Umarex G19X vs. Sig Sauer M17 Part 2

Umarex G19X vs. Sig Sauer M17 Part 2

Recapping the Sig Sauer M17 ASP

By Dennis Adler

One of the key elements of the M17 ASP is accurate size. Some air pistols come very close, others are dead on, and this is one of them. The CO2 model fit two popular P320/M17 rigs from Galco, the S3H shoulder holster, and a TAC Slide belt holster, a combination of leather for the belt slide with an injection molded holster form fit for the P320. If the CO2 version was going to be a problem with any holster, this would be the rig. It fit like it was a centerfire model.

Last year, this was the blowback action air pistol that got all the top nods for its innovative design and use of the first ever self-contained CO2 pellet magazine. As Replica Air Pistol of the Year, the Sig Sauer M17 ASP was almost a given, even though it still had some non-functional features and a slide that cannot be locked open. The self-contained CO2 pellet magazine gave the Sig a lot of leverage against the competition which were all blowback action BB models. With its few minor failings the M17 remained an impressive pistol throughout all of the various tests it was subjected to in 2018.

Initial tests returned an average velocity with Sig Sauer Match Ballistic Alloy wadcutters (tested in two different guns and with three different magazines) of 358 fps for 20 shots with the 5.25 gr. alloy Sig pellets. The ProChrono clocked a low of 335 fps and a high of 385 fps. The M17 consistently delivered 350 plus fps shots with the Sig’s lightweight Match Ballistic alloy wadcutters.

Looking over the top of these two guns the value of the CO2 model, at right, as a training pistol becomes clear. In terms of handling, sighting, and general operation, everything you learn with the airgun translates to the centerfire pistol. The rear sight and the optics mounting plate it is attached to are removable and in 2020 Sig Sauer will have a red dot reflex sight and mounting plate available for the M17 ASP.

Switching to H&N Sport’s 5.25 gr. alloy wadcutters, the M17 delivered a high velocity of 372 fps, a low of 352 fps, and average velocity of 358 fps for 20 consecutive shots. A third velocity test was shot with RWS Meisterkugeln lead wadcutters, which were a surprise because the heavier 7.0 gr. lead wadcutters delivered a high of 369 fps, a low 329 fps, an average velocity of 345 fps; only 13 fps slower than alloy wadcutters. That is a fairly high velocity with lead wadcutters considering the CO2 is also imparting fairly brisk felt slide recoil.

Loading CO2 is easier in the M17 magazine than any previous design. The articulated seating panel that extends back and down from the rear of the magazine allows easy insertion of the CO2 cartridge into the channel. Closing the panel automatically seats and pierces the CO2. The separate 20-round pellet clip can be easily loaded and locked into the magazine. It is a two-step process but you do end up with a one-piece CO2 pellet magazine for authentic reloading. You do have to count shots, though, since the slide will not lock open on an empty magazine as there is no way to have a follower on the rotary clip.

Accuracy not overwhelming

I tested the gun at 10 meters with RWS Meisterkugeln 7.0 gr. lead wadcutters fired in 10 shot sets at a National 10 Meter Pistol Target. My best 10-round group fired from a Weaver stance with a two-handed hold at 1-second intervals measured 1.875 inches with a best 5-shot group at 0.68 inches. The final test was at 10 meters with H&N Sport alloy wadcutters and a POA dead center on the bullseye. My 10 shot spread measured 1.43 inches with a best five rounds at 1.0 inches. As a bullseye shooter, the M17 didn’t deliver, but for punching inch-sized groups at 10 meters with a fixed sight service pistol, it was none to shabby, either.

There is something about field stripping a gun, especially an air pistol, that lends a greater sense of realism. The 9mm M17 (bottom) is one of the easiest handguns to disassemble. The CO2 Sig Sauer model (top) has fewer removable parts, basically the slide, though the barrel can be detached from the fire control housing. It is not a conventional field strip and there’s not much in common with the 9mm model other than the disassembly lever.

With the M17 now being the U.S. Army standard issue sidearm, the CO2 model is sitting in the catbird seat as a choice for anyone who wants a CO2 training gun that matches the current U.S. military pistol. However, unlike the striker-fired 9mm model, the CO2 version uses an internal hammer, and DAO trigger pull averages 6 pounds, 6 ounces with 1.0 inch of take up. The trigger feel is very close to the centerfire pistol’s and one reason this has become an accurate understudy for the Army and civilian M17 Sig. Learning how to get the best out of the CO2 model will help get the best out of the centerfire gun when it comes to sighting and trigger control.

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.

Sizing up

The M17 and M17 ASP is a big pistol. The 9mm M17 has an overall length of 8.0 inches, barrel length of 4.7 inches, and carry weight (with empty extended capacity magazine), of 29.6 ounces (1.85 pounds). The M17 ASP has an overall length of 8.0 inches, internal rifled barrel length of 4.68 inches, and a carry weight (with empty magazine) of 34.0 ounces (2.1 pounds). The much heavier CO2 pellet magazine adds most of the extra 4.4 ounces to the air pistols carry weight. The centerfire and CO2 models have the same approximate height (with extended capacity magazine) and exact width. Given the excellent blowback action on the CO2 model, which delivers a palpable sense of recoil, and a sound level, which I rate at medium loud, the CO2 is giving everything it’s got to run this gun and get the shots downrange.

You have to look closely; the 9mm is the one on the left. The first tell is that the ejector at the rear of the ejection port on the 9mm is absent on the CO2, as is the back of the extractor on the rear of the slide. We wonder if Sig didn’t put a faux extractor on the CO2 model to help safely distinguish it from the centerfire pistol, or to save money on a non-functioning part. Second, is the absence of the serial number port in the polymer frame (beneath the right hand slide release, which is also non-functional on the CO2 model). And a slightly different contour to the DAO trigger. But as a training gun, the M17 ASP gets a lot of points.

The M17 ASP’s unique 2-piece CO2 pellet magazine is a minor stumbling block since it will not fit a traditional P320 or M17 mag pouch. But that is a minor issue and there will eventually be some workarounds for mag pouches. The gun itself fits established holsters for the P320/M17 and the magazines do fit in most UTG tactical vests.

To “tell” the truth

For practical purposes, there are several tells that indicate to the trained eye that the M17 ASP is not a centerfire Sig. There is the obvious absence of an ejector and extractor, the latter of which is to the right of the black cover on the striker-fired models. This is actually the back of the extractor itself which fits through the rear of the slide. There is also a difference in the contour of the barrel lug as it fits in the slide’s ejection port, and the data matrix symbol and serial number imbedded in the right side of the frame, forward of the safety and right side slide release, are absent, and that is a big tell. Last, are the caliber markings on the left side which are as unobtrusive as possible being stamped into the polymer frame to blend into the tan finish. Same on the right side of the frame for the manufacturer’s warning and maker’s mark (Made in Japan). For training purposes none of this makes any difference as the gun feels real, handles like the 9mm (except for recoil), has functioning ambidextrous thumb safeties, and for general field stripping practice, initial take down is like the centerfire gun.

The internal design of the M17 is different from traditional blowback action CO2 models with its large integral fire control housing in the frame and a unique recoil spring guide rod design for the pistol’s blowback action and slide operation. Similar designs are used for the Glock 17 Third Gen and G19X only they do not have a slide that can be easily removed. If it could, they would look a lot like this inside.

With its fixed white dot sights the M17 is not a target pistol, but Sig Sauer isn’t done with the M17 ASP just yet. Early in 2020 the long awaited M17 optics (red dot) sight and optics base (sold as one) will be available to replace the rear sight base on the current M17 CO2 models. This will be an accuracy game changer and the CO2 models will match up to specialized M17 models with reflex sights. So, something to look forward to there! While not the best 10 meter CO2 blowback action semi-auto pellet pistol I have shot, the Sig Sauer M17 ASP has been very consistent overall with anything you feed it and shoot out to 10 meters/10 yards for training purposes.

The need for training guns as Sig Sauer’s SIG AIR Division sees it is paramount and the M17 is an affordable alternative to the centerfire model for learning basic handling skills, just as are so many other current blowback action models based on service pistols. So what gives the M17 an advantage? It’s the pellets vs. BBs. Sig takes its training gun philosophy to the next level that way. Previously, the only way to get all of these features in CO2 with blowback action guns was with smoothbore BB models. The M17 offers an alternative to practical, affordable training (however, not force on force training done with Airsoft models); but rather live fire with a rifled barrel pistol firing pellets at actual defensive pistol distances out to 10 yards and as far as 15 yards. This gave the M17 ASP a clear advantage over smoothbore BBs models until Umarex and Glock unveiled the Third Gen Glock 17 and G19X. These new blowback action BB models can send .177 caliber steel rounds 10 yards downrange with the same degree of accuracy as the M17 pellet model. This puts Glock’s CO2 models in yet another interesting position opposite Sig Sauer.

It’s a face off looking for the details that separate the centerfire M17 (left) from the CO2 pellet-firing model (right). The centerfire model’s steel slide has a slightly different Cerakote color than the alloy slide on the air pistol. The polymer frames are also just slightly different in color. After that you have to start looking harder. But the same can be said for the Glock 17 CO2 models and the new G19X!

As we begin to wrap this up, the head-to-head test for velocity, handling, reloading, and accuracy at 10 yards, will be what tells the story of Glock’s place in this class of 1:1 training guns, regardless of whether the gun shoot pellets or BBs.

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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