I don’t mind carrying a small handgun that is very efficient for its size. In fact, some handguns are a wonder of downsizing. However, small 9mm handguns have a set of problems that isn’t easily addressed. This includes lower magazine capacity and a lower hit probability.
A short sight radius doesn’t make for good accuracy. Some of these handguns are difficult to shoot accurately and handle quickly. The SIG P365 addresses these issues and does so surprisingly well. The pistol is light, compact, reliable, and features good combat accuracy. This is a true miniature handgun. The grips fit most hands well, and there are no sharp edges to speak of. The pistol is a double-action-only design with a minimum of complication. The double-stack magazine holds 10 cartridges. The pistol is only an inch wide. The piece is compact—in fact, it is downright small—but handled well in firing tests.
The pistol operates in a fashion similar to the Glock, Smith and Wesson Military and Police, and a few others. The pistol features a prepped, or partly cocked, striker that is loaded by racking the slide. The trigger is pressed and the striker is pulled fully to the rear until it breaks against the sear.
The trigger press is smooth and reset is rapid. The pistol is supplied with two magazines—one a flush fit and the other with an extended floor plate. The grip stippling is rough enough for good adhesion when firing but not rough enough to abrade the body when the pistol is carried close to the body.
This is a small handgun that is teeny compared to my usual Commander .45. The piece weighs but 18 ounces. The P365 is an inch across the slide, 5.8 inches long, and only 4.3 inches high. The pistol is a 10 shooter; remember to remind yourself of that fact when looking over dimensions. It feels like a slim line with a slim magazine but it isn’t. The P365 9mm is small for its magazine capacity. The pistol, like the P320, features a steel chassis in the polymer frame. This may make the pistol a good choice for a modular capability if different size frames become available.
To begin the firing tests, I loaded the magazines with Winchester 115-grain FMJ, an affordable and clean burning loading. I obtained several 100-round boxes, and this loading was a mainstay of my 9mm testing. I had dry fired the piece and was prepared for the field test. I began firing the pistol at man-sized targets at 5, 7, and 10 yards. I was surprised at the pistols shooting capabilities.
The SIG P365 is supplied with night sights. The bright green front dot provides an excellent aiming surface. The pistol is accurate. I was able to put the rounds into the X-ring with a minimum of acclimation.
The pistol is controllable. There were no failures to feed, chamber, fire, or eject. I had good help wringing the pistol out, and in short order, we had made a pile of brass. One drill that I perform with a new handgun is to fire a full magazine from retention position. A flex of the wrist or a less than ideal spring set up will result in a tie up.
The P365 sailed through without any type of malfunction. Results were good. Using only one type of ammunition isn’t much of a test, so I added the Winchester 147-grain Defender and Winchester 124-grain PDX +P. At 920 fps and 1,125 fps, these are loads are on opposite ends of the spectrum for bullet weight and velocity, with some favoring the penetration of 147-grain load. Others favor the expansion of the +P load.
These loads do 960 fps and 1,202 fps from the Glock 19, so there is some velocity loss in a short barrel. I also tested the SIG Elite Ammunition 124-grain V Crown. This load broke 1,115 fps from the SIG P365.
Firing the P365 with this range of ammunition provided interesting results. The Winchester 147-grain load exhibited light recoil and good control. Accuracy was excellent.
The SIG Sauer Elite load is more energetic and offered greater felt recoil. The PDX +P load offered greater recoil, and frankly recoil was startling when firing with the weak hand and using +P loads. When firing full-size 9mm handguns, the difference between standard pressure and +P loads isn’t very noticeable, at least not to experienced shooters.
With the P365, the +P load demonstrates the greater recoil by a considerable margin. I would carefully choose the duty load. While I am certain +P recoil could be managed—and the pistol is rated for +P loads—a good standard pressure load might be the better choice for most shooters. Just the same, I can see growing into the SIG P365 with +P loads.
I tested the pistol in a compressed time frame. The SIG V-Crown hollowpoint load would be a good carry load. The Winchester 115-grain Silvertip would be another. The pistol is reliable, accurate, fast handling, and easy to conceal with proper leather. It sounds like a winner to me.
Do you own a SIG P365? What is your review? If not, what is your favorite compact handgun? Share your answers in the comment section.
Bob Campbell is a former peace officer and published author with over 40 years combined shooting and police and security experience. Bob holds a degree in Criminal Justice. Bob is the author of the books, The Handgun in Personal Defense, Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry, The 1911 Automatic Pistol, The Gun Digest Book of Personal Protection and Home Defense, The Shooters Guide to the 1911, The Hunter and the Hunted, and The Complete Illustrated Manual of Handgun Skills. His latest book is Dealing with the Great Ammo Shortage. He is also a regular contributor to Gun Tests, American Gunsmith, Small Arms Review, Gun Digest, Concealed Carry Magazine, Knife World, Women and Guns, Handloader and other publications. Bob is well-known for his firearm testing.
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