When I got the chance to evaluate the P365 handgun, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on SIG’s newest offering.
For more than a decade, I carried a department issued SIG SAUER® P226® as my duty handgun. In addition to being used on duty and during department firearms training, that well-worn P226 was used in a variety of competitive shooting events, firearms training classes and many afternoons practicing on my own. I put tens of thousands of rounds through that pistol, and the only items which needed to be serviced were the recoil and magazine springs. Eventually, my department transitioned to a striker-fired duty handgun. I like my current duty pistol, but that SIG P226 still has a place in my heart.
Located in Epping, New Hampshire, SIG SAUER is the largest member of a worldwide business group of firearms manufacturers which includes J.P. Sauer & Sohn, Blaser USA and Swiss Arms. This network of companies has been a global leader in the development and manufacturing of high quality, reliable firearms for military, law enforcement, private security, and commercial customers worldwide. SIG SAUER currently produces the M17/M18 pistols, the newest handguns for the U.S. military, which are based on the highly successful SIG P320. To say the company has a history of making combat proven firearms may be an understatement.
A Pleasant Surprise
Before the 2018 SHOT Show in Las Vegas, rumors were flying about a new micro-compact handgun from SIG SAUER. Few people actually knew what was in store, but, after the SIG P365 debuted, most of us were surprised by the features packed into this diminutive new pistol. The SIG P365 is an all-new 9mm striker-fired micro-compact pistol which takes aim at the competition including the GLOCK® 43, the Smith & Wesson® M&P® Shield™, Springfield Armory’s XD-S®, and the Ruger® LC9®. Each of these pistols is roughly the same size and holds seven 9mm cartridges in their standard, flush fit magazines. The exception is the GLOCK 43 which holds six rounds in its standard magazine.
Uniquely Designed Magazine
Enter the SIG P365 and its flush fit magazine which holds three rounds more than its nearest competitor. That’s right. This micro-compact pistol boasts a full-size payload of ten rounds in the magazine. For those wanting even more ammo, SIG makes an extended 12 round magazine which also provides a bit more real estate to grasp. The SIG P365 steel magazines are patent pending wonders of ammo containment with a unique design and appearance. Many compact pistols use double stack magazines making it easy to pack in more rounds, but micro-compact handguns typically use single stack magazines to minimize width. This flat profile makes concealment easier by reducing the tendency to “print” through clothing. SIG engineers stepped up to the plate and created something different. They started with an all-new magazine design and built the gun around it. The best way to describe the P365 magazine shape is “pyramidal.” This pyramid shape makes for a double stack arrangement at the bottom of the magazine, but tapers up to a single stack at the top.
On the frame, the SIG P365 comes equipped with a nicely designed beavertail and undercut trigger guard which helps maintain a high grip hold. This is especially important in small handguns due to the reduced surface area of the grip. The grip angle is the same as the SIG P320. At the bottom of the magazine well, SIG SAUER smartly added some relief cuts to the side of the grip frame where it meets the magazine base pad. This gives shooters the ability to strip a magazine from the pistol, especially in the event of a double feed malfunction. All too often, this is a custom addition to my personal handguns, so it’s really a nice touch on a factory pistol.
Additional Design Features
The takedown and slide catch levers are located on the left side of the slide. The slide catch lever is guarded by a small ledge to help prevent accidental interference with the shooter’s hands during firing. This can be a common problem for some shooters when their grip keeps the slide catch lever depressed causing the slide to fail to lock back on an empty magazine. Other shooters can have their grip interfere by inadvertently pressing up on the slide catch lever causing the slide to lock back on a full magazine. Either way, this can be problematic. However, this shouldn’t be a problem with the design of the P365.
The grip texture is aggressive enough to stay firmly planted in your hand without being overly abrasive. SIG did a commendable job of balancing the need for grip texture without going overboard. Many of us carry our off-duty handgun in an Inside the WaistBand (IWB) holster. An aggressive texture on the grip frame when carried in an IWB can lead to discomfort and irritated skin. On the range, this handgun proved the value of the time and effort SIG put into the grip texture and design. Even with its small, micro-compact frame, I was able to keep the pistol planted firmly in my hands during combative speed drills.
Another problem encountered by those of us who carry off-duty is the accidental release of a magazine. Large, oversized magazine release buttons are great for competition and most duty pistols. But, those same oversized magazine release buttons can be hazardous for our health when carried in an IWB or pocket holster. Accidentally releasing the magazine may result in one shot, or none, in the event your pistol is equipped with a magazine disconnect. Thankfully, the magazine release on the P365 is protected on the backside by a slight upturn in the polymer frame. This prevents users from accidentally depressing the release when carrying, but it’s not so intrusive as to interfere with magazine changes when needed. Lastly, for those of us whose arms are on backwards, the magazine release button is easily reversible.
There are a couple of nice touches on the slide of the SIG P365. Well placed and designed front and back cocking serrations contribute to ease of use. I really grew to appreciate the surface area of these cocking serrations, especially with wet or gloved hands. They aided in working the slide, conducting press checks, loading, unloading, and doing malfunction drills.
SIG also equipped the P365 with their proprietary X-RAY3 Day/Night Sights. The most noteworthy feature of the front sight is how it visually jumps out at the shooter when presenting the pistol up on target. The front sight pops into view quickly and easily thanks to the bright green color which surrounds a tritium vial for extreme low light use. Complementing the front sight is a wide tritium rear sight which is quick to acquire. The rear sight also works well for one-handed reloads where the shooter is injured and might have to use their belt, boot or some other surface to rack the slide in order to chamber a round. It’s a nice touch on a handgun designed for everyday carry and off-duty use.
After giving it a once-over, I checked the owner’s manual and lubed it as directed. On the range, this SIG P365 was more than put through the ringer. Instead of evaluating it like a small pistol which wouldn’t be shot frequently, I wrung it out and tested it like a duty handgun. In other words, I ran it hard.
After numerous combative speed exercises and shooting drills, the P365 performed exceptionally well. More than 1200 rounds were put through my T&E sample without a single malfunction. The SIG P365 ate everything thrown at it and it just kept running. It ran reliably with a mixture of 115-, 124-, and 147-grain ammunition including training and duty ammo. It also ran with no malfunctions using some mixed 65- and 85- grain frangible rounds as well. Even with magazines containing a mixture of ammunition weight and bullet types, the SIG P365 ran flawlessly without a single hiccup.
The SIG P365 is as accurate as any of the currently available everyday carry handguns. I’m not really one to put a handgun in a vice and shoot from 25 yards to test mechanical accuracy. (I find this to be tedious and boring.) Instead, I’m more interested in seeing if a pistol can maintain good combative accuracy running at combative speed with a variety of ammunition and still be reliable and dependable. Call it “minute of bad guy” or whatever, but most quality handguns on the market are capable of shooting better than me. With this being said, the SIG P365 is capable of shooting some ragged one hole drills, as well as running and gunning during combative speed and accuracy drills.
The SIG P365 also has a very good trigger for such a small handgun. This helped ensure acceptable accuracy on targets at distances beyond 50 yards which is quite a testament given the diminutive size of this micro-compact. There is a small amount of slack before reaching the pressure wall. The entire trigger travel is smooth and the trigger breaks cleanly with minimum over travel. Reset is obvious and short. Paired with the terrific sights, this combination makes for a micro-compact handgun which can be run hard and accurately. The sights are easy to track during recoil and the trigger can be reset and ready to go quickly. In fact, the SIG P365 easily maintained 0.23 second split times during bill drills.
The Bottom Line
If you’re a fan of the SIG P320 pistols, then you will love the SIG P365. This handgun fits the role of an off-duty, everyday carry gun extremely well. Its diminutive size fits well in a pocket or IWB holster. It also fills the role of a backup gun carried in an ankle holster. SIG added some custom touches to this pistol which are usually only available from the aftermarket, including a good trigger, great sights and grip frame relief cuts for the magazine. Plus, it proved itself to be duty reliable and dependable. Yeah, I liked it…a lot. Sorry, SIG SAUER, you’re not getting this one back – I’ll send you a check. This little warrior will definitely be a new addition to my armory.
Todd Fletcher is a sergeant in Central Oregon with over 23 years of law enforcement experience. He has presented firearms and instructor development training nationwide and at multiple regional, national and international conferences. He owns Combative Firearms Training, LLC which provides firearms training and instructor development classes to law enforcement, military, private security, and armed citizens. He can be contacted at Todd@CombativeFirearms.com