specific angle, it states.
As part of the design upgrade, a mechanical disconnector was added to "enhance trigger feel and consistency, as well as to prevent a dead trigger condition when the trigger has been pulled with the slide retracted," according to the statement. "Although this disconnector serves as a redundant safety against the pistol firing in an unlocked condition, it is not its primary function and is not necessary to prevent such occurrences."
If approved, the settlement would refund any money paid to the company by current or former P320 owners to have their pistol repaired after what it is calling a "cartridge failure event," according to a settlement information document from Sig Sauer.
The settlement also applies to current and former P320 owners who previously returned their pistol to the company after a "cartridge failure event" and were told that it could not be repaired, according to the Sig document.
Individuals in this category can receive a refund of the "greater of the original price paid for their P320 (with proof of purchase) or the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price for their specific version" or receive a new P320 pistol of the "same or similar version," the document states.
All settlement members who continue to own their P320 pistol would receive a transferable Sig Sauer limited lifetime warranty against any future cartridge failure events, it adds.
-- Matthew Cox can be reached at email@example.com.