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Smart Bombs: Military, Defense and National Security

Sig Sauer M17: The Gun The U.S. Military Fell in Love With

Sig Sauer M17
The M17 or Modular Handgun System is the Army’s newest handgun currently being fielded to Soldiers. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Samantha Stoffregen, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) Public Affairs).

It looks like the U.S. military has struck gold with the M17 Sig Sauer service pistol. The pistol taking over from the Beretta M9 appears to be well worth it for military personnel. The M17 replaced the M9 9-mm after Sig Sauer won a big contract from the Army in 2017. The M17 is smooth, easy to fire, looks great, has a nice polymer grip, and enjoys a light trigger pull. It has worked out so well for the Army that all service branches adopted it.

The M17 Brings A Lot to the Table

The M17 is an excellent choice for close-quarter combat. It’s almost the same model that civilians love – the Sig Sauer 320. In 2017, this pistol was picked through a competition among Beretta USA, FN America, and Glock. This was originally a $580 million Army contract for the M17 and the smaller and more compact M18. Looking for more stopping power? The Beretta M9 was criticized for not being powerful enough. The M17 9mm can use a punchy 147-grain jacket hollow point bullets. It has a standard 17-round magazine.

The M17 is your friend in a dark room if you have to clear buildings and your M4 is incapacitated or out of ammunition. The Sig pistol has self-illuminating sights for better target acquisition in low light. Military personnel can attach accessories on the integrated rail system on top of the barrel. Removable plates enable users to place a red dot optic on the gun.

The Sig Sauer Enables Quick Targeting

The Army originally wanted a pistol that had increased speed when targets came up quickly in small spaces – like hallways, attics, and balconies. The M17 exceeds all of these requirements. Soldiers and marines will have to get used to the thumb safety on the Sig. That safety was a requirement from the Army. Users claim better accuracy with the M17. It used to be some lower-ranking and junior personnel were not issued side-arms. The Army thankfully changed that policy and now gives soldiers a choice of carrying the M17.

The Sig Met the Army Requirements

The M9 has been criticized because it does not have a rail system, it isn’t modular, it’s more difficult to conceal, and the grip is too big. The M17 has answered the call and offered improvements to those complaints. Give Beretta credit though, its entry into the competition corrected all of those perceived flaws, but ultimately the Army and the rest of the military went with the Sig.

Sig Sauer entered a really good piece into the original Army competition and was rewarded handily. It’s going to provide hundreds of thousands of pistols in the coming years. The Army should be given credit for recognizing the weaknesses in the Beretta M9 and giving clear directions on what it wanted in the new model. It will be interesting to see if any service members are complaining about the Sig because it looks like it delivered an outstanding sidearm.

1945’s new Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer.

Written By

Now serving as 1945s New Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer.



  1. Adam Gibson

    October 2, 2021 at 5:00 pm

    No the sig cannot use “punchy” (Brain damaged boxer?) Hollow points any more that the Beretta can. They violate the Hague convention.
    Tritium night sights can be added to any gun, but they can give your position away. The extra inch of barrell gives the M9 an energy advantage.In single action the M9 has a lighter trigger pull. If you think the grips are too large perhaps your hands are too small.

    • Dan

      May 4, 2022 at 5:07 pm

      Well, I hope the Sigs’ so called “night sights” are better than the XRay junk I got on my new Sig P365. The rear sights are totally out, and the front sight is only a very faint glow only visible when the gun is within 6 inches of your face. Sig says it “meets their specifications”. What a joke…and a rip off. I’m selling it, unfired, mags never loaded. If something else goes wrong, like striker breaking, or trigger spring dying…both have happened to others…I can’t trust Sig to stand behind any repairs…even when they know XRay sights, broken strikers, trigger springs…are on going problems.

  2. Hugh Janus

    October 2, 2021 at 5:03 pm

    And this Fantastic Sig will shoot if it is dropped !!!
    Good Job !!!

  3. Mike Hawk

    October 2, 2021 at 5:19 pm

    What a generic article jerking off the Sig.

  4. Mike

    October 2, 2021 at 6:11 pm

    Beretta does not only have the m9 it also the m9a1 and m9a3 all have 5” barrels unlike the sigs 4” barrels and every one knows Gun for Gun longer barrels mean better accuracy which has nothing to do with the shooter that another variable by itself. Both A models have tact rails. Now I agree out of box there not perfection but are still good firearms. I believe if beretta would step up and put stronger springs, polish the slides , and touch up the ammo feed to accept hollow points better my m9a1 has this work done to it and is by far one of my favorite firearms plus I no longer need my slide release when I slap a new mag in slide drops automatically now perfect for self defense when seconds count and it just might be the difference! You know the the same thing militarily men and women are looking for their lives depend on it!
    If you are going to compare firearms you might want to compare apples to apples because they are not spec the same.

  5. William Craddock

    October 2, 2021 at 7:15 pm

    Isn’t this Sig propaganda article speaking of the same M17 pistol, AKA the Sig 320 that’s thus far severely wounded a highly experienced female police Detective when retrieving it out of her purse, plus an equally experienced Police Officer, nearing retirement, when his issued Sig 320 mysteriously misfired inside his duty holster, retiring him early, plus turning his leg into swiss cheese ?

  6. Steve Graham

    October 2, 2021 at 7:24 pm

    Eastwood’s doctorate should be redacted.

  7. Robert

    October 3, 2021 at 7:32 am

    This is readily apparent add piece written by a chairborne commando who regurgitates internet lore as fact. The Sig is certainly a fine firearm and so is the Beretta. The selection decision is filled with controversy with decisions being made based upon criteria unrelated to the ‘best’ defensive firearm for our fighting men and women in the armed forces.

  8. John Butz

    November 6, 2021 at 4:41 pm

    The military needs to get off their ass and get the next series of combat rifle into service with the 6.8 caliber. I’ve hunted since I was 8 years old at 17 I joined the army and always felt the 5.56 was a shit round . No I was never in combat but I have shot my share of big game and varmints and the 5 56 isnt and never was up to the challenge of killing big game ( ie ) the enemy. Just wish the larger caliber combat rifle was in service now better yet it should have been in service before the war in Iraq probably would have saved alot of lives .

  9. RoyBWalko

    October 13, 2022 at 4:28 am

    The Sig Sauer M17 is the closest a civilian will get to the Army’s issued sidearm. But it does an excellent job fitting a wide range of people and performing its duty with utter reliability.

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