Small Changes Big Differences
I was perfectly content with the standard P365, it has been my everyday carry since I purchased it to do my first P365 article, but then I tried the XL. So how do you make a great little gun even better?
Well, the quick take on the changes is a little longer slide and barrel, a longer grip with a more pronounced beavertail, a couple more rounds, a flared and beveled magazine well, an X Series flat trigger, and a sight plate that allows a micro red dot to replace the rear iron sight.
The honest truth is in the past I was never a big Sig fan. I bought a used 226 back in the ’90s and was unimpressed and hadn’t seen anything since that changed my mind. That is until the P365. I even paid full retail at a local shop to get that gun for the article since the line to get one from Sig was long and I wasn’t willing to wait.
My standards haven’t changed but something at Sig certainly has. I don’t know if it’s new management, the addition of experienced shooters to their core team, feedback from the professional shooters now representing Sig, a combination of all of the above or something else entirely, but they are now producing firearms designed for shooters.
I don’t know who deserves the credit for the turnaround, but it’s noticeable. So much so that I have also purchased a 320 and an MPX PCC in the last year.
A Little Tight
The initial shooting session with the XL didn’t go quite as well as planned. I had some occurrences of the slide failing to go back to battery while shooting. I had noticed that the slide was a bit difficult to rack when cycling by hand and apparently it was just a bit too tight to do so under recoil.
I contacted Sig Customer Service and they were very responsive and arranged for me to send it back for inspection (yes, even before I mentioned I was doing a review of it, I saved that until the end of the conversation).
However, a couple of hundred rounds downrange over the weekend before I sent it back and the problem had completely disappeared. I sent it back for the check-up anyway and they could find no issues and couldn’t replicate the problem.
I’ve had several custom guns built over the years and there is definitely a balance between accuracy and reliability. A gun’s tolerances have to be tight between the barrel, slide, and frame to make a gun accurate but also loose enough to ensure it functions reliably. All those custom guns required a few hundred rounds to be shot in and it appeared the XL was just on the tight side of those tolerances and also needed a couple of hundred rounds to settle in.
It’s important to shoot several hundred rounds through any new gun purchased for defense to ensure it is going to function when you need it. It’s equally critical that the testing rounds be done with the ammunition you intend to carry in the gun, not just some ball or training ammo.
The little Sig functioned flawlessly at this point and ate every weight and type of ammunition offered without a hiccup. The softest recoiling was the Hornady 100 grn Critical Defense Light and it is my go-to ammo for testing a gun’s functionality.
The Once Over
The new slightly longer X Series grip is what really makes the XL a winner for me. I was carrying the 12-round extended magazine in my regular 365 already and that’s the length of the new grip and flat based 12 round magazine. It fills the hand well and gives just the right amount of grip to have great control of the handgun.
The new grip also has a nicely flared magazine well that makes reloading the gun a breeze compared to the original model. Due to the shorter grip of the original model, I could never seem to get the magazines to drop free without hitting the heel of my hand.
With the new X series grip length, the mags drop free and the beveled magazine well guides the tapered mags right in for fast reloads. The other subtle difference is that the new grip has a slightly extended beavertail area for the web of your hand, keeping you from gripping it too high and having the slide hit your hand.
Aside from the length, the XL grip retained the same P365 grip dimensions as well as the deeply undercut trigger guard, texture, and grip inlet allowing easy reach to the trigger.
The added barrel/ slide length does give a bit more sight radius and makes hitting targets easier. The small added length down in the holster hasn’t impacted my ability to carry, draw, or use it in training events at all.
Obviously, the XL is a bit longer in both height and length than the original 365, but now with the extended 15 round magazine, it is closer in capability to a Glock 19 than to the sub-compacts. The XL is still shorter than a 19 and just a little taller with the 15 round magazine inserted. However, it is slimmer and the grip is noticeably smaller.
The X Series flat trigger breaks when it is straight up and down during the trigger travel. This seems to eliminate the tendency for a right-handed shooter to push to the left which occurs when a trigger has to travel too far to the rear and the hand curls.
The trigger broke at an average weight of 5.4 lbs. on my trigger scale. This is slightly lighter than my original P365 and very shootable. It worked out well for the accuracy and performance portions of the XL evaluation.
Weight- 20.7 oz
Barrel Length- 3.7”
Action- Semi-auto striker
Sights- XRay3 Day/ Night (tritium)
Another notable update on the XL is the removable rear sight plate that allows for adding a small red dot sight. I haven’t had a chance to get a micro red dot and give it a try on the XL, but I’m hoping other manufacturers jump on the bandwagon and start producing red dot sights that fit. Eliminating the sight alignment errors on sub-compacts may make these guns viable replacements for even mid-sized pistols.
Well as expected since the gun was a little tight to begin with it was very accurate. I tested the subcompact 365XL at 12 yards off of a couple of bags resting on the table. It is a small gun and meant for defensive encounters so how far do you really need to test it. Turns out I could have doubled that distance and still would have had some impressive results.
The best single group I shot was with Hornady’s135 LE Training ammunition that is meant to simulate their Critical Defense load at a more reasonable cost; the five-shot group measured a mere 1.21 inches.
The second-best single group came from the Sig V Crown 365 115 JHP ammunition tailored for sub-compact pistols and it measured 1.34”, still very impressive. Even the mass-produced military ball 124-grain ammunition ended up delivering an average group size hovering around 2 inches.
The largest group came from some Hornady +P ammunition and I am going to take the blame for those groups opening up due to poor trigger work. The +P groups still easily remained in the black area of the targets but the majority of the rounds were better groups and it was the errant flyers that increased the group sizes. The +P ammunition in the little gun functions fine, but you will definitely feel the difference in the recoil.
I really wish I had a machine rest to shoot from for the testing to take my errors out of the equation, then we would see what it could really do. I say that because some of the groups I shot had 4 of the 5 rounds in some very tight groups and then there would be that one round that opened the group on up.
The smallest of the 4 shots was a .4” and the next was a .7”, I really think this gun from a machine rest or with some additional time focused on groups could produce some sub-one-inch groups at this distance.
Stretching the XL out a bit further, one of my test shooters shot the 25-yard bullseye portion of his unit’s qualification course and scored a 91 on the NRA B-16 target. He typically shoots in the low to mid 90’s with his full-sized Glock or Beretta, so he really only gave up a couple of points going down to the sub-compact XL. He is planning on getting a P365 XL when he returns from deployment.
While I was shooting the groups, I would shoot any extra rounds downrange at the plates of my dueling tree at the 25-yard line, amazingly the 6” plates swung almost every time.
Curiosity got the best of me and I had to try a few groups at 50 yards. I thought a paper plate on an IPSC target would be a good aiming point, but it turned out the Sig front sight and dot were both larger than the paper plate so I ended up just trying to hold the same point below the target head.
With good ammunition, if you break the trigger cleanly this gun is capable of hitting whatever you want within 50 yards and maybe even out to 100.
After the initial accuracy testing and a good bit of time on the range, I took the 365XL to a Vehicle CQB class offered by Centrifuge Training. We spent two long days firing into, out of, thru, over, under, and around several vehicles.
The XL was fast to draw and maneuver in and around the vehicles and functioned flawlessly in spite of the dusty gravel range area, and we kicked up lots of dust under those vehicles.
The farthest two targets were head-sized steel plates out at 20 and 25 yards to ensure everyone maintained accuracy during the drills, and the little XL kept up fine with all the full-sized guns in the class.
The recoil of the XL is easily controllable due to the slightly longer grip and overall design of the gun, it’s not near as snappy as some other subcompacts I’ve shot. Utilizing the factory 12 round mags and reloading to the extended 15 round version I never felt at a disadvantage in the class. The front sight tracks well and it was quick to reload and get back on target.
I let several others try the XL during a later training session and everyone was a fan of the feel and marveled at how Sig got so many rounds in such a small package. They also all managed to ring a 12” steel silhouette target at 50 yards with it at will.
I now have well over a thousand rounds downrange with the XL, and other than the initial glitches with it being a bit tight it has been 100% reliable under all conditions with a number of different shooters.
Running speed drills everyone has been amazed how fast they could engage targets and at their ability to reload the little gun with little to no experience on it. The flared and beveled mag well is exceptionally done.
The Crossbreed IWB and my older appendix holster both worked well with the XL. The slimness of the gun and the holster designs made for easy concealment under a loose T-shirt, afforded good retention and smooth draws.
The XL has performed at levels far above what its small size should allow and each time I push it a bit further and it exceeds my expectations.
The Sig 365XL fits the hand well, is easily concealable, shoots accurately, holds more rounds than a gun this size should, and is chocked full of features that make other guns rust in envy.
The grip size, shape, texture and trigger guard undercut add up to make it easy to reach and manipulate the trigger to maximize the gun’s performance. While the sight radius and accuracy lets you hit whatever you aim at.
Bottom line is, I found a new carry gun and that’s the highest recommendation I can give a pistol.