Air-powered replica guns are more valuable than ever before, making it a great time to review one of SIG Sauer’s latest options: the SIG AIR ProForce M17.
Evolving from vaguely firearm-like designs for kids to arms that mimic modern firearms, air-powered replica guns make for excellent training tools. The unprecedented demand for real firearms generated by the national instability and uncertainty has led to record-setting sales of guns since March, depleting inventories across the country.
Ammo is also incredibly scarce, at least in the primary defensive/utility calibers (9mm, 5.56, .22 LR, .308 and 12 gauge 00). I know that I expend less ammo these days in testing the arms I review to conserve my supply. But airsoft pellets, BBs, lead pellets and CO2 cartridges are not in short supply.
ProForce M17 vs. Likenesses
The ProForce airsoft gun line is the newest addition to SIG’s air-powered lineup. Airsoft guns use special plastic 6mm round pellets and have a shorter range than airguns, which shoot steel BBs or lead pellets. They also have less penetration. My ProForce M17 test gun is almost indistinguishable in appearance from my 9mm SIG M17. It also looks very similar to the P320 M17 pellet firing airgun other than the orange muzzle caps on all airsoft guns. Even the weight of the M17 Airsoft is close at 26 ounces with empty magazine and reflex sight in place. The unloaded 9mm M17 weighs 29.6 ounces.
Like the original, the ProForce M17 has a coyote tan polymer frame complete with Picatinny rail. Controls are the same. The trigger, slide release, takedown lever, ambidextrous slide releases and ambidextrous safeties are black like those on the 9mm civilian. The takedown lever works just like the real thing, and the ProForce M17 field-strips down to frame, slide, barrel and recoil spring. The magazine replicates the extended 21-round steel 9mm magazine design with its 21-round airsoft pellet capacity.
The metal slide is also finished in coyote tan. It is marked “SIG SAUER M17.” There are no obvious airsoft exterior markings. The ProForce M17 will fit in any holster designed for the 9mm original. SIG created the ProForce line for use in high-end training, so of course the ProForce guns have to fit standard police and military holsters.
The slide is fitted with the white three dot fixed sights and has a removable top plate for mounting a red dot optic.
SIG AIR Reflex Sight
SIG included its SIG AIR Reflex sight for my test. This is a lightweight, quality red dot sight. And just as the ProForce isn’t a toy, neither is the AIR Reflex sight. The SIG AIR reflex sight is adjustable for windage and elevation. It ships with the proper adapter plates for SIG airsoft or airgun use and runs off of one CR2032 battery.
Putting It Together
When it came time to mount the reflex sight, I discovered that SIG’s directions were a bit light on detail and images. Before you start the process, make sure that you watch a YouTube video for more detail and tips to save time.
Once I got the sight mounted, I was in business. For testing, I purchased some professional quality airsoft pellets. Don’t use the biodegradable pellets in ProForce guns. My sample ProForce is powered by 12-gram CO2 cartridges. There is a Green Gas powered version of the M17 as well.
Backyard Range Time
I set up a cardboard box out back as a target and took my 6-year-old son along. Loading and charging the ProForce M17 requires the same manual of arms as the 9mm version. Insert the loaded magazine. Apply the thumb safety, retract the slide to the rear and let it slam home. You are ready to shoot.
I charged up after turning on the Reflex sight. My first two shots at 15 feet went into one hole. The remainder of the pellets landed close. Pellet velocity is 410 feet per second. The ProForce M17 and reflex sight functioned flawlessly. The trigger felt very close to that of the 9mm M17. The ProForce allows you to practice sight alignment, trigger squeeze, loading and safe operation. Since airsoft pellet penetration is much lower than steel BBs, these can be shot in the backyard where legal. One CO2 cartridge carried us through three magazines. My son got good hits with the red dot sight, which is easier for a six-year-old.
SIG’s ProForce series of guns offer great realism for training and practicing while conserving ammo. Whether for training or fun, the ProForce are serious airsoft guns. The M17 as tested has an MSRP of $179.99. The ProForce Reflex Sight is $49.99. There are currently three airsoft pistols based on the P320 and one based on the P229. There is one rifle based on the MCX VIRTUS.
SIG Sauer: SIGSauer.com
About Scott W. Wagner
Scott W. Wagner has been a law enforcement officer since 1980, working undercover in liquor and narcotics investigations and as a member, sniper and assistant team leader of a SWAT team. He currently works as a patrol sergeant. He is a police firearms instructor, certified to train revolver, semi-automatic pistol, shotgun, semi- and fully automatic patrol rifle, and submachine gun. Scott also works as a criminal justice professor and police academy commander.