DISCLAIMER: I am not the cause of the current ammo shortage. Tests like this take place over couple years or more and are not done in one sitting.
There have been few handguns as controversial as SIG SAUER’s M17 9mm duty pistol. I’ve covered the gun and its adoption in great detail across several outlets in the last few years. It’s hard to find a shooter today that hasn’t formed some sort of opinion about it and its parent gun, the P320.
So, in light of that, today I’m going to talk about my experience with the pistol and my thoughts on it after several years of use. I’ve had a few of these guns, and the one with the highest round count is in the photos of this article, sitting at about 25,000 shots fired.
It’s seen virtually ever kind of ammunition sold so I won’t waste electrons listing out each brand I’ve fired. If it’s made, chances are it has been fired in this gun.
The main takeaway is that this M17 hasn’t had any sort of malfunction. I also had no issues with any of the previous P320s I’ve shot or the M18. I seem to hear a lot of people talk about how poorly these guns are allegedly made, but I have yet to find someone who has actually had that experience himself, aside from obvious shills in the comments or forum sh*tposters.
For those unaware . . .
- 200,000+ M17 MHS pistols have been delivered to the military
- The M18 (compact variant that’s in USMC service) passed 12,000 rounds each for three pistols with zero malfunctions during a recent Lot Acceptance Test (LAT)
- The M17/M18 is currently in service with all military branches
Since some of think this will just be a SIG worship session, I’ll start out with what I don’t like after having spent as much time with this gun as I have.
The only mechanical issue I had was unrelated to the function of the pistol itself, but rather the sights. The screws in the underside of the slide that hold the rear sight and optics plate on begin to work their way out. That’s an easy fix, but I forgot my wrenches that day, of course, and I had to call it quits early.
That happened at about 10,000 rounds. It was totally preventable ad I admittedly had removed the plate at an earlier point and may not have tightened the screws well enough. I add this as more of a warning to make sure things are always tightened up.
Ergonomically I am not a huge fan of the contours of the modular pistol’s rounded grip, and I find that the texture isn’t aggressive enough for me. As I’ve used the pistol, the texture has smoothed out a bit over time and it’s a little hard for me to get a solid purchase on it with sweaty hands.
The diameter of the standard grip module is also a little wide for me, though this will vary from individual to individual.
The only remaining gripe isn’t so much a SIG problem as much as a rest of the industry problem. I’d like to see more options for the M17 grip modules with the safety notch cut-out. There are plenty of options for the standard P320, but not enough for the M17 in my opinion.
Moving on, let’s talk about what it has done very right. The gun is extremely soft-shooting. I have never had a load, including some wild +P+ stuff, that wasn’t tamed. The full-size barrel and slide with full-length recoil assembly make it very smooth.
It’s almost like an M16 compared to an M4 as far as recoil. The M16 just feels so relaxed and the cycling of the action is more of a glide as opposed to the rapid and harder cycle on the M4.
Something I noticed shooting all those rounds was that the trigger never really got that ‘broken in’ feeling. Most handguns that I shoot to a high round count eventually get a worn in feeling, like the parts are ground in together and know each other.
Not with the M17. I think that this has to do with the large size and robust design of the pistol’s striker assembly. There is much more metal there than in, say, the hammer sear of a 1911.
The trigger has, however, been very very good and hasn’t changed in pull weight at all over my time with it. It’s not exactly a light trigger by any standard, but it’s repeatable and breaks cleanly.
Which brings us to accuracy The pistol hasn’t shown any significant reduction in overall accuracy and it displays no unintentional rattle. Out of the box, the gun was producing 2 inches at 25 meters all day long for most ammo. That hasn’t really changed. It still produces the same patterns with the same ammunition.
I think the recoil spring may need to be replaced eventually, but again it is not causing problems. I notice that the slide seems to hang back in space-time slightly longer with hard-recoiling +P+ loads, but that’s not something that I can really quantify as a true problem.
So if the gun here has seen that many rounds, shouldn’t it be down to bare metal and covered in dings and dents? Surely some of you out there are thinking, “Well, Josh, you WOULD have had some failures if you buried it in your chicken coop for a week, threw it into traffic, and cleaned it with salt water like Special Forces does to their guns. You aren’t really testing it hard enough.”
I hate to say it, but that’s not normal. Most people take decent care of their guns and it was never my goal to intentionally ram this thing into the ground. The pistol was normally maintained, regularly carried, had various lights mounted on it over time, and was used in some typical pistol matches.
25,000 rounds isn’t an insane total. I know guys in the pre-crazy ammo days who shot 50-100,000 rounds a year in IDPA and USPSA matches. If you’re trying to make something fail, it’s really easy to do. I treated this pistol like any gun I own and it’s treated me well in exchange.
Statistically you’d think there would be a round in the tens of thousands I’ve fired that would have caused a failure, but in this particular gun, it did not. Ammo, in my experience, is far more failure prone than most guns.
As far as wear and tear, the M17 here has held up extremely well. The internals are all in great shape because the modular chassis is easy to clean out since it’s removable. The exterior is reasonably worn, but not in poor condition at all.
I wouldn’t do much as far as replacing barrels, but I may get a new spring at some point. Most competition guys I knew over the years only replaced springs annually on their match guns. I think that, based on the current state of the gun, it should easily get to 50,000 rounds with no additional maintenance, although going forward I may switch out to a grip module that better fits my hands.
My overall impression at this stage is that the M17 is a fine pistol and the military has chosen a great suite of handguns that are durable, accurate and reliable. I wouldn’t for a moment hesitate using this as my primary carry gun and I’d be happy using it in matches as-is.