June 10, 2022
By David M. Fortier, Senior Field Editor
Without a doubt more people than ever are thinking about self-protection, and looking to obtain both a pistol and a permit to carry. The question I’ve heard from many, especially those entirely new to firearms is: which pistol is best? Unfortunately, there is no blanket answer to this question. There is only which pistol best meets your particular needs and requirements, which are likely very different than mine. Now, that said one contender worth serious consideration is the SIG Sauer P365.
Why SIG Sauer’s P365? Simply due to the fact that it meets so many requirements for concealed carry. It is small and fairly narrow making it very easy to conceal. Plus, it is light so you can carry it all day without noticing it. Better still, it is chambered for the 9mm cartridge, so it has the performance of a service pistol, but in a smaller package. For peace of mind it has a capacity of 10+1, 12+1 or 15+1 depending upon which size magazine you select. What I like best though, is it puts all of these features into a pistol which is very easy to shoot well.
Before I delve further into the SIG Sauer P365 though, let’s consider what you should look for in a pistol intended for concealed carry. There are some basic, but vitally important points you must take into consideration:
- It must be 100% reliable.
- It must be small and light enough so you will have it when you need it.
- It must be accurate and ergonomic enough for you to be able to make rapid multiple hits at realistic distances with it.
- It must be of heavy enough caliber to be effective in a life and death struggle.
This all sounds relatively straightforward. To a novice though, especially standing in front of a crowded display case at a gun store, it can be a bit overwhelming. There are just so many different makes, models, calibers and options. Trying to figure out which one is “best” can seem like a daunting task when all you have to go on is a bit of online research and what the guy at the gun store recommends.
Two common mistakes when selecting a carry pistol are going either too big/heavy or too small. Of the two, I think going too big/heavy is by far the worst choice. If you choose a pistol that turns out to be too large, bulky or heavy for your particular needs, you will probably not carry it day in and day out. Remember rule number one of a gunfight, have a gun. All too often though, someone selects a carry piece which is physically too large and heavy for them to realistically carry on a daily basis, like they should. Once their short love affair is over, it ends up living in their safe, or on their nightstand. Key point to remember, you don’t know the day or hour of an attack, so you must always be ready. A carry pistol isn’t a fashion statement; it’s a way of life.
The flip side of this is choosing something tiny and “cute” in a poor-performing caliber such as .22 LR, .22 Magnum, .25 ACP (6.35mm Browning) or .32 ACP (7.65mm Browning). Ultra-compact pocket pistols have long been popular, despite their underpowered nature. Due to their small size, they are easily carried, so you are more likely to actually have it when you need it. Being easily concealed, even in summer attire, is their great virtue. This is what makes them great backup guns. Due to their tiny nature they can be difficult to shoot well, often have hard-to-see sights, and unfortunately poor terminal performance. While quite “lethal”, these small calibers may not have the immediate desired effect on your attacker.
Then there is what many consider to be the “ideal” class of pistols for concealed carry. These are compact single-stack 9mm autos such as the Glock 43, compact .380 ACPs, and J-frame, and similar size, .38 Special snub-nose revolvers. This group is small, light, and easy to conceal while having acceptable terminal performance. Their downside is they can be hard to shoot well and the limited amount of ammunition they carry.
This last point, their limited ammunition capacity, has recently led many to re-evaluate their suitability for concealed carry in light of current events seen on social media and the news. Five to seven rounds seems plenty for a typical self-defense situation involving one or two assailants. But, what if, rather than one or two, you are faced with an angry violent mob? A mass of violent people which makes you fear for your life, and the lives of your loved ones.
The news is filled with outbreaks of civil unrest showing how quickly certain areas can descend into utter chaos. In such situations, large groups typically roam in packs. They often block roadways attacking any who happen to drive by. In such situations, you are likely to face a large number of armed and unarmed attackers, who will move quickly to surround and overwhelm you. It’s not the ones in front of you that are the greatest threat, but the ones circling behind you, watching, waiting for their chance to blindside you. Once you are off your feet and the mob descends on, well, you know what happens next. In such a situation a 5-shot snub nose revolver or .380 Auto isn’t a real confidence builder.
While it’s true there are certain situations where you simply can’t win, I suggest carrying a handgun which will let you solve any problem that can be solved with a pistol. For daily concealed carry one such option is SIG Sauer’s P365 9mm pistol. So, let’s take a closer look at this interesting and popular design.
SIG Sauer describes their P365 as a Micro-Compact pistol sized for everyday carry. That pretty well sums it up. It is a polymer frame striker-fired design with a stainless steel slide assembly. The polymer frame reduces weight, and it flexes a bit when the pistol is fired, and so dampens a bit of the felt recoil. Size-wise it is slightly shorter in the slide and the butt than a Glock 43 single-stack pistol. The first thing I thought when I took it from its box was, wow this is small.
The next thing that came to mind was how good it felt in my hand. While this is very subjective, the curve of the backstrap, texturing, undercut triggerguard and general contour of the frame fit my hand very well. It’s important to find a pistol that fits you well, and the P365 just seems to fit a lot of people. This is a real plus.
Next, I noted the X-RAY3 day/night sights on top of the slide. These are bold, easy to see yet contoured to not snag during your draw. The front sight features a green donut with a Tritium insert for lowlight use. The robust rear sight features two Tritium inserts. The sights are dove-tailed into the slide, and are a real aid to getting the most out of the P365 on the range. Controls consist of a push-button magazine release, slide release and take-down lever. The magazine is triangular in shape and well placed. The slide release is fairly small and unobtrusive.
Then there is the trigger. I have spent decades carrying a Glock, and have gotten used to a generic, nothing-to-write-home-about, but serviceable trigger. The P365 though is different. It is blessed with a very good out-of-the-box trigger, which is definitely an aid to making accurate and quick hits on target. The trigger pull is very smooth, and breaks cleanly. While not a match trigger regarding pull weight, it is quite good for its intended purpose. The trigger blade is a curved design, which may not be as attractive as the current in-vogue straight blade to some, but it is quite comfortable. I like the factory trigger a lot.
Barrel length is a short 3.1 inches. Operation is via short-recoil with a tilting barrel. Beneath the barrel is a metal guide-rod assembly with captured dual springs. Overall length is 5.8 inches with a height of 4.3 inches and width of just 1.06 inches. Size-wise the P365 dropped right into my Glock 43 DeSantis polymer holster. The SIG Sauer P365 carries very well, and I do not even notice it is there. This is partly due to its lightweight, which is only 17.8 ounces unloaded. Adding a loaded magazine will add a bit of weight, and this is an important topic I will cover next.
The one thing many like about the various single-stack compact 9mm pistols on the market is their limited magazine capacity. SIG Sauer addressed this with their P365. You can choose a flush-fit 10-round magazine, a slightly extended 12-round magazine or a noticeably extended 15-rounder. So, capacity is not an issue with the P365. This provides a bit of peace of mind. Some will opt to carry with the flush fit 10-round magazine and carry a 12-round magazine as a spare. I carry the 12-round magazine locked in place giving me 13 rounds on tap, and carry a spare 15-round magazine. That is 28 rounds total, in a very small package. This is a huge selling point to many people and a feature that really attracted me to the design.
While SIG Sauer’s P365 has a real advantage over, say Glock’s popular 43, on paper, what about on the range? Does the P365 offer a real advantage over the Glock 43? This was easy enough for me to find out. I have been carrying a Glock 43 for a couple of years, and know what it is capable of. So, I began with some informal range testing as soon as the P365 arrived. Frankly, I was excited to get it out onto the range and to put some rounds through it.
Starting at 15 yards I fired a few rounds slow-fire to get a feel for the P365 after firing my Glock 43. Then I began shooting steel silhouettes and plates. My initial impressions were entirely positive. For me, I found the P365 easier to shoot then my Glock 43. I have to work much harder with the Glock 43, just due to the dynamics of the design. The P365 just seemed much easier to hit with. So I did a basic “Walk Back” drill starting at 15 yards. My target was a steel silhouette.
Rules were simple, fire one shot, and if it was a hit walk back away from the target to a different yard line and fire another shot offhand. The goal was to work my way back until I missed. Keep in mind, this is advertised as a Micro-Compact pistol. I went from 15 yards and slowly made my way back to 50 yards, then 75 yards, and found myself on the 100-yard line. Carefully pressing the trigger I was rewarded with a hit, and continued back. I was surprised to find myself on the 135-yard line when I finally. I came away extremely impressed by how well this little 9mm pistol performed. It is simply easy to shoot well.
Next, I moved to the bench to do the boring part of testing. Here I fired four 5-shot groups with four different loads at 25 yards. Velocity was measured at the muzzle with a LabRadar Doppler Chronograph. Groups were fired off a sandbag, nothing fancy. Keeping in mind just how small the P365 is, it did very well off the bench. The trigger is good for a concealed carry pistol, the sights are bold and easy to see and the recoil is quite controllable.
I can remember testing a Kel-Tec PF-9 and found the recoil to be very snappy, and it was not a particularly pleasant pistol to shoot. The P365 has none of the PF-9’s bite, and I enjoyed my time on the range with it. Best accuracy was obtained using Black Hills 124-grain +P JHP load which averaged 2.5 inches at 25 yards. Average velocity of this load was 1,114 fps. SIG Sauer’s 365 115-grain FMJ load was perhaps the smoothest shooting and averaged 2.9 inches.
Moving from the bench I ran the P365 through a variety of drills from 2 to 15 yards. Here I found it to be quick into action. Practical accuracy is very good and it’s an easy pistol to run. Due to its small size and relatively lightweight you can expect more muzzle jump than a larger and heavy 9mm. This does slow down follow-up shots a tad. But, in my opinion, it performs very well for its size, and I greatly preferred it over my Glock 43.
During drills, I noticed that due to the shortness of the grip, my hand could prevent the magazine from falling free. I have medium-size hands and my pinky comes to the bottom of the extension on the 12-round magazine. If I move the pistol slightly in my hand to release pressure on the magazine base-plate, then it ejects cleanly. The recoil springs are on the heavy side and retracting the slide is slightly harder than on my Glock 43. With the short 10-round magazine in place the grip is rather short making the SIG easier to conceal but slightly harder to shoot well. There is simply less to hang onto. The 12-round magazine adds a bit of length to the butt, however, it gives you just enough more to hand onto to make it well worth it. Plus, you get another two rounds.
I suppose the real test is how well the SIG Sauer P365 actually carries. With over two years of daily carry my answer is it carries very well. Its small size allows it to be tucked easily away. I find it very comfortable for AIWB (Apendix Inside the Waist Band), even when seated in a vehicle. Plus you do not even notice it as you go about your day thanks to how little it weighs.
Over the years I fed it a variety of 9mm loads, from cheap steel-case ball to high-end expanding loads. It eats everything. Practical accuracy is very good. I have used it around the farm on a variety of pests creating trouble. Most of the shots I have taken with it have been at night in conjunction with a handheld white light. I could not be more pleased with it. It does the job in the manner you would expect from a much larger gun. Plus, I enjoy shooting it on the range for practice. It’s fun, and my favorite pistol to date for concealed carry.
OK, the SIG Sauer P365 has a lot going for it, but what about its cons? What don’t I like about it? Well, let’s be blunt, the design has had some reliability issues, especially when first released. Some customers reported problems with the slide not returning to battery. All of these gave me pause about considering the P365 as a carry pistol. This P365 has been out a while now, it is not breaking news, but I waited intentionally. I finally requested a review pistol in August of 2019 and guess what; it couldn’t make it through a magazine. It frequently failed to return to battery with any 9mm load I tried, including SIG Sauer’s own ammunition. So, I sent it in for repair. It was turned around very quickly, arrived back and has functioned perfectly ever since. But, it did have problems out of the box.
So I tried two more P365s. One was obtained directly from SIG Sauer and another a friend purchased locally. Both of them ran flawlessly with zero issues. Keep in mind I received my first pistol in August of 2019. Once it came back it has run flawlessly ever since, for over two years now. It has run fine through thousands of rounds, but this is what I experienced.
My only other negative comment concerns the price of spare magazines. They are not inexpensive. I like to have a fair supply of magazines for any pistol I own, so this just adds to the cost of ownership. Plus, due to how short the grip is my hand can prevent an ejected magazine from falling free. This is something to be aware of.
My final thoughts? I never liked my Glock 43 the way I did my old Glock 23 or 19. It carried well, went bang when it was supposed to and that was it. I didn’t particularly like shooting it. It was nothing more than a tool to me. The SIG Sauer P365 is different. I really enjoy shooting it; it’s a fun gun on the range. I like its features and especially its trigger. For me, it is an ideal carry gun. A 12-round magazine in the gun and a spare 15-round mag and I’m good. I see no need to go back to a 5-shot J-frame, or single-stack 9mm ever again. If you have been troubled by current events, and thinking about replacing your current carry gun with something offering increased capacity but without the size and weight, I’d suggest considering a SIG Sauer P365.
SIG Sauer P365 Specifications
- Caliber: 9x19mm Parabellum
- Operation: Self-loading with tilting barrel
- Barrel length: 3.1 inches
- Rifling: 6-groove, 1-10 inch twist
- Trigger: Striker, 6-pounds
- Capacity: 10+1, 12+1 or 15+1
- Weight: 17.8 ounces
- Height: 4.3 inches
- Length: 5.8 inches
- Width: 1.06 inches
- Sights: X-RAY3 Day/Night sights
- Finish: Nitron-finished stainless steel
- Manufacturer: SIG Sauer
If you have any thoughts or comments on this article, we’d love to hear them. Email us at FirearmsNews@Outdoorsg.com.
About the Author:
David M. Fortier has been covering firearms, ammunition and optics since 1998. He is a recipient of the Carl Zeiss Outdoor Writer of the Year award and his writing has been recognized by the Civil Rights organization JPFO. In 2007 he covered the war in Iraq as an embedded journalist.