101st Airborne takes new M17 handgun to the range

The 101st Airborne Division is the first to get its hands on the Sig Sauer M17 handgun. (Daniel Woolfolk/Staff)

LAS VEGAS — As soon as April, soldiers could be getting a full sidearm kit complete with the Army’s newest M17 handgun, along with a new “pistol enhancer” and holster built to fit the device.

The Army selected Laser Max Defense to provide more than 20,000 pistol enhancers for its M17/M18 sidearm. The 9mm handgun, built off a modified version of the Sig Sauer P320, began fielding to Army units in late 2017. It will be the standard issue sidearm for all the services moving forward, replacing the decades-old Beretta M9 pistol.

The pistol enhancer gives shooters white light, Infrared laser and IR illuminator at the flick of a switch.

The device slides on the short rail system at the front of the gun and rests flush with the barrel and sides, keeping bulkiness to a minimum.

Chris Gagliano, marketing director for LMD, told Army Times that design work also included a flat bottom on the device, which gives it added stability over other such gear with rounded edges when shooting from a platform.

Gagliano said that both the Air Force and Coast Guard, who also field the pistol, have been tracking the Army’s testing.

The device weighs 1.9 ounces without the battery and 2.6 ounces with the battery.

The design also allows for operators to change batteries while the device is still on the pistol so they won’t have to re-zero the weapon. The battery door also has knurled screws for finger grip and can be tightened using a multi-purpose tool or a dog tag so no specialty tools are needed.

Laser Max Defense recently won the contract to build its pistol enhancer laser/light combo for the Army's M17/M18 handgun system. (Laser Max Defense)
Laser Max Defense recently won the contract to build its pistol enhancer laser/light combo for the Army's M17/M18 handgun system. (Laser Max Defense)

As far as adjusting fire, the enhancer has tic marks visible with night vision goggles for quick adjustments to the aiming point.

The commercially available 123-volt battery gives the user two hours of continuous operation on the white light mode and up to six hours operation with the IR settings, Gagliano said.

It comes in tan color for military handgun compatibility but is also offered in black for law enforcement use.

A commercial version is being developed, depending on demand. LMD is looking to make a version with a more universal mounting base that would work on a variety of handguns for the civilian consumer market.

Laser Max Defense recently won the contract to build its pistol enhancer laser/light combo for the Army's M17/M18 handgun system. (Laser Max Defense)
Laser Max Defense recently won the contract to build its pistol enhancer laser/light combo for the Army's M17/M18 handgun system. (Laser Max Defense)