Revisiting Sig Sauer Part 2

Revisiting Sig Sauer Part 2 Part 1

First Look: The M17

By Dennis Adler

The M17 began as a Sig Sauer P320. The M17 CO2 model follows suit but makes significantly greater gains beginning with a functioning (not molded-in) slide ejection port. It has an M17 coyote-tan PVD type finish on the slide and coyote-tan polymer frame. Overall, it is one giant step forward in CO2 blowback action pellet-firing pistol design from a company that didn’t build air pistols three years ago! (M17 photos courtesy Sig Sauer)

Here is something to ponder. If foreign companies move to America and begin manufacturing here, are they still foreign companies? Is a Chevrolet (I just picked Chevrolet at random) that comes off a Michigan assembly line combining parts made in Canada, the U.S., and Mexico an American car? Is a BMW built in the U.S. a German car? Better yet, is a German or Italian handgun built in the U.S. still a German or Italian handgun? By design, most often yes, but as an imported gun, no, because it’s not. The Sig Sauer P320 variants for the U.S. Army, (the M17 and M18), are built in New Hampshire by Sig Sauer. It is a German design built in the U.S. for the U.S. military. There are also civilian versions of the M17 to compliment the Sig Sauer P320, upon which the M17 is based. Now, jump back to 1985 when Colt lost its “primary” manufacturing contract for the Model 1911A1 as the standard issue military sidearm to Beretta’s Model 92F (M9). Beretta built a good percentage of those guns in its U.S. manufacturing facilities. In 2017, (after only 32 years compared to Colts 74 years) Beretta lost its contract to build the U.S. military’s standard issue sidearm to Sig Sauer in the U.S. Army’s Modular Handgun System (MHS) competition. That gun is being built in a special section of the company’s New Hampshire manufacturing facility. All things being equal, the M17 is an American-made handgun. What’s my point?

I do not have the full specs on the CO2 model yet, but here are the specs on the 9mm M17 for future comparison: Total length: 8 inches, barrel length: 4.7 inches, weight (incl. magazine) 29.6 ounces, height: 5.5 inches, width: 1.3 inches, and sight radius: 6.6 inches.

Sig Sauer is on the fast track, not only with the U.S. government, but with the U.S. civilian and law enforcement markets, and since late in 2015, with the U.S. airgun market as well. Almost as fast as the P320-based modular handgun design was adopted by the U.S. military and put into production, Sig Sauer’s airgun division developed a companion blowback action CO2 model. And like its 9mm counterpart, it too, began as a P320.

This is the limited edition civilian model of the 9mm M17 in its optional glass lid display case. The CO2 model looks virtually identical. (Photo Sig Sauer)
The 9mm M17 limited edition comes in the same foam lined cardboard box as the military models with two 21-round mags and one 17-round mag. The 9mm has SigLite front night sight and removable night sight rear plate (while the CO2 model has white dot sights).

Build a Custom Airgun

Making the M17 CO2 version 

The 9mm M17 is a groundbreaking design for the military, a modular handgun that uses a separate fire control housing that can be moved from one frame to another allowing the size of the frame, slide and barrel length, and even caliber, to be changed. The modular design also makes quick repairs in the field much faster. We won’t be seeing a modular M17 CO2 model, but we will, in a very short time, have the next closest thing, a nearly identical looking air pistol that fires 4.5mm pellets from a uniquely designed self-contained CO2 pellet magazine. That last feature has been the single greatest demand from airgun enthusiasts who want the same capability in a blowback action pellet model as they have with blowback action BB models. This is it.

The M17 CO2 model has some limitations, one of which is a slide that cannot lock back on an empty magazine. It is the nature of the rotary pellet loading system, and even Sig Sauer hasn’t found a way around it. The slide release is a perfect copy but is non-functional. Everything else works like the 9mm models.

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. The slide on the blowback action M17 still can’t lock open after the last round is fired. And if you are left-handed, it won’t be an ambidextrous pistol like the centerfire M17. But from that point on, the M17 is going to make shooting lead and alloy wadcutters from a rifled barrel semiautomatic air pistol a whole lot more interesting!

Like the interior of the M17 air pistol, the self-contained CO2 pellet magazine is a marvel of design allowing the 20-shot rotary magazine to lock into the M17 magazine, which has the CO2 and valving system. This locks into the M17 action when inserted. Well, of course it does, but wait until you see that mechanism.

Sig Sauer has developed a dedicated magazine and firing system that allows interchangeability of the entire magazine (CO2 and pellets) for each reload, or simply switching out a loaded rotary pellet magazine in the main CO2 magazine housing. They are two separate components that fit together creating a single magazine for authentic reloading. The CO2 pellet magazines are also designed to look like the extended capacity 21-round 9mm military magazine. The visual is more impressive than the description.

Sig Sauer provided me with a photo of the field stripped M17 air pistol which shows the separate slide (notice the full ejection port cutout), removable rifled steel barrel, recoil system, and atop the frame a very, shall we say, intriguing firing mechanism. This will be one of the more significant parts of the T&E to come.

The authentic polymer frame has the same dustcover accessory rail design, triggerguard front serrations, trigger design (shape and feel), left-side thumb safety and magazine release as the 9mm model. The color of the frame and slide, a variation of the coyote tan P320, is also a match. Weight and balance are also nearly identical to the 9mm, as is the DAO trigger pull. Unlike the blowback action P320 ASP, however, the M17 ASP has a full slide ejection port, not a molded-in port, so the gun looks even more authentic when firing. And it can also be field stripped. It has just about everything consumers have asked for in a pellet-firing CO2 semi-auto.

For now, here is one last look, not at the 9mm M17, but the forthcoming CO2 model. This is where the future of pellet-firing, blowback action airguns begins.

When can you hold this new CO2 model in your hands? According to Sig Sauer, the M17 ASP will be available sometime in November. I hope to have a full hands-on T&E before then.

To be continued…       

13 thoughts on “Revisiting Sig Sauer Part 2”

  1. Wow! These pistols won’t be available soon enough. I have one question. There is an attachment on the back side of the magazine. Is that the CO2 loading lever?

    • Yes, it is a cam lever that lowers allowing the CO2 cartridge to be inserted and then when closing the lever (it is a two-piece lever) it automatically seats and pierces the CO2 when pushed up and closed. Same basic idea as the backstrap design on the X-Five ASP but engineered to fit the magazine. It is a highly complex and interesting drop free magazine design.

  2. Looking at the magazine it does not look like a flush fit version will be possible. Is the ambi safety functional?Somewhere someone should be thinking, hey we could make a pellet version Model 712, or maybe an M1 Carbine using that type of magazine.

    • As always parallel thoughts regarding the pellet versions you mentioned. If only Dennis could convince “them” for the open top project, always in .22caliber and around to 5-6 fpe.

      • Seems like Sig has their finger on the market pulse. It still amazes me how Umarex set the market on fire and now just watches the smoke. No new editions of Peacemaker, no open top , black powder variations. The lever rifle in bb version only appears to be an urban legend.

        • No, the Cowboy Lever Action BB rifle does not appear to be an urban legend. On yesterday’s episode of American Airgunner, Rossi Moreale actually reviewed and shot one of them. Pyramyd Air currently is saying they may have them in November. We just have to be patient.

          In a similar vein, I’d like to see an update report about the collaboration between Air Venturi and Springfield Armory. Since the Shot Show announcement, there’s been no updates that I can find. I just have to be patient. When the rifles are ready, they will be released.

          • In addition to not being a terribly exciting year for new products, those of interest are being released almost into 2019.

          • Well the 1894 May exist , but is not available , except for a few samples given to a few reviewers. Announced at SHOT 2018. , then supposed availability in MAY, June,July , August, leap to November. It will probably be relaunched at SHOT 2019 . Will believe it when I see it. Why they reduced velocity from 560 fps to 410 is a question I have not gotten an answer to, from Umarex. This appears to show their indifference to the market. Hopefully the Springfield Armory lineup from Air Venturi will be better handled

        • There was no Reply button on your request for an American Airgunner link so I’m replying here. American Airgunner may not have posted the episode to YouTube yet. However I did find this link to a picture on American Airgunner’s Instagram page.

          This picture is from the American Airgunner episode showing Rossi Moreale holding the Umarex Cowboy Lever Action BB Rifle.

  3. Very interesting project. But for real life training I think I will stick to my PPQ T4E co2 model. Maybe not throwing pellets or bb but still an airgun and suitable for indoor shooting. In any case it might be a collectable.

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