Gun Test: SIG M17 Civilian Variant

Guns and Gear | Contributor

By Robert Campbell, Gun Digest

Outside a few nuances, the SIG M17 Civilian Variant is identical to newly minted military service pistol and performs battle tough.

How good is the SIG M17 Civilian Variant:

  • Through a 2,000-round test the pistol never encounted a failure.
  • When firing high-recoil defense loads, the P320 M17 remained controllable.
  • Five-shot groups at 25 yards ranged from 2.5 to 3.5 inches.

The U.S. military recently completed a rigorous test of 9mm high-capacity handguns. The winner likely will serve for a decade or more. SIG’s P320 won the contest and was adopted as the U.S. M17. Several upgrades and modifications were undertaken to meet military standards.

The SIG M17 is a great shooter with many good features, including a 17-round capacity and short, fast trigger.

Its modular design was among its most notable strong suits. The firing module is contained in the frame. The steel chassis can be removed and placed into a smaller frame. The slide and barrel can be changed as well. This makes for versatility. In an institutional environment, the modular design makes for easy accommodation of shooters with small and large hands. The pistol is competitively priced. Recently, SIG introduced a civilian version of the U.S. Army’s new pistol: The P320 M17. As range testing proved, it’s an interesting and effective handgun.

SIG M17 Details

The SIG M17 pistol is a service-size handgun at 8 inches long, 5.5 inches high, 1.3 inches wide and 29 ounces unloaded. It ships with two 17-round magazines. The M17 features an ambidextrous slide lock and a well-designed ambidextrous safety. The teardrop-shaped magazine release isn’t ambidextrous but works well for those who practice. The pistol is finished in PVD coyote brown.

The frame is polymer and the slide is stainless steel beneath the coating. An advantage of the M17 is that the rear sight cover is a night sight unit (it is removable for red-dot use). The front sight is a SIGLITE tritium dot. Disassembly is simple and doesn’t require the trigger to be pressed. The technology is cutting edge. How it shoots is the question I wanted to answer.

Firing Line

The pistol feels good in the hand with a slightly sharper grip angle than some polymer pistols. The grip feels solid and fits my average-size hands well. The sights provide an excellent sight picture. Many polymer pistols are slide heavy. The M17 is less so than most. The pistol operates like most striker-fired handguns, but the striker isn’t initially prepped as much as the Glock when the slide is racked. This results in a heavier trigger action. The SIG M17 trigger broke at 6.5 pounds on the Lyman electronic trigger-pull gauge. The trigger press is very short, however, and this makes for excellent speed. Reset is rapid. The pistol points well compared to most polymer-frame handguns. A 29 ounces, this 9mm handgun doesn’t kick much and the grip spreads recoil across the hand. Grip pebbling makes for good adhesion.

The M17 is a clean and uncluttered design. It features ambidextrous safety lever, an ambidextrous slide lock and a light rail.

My range test put more than 2,000 rounds through the SIG P320 M17. It never failed to feed, chamber, fire or eject. It is lively in the hand and tracks well — responding perfectly to a trained shooter. When you are firing at multiple targets, the rule is always the same: fire, allow trigger reset during recoil and fire again as soon as you regain the sight picture. The SIG allows fast hits. Among the training loads I have used is the Federal Syntech in both 115- and 124-grain weights. This load is useful in indoor ranges as it is lead-free and requires less cleaning when used in large quantities.

Accuracy is more than adequate for training well past 25 yards. There are two types of accuracy — practical and intrinsic. Very few people are capable of shooting to the mechanical or intrinsic accuracy level of a pistol. The practical accuracy of the M17 is high.

I proofed the pistol with modern defense loads including Federal’s 124-grain HST, Federal 135-grain Deep Penetrator and Federal HST 147-grain +P. I particularly like the 147-grain +P load. This is an overlooked combination that adds enough velocity to the 147-grain bullet to ensure expansion, yet it isn’t a hard kicker. Like all quality firearms, the M17 prefers one load to others but has demonstrated useful accuracy with all ammo tested.

Load Velocity (fps) 5-Shot 25-Yard Group (in.)
Federal 124-gr. HST 1,190 2.5
Federal 147-gr. HST 980 3.0
Federal 135-gr. Deep Penetrator 1,099 2.8
Federal 124-gr. Syntech 1,100 3.5
Velocity recorded with a RCBS Ammomaster chronograph.

When firing high-recoil defense loads, the P320 M17 remained controllable. The cadence of fire isn’t set by how fast you are able to press the trigger but by how quickly you are able to regain the sights after recoil. As for absolute accuracy, the pistol was fired from a solid bench using the Bullshooters pistol rest from Brownells. Five-shot groups at 25 yards ranged from 2.5 to 3.5 inches. The pistol is clearly accurate enough for personal defense or service use.

The SIG P320 M17 9mm offers a considerable advantage over the standard P320 in the sights and finish. The pistol responds well to a trained shooter, but you must remain well-practiced. The M17 trigger, once learned, produces excellent results. The M17 is a credible defense and duty handgun with much to recommend.

SIG P320 M17 SPECS

MODEL: SIG P320 M17
CALIBER: 9mm Luger
ACTION: Semi-auto
GRIP TYPE: Modular polymer
FRAME: Full-size
FRAME MATERIAL: Stainless steel
FRAME FINISH: Stainless steel
SLIDE FINISH: Coyote PVD
SLIDE MATERIAL: Stainless steel
BARREL MATERIAL: Carbon steel
ACCESSORY RAIL: M1913
TRIGGER: Striker
TRIGGER TYPE: Standard
BARREL LENGTH: 4.7 in. (119mm)
OVERALL LENGTH: 8 in. (203mm)
OVERALL WIDTH: 1.3 in. (33mm)
HEIGHT: 5.5 in. (140mm)
WEIGHT: 29.6 oz. (840g)

RETAIL PRICE: $650

Thanks to Gun Digest for this post. Click here to visit GunDigest.com.

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