Disassembling and Cleaning The Sig M17

The Sig M17 has been a rock-solid handgun since it was adopted by the US military. It has a good balance; good weight and it shoots like a pro. I have yet to have any issues with my M17 as I run drills at the range. The M17 had to undergo torture and reliability tests before the US Military would consider it. This is a benefit to us because we already know how the gun will hold up.

Sig M17 disassembled for cleaning.
Stripping the Sig M17 down for cleaning is not hard and takes just a few minutes. [Photo: Jason Mosher]
But even the toughest of guns need to be cleaned and lubricated, at least every now and then. Some guns need to be cleaned more than others, but if metal is rubbed on metal, it needs some oil. Most guns only need a quick field strip to wipe off the carbon and gunk before applying a little more lube and moving on. But every now and then, you may find a gun is particularly dirty and needs to be completely disassembled and cleaned for it to function correctly.

I used my M17 on the range last summer when it was hot and humid. It rained on us in the morning and then scorched us in the afternoon. We continued to shoot, regardless. By the end of the day, the M17 had all kinds of gunk building up in the slide, around the ejector, and just about everywhere else I could see. A good cleaning was all it needed to put it back in tip-top shape. You may never have this issue but it’s still good to know how to disassemble the main components of any gun. Today, we will take the M17 apart to inspect and deep clean it.

How To Field Strip the M17

Like I said earlier, most people only need to field strip the M17 for basic cleaning. Sig made this very easy process very easy, and it can be done without any tools. As always, safety first. Make sure the magazine is out of the gun and the chamber is empty. Lock the slide to the rear of the gun and flip the takedown lever down until it stops. Release the slide slowly and pull it forward off the frame of the gun. Now remove the recoil spring by lifting it from the slide and then remove the barrel. You have now field-stripped the M17.

Field stripped Sig M17.
A basic field strip is usually all that is needed to clean and maintain the weapon. [Photo: Jason Mosher]
Most of the time, this is all you need to do to keep it clean. Wipe down the metal part and apply some more lube. Taking a brush to the barrel every now and then will help keep it accurate. I won’t get into the debate on how often to clean your gun or what kind of lube to use. Clean it as you see fit, but it’s good to have the knowledge.

How To Remove the M17 Frame From the Grip Module

The Sig is a little different than other handguns because the frame of the gun is separate from the grip module. Most handguns contain the frame (lower part of the gun) and the slide (upper part). The M17 has a removable frame that contains the trigger bar, trigger, safety selector, and every other lower part.

To remove the frame, simply pull the takedown lever out of the gun and lift it off the frame. Even when mine gets dirty, I can clean it without taking everything off the frame. We will cover disassembling the frame components in another article. From here, however, you can clean and re-oil everything on the lower part of the gun. The frame is considered the “gun” so this is the part that contains the serial number.

Sig M17 frame and trigger assembly.
On the M17, the frame will lift out of the grip module. [Photo: Jason Mosher]
When cleaning the frame and trigger assembly, I use a soft nylon brush to get any junk off the moving pieces. I prefer a water-based cleaner like Slips 2000 for this part. Once it is clean, I apply a small amount of oil and set it aside. From this point, the grip module can also be changed. There are a few selections for the M17 and even more for the Sig P320. If you want to replace the grip module, just make sure it has the cutout for safety on the M17. The P320 grip modules do not have a safety cutout on them so they won’t fit the M17.

How To Remove M17 Slide Components

The next part of the gun we will look at is the slide. This is the area I see the most build-up and dirt get into. Besides cleaning, it’s good to inspect these parts on a regular basis. On the back of the slide is the slide rear cap. Next to it is the extractor spring rear guide. It looks like a small back pin or screw.

Push down on this part with an Allen wrench or something the same size as the rear guide. While pushing down, use your thumb to slowly push the end cap off the slide. With the end cap off, you can pull the extractor spring guide out. Pull the striker housing out next.

Sig M17 slide end cap.
To remove the end cap, push in on the extractor guide rod (blue arrow) and use your thumb to push the end cap off the slide. [Photo: Jason Mosher]
The housing contains the firing pin, striker spring, etc. The extractor will fall free from the slide once these parts have been removed. Check each part and if there is much dirt, build-up, or junk on them. Again, I use a nylon brush for most of this.

Final Step — Reassemble the Gun

Once all the parts are cleaned, I place a small amount of oil on each part before re-installing them. While the extractor is off the gun, check it for any signs of wear or damage. If you fire any steel case ammo through your gun, it will eventually wear down the extractor, but that is an easy and cheap fix.

The extractor should have a good, almost sharp-looking edge on it.  While these parts are off the slide, give the slide a good cleaning. If you ever want to take the optic plate off the slide, this is how you get to the screws that hold it on. They sit on each side of the striker housing from the bottom side of the gun. Removing these screws allows you to take the plate, rear sight, and loaded chamber indicator off.

Sig M17 slide components.
The slide components include (from left to right) extractor guide rod, striker assembly, end cap, and extractor. [Photo: Jason Mosher]
With everything clean and inspected, re-install the components on the slide. Set the extractor in place first and then the extractor rear guide rod. The striker housing goes in next and then the end cap can be placed back on the gun. This is done in the same way it came off. Push down on the extractor guide rod and slide the end cap on before releasing. Push the lower frame back onto the grip module and reinstall the takedown lever. The barrel and recoil spring can be put back on the slide and the slide back on the lower assembly. Now the gun is ready for a functions check.


Most parts on the M17 or the Sig P320 are easy to find and can be ordered online. If you need to replace a damaged, broken, or lost part, don’t panic. Just look up the part using a Sig P320 nomenclature (diagram of the gun) and order what you need. If you are not sure about something, contact a gunsmith for advice or repair.

The M17 is a unique gun that will remain one of my favorite handguns. Besides the fact that it’s a great shooting gun, it comes with a military history. Since 1911, the M17 has been only the third standard-issue US Military handgun. I expect it will remain in this position for years to come. Someday we will go over a complete breakdown of parts, but until then, keep your gun clean and running like a champ.

Sheriff Jason Mosher is a law enforcement generalist instructor as well as a firearms and tactical weapons trainer. Jason graduated from the FBI-LEEDA (Law Enforcement Executive Development Association) and serves as a Sheriff for his day job. When he’s not working, he’s on the range, eating steak, or watching Yellowstone.

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