Phill Price re­views the P320 M17, from SIG Sauer - a pis­tol spe­cially se­lected by the Amer­i­can Army

The very lat­est ver­sion of the P320 lands with some in­no­va­tions never seen be­fore

Air Gunner - - Contents -

SIG’s P320 semi- au­to­mat­ic­style pis­tol still feels new to me, al­though it’s been with us for a while now and has be­come avail­able in a num­ber of op­tions. They have a good heft and feel, which SIG claims is an ex­act replica of the car­tridge- fir­ing vari­ants, and they should know be­cause they man­u­fac­ture both. There’s an ob­vi­ous rugged ap­peal; these hand­guns were de­signed for hard mil­i­tary use from day one and SIG re­cently won a very hard-fought se­lec­tion com­pe­ti­tion to sup­ply their M17 model to var­i­ous el­e­ments of the Amer­i­can Army. This brings huge ku­dos and on the back of this SIG has re­leased civil­ian vari­ants in coun­tries that al­low pri­vate own­er­ship of pow­der- burn­ing hand­guns.

For the rest of us, they de­vel­oped the CO2- pow­ered ver­sion you see on test, which looks iden­ti­cal, un­sur­pris­ingly. They chose to copy the ex­tended 21 round, 9mm mag­a­zine which makes space for an in­no­va­tive CO2 load­ing mech­a­nism. am­bidex­trous, man­ual safety and al­though the one fit­ted to my test gun was stiff, it was well placed to be dis­en­gaged nicely as I ad­dressed the tar­gets. In front of this is a dummy slide release lever. These and the take- down lever are black, con­trast­ing against the coy­ote tan frame and slide.

WELL DE­VEL­OPED

On top we find some bold, com­bat- style sights which are non- ad­justable. They show the well- proven ‘ three white dot’ sys­tem that I par­tic­u­larly like, and have a good notch to post ra­tio that makes fast tar­get­ing easy. The ser­vice arm

“a good notch to post ra­tio that makes fast tar­get­ing easy”

The mag’ ex­tends some 1¼” be­low the grip and that adds an un­usual look to the pis­tol, al­though I didn’t no­tice it af­fect­ing the han­dling at all.

The grip and frame are made from a tough in­dus­trial poly­mer and I found the er­gonomics spot on for my medium- sized hands. Com­ing on aim as fast as I could in a twohanded com­bat hold, the sights aligned per­fectly with no need for cor­rec­tions to the an­gle. The grip filled my palm nicely and I noted no sharp edges or rough spots to cause sore­ness dur­ing long ses­sions. One of the Army re­quire­ments was for an bought by the Army has a re­mov­able panel in front of the rear sight that ex­poses a rail to ac­cept an optical sight. On the CO2 model this is just a dummy cover, but keeps the replica ap­pear­ance cor­rect. I think it’s a shame be­cause I can well imag­ine buy­ers want­ing to add a red- dot sight to this pis­tol.

De­spite its blow- back ac­tion, this is a dou­ble- ac­tion only trig­ger be­cause the first stage of the trig­ger’s move­ment drives the Rapid Pel­let Mag­a­zine ( RPM) around to align the next pel­let with the bar­rel. The sec­ond stage drops the ham­mer and al­lows the CO2 to flow from the valve and drive the pel­let down the bar­rel. The pack­ag­ing says ‘semi­auto’, when it’s in fact a type of revolver in its func­tion. I’ve used the RPM in pis­tols and sub- ma­chine gun vari­ants, and I’ve yet to have a jam or a prob­lem, show­ing that it was a well- de­vel­oped prod­uct as it was re­leased. It takes a while to load 20 .177 pel­lets into the belt, but it’s an easy job.

ARMY SE­LEC­TION

The sturdy mag­a­zine also holds the 12 gramme CO2 cap­sule and that in­ter­est­ing load­ing mech­a­nism. At the rear, there’s a lever that you drop back to be­gin and then slip a cap­sule in bot­tom first. Press­ing the lever shut drives the cap­sule onto the pierc­ing probe which holds the

pres­sure un­til the mag’ is loaded into the ac­tion. A sec­ond probe then en­ters the mag’ al­low­ing the gas to flow into the valve. This means that if you re­move the mag’, the pis­tol is com­pletely safe be­cause it con­tains no gas or pel­lets. I was con­cerned that the load­ing lever might snag off the back of the mag­a­zine well dur­ing paced shoot­ing. There’s no ex­posed ham­mer, so you can­not cock the ac­tion and fire sin­gle ac­tion, but that’s not what a sol­dier needs, so it’s not what SIG de­signed.

The blow- back move­ment of the slide is quite short and not that punchy, which makes keep­ing the sights on tar­get much eas­ier than

“Only at longer dis­tances did I need to ad­just my aim point”

fast reloads, but it never did.

On the range, I found the sights ex­cel­lent and the trig­ger smooth and con­sis­tent. You must re­mem­ber to al­low the trig­ger blade to go fully for­ward af­ter each shot is re­leased, to in­dex the mag­a­zine again. If you don’t, the pis­tol will not fire and this makes fast dou­ble-taps some­what tricky, but goes un­no­ticed in slower with some pis­tols. I found the sights where slightly low and right for my eyes at six yards, but would eas­ily hit an IPAS com­pe­ti­tion tar­get plate. Only at longer dis­tances did I need to ad­just my aim point. This is clearly an­other win­ner for SIG, and know­ing this is the pis­tol that won a tough army se­lec­tion is sure to make it all the more de­sir­able.

Note the ex­tended mag­a­zine that holds the lever’s pivot

TOP LEFT: Load­ing the belt mag­a­zine is quick and easy ABOVE RIGHT: You can buy ex­tra belts to work with the mag­a­zine

ABOVE LEFT: The cap­sule is loaded with this un­usual lever sys­tem ABOVE RIGHT: Er­gonomics and han­dling were first class

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