EDITOR’S NOTE: When this article originally published the availability of the SIG P365 and Glock 43 were somewhat limited. Production has since ramped up and with some shopping, all three pistols can be readily found available. However, finding 9mm ammo might be difficult! Comment if you’d like a similar article done but including other pistols. Be sure and name what pistols you’d like to see included. Stay safe.
Everyone at the Shot Show in January had to stop by and see the new Sig P365 Micro-compact pistol; it was the talk of the show. Sig had made the leap into the deep end of the pool to compete with the well-established pillars of the micro market, the Smith & Wesson Shield, and the Glock 43 9mms. It certainly looked and felt good, and it held more bullets than its rival competitors, but looks are sometimes deceiving.
The true test is when you put a product side by side with its competitors and see how they stack up. So after a not so patient wait to get the newly popular P365 it’s time to get down to the range, scales and numbers to see how it does.
The Basic Numbers
|Measurement||Sig P 365||Glock 43||S&W Shield|
|Height (including sights)||4.31||4.25||4.62|
|Width (widest point)||1.11||1.36||1.03|
|Grip Width (average)||.99||.92||.94|
The numbers above clearly show that Sig has produced a product that is within the same size and weight arena as its competitors. These measurements were made with the shortest, non-extended magazines that are offered for each gun.
These numbers pretty much deal with how well these little guns are going to carry on a day to day basis. The Sig is small when compared to the length on both the other guns and solidly stands with them in the weight, width and height numbers – they gave up little to the competition in basic design.
The numbers in the table above are usually all you really get, but when comparing these 3 guns it’s worth getting a little more specific. All these guns have a different feel when in the hand and shooting, and after all how well you shoot a gun is usually about how naturally it fits you.
|Measurement||Sig P 365||Glock 43||S&W Shield|
|Grip Length (front strap)||1.93||1.78||1.77|
|Grip Circumference (narrowest)||4.75||4.87||5|
|Grip Depth (front to back)||1.75||2.2||1.92|
|Back strap to front of trigger||2.64||2.61||2.69|
|Trigger Weight (pounds)||5.1||6.25||6|
This is where Sig’s P365 starts to pull away from the pack for me. The Sig, while being very short in height overall has the longest front strap on the grip, allowing the shooter to get a better handle on the gun.
It also has the smallest front to back measurement of the grips, resulting in the smallest circumference, making the gun fit well in smaller hands. The well stippled little grip is easy to get a hold of and hang on to while shooting. Larger hands may still like the Glock or S&W better; but are you willing to settle for the lower capacity?
The distance of the reach from the back strap to the trigger is relatively equal for all 3 guns. However, the pull weight to break the trigger on the P365 came in about a pound less than either of the two other guns and had very little over travel.
A one pound trigger pull difference might not seem like much but it’s significant on a percentage basis and was noticeable while shooting groups. Would this difference be noticeable under stress in a hostile encounter – maybe, maybe not?
The P365 did have the shortest sight radius as expected since it had the shortest overall length. However, it appears its short barrel wasn’t too detrimental as the P365 ended up with some small groups while doing accuracy testing. The lighter trigger and good sights seemed to help those groups along.
After a little time warming up all 3 guns with some ball ammunition to get acquainted it was time to calm down and shoot some groups. Accuracy testing was shot at 25 feet with the three guns; using five types of ammunition and firing three five shot groups for each. A couple hours on the range I had 45 targets worth of groups and data to crunch. Ammunition tested ranged from 115 grains to 147 grains, all defensive type ammunition, as that is what would be most likely to be used in the little guns.
|Average Group Size (smallest)|
|Ammunition||Sig P 365||Glock 43||S&W Shield|
|Winchester 147 grn Bonded JHP||1.6 (1.14)||1.88 (1.51)||1.40 (.92)|
|Remington High Terminal Performance 147 grn JHP||1.71 (1.07)||1.96 (1.13)||2.70 (2.35)|
|Federal 147 grn JHP 9MS||1.91 (1.90)||.94 (.75)||1.82 (1.39)|
|Hornady Critical Defense Light 100 grn FTX||.93 (.86)||1.56 (1.17)||2.08 (1.49)|
|Hornady Critical Defense 115 grn FTX||1.09 (1.04)||2.15 (1.58)||2.48 (1.40)|
All three guns shot accurately enough to be used in defensive situations, clearly, each gun had some likes and dislikes in the ammunition tested. The smallest group overall was shot by the Glock 43 with the Federal ammunition.
Unfortunately this combination, Glock 43 and Federal 147 JHP ammunition also had the only malfunctions (2) during all the testing. This Federal ammunition has a very large hollow point and experienced two failures to feed with the Glock- always thoroughly check your carry ammo for operation in your gun.
Other than the two failures with the large-mouthed bullets, all three of the guns ran 100% with both flush and extended magazines, with a wide variety of ammunition- these are highly reliable guns.
The Hornady Critical Defense Light was definitely the softest shooting and easiest to control in all 3 guns and functioned 100%, I was a bit concerned the lighter load may prove finicky in the micro guns but it proved me wrong.. With all the data above it’s a bit tough to determine an answer to which firearm performed the best.
|Average of Groups All Ammo||Average of Smallest Groups|
When it was all totaled out, even with its short sight radius, the diminutively sized P365 ended up with the smallest groups sizes. Was this due to the lighter trigger, the longer grip length, the excellent XRAY3 sights, a tighter fit barrel lockup, or a combination of all those factors combined? Whatever the reason, it shot the best and all three shot well for “Micro-Compacts” at that distance.
Added Bonus Features
When comparing the sights on the three test guns the P365 is the definite winner. Sig’s XRAY3 Day/ Night sights are really nice. The front sight dot shows up well, day or night, as advertised. The rear sight is also well executed; the outside corners are rounded to prevent snagging and digging into your flesh when carrying concealed. The tritium dots, front, and rear show up well in low light and allow easily getting hits on target. The dots are much easier to see than the target in the darkness.
The P365 is the only one of the test guns that comes with front and rear cocking serrations, the others just having the rear. Racking the slide on smaller 9mm guns can sometimes be a challenge due to having little to hang on too while having to overcome the short stiff recoil springs.
In addition to having the extra set of serrations, the P365’s serrations seemed to be the easiest to get a hold of; they allowed a better grip on the slide. Digging into the difference in how the serration felt and performed a little deeper, revealed that the grooves of the P365 serrations were several thousands of an inch deeper than the Glock’s, and both of these were easier to manipulate than the S&W scalloped design serrations.
The Sig is also the only one of the three that has an accessory rail that will be able to accommodate the lights and lasers that will be coming shortly. It appears they have set some new standards to be reached by others.
All three manufacturers sell magazines that are extended to allow the shooter to get a better grip on these micro blasters, some increase capacity, others just extend the grip for control.
The capacity advantage of the Sig P365 due to its staggered magazine design dwarfs the competition. The Sig with its 10 round flat or extended finger support magazine is 3 rounds above the S&W or 4 above the Glock. Think about it for a minute, 10+1 in the Sig is as many rounds as a single stack 9mm 1911 holds.
With the extended capacity magazine, the Sig has almost twice the rounds of the Glock and 4 rounds more than the extended Shield in a similar sized package.
On the range shooting steel targets at speed, all three guns functioned flawlessly. All these guns have good triggers and fine sights; these aren’t pocket derringers that are only good when trapped in a phone booth. Engaging multiple silhouettes and an MGM plate rack from 10 yards was fun and easily accomplished with each product.
As identical holsters for each were not available I shot them all from a low ready start. The Glock with its different grip angle required me to do a little adjusting of sight picture but was fast and accurate, though the magazine capacity only allowed me to put controlled pairs on each of 3 silhouettes then get only one of the plates from the plate rack. The fun is over way to soon.
The Shield performed well and with its 8+1 extended magazine allowed for the same controlled pairs and getting three of the plates down of the 6 plate rack, this fun lasted a bit longer.
The Sig with its 12 in the magazine + 1 in the chamber, for 13 total rounds, placed good hits on the silhouettes and allowed me to engage all six plates and have one extra round for a pick up on a missed plate. The P365’s front sight was definitely fast to pick up and track.
Running steel and plates until I had expended another 3 boxes of ammo was literally a blast and took only minutes. The only other conclusions I arrive at is that I liked the way the P365 grip feels better than the other two guns, but I shot the Glock 43 just a little bit faster, possibly due to previous familiarity.
All these guns are very capable of engaging targets at defensive distances at speed with good shot placement.
The Sig P365 wins this shootout in my humble opinion. The MSRP of $599 is a bit higher than the other guns but Sig brings a bit more to the game. The outstanding grip design, higher capacity, great sights, lighter trigger pull, smaller length, light weight and just a great overall feel make it a winning product.
The other two guns are great, they have been the cornerstones of concealed carry for many years, and I have personally carried both of them, but Sig has changed the game. Get your hands on a P365 and see how you think it feels.
Visit Sig and learn more about the P365 by clicking Here.
Visit Smith & Wesson and learn more about the Shield by clicking Here.
Visit Glock and learn more about the G43 by clicking Here.