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The U.S. Army’s solicitation for a new sidearm became one of the most watched and anticipated processes of late. While many thought the contract would be awarded to Glock, SIG Sauer had other plans and stepped up to win the contract.

The M17 became the new MHS (modular handgun system) for the Army and would then snowball into the sidearm for all branches of the military to include Marines, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard.

The M17 has an advanced design and utilizes an innovative chassis system, which is the core of its modularity. The chassis allows different frame and grip sizes to be used, thus allowing it to be customized to the shooter’s preferences. It has worked well for civilian shooters since its launch two years ago. This design should make for a sidearm with excellent maintainability for our armed forces.

But like any weapon our military is issued, the general public craves it — even if they only have access to a watered-down version. Thankfully, SIG has decided against such functional bias with its release of the SIG P320 M17 civilian variant.

SIG P320 M17 Differences

It would be easy enough for SIG to produce a series of the already fielded, civilian P320s in coyote tan and call it a day. Many shooters would be happy that if it was close to the original. But SIG unapologetically dropped the civilian M-17 with all the features that exist in the full-on military version, with little exception to some specific nuances.

The most notable or noticeable difference is in the controls. The civilian version gets a black trigger, slide release, take down lever, mag release and safety selector; that’s in contrast to the mil version which gets coyote-tan controls. Differences like these are enough for the most discerning collectors to completely pass on acquisition of a P320 M17. That’s of no concern though because the mil controls will soon be black as well, since producing the coyote tan controls is more of a challenge than it’s worth.

Having said all that, the commemorative version of the M-17, which is a limited-run, civilian release of the military pistol, will have the “rare” — and more than likely, more collectible — coyote controls.

Other differences are hardly noticeable, such as different colored rear tritium inserts — orange on the M17 with one screw assembly and green on the civilian variant with two-screw assembly.

There is a lack of mil-spec anti-corrosion coating on the civilian’s, but they do get SIG’s durable Nitron DLC finish.

The civilian version gets two 17-round mags and no 21-round versions. Slide markings vary slightly as well.

Military pistols get “SIG Sauer M17” while the rest of us get SIG Sauer P320 and M17 etchings.

Both versions have the MHS optics cut for additional sight options.

SIG P320 M17 Testing

While authenticity will rule the minds of some, I’m more concerned about function. When it comes to this, SIG has granted “the rest of us” with the same function, feel, and reliability of the M17. It would be difficult, and perhaps stupid, for SIG to make a lesser performing version to sell to the public.

To be frank, the P320 M17 is an extremely accurate and easy to shoot pistol. Discussions with SIG’s team of engineers and product managers uncovered the kudos they received from their military customers for the pistol’s consistent and repeatable accuracy, and it’s easy to see why.

We shot the pistol out to 75 yards off-hand during pistol drills at the SIG Sauer Academy. The pistol made feats like this feel like the norm. Everything is a cinch with the the SIG P320 M17, no matter how fast or slow you shoot it.

My only gripes with the P320 M17 is the pesky take down lever that rubs my thumb raw after a few magazines. It has a sharp edge on it and my thumb rests squarely on that sharp edge, so if I were gong to spend lots of time with it, I’d have to modify my grip.

The P320 feels tall as well, which it technically is. Because of the higher bore line, it feels as if the P320 has more muzzle whip, although it may not. But it doesn’t seem to affect my shooting performance.

Final Thoughts on the SIG P320 M17

Reliability of the M17 is unparalleled. The M17 has the ability to go several, if not tens of thousands of rounds without malfunctions. We experienced no malfunctions that I’m aware of across 17 guns on the line.

The P320 M17 truly is a “civilian” version of its military sibling, with no compromise in total features, only in feature specifics. There is nothing functionally inferior inside the P320 M17 as compared to the M17 and that should make enthusiasts more than happy.

MSRP on the SIG P320 M17 is $768.

For more information, please visit SigSauer.com.

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