Ever since the Glock series of pistols edged forward as the premier weapon for the military, law enforcement, and concealed carry communities, gun reviewers have been searching for the “Glock killer,” the next striker-fired pistol that would eclipse the Glock and beat it at its own game.
Some speculated it would be the Springfield X.D. series. A few others thought it might be the Smith & Wesson M&P series. Recently, other gun manufacturers took a stab at it. The Walther PPQ and the Heckler & Koch VP9 have both received rave reviews and have been touted by people I personally know and respect to be excellent handguns.
That’s not to say their predecessors haven’t been quality works, either. I have a soft spot in my heart for the M&P series, and given my limited exposure to the X.D. series (I’ve only shot an X.D.S., which I will review in the weeks to come), I have no complaints about basic functionality and reliability. But, all of these seem to fall short of my favorite Glock 19, which I have told people in conversation is the gold standard of concealed carry pistols.
Then, SIG-Sauer stepped up to the plate with their P320, a revamped version of their P250 pistol. I was skeptical, given that I had heard mixed reviews on it, but when I heard that the US Army had adopted the pistol as their new service weapon (under the M17 nomenclature), I decided I would give it a try for myself.
I’ll never forsake my Glock 19, even if only for sentimental value.
Having said that, if there is a Glock killer out there, the SIG P320 is it.
The first thing I noticed is the ergonomics of the pistol. Not since the 1911 have I held a pistol that just felt right in the hands. It’s designed with user comfort in mind, and at time I came close to forgetting it was in my hands while I fired it downrange. It melds perfectly with my hands.
The trigger is absolutely amazing. One of my complaints about other pistols, such as the SIG-Sauer P229 or the H&K P30 (both of which I have owned) is that their trigger resets left something to be desired. I could barely feel the P229’s reset and the P30’s reset was essentially non-existent. Many have complained about the Glock’s trigger, but I have found that it has a very pronounced reset, which allows for faster follow-on shots.
The P320’s reset is crisp and extremely pronounced, and the pull is extremely smooth. I had no problem with follow-on shots. I did shoot better with the Glock 19, but that can be chalked up to having carried one, on and off, for years. I have no doubt in my mind that if I owned a P320, I could reach the same level of proficiency in next to no time.
The stock sights are tri-dot, which are definitely superior to the Glock’s stock sights, in my opinion. As you can see, my groupings with the P320 are not the best, but that’s to be somewhat expected with an unfamiliar pistol. Still, I was able to put most of my rounds in the 8 ring or better, and I missed none of my head shots.
I immediately fell in love with the P320 after shooting it. It’s definitely on my dream guns list for purchase down the road. I would definitely recommend it for everyday carry, particularly if you get the 4″ model, which is the one I shot.
Now, to talk a bit about the differences between the P320 and the M17.
As you can see, the Army seems to have opted for a flat dark earth color scheme as opposed to a black finish. The other noticeable difference is that the M17 has an external safety, which is to be expected. Outside of SOF units and CID detachments, you will not find a single pistol in the US Army’s arsenal that does not have an external safety. Why? Privates do stupid things, as well as complacent leaders. The Army won’t take the risk and rather than improve their weapons safety training, they will attempt to “private-proof” the weapon as much as possible.
I’d love to get my hands on the M17 to see how it compares to the original P320.
To those still serving, a word of caution: shoot the civilian model before you judge whatever is issued out. My friend Nate Granzow pointed out that every civilian Beretta 92 he has shot has been extremely reliable, whereas there have been stories upon stories of issue Berettas being wrought with issues. He theorized there are two reasons for that:
-The Army tends to run pistols (and all their weapons in general) into the ground, well beyond their service life, before they cough up the money to replace them.
-The Army demands a high volume of weapons in a short period of time, which forces weapons makers to make mistakes during production of the military products that they would not make with civilian products, where they would be liable to lawsuits.
Still, I’m interested to see if SIG-Sauer can avoid the same pitfalls that Beretta suffered when they were tapped to produce the M9 back in the 1980s. I’m definitely looking forward to hearing service members’ opinions of the M17 when they start hitting line units.