The Sig Sauer P320 9mm M17-Civilian Version America's New Duty Pistol

If you are looking for a full-size carry, home defense, or duty pistol, consider the Sig Sauer P320 M17 or M17 Commemorative pistols.

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I've got to admit that I've been a fan of the Beretta 92/M9/M9A1 9mm semi-automatic pistol for quite a few years now-actually more than 20.

My fandom didn't start in 1985 when the Beretta 92 was adopted by the U.S. Military as the replacement for the Colt 1911 .45. I was too busy reading the late, great, Colonel Jeff Cooper's articles about how the Beretta 92, soon to be known by its official military designation as the M9 Pistol, was a terrible mistake. He wasn't the only critic amongst the gunwriters of the day.

It wasn't until many years later that I worked extensively with the Beretta 92 and M9A1. I found it was the most reliable pistol I had ever fired, and ended up carrying it as a duty pistol off and on since 2011. I realized that in this one instance, Colonel Cooper had been wrong in his judgement of this fine handgun.

When the U.S. military began looking for a replacement for the M9A1, I figured that the Beretta M9A3 would be a shoe-in. Part's could interchange, holsters for the A1 would work for the A3, and the A3 seemed to meet all the required criterion of the military. Little update training would be needed. But I was wrong, and the military made a major change-selecting instead the Sig Sauer P320 and adopting it as the M17. And after testing the civilian P320 M17, I thing they made a wise choice.

The striker-fired SIG M17, is a major departure from traditional American military pistols, being our first military handgun to feature a polymer frame-which is a big deal considering that rumors abounded that Glocks would melt in the hot sun when they were first introduced in 1982.

The M17 is available to civilians in two versions. The M17 Commemorative is the exact same pistol that our military is being issued- it comes with two 21 round, and one 17 round magazine. The controls are Coyote tan color. The P320 is the slightly civilianized version.

The P230 M17 has the following features:

  • 4.7 inch carbon steel barrel
  • Black controls
  • PVD Coyote Tan Coated Stainless steel slide
  • Unloaded weight of 29.6 ounces
  • 17 round steel magazines-two are included
  • Slide optics cuts with removable rear sight plate
  • Siglite Night Sights
  • Coyote Tan Carry Length Grip Module
  • Molded-in Picatinny Rail Segment
  • 1911 style ambidextrous manual thumb safety (it can be ordered without one but I definitely prefer the extra safety margin due to the light trigger pull).
  • Ambidextrous slide release levers
  • Reversible magazine release button

These features combine into an exceptionally well balanced and durable package that takes full advantage of 9mm ballistic potential. The M17 puts me in mind of the natural evolution of the 1911 Colt .45 of the 20th into a 21st Century iteration of that legendary pistol. The feel of the M17's polymer grip in the hand is outstanding, and should fit the majority of hands without issue. The backstrap curve aids in the pointability of the M17 when bringing it up on target, just as the arched mainspring housing of the 1911A1 Colt did.

I noted immediately during dry fire practice with the M17 that the prominent Siglite three dot sights were instantly aligned from a natural grip position as soon as it was brought to bear on the target. It's actually a bit uncanny. Although the Siglite sights are of the three-dot style, the front dot is larger, making it easy to distinguish it from the rear dot. Although I prefer to have only the front sight glowing, the SIG system is a good compromise.

The proof of the M17's excellence was in the shooting. SIG also sent along a quantity of their M17 Military Grade 9mm+P ammo, both 124 grain FMJ Elite practice loads and 124 grain V-Crown Defensive fodder. Both loads replicate NATO 9mm performance standards and deliver 1198 FPS velocity and 395 FPE at the muzzle. If you have never tried Sig Sauer ammo, you should.

The M17 ammo was a perfect match for the M17 pistol. Recoil, even with the hot 9mm +P loads, was easily controlled. In fact, recoil was so sedate that I forgot I was shooting +P ammo. The 4.7 inch barrel provided a steady platform with an excellent sight picture and low muzzle blast. The trigger was superb-very close to a 1911 single action trigger. The trigger feel was enhanced by a good width, smooth surface, and lack of safety levers or articulating joints. The thumb safety lever was easily reached and running the M17 was like running a lighter weight, high capacity 1911. It doesn't get much better than that.

If you are looking for a full-size carry, home defense, or duty pistol-one of the most extensively tested military pistols in history-consider the Sig Sauer P320 M17 or M17 Commemorative pistols.