February 02, 2022
SIG Sauer has been a leader in the handgun realm since the 1970s, feeding civilian, law enforcement and military customers with innovative and dependable firearms. Among SIG’s more recent game-changing products has been the polymer-frame, striker-fired P320—a handgun that has grown immensely popular. SIG has offered numerous variations of the P320 for defensive and competition use, and the new limited-production AXG Scorpion from SIG’s Custom Works is one of the latest evolutions in the series. The AXG Scorpion combines modern features with some traditional elements to create a unique and capable handgun.
I first became acquainted with SIG’s flagship striker-fired handgun early in 2014 when I reviewed the P320 for another publication. I was impressed with the modularity and function, but the shooting world at first didn’t go bananas for the gun. That surge in demand came nearly three years later when it was announced that two variants of the P320 would become the U.S. military’s M17 (full-size) and M18 (compact) service pistols. The P320’s explosion in popularity led to several new models in the lineup that filled various niches, most recently the AXG Scorpion.
The AXG Scorpion is produced under the SIG Custom Works banner, an in-house custom shop that has produced unique products, including M17 sidearms made for the Sentinels who proudly stand guard over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
“Some of these models are made in limited quantities, some will only be available to order for a limited time,” SIG Sauer’s Michael Marotte told me. “SIG plans to keep up a robust Custom Works release schedule to continue bringing new and exciting options to the marketplace.” The AXG Scorpion comes in a fitted SIG Custom Works Negrini case with a certificate and a special challenge coin. It’s always nice when a premium firearm doesn’t come in a cheap cardboard box.
The most fundamental difference between the AXG Scorpion and the standard P320 is the frame. Many of the handguns that made SIG Sauer so well respected, including the famed P226, combined aluminum alloy frames with steel slides. The AXG Scorpion is a throwback to that tradition. The grip module is constructed from an aluminum alloy, which adds roughly six ounces of heft when compared to the standard P320 Compact.
Additional weight isn’t always a bad thing, especially when it comes to controllability. There is a reason competition guns are heavier than other pistols. Adding weight down low on the gun creates a real advantage in terms of rapid shots on target. Besides, some shooters simply refuse to carry a polymer-frame handgun on principle. The AXG Scorpion is one of the few metal-frame striker-fired handguns available, giving traditionalists a modern option.
Notice I said the grip module was aluminum rather than the frame. That is because the component we would normally call the frame is not legally a frame on the P320 series of pistols. The actual serial-numbered stainless steel frame is the removable Fire Control Unit (FCU), the guts of the firing mechanism.
The FCU can be dropped into any P320 grip module, so, for example, if you decide you want to fit a polymer frame to your AXG Scorpion for concealed carry, it is easy to make that happen after the fact. SIG sells modules as accessories, and at least two firms are making high-quality aftermarket versions. Since the slide rides on the FCU’s steel frame rails rather than on the grip module, there are no wear issues related to the dissimilar metals. Removing the FCU requires removing the take-down lever, which releases the assembly. The process of installing the FCU on a new grip module takes less than a minute.
The grip module allows for a full-fingered hold on the pistol, enhanced by a 20-lpi checkered frontstrap. The module is cut for a high grip, and an upswept beavertail at the rear is a nice touch. The grips themselves are traditional panels made of G-10 and have a swirling green pattern.
A small insert of textured G-10 provides purchase on the backside of the module. Though our test sample uses slotted grip screws, newer handguns ship with Torx fasteners. The magazine well is beveled, and an M1913 accessory rail is machined into the module’s dust cover.
The AXG Scorpion’s slide is machined from stainless steel, making it stronger than the folded-steel slides found on many older SIG P-series models. The slide has the same dimensions as the P320 Compact/Carry, making it slightly shorter than the Glock 19. The external extractor doubles as a loaded-chamber indicator. There is a dual captive spring recoil assembly with a full-length guide rod.
Due to the popularity of red dot sights on handguns, the AXG Scorpion’s slide is milled and drilled to allow optics mounting. When not in use, the optic mount can be covered by a steel plate that is secured with a pair of hex screws. The slide is milled with cocking serrations at the front and rear and, like the grip module, is finished in flat dark earth Cerakote.
The steel X-Ray 3 day/night sights are of high quality and are dovetailed into the slide and drift adjustable for windage. The X-Ray 3 combines an HD-style green front dot with a tritium insert and two small dots at the rear. Note that if you mount a red dot on the gun, you won’t see the front sight unless you switch to suppressor-height sights. I mounted a Leupold DeltaPoint Pro for testing.
From a control perspective, this handgun mirrors the standard P320. There is an ambidextrous slide stop, a take-down lever, a checkered magazine release and, of course, the trigger. All of these parts are finished in matte black DLC, visually contrasting with the FDE finish on the slide and grip module. Unlike the M17s produced for the military, there is no manual safety.
The AXG Scorpion uses a skeletonized flat-faced trigger that breaks at a very nice 3.75 pounds after some take-up. The reset is short and tactile. The excellent trigger is no doubt a result of the Custom Works’ attention to detail and is one of the real value-adds of this handgun.
The integrally ramped carbon steel barrel on the AXG Scorpion is 3.9 inches long from the breech face to the crown. The length strikes a good compromise between performance and concealability.
There is a noticeable bevel at the rear of the chamber to aid feeding, something SIG carried over from the earlier P250 handgun. The barrel uses traditional land-and-groove rifling. Like most of the smaller parts on the AXG Scorpion, the barrel is finished in black DLC. For those interested in attaching a suppressor, SIG’s P320 Compact/Carry threaded barrel is compatible with this handgun and available for around $200.
Though the top half of the AXG Scorpion shares its footprint with the P320 compact, the grip module is that of the full-size model, which adds magazine capacity and grip surface area. Three 17-round steel and polymer magazines ship with the AXG Scorpion, and 10-round magazines are available for states with restrictions.
The magazines are made in Italy by Mec-Gar, one of the best names in the business. There is a highly visible orange follower as well as a black polymer base plate on each mag. SIG’s 21-round accessory magazines, where legal, are compatible with this handgun.
I was excited to shoot the AXG Scorpion and set aside some of my coveted stash of 9mm Luger ammo for testing. For starters, this handgun was 100 percent reliable with the three loads used. I own a P228 as well as a P320 X5, and the shooting experience of the AXG Scorpion struck me as a melding of the two designs.
On one hand, you have the handling qualities of an all-metal handgun, while on the other hand, you have a striker-fired system with a consistent trigger pull. I quickly became a fan. While on the range, I installed the slide assembly from my X5 to the Scorpion’s frame to test the modularity. It took only seconds, and there were no reliability issues.
After shooting from the bench to establish the gun’s mechanical accuracy potential, I moved to my array of steel targets. I own a few handguns with red dot sights, but I still shoot faster with irons thanks to my long familiarity with them. That said, the combination of the illuminated red dot of the DeltaPoint Pro and the excellent trigger made getting fast hits on target a simple task. The setup was fast at close range and precise at longer distances. Based on its performance, I would not hesitate to carry this handgun for defensive purposes.
A common criticism of SIG’s designs historically has been a higher bore axis relative to competitors’ handguns. We are talking fractions of an inch, but picking on the mundane details of a firearm is part of my job. Due to the high frame cut and extended beavertail, I was able to maintain a higher grip on the AXG Scorpion than on other SIG handguns. This high grip and the slightly increased weight allowed me to keep the pistol’s already-manageable muzzle rise in check.
At 31.3 ounces unloaded, the AXG Scorpion weighs nearly twice as much as the company’s ultra-compact P365. These are different guns, though, for different applications.
For years, most of us carried handguns of equal or greater size and weight than the AXG and thought nothing of it. My first carry gun was a 32-ounce all-steel Browning Hi-Power. I, too, have been spoiled by today’s tiny but effective 9mms, but they have their limits. For longer shots, the kind one might encounter in an active-shooter scenario, the shootability and potential accuracy of a larger handgun would be a great benefit. Everything is a compromise.
Rather than sit back like an internet troll and declare the handgun “too heavy,” I chose a more hands-on route. In order to evaluate the AXG Scorpion as a potential choice for concealed carry, I strapped on the gun and went about my business. After several days carrying the handgun in a strong-side IWB holster from Blackpoint Tactical and an appendix holster from Crucial Concealment, I grew accustomed to its size and weight. Yes, the AXG is larger and heavier than what I might normally carry, but not overly so.
So what niche does the AXG Scorpion fill? Besides being a perfectly viable carry gun, it would be ideal for defensive handgun competitions where the added weight and great trigger would be real assets. It is perfectly suitable as a home-defense firearm or simply as a fun range gun.
The fact that the AXG Scorpion is being produced in limited numbers makes it a must-have for any serious SIG Sauer collector. Finally, for those who like to tinker with their guns, the unmatched modularity of the P320 series makes it a perfect platform for customization with no tooling needed.
The SIG AXG Scorpion is not another striker-fired polymer handgun. The SIG AXG Scorpion is its own animal altogether. The combination of the steel slide and FCU with the aluminum frame are unique and attractive attributes in a world awash in plastic. This handgun displays typical—which is to say, excellent—SIG quality along with impressive shooting characteristics. When I was done evaluating the AXG Scorpion, I broke out my checkbook. This one is staying here with me.
SIG Sauer P320 AXG Scorpion Specifications
- Type: striker-fired semiautomatic
- Caliber: 9mm Luger
- Capacity: 17+1
- Barrel: 3.9 in.
- Weight: 31.3 oz.
- Construction: steel fire-control unit and slide, alloy grip module
- Grips: textured G-10 panels
- Sights: Steel X-Ray 3 day/night three-dot; slide milled for optic mounting
- Trigger: flat-face, 3.75 lb. pull (measured)
- Safeties: internal
- Price: $999 (maximum advertised price)
- Manufacturer: SIG Sauer Inc., SIGsauer.com