A Review of the New Military Handgun

By  | June 27, 2019 | Filed under: News

Recently the United States Military decided to replace the Beretta M9 9mm with a new modular handgun. Several companies submitted samples, but the Sig Sauer M17 9mm (and M18 9mm) won.  I had the chance to test the new Military handgun, the Sig Sauer M17 9mm.

First off, let me say that I have always been a Beretta 92 Series pistol fan.  I carried one pretty much my whole 21 years as a police officer.  I have gone through Firearms Instructor School several times with the Beretta and have never had one fail on me.  When the military replaced the current military handgun, the 1911 45acp with the Beretta 92 9mm, in 1985, a lot of people complained about the change.    There have been some challenges of the testing for the new Military handgun (Sig), mostly by other firearm manufactures.

To start off this article, let me catch everyone up on the testing to get the new handgun.  The following is from the Wikipedia website:

 

     The SIG Sauer M17 and M18 are handguns used by the United States Armed Forces.

     On January 19, 2017, it was announced that a customized version of the SIG Sauer P320 had won the United States Army’s XM17 Modular Handgun System competition. The full-sized model will be known as the M17 and the smaller-sized carry model will be known as the M18.[

Modular Handgun System Procurement

    When the requirements were formulated for a new handgun for the U.S. Army one of the tenets of the proposal was that an existing model handgun was desired to fulfill the requirements laid out in the Modular Handgun System Request for Proposal, known as the XM17 Procurement. Sig Sauer submitted a P320 with a number of modifications and submitted them for the XM17 Modular Handgun System competition.

Modifications include:

  • Slide cut out to facilitate the addition of a reflex sight. (This is the slide from the RX Series) 
  • Ambidextrous thumb safety
  • Loaded chamber indicator
  • Improved slide sub-assembly to capture small components when disassembled
  • Improved trigger “mud flap” to prevent foreign debris from entering the pistol action
  • 7″ 120 mm barrel length in full size M17
  • 9″ 99 mm barrel length in carry M18
  • Chambered in 9×19mm Parabellum; unable to adopt other calibers or frames because of the anti-tampering device on the frame’s chassis
  • Pistols chambered in 9mm can feature a 17-round magazine in standard with optional 21-round extended magazines available.
  • Steel components are given a physical vapor deposition(PVD) corrosion-resistant finish
  • Using spanner screwsinstead of normal screws to resist disassembly farther than field stripping by non-armorer users.

History

Sig Sauer wins the award

    On January 19, 2017, it was announced that the SIG Sauer P320 MHS variant had won the United States Military’s Modular Handgun System trials. The P320 is known as the M17 (Full-Size) and M18 (Carry) in U.S. Military service. Though the pistol will remain chambered in 9 x 19mm Parabellum rather than a larger caliber, the contract allows the Army and other services to procure Sig Sauer’s proposed XM1152 Full Metal Jacket and XM1153 Special Purpose ammunition.   The ammunition chosen to go with the pistol is a “Winchester jacketed hollow point” round; similar in appearance to the Winchester PDX1 round but with some differences to the design of the hollowpoint petals.

   The M17 has better accuracy and ergonomics and tighter dispersion than the M9 and will be fielded more widely, being issued down to squad and fire team leaders. The Special Forces dual-arm all of its members with a pistol and rifle. Junior leaders in regular infantry units who were previously excluded from carrying sidearms will be given more choices and options in close quarters battle situations under a new policy. All Army units are planned to have the M9 replaced with the M17 within a decade. 

U.S. military services adopt the M17 and M18

    In May 2017, the Army announced that the first unit that will receive the M17 would be the 101st Airborne Division by the end of the year. At the same time, the rest of the U.S. Armed Forces revealed they also intend to acquire the handgun, making it the standard sidearm for the entire U.S. military. The services plan to procure up to 421,000 weapons in total; 195,000 for the Army, 130,000 for the Air Force, 61,000 for the Navy (M18 compact version only), and 35,000 for the Marines.

    The United States Marine Corps is replacing its M9, M9A1, M45A1, and M007 handguns with the Sig Sauer M18 handguns. The M9 and M9A1 were produced by Beretta while the M45A1 was made by Colt and the M007, which was only recently accepted as a variant, is made by Glock.

    Although it has been announced that the US Coast Guard is also adopting the M17/18 handgun there are no purchase numbers as yet.

 

Why did the Military decide to find another handgun?  There are several reasons.  Here are some of them:

  1. Wanted a Modular Type Handgun.
  2. They wanted a handgun that could be utilized by small handed soldiers.
  3. Wanted a handgun that could be carried concealed as well as utilized on the Battlefield.
  4. They wanted a handgun with a rail that could be utilized with Lights and/or Lasers.
  5. They wanted the new handgun to have a corrosion resistant Coyote or FDE finish.

There were more reasons but those are the main ones.  The Beretta M9 is not modular.  One of the complaints of the Beretta in the Military as well as Law Enforcement has always been the grip Is large.  It is a large handgun and is not concealed as well as other handguns.  The M9 did not have a rail.

Let me clarify the #4 comment above.  Beretta USA had proved the Military previously with a M9A1 version that has a rail on the dust cover.   Furthermore, Beretta entered into the Modular Handgun Test, a Model M9A3 9mm.  It did meet the criteria above.   However the two final contestants were the Sig M17 and the Glock 19X.

 

 

Scuttlebutt in the Firearms World is that the Sig won the contest due to price.  An interesting note is in 1985, the two contestants for the new Military handguns were the Beretta M9 and the Sig P-226.  The Beretta won because of price.

Let’s do some comparisons between the old Military handgun and the new one, the Beretta M9 and the Sig M-17.   Below are the factory specifications for both handguns.

Beretta M9 .9mm

Action Single/Double
Barrel length (in) 4.9
Caliber 9×19 (PARA)
Magazine 15
Overall height (in) 5.4
Overall length (in) 8.5
Overall width (in) 1.5
Weight unloaded (OZ) 33.3

 

 

Sig Sauer M17 .9mm

CALIBER                                                                  9mm Luger

 

ACTION TYPE                                                          Striker Fire

 

MAGAZINE                                                              17 Rounds, 21 Rounds

 

BARREL LENGTH                                                   4.7 in

 

OVERALL LENGTH                                                8 in

 

OVERALL WIDTH                                                   1.3 in

 

HEIGHT                                                                     5.5 in

 

WEIGHT                                                                    29.6 oz

 

 

I was able to get my hands on a Sig M17 9mm with the Manual Safety.  Since I had a vast experience with the Beretta 92 Series (M9), I wanted to compare the two Military firearms.  You can purchase three different variations of the M17.  You can get it with or without the Manual Safety (and in various colors) or you can get the Commemorative Model.  The only difference between the M17 and M17 Commemorative Model is the Commemorative Model Has the Military markings and the Controls are tan in color.    I have just learned that the M17 Models that are being delivered to the Military has the black Controls.  Also, the M17 can be had for around $650 but the Commemorative Model is around $1,000.

Opening the plastic box, you will find the gun, two magazines, safety lock and paperwork.  The gun was covered in a fine grease.  Cleaning off the gun didn’t take long.  Looking over the M17, you will see the features listed above in the Testing Criteria.  The Sig has front and rear Tritium Night Sights for use in low light.  The magazines were 17 rounds each.  I did pick up a 21 round magazine for the testing.

 

As I worked the Slide, I felt that there is very little play between the Slide and the Frame.  The Trigger broke clean and had a very positive reset.  I have never been a Striker Fired person, but the trigger is nice.  The Magazine ejected from the pistol smoothly and without hang ups.  I did notice that the Rear Sight is subdued compared to the Front Sight.  This is to draw the shooter’s eye to the Front Sight.

 

The M17 has a cut out on the rear part of the Slide.  This is for the addition of an Electronic Sight.  The cut out is covered by a plate.  This plate also has the Rear Sight on it.  It is a simple procedure to remove the plate.  The Slide is cut for the Leupold Delta Pro Electronic Sight, one of the premier Electronic Sights available today.

 

 

Author shooting M17

Tracey and I took the Sig M17 out to see what kind of groups we can get with it.  The day we went was sunny, 92 Degrees and very humid.  Using Shoot-N-See targets, we started the test.  The first shots fired were at 21 feet.  With the bright sun, the front sight was easy to pick up.  Recoil was manageable, maybe a little more than I expected.  I guess that is because I am use to metal framed guns.  The ammo used for the testing was:

CCI Blazer Brass 9mm, 115 Grain Full Metal Jacket

Hornday American Gunner 9mm, 115 Jacketed Hollow Point

Speer Gold Dot 9mm, 147 Grain Bonded Hollow Point

Federal .9mm, 115 Grain +P+ Jacketed Hollow Point

The first target had a group approximately 2 inches with the CCI Blazer.  I was shooting 5 round strings.  It took me about four magazines through the M17 to get used to the Trigger.  The Reset on the Trigger was very positive and you could feel it when the Reset happened.   I got the following results from the different ammunition:

CCI Blazer Brass                     1.5”

Hornady American Gunner       1.25”

Speer Gold Dot                        1.00”

Federal                                    1.75”

A couple of interesting notes from the above results, the Speer Gold Dot was one ragged hole with a flyer that opened up the group.  This was the heaviest weight bullet in the testing.  I have always had good luck with the Federal load.  It is a L.E. rated ammunition.  I am basing the larger group size of this load on the recoil of the +P+ rating.  Overall, I was impressed with the results.  I had no failure to feed or failure to eject problems with the M17.

What are my thoughts overall of the new Military Handgun.  It shoots well.  When I ran some speed drills, I was not able to pick up the Front Sights as well as when I did the slow, accuracy drills.  I contribute that to my eyesight.  I do like the Manual Safety option on it. The 21 round Magazine is a little hard to load after about the 18th round.  My final thought is, I like it.  I think it is a good handgun for our troops.

Am I going to give up my Beretta?  I don’t know.  The Trigger of the M17 was a lot easier than my Beretta.  Me personally, I think I shoot better with the Beretta.  I’m going to have to think about this question for awhile.  If I do decide to get rid of my Beretta, I will definitely go to the M17.

If you are in the market for a High Capacity, Striker Fired handgun with electronic sight ability, the M17 is right for the job.

Bobby Inman is retired from Law Enforcement after 21 years of Service.  He has articles published in Law & Order Magazine, Police Marksman Magazine, Guns& Weapons for Law Enforcement Magazine as well as several published ebooks on Amazon, Kobo Writing, as well as Nook (Barnes & Noble).  He is owner of Poopiedog, an Animal Rescue Dachshund, who is his constant companion, as well as Snort-Snort, a Chihuahua. .  He is married to Tracey Inman.  Bobby and Tracey are photographers for Subtle & Slams Photography that specializes in Professional Wrestling Events.   He is a Senior Investigative Reporter for the Quad Cities Daily.

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