December 22, 2022
Thumbing rounds into the magazine, I was getting ready to shoot an impromptu “Eli Dicken’s Mall Drill” at 40 yards. Named after the armed citizen, Eli Dicken, who stopped an active shooter at the Greenwood Park Mall, he connected with eight out of 10 shots at an impressive 40 yards. This impromptu drill consists of 10 shots fired in 15 seconds at 40 yards with a minimum of 8 hits required on a silhouette. While Eli fired from a barricade position, I was just firing unsupported offhand. This was going to be my first time firing the new SIG Sauer P365-XMACRO at 40 yards, and only my second time firing it on steel.
On the buzzer, the pistol came up and I indexed the red dot’s circle dot reticle onto center and broke the shot. I saw it had impacted left of center and my second shot broke right, and it impacted right of center. The next eight rounds all impacted around the first. Walking over to the Action Target silhouette I could see the SIG Sauer P365-XMACRO had posted a nice nine shot group with my one flier. While the windage needed to be tweaked, the compact 9mm had no problem posting a good group at 40 yards.
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 simple answer to this question. There is only which pistol best meets your particular needs, requirements and budget. One model which really shook up the concealed carry market though is SIG Sauer’s P365. It created such a stir due to the amount of performance squeezed into such a small package. Now, SIG Sauer is shaking things up again with their new 17+1 round, Red Dot Ready and compensated P365-XMACRO!
So, what is so special about SIG Sauer’s new P365-XMACRO? I suppose the easiest way to describe it is they gave a 9mm P365 the “Roland Special” treatment, but in reality they did much more. At first glance, you will notice it is red dot ready, has an integral compensator, M1913 Picatinny rail for accessories and an entirely new and longer grip frame. Magazine capacity now is an impressive 17+1 and it even has changeable back-straps. Before I dive into the new P365-XMACRO though, let’s take a quick look at where it came from.
SIG Sauer’s original 9mm P365 became hugely popular due to a few factors: its compact size, caliber, capacity and how easy it is to shoot well. It is small and fairly narrow making it very easy to conceal. Plus, it is fairly light so you can carry it all day without noticing it. Better still, it is chambered for the readily available 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 even 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. The end result is a pistol well-suited for concealed carry and personal protection.
The impact SIG Sauer had on the concealed carry handgun market with their P365 should not be down-played. Here was a 9mm pistol which carried as easy as a compact five-shot J-frame revolver but could match the capacity of a Glock 19. Once its teething problems were addressed, it went on to reshape the market. Suddenly, designs like the single-stack 9mm Glock 43 looked outdated. Why carry a five-shot .38 Special snubby or a six-shot single-stack 9mm when you could carry a P365? Other companies quickly rushed to bring more competitive designs to market, like Springfield Armory’s Hellcat, as your average armed citizen re-evaluated what they were looking for in a handgun slated for concealed carry.
Then, something interesting happened. Owners of SIG Sauer’s little P365 began to realize the potential of the design and began thinking about if it had a big brother. Many began to desire a new model that kept the best features of the P365, but allowed it to perform like a full-size duty gun. Not as a replacement for their P365, but as an additional model to complement it. Something narrow like the P365, light and compact, but which cranked the performance up even further. Basically, to use old-fashioned car lingo, a factory hot-rodded P365.
Must-Have Defensive Pistol Features
Evidently, SIG Sauer agreed, and we now have their new P365-XMACRO to consider. The engineers at SIG Sauer carefully examined the original design, and laid out a path to give it “duty gun” performance. Keep in mind, there are some basic points which must be taken into consideration when considering a handgun for personal protection:
- 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
- It must have sufficient capacity to engage multiple threats multiple times
- It must accept modern accessories which provide an advantage to the user.
This all sounds relatively straightforward. So, what did SIG Sauer do to make the new P365-XMACRO and how do their changes align with my list above? The new grip module is a big change. The longer design fits larger hands better and allows for clean magazine ejection. Even with my medium size hands, cleanly ejecting the mag on the P365 is something I have to be conscious of due to its very short grip. The new grip frame also facilitates the introduction of a new 17-round magazine. This boosts capacity to 17+1 rounds, that’s duty-size Glock 17 capacity! It even bests Smith & Wesson’s new Shield Plus’s 16+1 in 30 Super Carry. Two magazines come with the pistol for 34+1 out of the box. For peace of mind on the street or recreation on the range, many will love the increased capacity.
But wait, there’s more. While the P365 has some weird proprietary rail on the front of its dustcover the new P365-XMACRO has a 1913 Picatinny rail. This opens the door for it to use all of the readily available tactical white lights and lasers using this system. Plus, the design now features different size backstaps so you can fit the pistol to your hand. It comes with Small, Medium and Large sizes.
While this model features a compact 3.1-inch-long barrel, like the original P365, the slide is longer than normal as it incorporates an integral compensator. The two-port design is intended to decrease muzzle movement and recovery time to allow you to put shots on target faster. The effectiveness of compensators varies by design and ammunition, but one is incorporated to make this small gun shoot less like a compact gun and more like a duty gun. Faster rounds on target with less work is definitely a plus. The increased blast and flash though from a compensator, especially in lowlight situations and if the pistol is fired in close proximity to your body does need to be considered though. Muzzle flash can be partially addressed through ammunition selection.
You will also note the slide is cut for a Red Dot sight and is compatible with SIG Sauer’s ROMEOZero. So, if you prefer a modern red dot not only is the SIG Sauer P365-XMACRO ready to go out of the box, but it retains its rear sight with the dot mounted. This is another plus in my book. If you prefer iron sights, the SIG comes with their popular X-RAY3 Day/Night sights. OK, so the new SIG Sauer P365-XMACRO has a number of nice features, but the question is, what purpose does it serve? Why would you want a “big” P365? Doesn’t that defeat the entire purpose of a sub-compact? If you want a “big” compact 9mm SIG, why not just get a P320? Is this new model really needed?
While longer in the slide and taller in the grip, the new P365-XMACRO remains a relatively small and thin design. It is 1.1 inches in width compared to 1.06 for the P365. It is 6.6 inches long compared to the P365’s 5.8 inches and height is 5.2 inches compared to 4.3 inches. Weight has increased slightly from 17.8 ounces to 21.5 ounces. So, the P365-XMACRO is still compact and light for concealed carry. But, it is a step-up in size from the original, mostly in the butt. That said, it is not in the same class as the P320 or say a Glock 19. Yet it can compete with these larger/wider designs.
With all this in mind, let’s examine SIG Sauer’s new P365-XMACRO itself. 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. It is chambered for the hugely popular and widely available 9mm Luger, sometimes also referred to as the 9mm Parabellum, cartridge. 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 a captured recoil spring.
In the hand, the first thing I noticed are the two slots in the slide which act to reduce muzzle movement. It is basically a P365 XL length slide with a P365 length barrel. Next, I noted the new frame. I like the undercut trigger guard and the shape of the grip. The texturing is useful but not too aggressive, plus it has an extended beavertail compared to the P365. I also noted the mag well is shaped internally to speed reloads. The gun comes with two 17-round steel magazines. These are double-column single-feed design with witness holes in the rear. The baseplates remove easily and I would expect aftermarket aluminum baseplates to be offered to increase capacity even further.
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. If you prefer to add a red dot sight, you retain the rear sight. Controls consist of a push-button magazine release, slide release, and take-down lever. The magazine release is triangular in shape and well placed. Push the button and mag ejects cleanly. The slide release is fairly small and unobtrusive. The trigger bow is straight. Out of the box, the trigger on this example was a bit gritty. It is not as smooth as the factory trigger on my P365. While it has some noticeable creep, it breaks cleanly and the reset is short. While the straight trigger bow is currently in vogue, I prefer the curved bow as on the P365.
I was pretty excited when the P365-XMACRO first arrived at my FFL. It was a review pistol on loan from SIG Sauer for this article. I picked the pistol up and by the time I got home and had a chance to hit my range the sun had just set. I figured it was good time to check the muzzle flash off the compensator in low light. So, I loaded a magazine with Federal’s 124-grain Punch JHP and got to work. My initial impression was the XMACRO feels good in the hand and is easy to hit with, but as you would expect there is a noticeable ball of flash coming out of the short 3.1 inch barrel and the ports in the slide.
On a perfect 70-degree day, I gathered eight different 9mm loads ranging in weight from 50 to 147 grains and checked accuracy at 25 yards. Four five-shot groups were fired from a rest. Loads consisted of Liberty’s 50-grain Civil Defense +P, Interceptor’s 65-grain ARX, Norma’s 108-grain MHP, SIG Sauer’s 365 115-grain Elite FMJ and 115-grain V-Crown JHP, Black Hills Ammunition’s 124-grain Honeybadger, Federal’s 124-grain Syntech Training Match and 147-grain Syntech Solid Core. This diverse range of ammunition was selected to check the P365-XMACRO’s function and ensure its reliability.
To aid testing I mounted a SIG Sauer’s ROMEOZero Elite red dot sight. Installing the red dot is very straight forward. The ROMEOZero Elite red dot I mounted has the option of a 32 MOA circle with a two MOA center dot, just the circle or just the center dot. Switching between them is fairly quick and easy. Settling in shooting groups at 25 yards I noted the P365-XMACRO is accurate, but certainly performed better with some loads than others.
Best accuracy was obtained using the 65-grain Interceptor ARX load which averaged a surprising 1.7 inches at 25 yards. Velocity of this lightweight load was 1,488 fps. Hard on its heels was Norma’s 108-grain Monolithic Hollow Point (MHP) load which averaged 1.8 inches at 1,072 fps. Black Hills Ammunition’s Honeybadger averaged 2.3 inches while Federal’s 147-grain Syntech Solid Core and Liberty’s 50-grain Civil Defense averaged 2.5 inches. While seven of the eight loads shot well, for some reason the SIG Sauer 115-grain 365 Elite FMJ load was not to this pistol’s liking. It averaged six inches at 1,116 fps. I will add that the red dot made a long day on the range shooting groups from the bench a bit easier.
Moving from the bench, I proceeded to run the previously mentioned 40 yard “Eli Dicken’s Mall Drill” with a few of the different loads. Due to the diverse bullet weights and velocities (50 to 147 grains and 967 to 1,839 fps), the point of impact shifted around at 40 yards. Even so I had no trouble keeping all 10 shots on steel. The pistol feels good in the hand and while the trigger has a couple rough spots, it still is pretty good. I used all three reticle options on the ROMEOZero Elite red dot and found I preferred the two MOA dot for precision and the 32 MOA circle for speed. The circle and dot is too cluttered for my liking, but it is what I used to shoot all the 25 yard bench groups with.
From 40 yards, I moved in and shot some drills from seven to 25 yards on paper and eight-inch steel plates and steel silhouettes. Despite the diversity in test ammunition the SIG Sauer P365-XMACRO ran flawlessly with zero malfunctions throughout testing. Feeding, extraction and ejection were fine. Muzzle blast changed depending upon the load and the report of the Liberty 50-grain load in particular was very sharp. The 17-round magazines performed great, but you will note loading the last two rounds takes a good bit of effort.
Next, I mounted a SIG Sauer FoxTrot2 white light. I put this to work after the sun went down. This weapon light mounts to the pistol’s M1913 rail and puts out 580 lumens and 13,000 Candela. It is powered by a single CR123 battery and features three programmable user modes and four interchangeable paddle designs. The light mounted easily and provides both good reach and wide spill for use on the P365-XMACRO. While testing on the range I snapped a few photos to show the beam size and intensity at three different distances, starting at 100 yards. Considering this pistol is intended for concealed carry, I found the beam size and reach to be very good.
I finished testing by switching off the white light and turning the ROMEOZero Elite red dot to its lowest setting. I then tried it with a Gen 3 PVS-14 night vision monocular. I tried both the dot and the circle reticles, and while they were brighter than I would prefer, I had no issues. So, you can shoot passively with night vision and the ROMEOZero Elite topped P365-XMACRO. I prefer shooting passively over using an IR laser, so consider this another plus.
The one thing many dislike about the various .38 snubbies and single-stack compact .380 and 9mm pistols on the market is their limited magazine capacity. I suspect recent events have led many to re-evaluate their suitability for concealed carry. Five to seven rounds seems plenty for a typical self-defense situation involving one assailant. But, what if, rather than one, you are faced with multiple assailants or an angry violent mob? A mass of violent people which makes you fear for your life, and the lives of your loved ones. In such a situation a 5-shot snub nose revolver, .380 Auto or single-stack 9mm isn’t a real confidence builder.
SIG Sauer’s P365-XMACRO and one spare magazine gives you 35 rounds though. And the pistol is very easy to make hits with, whether you are using the factory iron sights or a red dot. Long term reliability I cannot comment on, but my review pistol ran without issue. By the end of testing the trigger had smoothed up some, but it still isn’t as good as my P365’s. That said, I like the P365-XMACRO very much, but for different reasons than why I love my P365.
My thoughts, if you love the original P365 design and think it’s perfect the way it is, you probably are not going to want to replace it with a P365-XMACRO. The P365 is a great piece and I fully intend on carrying mine every day well into the future. However, you may wish to add a P365-XMACRO to your collection for the times you do want a bit more performance without going to a duty-size gun. If you prefer a larger gun, such as a P320 or Glock 19, the P365-XMACRO may be exactly what you are looking for to reduce the size/width and weight of your carry gun to make it easier to conceal and more comfortable to carry day in and day out. If you want only one handgun, that can do it all, then you definitely should look into SIG Sauer’s new P365-XMACRO.
Not everyone is going to like the P365-XMACRO. That’s life. Some will balk at the compensator. Others will say it is too big or just a response to Glock’s 43X and 48 when teamed with aftermarket magazines. Everyone has an opinion. Mine is SIG Sauer is providing the modern features many armed citizens are asking for: Red Dot Ready, a lot of rounds in the magazine, ability to take common accessories, chambered in a common cartridge, easy to hit with, fast to put rounds on target. Basically, the P365-XMACRO is designed to handle any personal protection scenario that can be solved with a handgun. Price? MSRP is a bit steep at $956.99. The SIG Sauer ROMEOZero Elite’s MSRP is $219.99 and the FoxTrot2 light’s MSRP is $160.99.
SIG Sauer P365-XMACRO Specs
- Caliber: 9x19mm Parabellum
- Operation: Self-loading with tilting barrel
- Barrel Length: 3.1 in.
- Rifling: 6 groove, 1-10 inch twist
- Trigger: Striker, 6 pounds
- Capacity: 17+1 rds.
- Weight: 21.5 ounces
- Height: 5.2 inches
- Length: 6.6 inches
- Width: 1.1 inches
- Sights: X-RAY3 Day/Night sights
- Finish: Nitron-finished stainless steel
- MSRP: $956.99
- Manufacturer: SIG Sauer
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.
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