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Tomb of the Unknowns Guards Begin Use of Custom M17 Pistols

Yesterday, Tomb Guards from the US Army’s 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) were presented with 4 ceremonial M17 pistols at Arlington National Cemetery. These works of art were created by SIG SAUER specifically for use by the Guards.

This ceremony marks the first use of the M17, which will accompany the Sentinels of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers they stand guard 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

The unique distinguishing features for the M17 Tomb of the Unknown Pistols include:

Pistol Names: each of the four pistols bears the name of Silence, Respect, Dignity, or Perseverance and is featured on the dust cover. Dignity and Perseverance represent “The Sentinel’s Creed,” and Silence and Respect represent the request to the public by Arlington National Cemetery when visiting the Tomb of the Unknown, and during the Changing of the Guard;

Custom Wood Grips: in 1921 the chosen Unknown was transported to the United States of America aboard the USS Olympia. The custom wood grips are made with wood from the USS Olympia and include the crest of the 3rd Guard, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier identification badge inset;

Cocking Serrations: XXI cocking serrations are engraved on the slide to signify the twenty-one steps it takes for the Tomb Sentinels to walk by the Tomb of the Unknowns and the military honor of a 21 Gun Salute;

Sight Plate: an engraved impression of the Greek Figures featured on the east panel of the Tomb – Peace, Victory, and Valor – are featured on the sight plate;

Sights: a glass insert made with marble dust from the Tomb of the Unknown fills the sights of the ceremonial pistols;

Engraved Magazines: the 21-round magazines feature an aluminum base plate engraved with the names of the Greek figures featured on the Tomb of the Unknown – Peace, Victory, and Valor – and include a name plate on the bottom of the magazine engraved with the Tomb Sentinel badge number.

Serial Numbers: the pistols are serialized with a unique set of serial numbers that incorporate items of significance to the Old Guard: “LS” represents line six of the Sentinels’ Creed, “My standard will remain perfection; “02JUL37” to signify the first 24-hour guard posted at the Tomb of the Unknown on July 3, 1937; “21” to signify the 21 steps it takes the Tomb Sentinels to walk by the Tomb of the Unknown, and the military honor of a 21 Gun Salute. The full series of M17 Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Pistols serial numbers are LS02JUL37A21 (Silence), LS02JUL37B21 (Respect), LS02JUL37C21 (Dignity), LS02JUL37D21 (Perseverance).

(U.S. Army photos by SPC Gabriel Silva)

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94 Responses to “Tomb of the Unknowns Guards Begin Use of Custom M17 Pistols”

  1. Dellis says:

    Very impressive! and only 4?!! Obviously these 4 will never see life outside in the public hands but will Sig produce replicas for public purchase?

    • SSD says:

      That is the ultimate question.

    • artem says:

      I, for one, hope they never offer these to the public. A beautiful set of pistols that should stay unique.

      • Brent says:

        I agree. I would like to see an aluminium lower for the 320 offered by Sig though.

      • Dellis says:

        I understand the thought of keeping them unique, special. I also see that Sig could introduce a limited number of public variants of this pistol in honor of the Tomb Guard.

        I could be wrong though, perhaps it is best left at only these 4. The Tomb Guards are extra ordinary and unique, a sidearm being limited and unique is only befitting.

        I would opt though for a different holster. The holster, to me, just doesn’t suit or equal the pistol.

        I hope to one day witness in person the ceremony. Utmost respect for the men and women who make it to being a Sentinel.

        • John B Clyburn Jr says:

          Argee on the holster. It should protect the weapon in foul weather. This version is for quick-draw?

      • andrew says:

        What artem said. These are for the tomb of the unknown soldiers and should stay that way. Maybe release a custom inspired by these but nothing like them.

      • Gerald V. Carrature says:

        Well said

    • I would home that these four weapons will fe foeever be the only ones produced. It would diminish their uniqueness and render them common.

      • SHARON BRINK says:

        As a Vetern, I feel that the honor of wearing one is special and should not be betwowed to anyone but the guards who guard sumbolic resting place of American Heros!!

  2. Adiboo says:

    Very nice sidearm.
    Kind of funny looking having a modern, custom built, striker pistol, along with an outdated rifle in that picture. Perhaps a custom made M4 instead?

    • JM Gavin says:

      For ceremonial purposes, the M14 is superior to the M4, far easier for the manual of arms.

      • Rafael Ramirez says:

        Oudated? where did you get such a stupid notion!

        • BillC says:

          The M14 was literally outdated the moment it was adopted for its 4 minutes of service as the main service rifle for the US.

          • Scott Carpenter says:

            The M14 was the refined, enhanced version of the M1. Intended to be used fully automatic. Full auto was a bit too much to handle with the 30-06 cartridge. Regardless, it’s a beautiful rifle and it perfect for its service watching over our Unknown.

            • MLEE says:

              THE M-14 WAS NOT DESIGNED OR INTENDED TO BE USED AS A CONSTANT FULL AUTO. HENCE THE SELECTOR SWITCH FROM SEMI TO FULL. IN MOST UNITS ONLY 1 M-14 PER SQUAD HAD THE SELECTOR SWITCH. ALSO, IT WAS NOT A 30-06 BUT A 7.62 X 51. AKA .308. I KNOW BECAUSE I HUMPED ONE UNTIL WE TRANSITIONED TO THE M-16. FULL AUTO WAS VERY MANAGEABLE WITH THE METAL BUTT PLATE UP. THE SHORTER ROUND THAN THE 30-06 ALLOWED FOR A FASTER RATE OF FIRE.

            • RickB. says:

              Full auto with an M14 isn’t too much to handle if you how.

          • John says:

            M14 was my issued weapon in 1961

          • d.montieth says:

            For one who carried both in combat, I actually preferred the M-14 over the m-16

          • Bill says:

            That’s not an M14. It’s an M1 Garand.

      • Spydersniper says:

        You are correct. The M-4 is too short to be able to do the manual of arms. The British had to change their manual of arms when they switched to their new shorter rifle. Besides, the wood and chrome accentuate the rifle. The fitting gives the rifle that snap when it is slapped. I also agree that the holster Is a little weird. I think it can be switched. I don’t understand what they mean when they say the sentinel’s badge number is on each pistol magazine? They are beautiful though!

  3. CA24 says:

    Looks sharp! I wish aluminum grip modules were available for commercial P320 variants. But is it still an “M17” if there’s no safety? Or is that just a custom P320 for the Old Guard? Either was it looks nice for ceremonial duties!

  4. silvio annunziata says:

    Impressive workmanship however it appears to excessive large and cumbersome! Is it really needed?

    • straps says:

      Appears large (also, extended mag) on the wiry trooper pictured.

      There was a time when every member of the Old Guard “Tomb” detail was an infantryman of that size (30″ waist) and stature (5’10+). Of course no funny stuff EVER went on with stimulants or eating habits or other wrestler’s tricks back in the day…

      As Americans have gotten, um, larger (and the Army smaller), the emphasis has moved to uniformity on the Reliefs.

    • Somronr slways looks at the downside of everything. The weapons are dedicated to a long standing tradition and should be admired for what they stand for, not their preceived shortcomings.

  5. J Mott says:

    Very nice. I do have a question about this part though.

    “…“02JUL37” to signify the first 24-hour guard posted at the Tomb of the Unknown on July 3, 1937;…”

    Shouldn’t that be 03JUL37 if they were posted in July 3, 1937? Maybe a typo or am I missing something?

  6. Mark says:

    It’s super outdated. M14s are terrible.

    • Sasquatch says:

      Were you trying to reply to someone? Or just the internet equivalent of a crazy person yelling at a stop sign?

    • Anthony Yeager says:

      The M14 was, and still is a nice accurate weapon, A lot of infantrymen used it in Vietnam.

  7. Tom says:

    Terribly tacky, how anyone can find it attractive is beyond me.

    • NotJustin says:

      Same. Berettas have style, 1911 have style, this does not. It looks like one of these gold ak’s arabic dictators love so much. McDonalds classy. Absolute tasteless but a testament to the times we live in none the less. Do away with tradition, use modern shit that is made to look classy instead.

    • Don says:

      Agreed, they look like the “commemorative” pistols for sale in the American Legion magazine. A nice 1911 would have been a better choice and would have complemented the M14s they carry.

  8. Ken Curtis says:

    What caliber is the new pistol?

  9. Mike says:

    It’s nice that Sig did this after being awarded all the recent DOD contracts, it’s cool that they have the ability and desire to do side projects like this. I doubt this becomes a civilian special edition. If it did it would for sure have some sort of verification process like the P226 Navy Seal 50th Anniversary edition http://soldiersystems.net/2017/03/28/quantico-tactical-offering-seal-50th-anniversary-sig-mk25-pistols/

    • Charles W. VanEpps says:

      The civilian competition version of the 320 is the X5 and is a superb example of Sig quality. I might be in favor of a special edition X5 to pay tribute to the “Sentinel” 4 but would still hold out for those 4 pistols to be just that, 4 of a kind for use by the Guards of the Tomb only.

  10. WagenCAV says:

    M1 Garand: best for drill and ceremonies. Period. Better balance and and even better heraldry over the M14.

    1911: better for ceremonial use over the M9 for similar reasons.

    This ceremonial version of the M17 looks beautiful. Depending on how well it’s actual combat counterpart performs, only time will tell, it may replace the 1911 eventually, as the sidearm associated with history and heraldry in the minds of Soldiers.

    For D n C, the M16A2 sounds pathetic for 21 gun salutes, but looks good enough for color guards. The M14 sounds great for 21gun salute but is a pain in the ass to maintain. The M4 in regards to DnC

  11. Brent says:

    Beautiful weapon. Not a fan of the open ended holster though.

  12. Badger says:

    Priceless

  13. Bobby G Lasater says:

    They could not of come up with a better pistol or sentiment to present to the guards.

    • SSD says:

      What did you have in mind?

    • Flight Medic says:

      Sure they could have, the 1911…the pistol my father carried in WWII, the pistol my oldest brother carried in Nam.

      We were issued M9’s by the time I was in the military…but I think the 1911 would have been a better choice for the Guard.

  14. John Arwood says:

    Well done Sig Sauer…..Such an Honorable Tribute.

  15. Spydersniper says:

    You are correct. The M-4 is too short to be able to do the manual of arms. The British had to change their manual of arms when they switched to their new shorter rifle. Besides, the wood and chrome accentuate the rifle. The fitting gives the rifle that snap when it is slapped. I also agree that the holster Is a little weird. I think it can be switched. I don’t understand what they mean when they say the sentinel’s badge number is on each pistol magazine? They are beautiful though!

  16. Bob Peach says:

    Is it just me or wouldn’t it be more fitting to have used the M-1911 as a base for their tribute ?? …I mean after all there’s two points to consider # 1 : I’m sure the some of the unknowns had a M-1911 on them when KIA. # 2 since some of the unknowns died at the hands of the Nazis why on earth would you decide on using a tribute firearm made by a German Co ?????

    • AbnMedOps says:

      Well…maybe because “German” does not equal “Nazi”…and maybe because the “SIG” part of “SIG Sauer” originates in Switzerland?

      But, yes, my sense of historical romanticism would also prefer a ceremonial 1911, but…time marches on.

  17. Leigh L Vallone says:

    Some of the custom grips were made by Sycamore Hill Designs in Victor, NY

  18. Paul Roark says:

    Thanks to all that have and are serving especially those that gave it all. Thank You for are freedom.

  19. Ex-11A says:

    A non-extended flush-fit magazine and a full length holster would have looked much better.

  20. Richard L Daly says:

    From an old Army Brat: Thank you Barrie Finnegan of North Country (NY) Honor Flight for sharing this. Thanks to Sig Sauer for their thoughtful, detailed, carefully-researched and executed gift of customized M-17s to The Old Guard’s Sentinels of The Tomb of the Unknown. Outstanding! Hoo-ah!

  21. Jack Lahrman says:

    Looks to me that just the Sargeant of the guard has the pistol….the walking guards still carry the rifles?

  22. LARRY W HUNTER says:

    Are weapons loaded

  23. ROYAL BRITTON says:

    Will the weapons be fired at any time for testing and/or training purposes?

  24. Köyrin Pena says:

    I got something to blow.

  25. Walter Lee says:

    If it were me, I would want one of these pistols to be presented to every member of the Silent Guard to keep and own. Handguns are secondary weapons. They would better be carried off duty than on. I know that in some ways it would seem stupid to take such a beautiful custom piece and carry it every day, but guns are tools as well as works of art. For those who serve a tour at the tomb, these would be the perfect practical momento.

  26. Mike Ashley says:

    Did I miss something?? Is it listed what the caliber of this weapon is???

  27. Larry says:

    If you look at past pictures of the Guards, you will see that the officer/sergeant of the guard is carrying whatever the current sidearm is. So, they were likely already carrying the Sig Sauer M17, not the M9 and not the M1911.

  28. Jay says:

    Much prefer the M1 Garland and Colt Model 1911. Much more appropriate

  29. bill parravano says:

    I would be willing to pay for M17 Sig Sauer no matter what the cost it is well worth the investment and respect and honor to the guards. When it comes on sale I will be one of the first to buy.

  30. John C Roseborough says:

    I understand that Sig-Sauer makes the very best in semi-auto handguns so it is very appropriate that the HONOR GUARDS for the TOMB OF THE UNKNOWNS will carry this particular pistol. Giving the HIGHEST HONOR to those who have given their life, making the SUPREME SACRIFICE, in serving the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and protecting our way of life.

  31. God bless these Sentinals for their dedication as guards to the Unknown. Let them carry whatever they want or need to do their job. As an early (65-66) Vietnam vet my preference is an M-14 & a 1911.

  32. Bob Manion says:

    The Unknowns were all warriors. I believe the guards should carry warrior weapons. The 1911A1 pistol was carried by warriors going to and engaging in combat. The rifle carried by most American warriors was the M1 rifle, carried in two wars WWII and Korea. The M14 in Vietnam. The WWI Springfield 1906 to the early battles of WWII; e.g. Guadalcanal. The Marines who guard our Embassies overseas carry standard military weapons and they represent the United States and are seen and interact with millions of visitors. I think the Guards of the Unknowns should be carrying American weapons of war, as did the Unknowns when they gave up their lives for their country. I respect and honor Sig Sauer for the patriotism and honor they show to our Unknowns. To honor the Unknowns, the Guards should carry the weapons of war. The M1 .30 caliber rifle is a weapon of war. To show honor to the Unknowns, the Guards should carry the weapons of war. The M1 is also a great parade weapon, the snap and pop when moving the rifle about, is for great showmanship; e.g. Marine Corps Silent Drill Team.

  33. William "Bill" Brown says:

    Indeed this is not about “guns”, it is about honor and respect and SIG SAUER did a great job in designing this side arm now used by the American military. The model they made for the “Old Guard” is indeed beautiful and shows great respect. Saying this I have to admit I’d rather see the guards with 1911s and M1s because these are the firearms most likely used by those entombed at the site they so carefully guard.
    In reading responses to the original article I found one comment that bothered me a little. The comment was made that some guns made by SIG SAUER used by the Germans during WWII and was answered by saying SIG is a Swiss company and while that is true, Sauer was a German company that did produce one gun, the Sauer & Son 38H which was carried by the German army, air force, police and Nazi Party members. Yes they were separate companies at that time and they are now one.
    I guess it just bothers me that some of those we remember at the Tomb of the Unknown could have had this gun used against them.
    Just my personal thoughts.

  34. Jack Tomlinson says:

    I’m curious as to why the change to the M-17 was made? Was it based on concerns about an assault by someone getting relatively easy access to the site? I realize the weapon manufacturer is first class, but was the focus on providing soldiers with greater fire power or something else?
    Thanks!

  35. Roger Hill says:

    Beautiful guns should not offer anything of this special to public many people died for us and we should show respect by not duplicating them

  36. Domenic Francis Perriello says:

    These august Pistols surely add dignity and grace to the prestigious Guards of the Tomb of the Unknowns who exemplify the respect and honor of the American people for our heroic Unknown Warriors who gave their lives to protect and preserve our Freedom. May God bless the Guards of the Tomb of the Unknowns, the United States Armed Forces and the United States of America.

  37. RE SPENCER says:

    I did not see a caliber. Is this a 45?

  38. Erwin Woehlbrandt says:

    Have the soldiers guarding the tomb always carry side arms?