Umarex G19X vs. Sig Sauer M17 Part 1

Umarex G19X vs. Sig Sauer M17 Part 1

Following government trends can lead down many paths

By Dennis Adler

In a way, you are looking at what the U.S. Army MHS evaluation team looked at when considering a replacement for the Beretta M9. Both the M17 and Glock 19X were designed for that job, and the contract went to Sig Sauer. Civilian models of both guns are available today, as well as the CO2 versions shown. If the P320-based M17 hadn’t had a clear advantage with its modular design and removable fire control housing that can be moved from one frame size to another, it’s almost even money that the Glock would have won, considering that Glock provides arms to 65 percent of U.S. law enforcement and government agencies today.

This is more of a discussion than a gun test, at least for the moment, as we look at what is transpiring with handguns being carried by Federal agencies and the military. The tossup for years has been between Glock and Sig Sauer. We know that Sig has the won the short game with its contract to replace the Beretta M9 with the P320/M17 as the military’s standard issue sidearm, and that there are two Sig versions, M17 and compact M18. But Glock is still playing the long game, and some Federal agencies are switching from various Sig models to Gen5-based Glocks; the FBI, for example, with a Glock 17 Gen5 designed specifically for the FBI, the 9mm 17M, and for U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents, Glock has another hybrid 9mm, the G47. Other Glock 17 and Glock 19-based models have also found their way into federal holsters, some of which were formerly occupied by Sigs and HKs. As this relates to CO2 pistols, the paths some U.S. government agencies like the Secret Service, FBI and Border Patrol are pursuing with a move to new Glock models, casts an interesting shadow across Sig Sauer’s path, and given the, shall we say, aggressive move by Glock into the CO2 market in just a little over a year, (through Umarex), it appears that Glock is going to be bumping muzzles with Sig Sauer here as well. Sig’s solid advantage, however, is that the M17 blowback action CO2 model is a pellet-firing pistol with a self contained CO2 pellet magazine, vs. Glock’s Umarex offerings all being CO2 BB magazine designs.

To be fair, the G19X is sized closer to the compact version of the military P320 which is the M18, but since SIG AIR only has the Glock 17-sized M17, I decided I would run the G19X against it for style and performance. The G19X is also a Gen5 design, so it is the latest model.

Cost v. Performance

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Cost of guns and ammunition is a primary factor in many arms purchases (especially at the government level). As it relates to air pistols the differences for individual guns are measured in tens of dollars not hundreds of dollars (multiplied exponentially by the size of the government order, we are talking millions of dollars). But everything is commensurate when an individual is laying out hard cash, so the difference in price between an M17 CO2 model and, for a fair comparison, the G17 Third Gen and G19X, is around $99 compared to the Sig at $119. A difference of twenty bucks really isn’t going to influence that many buying decisions, as much as the difference in pellets vs. BBs and the cost of extra magazines. Here Sig’s M17 gives a big break with complete spare mags selling for around $20, while the Glock mags for the Third Gen and G19X are the same and sell for around $30. The Gen4 CO2 BB mags are even more expensive at around $48.

A problem the military doesn’t have is deciding what ammo to use in a pistol, with few exceptions military handguns are 9mm. The exceptions are usually .45 ACP but for the M17/M18 and Glocks in government use it’s almost exclusively 9mm these days. The choice for the top CO2 models is pellets for the M17 and BBs for the G19X. The Sig holds 20 (one less than its centerfire counterpart’s 21), the Glock has an 18-round capacity to equal the G19X standard 17-round mag plus one round chambered. Both hold the CO2 cartridge making them as authentic as possible. The one minor drawback to the Sig is that the magazine with its 20-round clip inserted into the CO2 magazine is taller than a standard M17 magazine and will not fit M17/P320-size centerfire magazine pouches. The Glock mag (same as the Third Gen G17 magazine) is close enough that it will fit standard Glock 17 magazine pouches.

As to the price of pellets vs. BBs, it depends upon the quality of pellet you use; very affordable RWS Hobby 4.5mm lead wadcutters, for example, sell for as little as $6.29 for 300 count tins, while a personal favorite of mine, RWS Meisterkugeln Professional Line 7.0 gr. lead wadcutters cost $12.95 for a 500 count tin. BBs, on the other hand, like Umarex Precision steel BBs, sell for as little as $3.95 for a bottle of 1500. No surprise that BBs are less expensive. You pay less for the Sig’s CO2 pellet magazine (at the current price), but there is no way that the cost of pellets can be competitive with BBs, so blowback action BB models will always have that advantage. But that, too, comes at a price, or usually does.

It is easy to see why Sig Sauer is also building a G19-sized pistol for the U.S. military (M18) since a compact 9mm is sometimes preferable to a duty-sized pistol for some situations. I should note that the military version of the G19X was equipped with ambidextrous thumb safeties like the Sig military model. The ambidextrous safeties on the Sig CO2 model both work. The one disappointing feature on the G19X is that the centerfire guns have ambidextrous slide releases and on the CO2 model, only the left side release is functional; the right side is for looks only.

The rule of thumb has always been that BBs are good with blowback action CO2 models to an optimum accuracy range of 21 feet (7 yards), which is ideal since that is one of the standard handgun training distances for centerfire pistols: 7 yards, 10 yards, 15 yards, and 25 yards. Where the rules change is with the Third Gen and G19X Glock CO2 models, which have consistently proven to generate sufficient velocity to make these blowback action BB models accurate for training use out to 10 yards and competitive with blowback action pellet pistols.

Both guns use a closed CO2 firing system that places the magazine and BB or pellet as close to the air valve and barrel breech as possible to achieve the highest velocity. The Sig’s slide, however, does not lock open as shown in this photo; it is being locked open manually to show the interface of the firing system and magazine. One advantage the Glock 19X has is that the slide locks open on an empty magazine.

Since neither the Glock 19X nor the Sig M17 fieldstrip (yes, you can takes the M17 apart but it is not the same as field stripping the centerfire model), aside from what they fire, the G19X is a fair comparison to the M17. Technically, the G17 Third Gen CO2 model is an even match for size, but the G19X is a sharper looking gun for the same price and in the 9mm military models the compact Sig Sauer M18 is the same approximate size as a Glock 19X. And that brings us to comparing the G19X with the M17 on a pretty level playing field.

A word about safety

Blowback action airguns provide the look, feel and operation of their cartridge-firing counterparts and this is one reason why they have become so popular. Airguns in general all look like guns, blowback action models more so, and it is important to remember that the vast majority of people can’t tell an airgun from a cartridge gun. Never brandish an airgun in public. Always, and I can never stress this enough, always treat an airgun as you would a cartridge gun. The same manual of operation and safety should always apply.


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