Sig Sauer P320 M17 CO2 pellet pistol: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Sig M17 pellet pistol
Sig Sauer P320 M17 pellet pistol.

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

  • The test
  • Group 2
  • Remember what we are doing
  • Lead pellets
  • Back to the test
  • Two hands wins!
  • Other pellets
  • Let’s try BBs
  • 4.55mm lead balls
  • Wild shots explained?
  • Discussion
  • Summary

Today I shoot the Sig P320 M17 pellet pistol for accuracy. I learned a lot in today’s test, so this should be interesting.

The test

I am testing both pellets and BBs (plus lead balls), so I will test at two different distances. I will begin with pellets at 10 meters. I knew that Sig Match Ballistic Alloy pellets would be accurate, so I started with them.

I started the test by shooting off a sandbag rest. I rested the bottom of the gun’s grip on the bag and I also tried holding the gun with my hands resting on the bag. It turned out that resting the pistol directly on the bag worked the best, but I had to shoot a second group to learn that.

My first group was lousy, because of how I shot. I picked the pistol up and then reacquired the target for each shot. However, in the middle of that string of 10 I tried just leaving the pistol where it was and kept shooting, making very slight corrections to compensate for the recoil. When I did that the final 6 shots tore a much smaller group on the target. So, I chalked that up to learning the gun and shot a second group for record.

Group 2

This time I got the desired result. Eight of the Sig match pellets went into 1.329-inches at 10 meters, and the other two opened the group to 3.309-inches between centers. I was confused about the two fliers at the time but I think I may have discovered the reason for the two wide shots. Let me address that in a little bit.

rested group
Once I learned how to shoot the M17 pistol rested, this was what I got. Those 8 pellets are in 1.329-inches, while the 2 fliers opened the group to 3.309-inches I will discuss the fliers in a bit. The 8 tight shots are good for an action air pistol at 10 meters.

Remember what we are doing

Before anyone gets all “10-meter target pistol” on me and starts complaining about a group that’s larger than one inch, let me remind you that this Sig M17 pistol is an action pistol that fires semiautomatically. It recoils a lot, with the heavy slide moving all the way back each time. Have I ever tested such a gun at 10 meters? I don’t believe so. This is a handgun that you shoot as fast as you can acquire the target. I saw and shot an M17 pellet pistol when I was at Sig last July, which is what gave me the idea for shooting at this distance.

Lead pellets

I also tried a couple lead pellets (Air Arms Falcons and H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets) in the M17, but they both landed too low to hit the target. At 5 meters they would be on target, but at 10 meters they were off the paper. So I confined my pellet choices to Sig ballistic alloy pellets. If these seem too pricy I see no reason why other less expensive lead-free pellets that aren’t made of tin would not work, as well. The key is the shoot the lightest pellets available.

Back to the test

Okay, what I’m about to show was actually shot at the end of the test, but I’m putting it here because it makes more sense. After shooting three other groups from 10 meters and then moving to 5 meters for BBs, I thought I would come back to the Sig Match Ballistic Alloy pellets and try another theory.

When I was at Sig in July I saw John Bright of the UK firm Highland Outdoors shoot incredibly good groups with the M17. Of course he used a 2-hand hold, while old BB still holds pistols with one hand. So I wondered whether holding the gun unsupported would be even better than with the gun rested on the bag. And it was! In honor of John Bright, I also held the pistol in two hands this time.

Tom Shoots M17
When I was at Sig I shot the M17 at 10 meters and did very well, offhand. My group is in the center of the target’s “head” and I am using the shots above it as my aim point.

Two hands wins!

This time I shot the smallest 10-shot group of the test from 10 meters. It was like being back at Sig again. Ten Match Ballistic Alloy pellets went into 2.561-inches at 10 meters. There were no fliers in this group.

hand held group
This was the smallest 10-shot group of the test — 10 in 2.561-inches, center to center.

Note that both groups have hit in very close to the same place. I was using a 6 o’clock hold, so this pistol is right on for elevation and shooting slightly to the right. A right-handed shooter like me usually pulls his shots to the left, so if I shot the pistol one-handed like I normally do, I think it would be dead-on at 10 meters. I didn’t figure this out until everything had been put away, but I can say that this pistol shot exactly like the one I shot at Sig, back in July.

Other pellets

I told you that I tried lead pellets and found they shot too low. I also tried Crux Ballistic Alloy pellets. I shot them at 5 meters by mistake, because I had already moved the shooting bench up to that distance before remembering they were still loaded in the magazine. I figured if I got a super-tight group at the close distance I would move back to 10 meters and try them again. But the group I got at 5 meters was larger than 2 inches and I felt that was too large to try again at 10.

Let’s try BBs

Okay, we know that steel BBs will work in the M17, so let’s give them a try. For this I moved the bench to 5 meters from the target. I shot the targets that follow before shooting the target you just saw, so everything that follows was shot with the pistol rested directly on the bag.

As we saw in Part 2, steel BBs are not as efficient as pellets in the M17, so I didn’t expect much accuracy. I used the largest steel BBs I have, which are Avanti Match Grade BBs. In all the tests I’ve done they average a half-thousandth larger than the next-largest BB (0.1735- compared to 0.173-inches).

Ten of these BBs went into 1.956-inches at 10 meters. I would expect a smoothbore action pistol to put 10 into closer to one inch at the same distance. This group was a little below the aim point, but in line, left and right.

M17 Avanti group
Ten Avanti Match Grade steel BBs went into 1.956-inches at 5 meters.

4.55mm lead balls

For the last target, I loaded ten 4.55mm lead balls. You aren’t going to have these unless you shoot Zimmerstutzens, and, since they are way too expensive ($25 for 100?), you wouldn’t shoot them anyway. But inquiring minds want to know.

I shot vintage Beeman Perfect Rounds in the Part 2 velocity test. They are supposed to be 4.5mm in diameter, so these balls are even a little larger! I figured they would take the rifling better. And they seemed to work! Nine of the ten went into 1.742-inches and dead-on the aim point. But shot 10 (I really have no idea which one it was) opened the group to 2.413-inches. Notice that this shot is lower than the main group.

M17 lead ball group
The 4.55mm lead balls made a nice round group of 9, with one shot landing low. Nine are in 1.742-inches with 10 in 2.413-inches.

Wild shots explained?

Now, look back at the first target and notice that the two wild shots are also lower than the main group. I think that might explain the reason for the wild shots. I think the chambers in the ammo belt may sometimes not align with the rear of the barrel, exactly. If so, they might hit the side of the barrel as they enter. That could both damage the side of the pellet or BB and also slow it down. I do remember hearing one shot with the first target group shown sounded very slow.

Discussion

So — what’s my take on the M17 pellet pistol? Well, for starters, it’s a pellet pistol — not a BB pistol. Let’s shoot it with the ammo that works the best.

Next, it’s an action pistol. Use it that way — not the way I have tested it in this report. So, why did I test it the way I did? Because you can’t be with me and watch me use it as an action pellet pistol. I am thinking about ways of doing this — and no, a video isn’t the only answer. Video of a pellet pistol shooting is about as exciting as watching golf! It takes a large crew of very expensive cameras, custom software and highly skilled videographers to make golf interesting, and BB doesn’t have the budget for that!

But I have three action pistols (this one, plus a CZ-75 SP-01 and a Sig P365) to test for you, and I intend doing just that, somehow.

Summary

This report concludes the main test for the M17 pellet pistol, but as I just mentioned, I will be coming back when I get my act together (and when the P365 BB pistol arrives). This pistol is very realistic, as we have seen. If you own the firearm I would get one of these to go with it!

44 thoughts on “Sig Sauer P320 M17 CO2 pellet pistol: Part 3

  1. B.B.,

    Unless you were using the same pistol you tested back at the Sig factory I doubted that level of consistency with accuracy with fixed sights. It seems that before making the mold somebody went through the tedious process of ensuring acceptable accuracy with the fixed sights that the end user would be stuck with. That, in my mind, speaks of the relatively tight manufacturing tolerances that Sig is holding its production to get that level of consistency.

    Siraniko


  2. B.B.,

    Nice testing.

    Q: In an air rifle or air pistol that has a rifled barrel,… is shooting something steel down a rifled barrel (ever) a good idea?

    The reason I ask is all of the cautions of cleaning barrels that we all have heard. Rods should be coated, or brass. Fishing line type cleaners can cut a crown. Brass, steel, bronze brushes are too aggressive on air gun “soft steel” barrels. Mop or patches only. Nylon brushes are ok, but I have yet to find any in stores. Why is a steel bb ever ok? You get the idea.

    Good Day to one and all,….. Chris


  3. BB,

    “It take a large crew of very expensive cameras, custom software and highly skilled videographers to make golf interesting,…” It is still boring to watch. I would much rather watch a poor quality home video of grass growing than watch a game of golf.

    I am not much for action pistols, but this one comes close to moving in to RRHFWA. No, it does not shoot as nice as my Izzy, but it does pretty good.


  4. BB,

    I think there may be a number of your readers who, for many different reasons, don’t realize what the accuracy of a good combat pistol is limited to, in it’s stock form. I have never gotten 1 inch groups at 10 yards with any that I have shot. They were not designed with that as the primary concern. I think as long as a CO2 replica is close to the accuracy of and functions like the firearm that it copies, it will be a valuable training aid for those that buy them for that purpose.

    Could you shoot some 10 yard groups with different holds with your actually M17 firearm and report back on how its accuracy compares to this pellet gun?

    Half



    • Half-step,

      I think most combat soldiers don’t shoot enough in practice (both target and practical) to shoot combat pistol well. Many times I have heard from them the fault lay, in the angle of the 1911 grip, in the huge hands needed to shoot 1911s well, in the heavy trigger weight/pull, in the poor ammunition, in the poor basic condition of the weapons, in the lousy sights and finally: the government bought the (Colt-Barretta-SIG) wrong gun!
      Bah Humbug!!!
      B.B. has told us a number of times about his Commander, the Colonel, who shot LIGHTS OUT with a gun straight out of the unit armory! QUALITY training followed by dry fire/live round PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE every day makes a great pistol shot. Automatics and airguns are so easy to shoot well, even as a man with eyes turning seventy soon, that I’m going back to wheel guns. I received my new S&W N29-10 with 4″ Barrel purchased for me by my wife as my early Christmas gift. Can’t wait to get to the range for some challenging shooting! Wheel Guns are a throwback weapon with no real chance for advancement; by comparison the Automatic Pistol has seen tremendous strides in ergonomics, reliability and shootability. Just like airguns PBs have seen great advances in shootability; I personally don’t think we have seen the endgame for them as we have for the venerable revolver.

      SORRY for the extended RANT Half!
      But, this topic of shooting skill always triggers my Black Bile Juices…

      shootski


      • shootski,

        To your rant I will add that not only are soldiers not given enough training with the pistol,. when they are “trained” there is nobody qualified to teach them. They are just expected to know what to do.

        Colonel Bonsall took the time to teach me how to shoot a 1911 because he saw I was interested.

        I used to run pistol ranges and have seen hundreds of soldiers shoot and hit the ground six feet in front of where they were standing because of how they flinched when they fired. There was no training.

        In case you wonder why I didn’t train them myself, I had 3 hours to “qualify” 100 men, with 25 on the line at a time and each one having to shoot 50 rounds. After that it was on to something else.

        B.B.



      • Shootski,

        If you don’t already have one, the Colt branded CO2 powered Python with the 6 inch barrel is very nice and inexpensive. I have several of the BB only guns and one of the BB/Pellet combos and they get many, as in 120+, usable shots, have a super trigger in both double and single action, have very nice adjustable sights and, IMHO are the best bargain in CO2 guns around. It is very light so I can’t say that it is “lifelike” to shoot, but it is a really good indoor gun to just get trigger time with. You do your part and it will hit 2 1/2″-3″ disc at 12 yards or so. I personally feel that the BB version is more accurate with BBs than the combo gun is with BBs or the several different cheap pellets that I have fire from it. Premium pellets may give tighter groups in the combo but I will never know because the others shoot BBs so well. Stay away from the “snub-nosed” version of the gun, though. The CO2 seems the cause a weird contraction in the barrel’s polymer and the shots draw a diagonal line as the barrel cools from shooting and the POI drifts.

        Or you can just enjoy the heck out of your new “real steel” S&W. 😉

        Half


        • Halfstep,

          I have briefly looked around for a revolver to use for practice with no real luck. The S&W N frame is a heavy gun and even when shooting light weight/powder .44 Special loads has a bit of recoil. The basic gun weight and recoil make shooting an air powered replica gun good for procedural practice but personally I can see no direct benefit. I can use the PB unloaded to practice Dry Fire and procedure.
          By procedure I’m talking about fitting the gun in my strong side hand with my off side hand to get the exact same grip every time. For those blog readers with no formal revolver training: Don’t just pick it up with your strong hand; pick it up with your off hand and fit it in your strong (trigger) hand. A little more stuff I learned: The middle finger really does the holding along with the thumb; especially in classic one hand hold. The rest of your fingers (keep your fingers tips off the stocks) are mostly along for the ride.
          We could talk about shooting for all the rest of this year and still not get to the nuanced stuff of shooting…so I’ll shut up now. Oh heck no I won’t! Think about the fact that after every bang the balance point of a revolver changes.

          Half, thank you! I’m going to burn lots of powder and sling lots of lead! Fun, Fun and more Fun!

          shootski



          • Gunfun1,

            “Got one.”? A CO2 pellet analog for the S&W Model 29 .44 Magnum with a 4″ barrel powder burner?
            Is it still in production? And by whom? Details please! When you have a chance; Christmas and all.
            No rush since I’m pretty certain it can’t duplicate the recoil which is the part that messes up most pistol/rifle/scattergun shots as I’m certain you well know!

            So far I have avoided ever having the dreaded FLINCH by shooting .22 Cal pistols and airguns. Also, I’ll be starting my sessions with the .44 shooting “kind” .44 Special loads and again after my session is done with shooting Magnum hammers! I load dummies or spent rounds every few shots and spin the cylinder since I find the Click-NO-BANG really shows if eyes are closed and FLINCHING….

            Thanks,

            shootski


  5. When you test the Sig P365 pellet gun, would you also compare it to your firearm? I haven’t gotten the P365 yet, having picked up Kahr’s CM9 instead for roughly half the price. and am very happy with it.

    Fred formerly of the DPRoNJ now Happily in GA


  6. Looking at those target shot results….I’m curious as to why are the pellets seemingly ‘tearing’ the target paper ? Wadcutter pellets are supposed to make clean holes. All the impacts from pellets are not clean punctures. Can anyone explain why ? Thanks.


  7. Hello and Merry Christmas to you BB and all of you in the land of quality air Guns. It has been a while since I have commented, I read your blog regularly. I have a P-1, and 1701 that I shoot frequently and enjoy. I have been watching for a long time as have many of you for the semi auto pellet pistol accuracy to arrive and am excited to read about Sig Sauer getting into the market and these reports. I purchased the X-Five ASP rather than the M-17 because of the adjustable sights on the X-Five. I also purchased one for my son for Christmas. I have been shooting it for two weeks now and am disappointed with it. The best accuracy i can achieve with it 3.5 to 4″ groups at 10 yards off hand and from a secure rest. This is the first Co2 gun I have ever had, I know cooler weather affects it, I however live on the coast of California and the coolest my garage has gotten this month if 55 degrees F. I have tried to wait 30 seconds between shots with no improvement. Is 55-60 degrees too cold? Your report on the X-Five earlier this year mentioned sub 2″ groups and I had hopped for that type of accuracy, I plan to use these guns to shoot at 2″ plates competing with my son and 3.5″ -4″ groups is not going to do well for that. I have tried several premium pellets, it does not like round nose pellets, It does best with H&N Match Pistol and Meisterkugeln pellets. If you think these should group better I will open the second pistol and try it out to see if it is any better. If I am expecting too much form these X-Fives then I will return them. Any comments from the the folks out there are welcome.
    Thanks, Mark


    • Mark,

      Well I don’t know what to tell you. I am a fairly good shot with a pistol, so my groups probably show these pistols in a good light, but I have been outshot by others. So the gens are at least as good as I’m showing.

      I don’t think lead pellets are right for these pistols — especially the M17. It wants to shoot lead-free lightweight pellets.

      The X-Five was pretty good, now that I look back at it. And I shot it rested, only. But it’s an action pistol and you don’t shoot those at 10 meters — at least not the airguns. Can you try 5 meters and see what you get? Will that work for you?

      B.B.


  8. I am not a fan of polymer , striker fired pistols . That being said , I recently fired a shooting buddy’s new SIG P 365. It is trim, accurate ,with a decent trigger , very good night sights and a slim grip for a 10 round mag. If I had to carry a 9mm concealed pistol and it had to be a polymer striker fire pistol , this would be my choice. The bb blowback version , when it arrives like most of the promised 2018 replicas , in 2019, will be well received.


  9. BB
    I installed a threaded adapter on the Sig M17 outer barrel and can now install any 14mm airsoft device like a LDC. A reverse thread adapter to CCW is available too.
    The slide does not slide off the front of the barrel now with the slight flange on the adapter but is easily removed together with the barrel pushing down on the barrel release with a finger and reinstalled the same way. I could file it down to clear but I don’t plan to removing the slide very often.

    I sent P/A a picture of it with an LDC and bottom rail laser installed but they have not posted it yet.

    Something no one has yet to mentioned is that the rifled inner barrel inside the removable barrel can be installed backwards but absolutely needs to be installed correctly. It has a tapered cone at the breach end for easy pellet engagement and a sharp rifling edge at the other end. Probably, ‘wont work so pretty good’ reversed. It’s easy to verify the correct way to install it just by looking down the barrel.

    Bob M



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