Sig's M17 and M18s are replacing the Beretta M9 as the sidearm of the US Army. When this was first announced I was a bit concerned as my 15 years of active duty showed me just how poorly trained and skilled so many US Army officers are. More on that at the bottom of the article.
What Is it? Thanks to the modularity of the Sig P320 platform there's no need to purchase a complete "firearm" in order to transform your existing P320 to any other version of the gun assuming you stick with the same manual safety (or lack thereof) configuration. That means that you, and we, can swap our Sig P320 _____ model into an M17 or M18 with a simple kit that can be shipped directly to your door. No 4473, no transfer fee, and no waiting period for those of you within the continental US but outside the Constitutional United States.
The M17 X-Change Kit includes the M17 grip module with magazine release installed, three magazines, a completed slide with 4.7" barrel, and the manual for the M17. As a veteran I got a kick out of the manual as it is very reminiscent of the old US Army Technical Manuals including the Preventative Maintenance, Checks and Services (PMCS) guides that we used to have to follow when servicing any mechanical device in the Army. The precut foam in the box has a place for the challenge coin Sig used to offer with the M17. Perhaps an oversight, or perhaps they want to taunt those of us who bought the kit instead of the collector's edition complete firearm.
The M17 X-Change kit requires only that you already own a P320 Fire Control Unit (FCU) and without tools you can swap the FCU from your existing 9mm P320 into the kit and instantly you have a non-manual-safety version of the M17! Aside from the benefits already listed another is reduced cost. Depending on how savvy of a shopper you are this is approximately $200-$300 (not counting transfer fees) cheaper than buying a complete firearm.
Pricing as of 31JUL22
In contrast, a complete M17 goes for:
How's it shoot? We pulled the FCU from our X-Compact we recently reviewed and slapped it in the M17's grip module. The entire conversion takes maybe a minute if you're taking water breaks (Army humor). Using the X-Compact's FCU may not be entirely true to the trigger of a "real" M17, but it's what we had on hand.
Conversion complete we hit the range and subjected the M17 to our standard battery of experiences including Cold Shots, Full Mag +1, What's For Dinner™, The Titan Great Outdoors spinner target for sights and trigger control, and used the last of our Nosler ASP ammunition for some practical accuracy.
Ammunition seen in our Shooting Impressions video was made possible by our Patrons and supporters of our ammunition savings account through Ammo Squared. Additional, on-demand ammunition through True Shot Gun Club.
On the Range our converted M17 performed flawlessly. An advantage we enjoyed int he video is one you too would enjoy; we already knew the trigger as it was physically the same as our X-Compact. The kit rand flawlessly with our only gripes being the front sight's uninspired markings. As we all know, when the government makes purchases it's not always the best thing available, rather the best thing at the lowest cost available in the largest quantity. Sig's X-Ray sights are far superior to the grade of sights used on the M17. Another interesting experience was the ease and comfort of magazine loading. I would assume that these are the same P320 magazines that come with every 9mm P320, but in the sizes included in the X-Change kit they were very easy and comfortable to load, the best Sig magazines we've handled yet.
The M17 ran great and shot great. We also noted that the grip module was comfortable for both of our hand sizes. A great way to convert your existing Sig P320 into a full-size firearm for less than the cost of a complete new gun.
About Graham's Concern: I spent 15 years on active duty in the US Army from 2000-2015. That period includes the tail end of the pre-war Army, early war years, and watching the Army transform from a "we could fight" to a "time to fight again" as deployment rotations became a predictable part of life. Of those years three were spent as an Armorer, and though firearms were not my primary purpose in life, they were an integral part of my mission and my experience lead to to spending more time on ranges than your average non-Combat Arms Soldier. Overwhelmingly the US Army Officers (who are primarily assigned handguns) had a lackadaisical attitude about firearms training and generally approached range time with disdain and lack of seriousness. Though annual qualification with an assigned weapon is supposed to be a requirement for promotion I personally spent excessive time with Captains (O-3) trying to get them to qualify despite the fact they had been promoted twice and already served about six years.
The Sig P320 is an excellent platform. When the announcement that it would replace the M9 was first made I feared a wave of negligent discharges and my experience with the P320 to that point did not include a manual safety. The US Army M17s include a manual safety, and fortunately relatively few officers fire a handgun in combat. Those who do use handguns in combat tend to be of the higher-trained units serving in specialty roles.