A PDW Like None Other

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CAN A PISTOL WITH A STOCK REALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE? 

I’ve been on a P320 kick as of late because I’ve always liked the FCU design that allows so much customization with a single pistol. While testing a ton of parts for the Best SIG Sauer P320 Upgrades article, one of the more interesting parts was the Strike Industries Modular Chassis or SMC.

While not cheap, this expanded grip module gives you many of the benefits of a longer gun, while still maintaining a pistol format.

STRIKE INDUSTRIES MODULAR CHASSIS

In a nutshell, this is a chassis for the P320 that turns your standard P320 into a pistol that is able to use a brace or stock (NFA law applies). 

With a ton of parts and a lot of customization options, this system has a lot of potential. I have a lot I really like about this, but some drawbacks also. We’ll get into that later.

One major plus of the system is it gives you a red dot that is higher and easier to use with a brace. It also has a modular mounting system that allows for basically any optic footprint.

When the system works, it works well. It is a compact package that ups your accuracy and usability over a normal pistol.

Strike Dual Folding Adapter

My favorite part of this system might be Strike’s Dual Folding brace. Sold separately from the chassis, this is by far my favorite brace for the chassis because of just how nice it is. It’s even become my favorite brace in general. 

Able to fold to either side, very ridged, and lightweight, I dig this brace a lot. It connects via 1913 railing and so is compatible with a huge range of firearms outside of just the SMC.

OUT ON THE RANGE

I’ve shot the SMC a lot. A lot more than I planned. I shot about 500 rounds getting ready for InRangeTV Handgun Brutality 2023. I then shot another 700 or so rounds at the event. Then another 1,000 rounds on the range and in local pistol competitions since then.

All told I have well over 2,000 rounds through this system. 

I’ve often changed out what slide I’m using, along with the barrel and comp. I’ve tried comps from Killer Innovations, comped slides from ShaloTek, the SMC comp, and no comps. 

With a weapon light, without a weapon light, with the extra mag/foregrip, without it, etc, etc, etc. I’ve flexed the customization of this platform as much as I can because I’ve been looking for my perfect configuration. 

For me, what I like most is the SMC with the Hyper blast shield to give me more front rail space and more protection from the muzzle blast, an SMC magwell, and the Spare Magazine Holder. Plus, a Holosun P.ID HC weapon light, SIG red dot, and a Killer Innovations slide with their Velocity Pro Tucked compensator and barrel. And, of course, the Strike Industries dual folding brace.

The main magazine I used in this setup was a 21-round SIG mag with a Tyrant CNC +5 mag extension. I didn’t read the website before installing the mag extension, but the website says it won’t fit a 21-round tube. Mine did. It holds 27 rounds, so I got +6 out of a +5 extension. And it’s worked perfectly for well over 500 rounds. YMMV.

I like this setup because it gives me a lot of force multiplication and increased accuracy without getting in the way.

Shooting the SMC is easy. It feels much milder than a normal PCC because the slide is way less reciprocating weight. Staying on target is easy, and shots out to 75 yards are simple once you know the holdover.

Turning and movement are fast and fluid because the SMC is small and easy to swing. It can even hang from a single-point sling and becomes easy to conceal under something like a light jacket.

Split times and accuracy will depend on your P320 FCU and slide, but with my setup, it was excellent. 

The forward grip that acts as a mag holder is nice. Not only does it give you something to hold on to and work the light from, but having the extra mag means I have 27 rounds on tap and an extremely fast first reload to get another 21 rounds. 

A PDW with effectively almost 50 rounds that require no pockets, no mag holsters, and is quick on the draw is impressive.

IS IT USEFUL?

Something I think we need to talk about is the fact that this is a braced pistol, not a PCC. Depending on how you look at it, it’s a PDW at best. While a brace on a pistol isn’t a new idea, it isn’t as magically awesome as you might expect it to be.

Sure, you have another point of contact, and it is easier to aim, but is it really that much easier?

My pistol has a red dot, a weapon light, a comp, and a mag well. I use my support hand to control it. The only thing I’m adding to it with the SMC is a brace and sling.

The brace and sling help, but it’s a matter of degrees. 

SMC has a universal mounting system for red dots. Just about any dot on the market can be mounted securely.

To highlight this, I want to talk about InRangeTV’s Handgun Brutality 2023. This was a 10-stage pistol event with the difficulty set to 11. 40-60 round stages, no paper targets, many of the targets being very small, lots of no shoots, and pistol targets out to 75 yards. 

I shot the event three times, all 10 stages, 3 separate times. Once with a full-size P320 with comp and red dot, once with a compact P320, and once with a P320 in the SMC.

Overall, my match times between the full-size P320 and the SMC build were almost the same. Full-size P320 was a few seconds faster on several stages. Where the SMC shined was the 75-yard stage.

What Does It All Mean

The SMC converts your P320 from a pistol into a pistol with a brace. Not a PCC. When I went into this project, I hoped for a P320 PCC, but I was wrong. That is no fault of the SMC, it’s just what it is.

100 years ago, when you were looking at a Luger with an 8-shot mag Vs. an Artillery Luger with a 30-round drum and a stock, a stocked pistol was a huge gain in firepower.

But when you have a full-size P320 with a comp, red dot, mag well, and 21-round magazines — adding a brace and sling doesn’t add as much to the firepower.

What those match numbers don’t show is that I had to try a lot harder with the standard P320 than I did with the SMC. 

I put myself in training mode before the match and shot about 2k rounds through the P320s to get ready. I went to at least two local steel matches every month for 3 months leading up to the event. I even took a local pistol class just so have someone there to watch me for problems a week before I drove to Utah for the match. What I’m saying is I put a lot of effort into tuning up my pistol game.

The three P320 builds used at HGB23

But for PCC? I did those 500-ish rounds with the SMC, and that was it. The rest of my focus was on the normal pistol. 

While shooting, I was mentally putting a lot more effort into shooting the normal P320 than I did the SMC. The SMC was kind of a relaxing easy mode, but the normal P320 I was game facing it hard.

THAT is the critical difference and what makes the SMC shine.

A brace and a sling make everything so, so much easier.

PROBLEMS

The SMC worked well for me, but I did have one issue. The backstrap is what secures the stock and, more importantly, the red dot to the frame of the pistol. And it is held with two screws on either side of the frame. One of these screws backed out and was lost forever. With it gone, the frame can flex and cause the red dot to lose zero. Even worse, it’s a wondering zero that shifts as you do depending on how tightly you hold the gun and how you hold it.

While entirely fixable, it’s a critical point of failure that you should keep an eye on.

Compensators

The SMC has two dedicated compensators you can get for it that both drop into the SMC frame and are not connected to the pistol. While handy if you don’t have a slide that already has a comp, I found both the short comp and the long comp to be not very effective.

Both comps help, the long version doing more than the short, but neither is as good as the worst P320 comp I own and doesn’t hold a candle to a well-designed dedicated comp like the Killer Innovations Velocity comp.

If you have nothing better and don’t want to spend the money on a threaded barrel and a comp, they are good options for a fairly low price. But you’ll get more performance from other setups.

THE BUILD IN 2024

10 months later, after waiting for the brace ban to work itself out, the SMC build I have now is slightly different from the one I ran at Brutality. Keep in mind that this is not a dedicated setup. I use this P320 slide and FCU in a normal grip module most of the time.

While the Strike Industries muzzle brake is cool, I don’t feel like it helps that much, and it’s an extra step to go through when you want to change anything. Using a slide that already has a comp is easier, slightly more effective, and looks cleaner.

The blast shield is a must, if only for peace of mind when you have your fingers that close to the business end of things.

The forward grip is nice in terms of ergonomics, but the ability to store a magazine in there is huge and makes for a very fast first reload.

The optic on top is a SIG Romeo 1. You can add any optic you want on top, but I went with the Romeo 1 because it’s a weird footprint, and none of my other guns have this footprint anymore. Basically, this is the one place I can run the Romeo 1, so this is where I run it.

The optic on the slide is a Romeo X Pro. It serves no purpose when in the SMC. It is there because I don’t want to remove it every time I throw this slide in the SMC. 

Something worth talking about if you’re planning on a dedicated setup for the SMC is that you should strongly consider using an FCU with manual safety or at least using the Agency Arms trigger shoe with a trigger safety.

Because this doesn’t have a holster and is likely to be stored or carried in a bag, it really should have something to act as an added safety. 

When I have carried this in a bag, such as for a road trip, I always carry it with the chamber empty. If I had a manual safety FCU, I would carry chambered and safety on.

LOOSE ROUNDS

Bottom line: is it worth it? Sadly, the price is the biggest pain point here.

Strike Industries sent me the SMC to test and use, and from my use, I like it. Even with the screw backing out and needing to be replaced, this is a cool platform that I like as a PDW or go-bag gun.

But at MSRP… oof. This ain’t cheap.

The MSRP on the base SMC is $550. The Dual Folding brace is another $220. Mag well and blast shield, $20 and $40. $830 MSRP for just what I used from SI; that’s not counting the P320 FCU, slide, barrel, comp, if any, and red dot.

My build has a total MSRP of around $2,246 with the Killer Innovations slide, barrel, and comp. P320 custom FCU, and a SIG red dot. Plus, the SMC.

If you go with just the SMC, maybe use a cheaper brace, and a basic P320/M17/18, you’re still looking at around $1,300 all-in. And you’ll still need a red dot. That’s a heavy price tag for something pretty niche.

If it is worth it will depend on you and your needs. For me, I see this as a great option as a go-bag gun, likely with a normal P320 grip module thrown in the bag also. Having the braced pistol option is great, but I also can turn it into a CCW with about 30 seconds and zero tools.

That is the kind of flexibility that makes the P320 shine.

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