Sig Sauer’s new M17 Part 4

Sig Sauer’s new M17 Part 4 Part 3 Part 2 Part 1

The P320 in military dress

By Dennis Adler

Were it not for the unusual M17 CO2 magazine, this could be a pair of U.S. Army M17 9mm pistols. Sig has made the airgun a visual match for the centerfire pistol and a dual purpose shooting sport and training gun in one.

This is where Sig Sauer’s purpose of designing and manufacturing CO2 training guns based on their centerfire models comes to realization; or, as they used to say in the auto industry, this is “where the rubber meets the road.” Everything Sig Sauer has done from the P226 ASP, introduced in 2016, through the P320 ASP introduced last year, to the new P320 M17 ASP, has been a deliberate investment in design improvements and innovations executed with Sig Sauer precision. Consider that the P226 ASP used an established (as in not invented here) 8+8 rotary stick magazine; a year later the P320 introduced an innovative rotary pellet magazine with a 20 round capacity, and in 2018 Sig unveils the first self-contained CO2 pellet pistol magazine combined with a blowback action version of its new U.S. Army P320 M17 semiautomatic. The timeline for this is impressive, but the end result, the M17, speaks volumes about what Sig Sauer has accomplished in two different fields of handgun design and manufacturing in a relatively short span of time. read more


Sig Sauer’s new M17 Part 3

Sig Sauer’s new M17 Part 3 Part 2 Part 1

The P320 in military dress

By Dennis Adler

You can bet that Sig Sauer’s designers are proud of this air pistol. There may have been some less than enthusiastic reactions to the P320 pellet model, but there is no way to look at or handle the M17 that leaves you wanting for more, unless you just have to have a slide that locks back on an empty magazine and an adjustable rear sight. The M17 checks all the other boxes and get a bonus for absolutely authentic looks.

Blowback action air pistol designs and operation vary from as close to an actual blowback action centerfire pistol as possible, like the Umarex Walther PPK/S, to thoroughly accurate J.M. Browning short-recoil, locked-breech designs, like the Umarex HK USP, and internally contained, frame-mounted firing mechanisms (usually with stick magazines or reversible 8+8 pellet magazines) like the Sig Sauer Max Michel and Spartan 1911 models, or Umarex Beretta PX4 pellet pistol. The latter designs, if they have an open slide and barrel lug interface, only expose the top of the internal firing mechanism, rather than the top of the magazine when the slide goes back or is locked open. This configuration, used in the Sig Sauer Max Michel and Spartan 1911 models, formed the basis for the P320 M17 ASP’s internal design, but the definition of “basis” here is simply that, it was a starting point not the end result. read more


Sig Sauer’s new M17 Part 2

Sig Sauer’s new M17 Part 2 Part 1

The P320 in military dress

By Dennis Adler

The Sig Sauer P320 ASP (left) laid the foundation for future designs with its excellent polymer frame and basic slide design. The next level up is the M17 which adapts the frame, less the now unnecessary removable backstrap panel for inserting CO2. As this view shows, the M17 has significant improvements including a full slide and barrel lug interface for the blowback action slide, and a match to the centerfire model’s black finish removable rear sight optics cut that allows direct mounting of optics to the slide. The optics cut was part of the Army’s MHS requirements. Unfortunately, the CO2 model’s is not removable.

The role of the M17, as both a military pistol and as a blowback action CO2 pellet-firing air pistol, is very different than that of the Sig Sauer P320 models they are based upon. There are noteworthy differences in the centerfire and CO2 models, beginning with safeties. The P320 centerfire pistols do not have them.

The Sig Sauer P320 CO2 model comes in coyote tan similar to the M17’s finish. One of the most arguable features of this blowback action model was adding the mandatory safety to the left side of the frame. This alters the look of the pistol from the centerfire model. Also note the one-piece slide, ejection port and barrel lug, a single casting to reduce manufacturing costs but another gig for the gun’s authentic look.

All problems solved in the looks department with the slightly more expensive 2018 Sig Sauer P320/M17 ASP. The obvious differences include the manual safety matching the MHS requirements for the military version, and the correct profile white dot sights. The centerfire guns have Sig-Lite night sights.

The Sig Sauer P320 CO2 model, in complying with air pistol safety requirements, added a manual safety on the left side of the frame. Sig designers placed it where a manual safety would go, so technically, it is still a training aid, just not for a P320. Overall, placing it where a safety would normally be positioned on a semi-auto, rather than some obscure place on the right side of the frame as some air pistol manufacturers have done, was a better choice. The M17 does have a manual ambidextrous safety, so that issue is eliminated with this new model which is 100 percent accurate to its centerfire counterpart. read more


Sig Sauer’s new M17 Part 1

Sig Sauer’s new M17 Part 1

The P320 in military dress

By Dennis Adler

This is where the history of blowback action CO2 air pistols begins to change. Sig Sauer has not only stepped over the threshold of a door that no one had opened before, they also built the door. The M17 could be a game changer for the future of blowback action 4.5mm pellet-firing pistols and that’s a lot to say in an opening statement, but I have had my hands on this pistol for over a month waiting to tell its story. We begin with the P320.

Is this a 100 percent understudy to the centerfire M17? Not entirely, even Sig Sauer, which appears to be able to design and manufacture new airguns at an impressive rate, can’t change the physics of a pellet-loading semi-auto, even one with an integral 20-shot rotary magazine and CO2 loading system. And it still comes in the unusual but sturdy Sig Sauer packaging which gives the gun plenty of storage protection.

The Sig Sauer P320 ASP is a full-size duplicate of the P320 Nitron centerfire version, left, which is one of the P320 configurations I had tested for Combat Handguns. The CO2 model has a full length dustcover accessory rail to mount lights and light laser combinations for training practice, but comes with the compromises that have been corrected for the most part in the new M17 ASP.

The Sig Sauer P320 CO2 model was introduced in 2017 and was not the epiphany in pellet-firing blowback action CO2 models air gunners were hoping for. But I have a somewhat different perspective on the P320 CO2 model than most, having tested and evaluated the centerfire P320 modular handgun system that evolved into the M17 back in 2016. I knew that when Sig Sauer got into the airgun manufacturing business to build training guns that it could never be the equal of a P320; yes some airguns are the BB-firing version of their centerfire counterparts, including the Sig Sauer WE THE PEOPLE 1911, but when you are talking a pellet-firing semi-auto, you are not going to achieve the same goal, at least not for the price of most blowback action CO2 models. There had to be compromises and Sig Sauer chose wisely for the most part developing a P320 CO2 model that could serve the basic needs of the design for training and still be an enjoyable and affordable recreational air pistol. Not everyone will agree with me on this but the P320 was a means to an end, a stepping stone for a company that moves quickly. read more


ASG CZ SP-01 Shadow Blue part 5

ASG CZ SP-01 Shadow Blue Part 5 Part 4 Part 3 Part 2 Part 1

A battle of equals

By Dennis Adler

Railing against the establishment, or at least the number one optics rail competition CO2 pistol, the Tanfoglio Gold Custom, the fully outfitted Shadow Blue looks like a solid contender.

A battle among equals is the best comparison and no two blowback action CO2 pistols are better matched than the CZ75-based Tanfoglio Gold Custom and the fully equipped CZ75 SP-01 Shadow Blue. There is one obvious advantage to the Tanfoglio; it comes this way right out of the box. The disadvantage is that it has to stay this way! The Shadow begins as a traditional blowback action DA/SA semi-auto that embodies almost every desirable feature one could ask for in a CO2 pistol. What it lacks is a windage and elevation adjustable rear sight that would make it an ideal target pistol instead of a straightforward counterpart to a 9mm duty pistol. read more


ASG CZ SP-01 Shadow Blue part 4

ASG CZ SP-01 Shadow Blue part 4 Part 3 Part 2 Part 1

Getting bluer and better

By Dennis Adler

It is easy to see the difference in the design of the CZ 75 SP-01 Shadow’s black hard rubber grips and the contour of the Shadow Blue alloy grips and mag funnel combination. The alloy panels allow a tighter wrap around the grip frame and let the pistol set further into the palmswell. The flair of the mag funnel also gives the base of the hand more support.

The ASG CZ 75 SP-01 Shadow is one of the few blowback action CO2 pistols that can be accessorized the same as its 9mm competition counterpart. Back in May, when I began showing the CZ Shadow Blue accessories for the SP-01 Shadow, they were limited to the alloy grips and mag funnel, which are now available through Pyramyd Air. These accessories make the CO2 model look more like the original 9mm Shadow competition version, Shadow 2, CZ 75 Tactical Sport and Czechmate models. There are, of course, other competition parts for the 9mm Shadow that can be added to the CO2 version, and this includes a matching blue alloy base pad for the self-contained CO2 BB magazines in place of the standard black base pad. (These are also offered in CZ Orange with matching grips as used on the CZ 75 Tactical). The alloy base pad doesn’t do anything for the handling of the gun; it is just an aesthetic alteration to give the CZ a better look. And competition guns can get pretty wild looking. The Shadow is actually quite tame compared to some. read more


The White Letter Chronicles

The White Letter Chronicles

History of white lettering on handguns

By Dennis Adler

Oh those pesky white letters. Sometimes they’re OK, like the Sig Sauer P226 X-Five or the Umarex S&W M&P40, they’re not correct but they’re not unattractive. Then there are manufacturers who feel compelled to fill the slide with their name, but white lettering isn’t exclusive to CO2 air pistols!

We all hate that white lettering on CO2 pistols. Nothing says air pistol like white lettering…or does it? White lettering on centerfire pistols has actually been used for almost a century. It is much less common today but there are some very noteworthy historical precedents for seeing white!

This Bergmann Model 1910 dates back to the early 1920s. You often see examples of this model, and later versions also built under license in Belgium, with white lettering to embellish the name.

White lettering is most often seen on German firearms and among the oldest examples is the Bergmann Model 1910/21 semiautomatic pistol. Theodore Bergmann introduced his first autoloader a year after Paul Mauser patented his design for the Broomhandle in 1895. In 1897 Bergmann and arms designer Louis Schmeisser introduced a new pistol using a removable box magazine; the basic pistol configuration that would become characteristic of all future Bergmann designs. An improved version was developed after the turn of the century, and rather than manufacturing them in Germany, Bergmann moved production to Herstal, Belgium, under license to Societe Anonyme Anciens Establissments Pieper. That is the name you see stamped into the barrel extension on the 1910 Model pictured above. Mauser used white lettering as well, often to highlight the manufacturer’s name stamped into the frame. White lettering was also used for export models to denote the retailer, such as Von Lengerke & Detmold in New York, which began selling Broomhandle Mauser pistols in 1897. read more