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.