I confess that before spending some time with the Taurus G3 I had never even touched a Taurus firearm. Over the years I had heard some less than flattering things about their quality and customer service. Recently, however, I had begun to hear good things about the G2C compact pistol, as well as some inklings about Taurus turning over a new leaf.
Lately, I’ve come across a couple of flattering reviews of the Taurus G3 pistol and, to my surprise, it was suggested I do a first-shots review of the G3. I’ll further confess that I didn’t have high hopes for this rig, but handling and shooting the G3 has been a surprising experience from start to finish. While this isn’t an exhaustive examination and cannot account for issues of reliability or longevity, I’d like to share my impressions from having spent time this month with the Taurus G3.
Why Consider the Taurus G3?
I supposed the best reason to consider the G3 is for its value. As my review here should indicate, the price vs. features and performance is about as good as I’ve ever seen on a pistol. The price (typically somewhere under $300) is as low as I could ever imagine for a pistol like this, so if you are a fan of Glock or Springfield or Sig medium-sized pistols, but don’t want the $500+ price tag, the G3 would seem to have been made for you.
Roughly the same length, height, and width of a Glock 19, this pistol feels and behaves like many of its more expensive brethren. And with few discernable shortcomings.
Taurus G3 Carbine Specs:
Height: 5.2” with flush magazine
Safety: Manual thumb lever (left side only) and trigger tab
Action: Single Action w/Re-strike capability
Sights: 3-dot: Front fixed, rear drift adjustable
Weight: 25 oz w/empty magazine
Frame: Black polymer
Slide: Stainless steel (black matte ??)
Capacity: 10, 15 or 17 rounds (with extended magazine)
Price: ~$345 (often found in the mid-to-high $200s)
Shooting the Taurus G3
Despite the fact that it’s a “budget gun,” I really enjoyed shooting this pistol. The overall experience was virtually as nice as shooting any similar Springfield or Sig! The very first thing I noticed, however, was that the trigger takeup to the wall is looonnnng. Length of travel aside, it’s quite a nice trigger; very soft up to the wall and then a less-than-5lb break. Were the takeup shorter, I’d take this trigger on my EDC gun any day (but it is so very long).
Here you can see the rather long trigger takeup. The second iamge shows where the “wall” is, prior to break. It may not look long here, but it is longer than most other pistols I’ve touched.
For the first couple of shooting strings the long trigger press led me to shoot rather low (owing to the fact that my trigger mechanics are deeply ingrained muscle memory specific to my EDC gun’s triger), but once I fixed MY flaw, things evened out and I had no trouble at all keeping rounds where I wanted them.
The recoil impulse is about what I’d expect, no different from my G19 really, and despite the fact that there’s no serviceable “gas pedal” ledge for my support-hand thumb the muzzle rise was not bad at all. The pistol is comfortable to hold and run and is easily controllable for fast shooting strings. If I didn’t know better, I’d assume I was shooting a far more expensive gun.
Components and Features
Something I immediately noticed is that the grip is slightly fat. The G3 is a pistol perhaps not best suited to folks with smaller hands. My medium-sized hands didn’t have any trouble with the grip, which has a rather fantastic texture on it, by the way. No kidding, the texture on this pistol makes it the ONLY production pistol with a useful grip texture. I wouldn’t care to stipple this one, and I’m something of a grip snob. Very well done, Taurus!
I could find no information on what the finish process is used for the black matte slide, but it is made of stainless steel. Some models come silvered and others matte black. The slide serrations are front and back and they are very sharp and grippy. The sights are 3-dot and they’re okay. There would be no necessity to replace the sights (like you must on a Glock), but I would choose to put something more visible were I to carry this pistol. The thumb “safety” lever is unobtrusive enough without being difficult to manipulate. If you must have a “safety” gadget on a striker-fired pistol, this is a good example of how to do it. The rest of the controls are well located and never tripped me up as I was running the pistol.
The frame is black polymer and there’s an accessory rail up front. There are indentations molded into the frame, back where the thumb might (but doesn’t and should not) rest for 1-handed shooting and up front where you might want to index your support-hand thumb. These features are cheaply done and the front index point does NOT work as a “gas pedal” rest for mitigating muzzle rise; cycling the gun just causes my thumb to slip out. I suppose that the front section might work if one stippled that area, but it just seems like an afterthought here.
The trigger has a weirdly wide safety tab in the middle of the shoe, but it is flat and disappears completely into the trigger upon press. I found no discomfort at all from the tab and I quite enjoyed the flat face of the shoe. Combined with the smooth action (albeit quite long), it’s a very comfortable trigger.
Interestingly, the G3 has re-strike capability; meaning that if a round fails to fire with the first trigger press, there is a double-action trigger press available to try it again. I suppose that this could be a positive feature, but I have to say I’d never use it. “Click” means one thing and one thing only to those of us who train, and that is tap, rack, bang (as a first option, at least). This re-strike capability seems like a very odd feature.
As a near-full-size medium-sized pistol, it is at the outer size limit for what most folks would consider an everyday-carry model. It’s a tiny bit taller than a Glock 19 and almost exactly the same width, but a full 4 ounces heavier than the G19. Depending on which version of the G3 you get, it comes with either 2 flush 15-round mags or one 15-round and one 17-round extended mag. I noticed that when depressing the magazine release, the mags pop out of the grip with gusto. That’s always a nice feature to see, as some more expensive pistols have lazy magazine ejections.
Just about everything tangible about this pistol is positive. The slide design and serrations are well conceived, the features are comparable with any good pistol and the grip texture is best in class. The smoothness of the trigger is a plus, as is the energetic magazine ejection.
There are few tangible cons to cite on this pistol. The trigger takeup is longer than you’re apt to find on other pistols, the sights are just okay, and the frame is a bit trite in its design; but these are nitpicky things. People with smaller hands may not like the grip size. What I have to wonder, though, is where the cost savings comes.
My assumption is that there may be expediencies built into some of the components that are not noticeable without many thousands of rounds to reveal them. But that is just my assumption based in the fact that this pistol really does seem a bit too good to be true. When internal components do wear out, I have to wonder how easily available the replacement parts might be…and if they’re replaceable by the owner. Food for thought.
The Taurus G3 is just a surprising pistol and it’s very difficult to impossible to see how the sub-$300 price is justified. Yes, there are nicer features on more expensive pistols, but the G3 gets most of the basics right and, with practice to learn that trigger action well, it seems every bit as good on that score.
If one were looking to get a good, basic pistol for carry or home defense on a budget, I have absolutely no reservations in recommending giving the G3 a try. Bet you’ll dig it.
Your everyday-carry belt is the foundation of your whole EDC system. As the foundation, when your belt is solid, your carry experience can be solid: comfortable and confident. Yet when the belt is deficient in one or more ways, not only is your carry experience going to be bad, carrying, concealing, and deploying your handgun will be far more difficult, dysfunctional, and likely dangerous.
Here I’d like to touch on what makes for a proper everyday-carry belt—and what makes for an improper or negligence choice. Luckily, choices abound, but your choices should be relegated exclusively to the optimal sort of belt system. To further narrow the scope of this article, I’m going to deal primarily with concealed carry rather than open carry.
Note that I’ll not be discussing tactical belts or any that have cobra fasteners. Those are not EDC belts unless you’re a warfighter or a law-enforcement officer. Moreover, they do not work with normal pants’ belt loops and other accessory-pouch loops for quick and easy everyday donning and removal, which completely disqualifies them for everyday carry. Instead I’ll be dwelling here only on everyday-carry belts for ordinary citizens.
You can carry all day, every day only if your system works well, conceals well, and allows you to be comfortable and confident while wearing it. Carry skill aside (yes, it is a skill), the most important component in that equation is a quality EDC belt.
A quality EDC belt will help your one to two-pound+ gun feel lighter; will help keep your holster in position; will keep your holster in the proper orientation; and will not decline in function or comfort when several other items are also carried on the belt. Conversely, a belt that is not up to the task will prevent you from concealing well—no matter the holster you’re using—and will make the experience of carrying and deploying your pistol into uncomfortable drudgery. Not to mention dangerous.
A true EDC gun belt differs from a normal belt—even a thick leather non-gun belt—in many important ways. Let’s go over them!
EDC Belt Qualities
A belt for everyday carry of a gun and other items has to satisfy several important needs at once, elegantly.
Your EDC belt should be 1.5” wide. Unless you’re carrying specialized equipment that requires a 2” belt, you need to stick to the standard of 1.5”, which works perfectly. A bet that is less than 1.5” wide is unsuitable for EDC use.
Your EDC belt should be quite rigid. It must not just be hard to compress top-to-bottom, it should be impossible to compress top-to-bottom. A 1.5” belt that can be compressed with your hand into a curve is wholly unsuitable as an EDC belt. Never use such a belt. Additionally, when the belt is off your pants and buckled into a loop, you should be able to hold it up by the buckle without the loop of the belt drooping more than very slightly if at all.
But rigidity must be tempered by a wearable pliability. Note that competition-style gun belts that are entirely rigid are inappropriate for everyday carry. That degree of rigidity will quickly offer discomfort and will distort into unslightly shapes when you sit or bend over or move while going about your daily business. Stick with purpose-specific EDC gun belts. I’ll cite some examples below.
Your EDC belt should allow for very small buckle adjustments (as shown below). A typical belt with a prong and set of holes is not optimal as an everyday carry belt. These types of buckles do not allow for the necessary degree of adjustment. Instead, opt for an EDC belt that uses a ratchet system for closure. This is proven tech and is up to the job of daily carry of heavy items while at the same time allowing for important small degrees of adjustment that can make huge differences in comfort, confidence, and concealability. I advise you to completely avoid EDC belts that use a traditional buckle. Note that many proper ratchet-system belt buckles look exactly like a prong-and-hole-style buckle. It is an elegant deception.
Here’s the back of a Kore belt, showing the ratchet system that is sewn into the back of the belt.
Your EDC belt should look just like a normal belt for the type of clothes you’re wearing. This means it should typically be made of or covered in leather or nylon or fabric of appropriate finish and fashion. Nothing about your EDC belt should communicate “tactical”. A good EDC belt is one that looks appropriate with jeans and with dress slacks. Note that because leather and nylon and fabric are not rigid enough by themselves, true EDC belts have a rigid core material that turns them into useful kit.
This Nexbelt gun belt looks like a normal, everyday prong-and-hole belt, but it has a proper ratchet buckle.
An inferior belt is one that lacks a rigid core, so it is soft and floppy. Even when the belt is worn tight, your pistol (OWB) will cant outward because the belt lacks proper integrity. Therefore, it will never allow you to conceal properly. An inferior belt is either slightly too loose or slightly too tight when you wear your handgun holstered to it. With an inferior belt, when you go to draw your handgun quickly, it may have moved position slightly or changed its degree of angle because the belt cannot properly support it. This means that your draw will be slower, clumsier, and more dangerous than with a proper belt.
A tactical-style belt looks odd and draws unwanted attention to you when others see its incongruity with your clothing. An inferior EDC belt is not aesthetically appropriate for formal dress – or – a soft, formal-style belt is in no way up to the task of providing the proper foundation for carrying when you’re dressed up. Moreover, an inferior formal-style EDC belt gets marred and marked up too quickly by holsters and pouches to be aesthetically appropriate for formal-dress carry.
Examples of Proper Kit
Disclaimer: No belt manufacturer has ever given me any swag and every belt I own I’ve purchased with my own money.
Finding all of the imperative qualities of a proper EDC belt is not difficult. When citing examples here, I’m going to reference my own experience of trying different belts over years while carrying all day, every day. Therefore, it is going to be impossible for me to refrain from mentioning specific brands and models, citing both the good and the bad from those brands and models. So here I will be somewhat less than objective, because I don’t want to speak to brands with which I have no experience, and possibly mislead you.
Here’s a Nexbelt gun belt model that looks very nice, appropriate for fancy-dress occasions. Still, it’s a stiff, strong gun belt with a ratchet buckle.
The overall best EDC belt in my experience and opinion is one of the models from Nexbelt. Their core material is the best I’ve found and does not break or suffer the shortcomings found in other similar brands’ belts with ongoing daily wear. Nexbelt offers a variety of belt materials and buckle styles, and you can order belts and buckles separately, which is a handy benefit if you ever encounter a failure with one or the other (I have!).
One caveat I can offer is to avoid the buckle offered with the “Titan” model that has a dark, rough finish.* I had one of these buckles break after less than 1 year of being worn only at home every day. The metal for that buckle was of inferior quality and it broke at the perpendicular attachment pin area, where the buckle material was thin. It’s possible they’ve amended the design or materials lately, but I don’t know this for sure. However, I have had good luck and no problems with several other buckles that have a shiny finish.
The leather models look great and wear very well, showing little to no damage after years of repeated on-off of holsters and other belt-worn kit. The Nylon-webbing belts are excellent, too. Stiff and with the normal-looking buckle they don’t put out a “tactical” vibe.
Here you can see the ratchet insert sewn into the back of the belt. The measurements shown are there because these belts are shipped one-size-only and you trim the buckle-insert end to fit your waist. The buckle then clips on with a toothed lever, and some models feature additional compression screws for added security.
The belt lineup from Kore is also pretty good—better than almost anything else on the market. I wore Kore belts for a couple years and they have many fine qualities that put them ahead of most other companies’ products. What I mentioned about Nexbelt is generally true for Kore too, with one important difference: the stiff-core material used by Kore is slightly inferior. I find that the belt core material tends to break in half right at the middle of my back after 1+ year’s wear. The belt is then still usable and this break doesn’t necessarily compromise the belt’s function, but it is a bit unsightly and I just don’t like having a broken belt. After paying ~$70 for a belt, I’d like to get more than 1 year out of it.
Here’s a sampling of Kore’s leather and nylon-webbing gun belts. Notice how they all look like normal, everyday kinds of belts. Nothing “tactical” about their appearance.
Why am I mentioning Kore here if they have inherent problems? Well, because they’re nearly as good as Nexbelt and companies typically work to continually improve. I have no doubt that Kore will amend their issues, if they haven’t already (I just haven’t checked in a couple years).
The point is that Nexbelt and Kore are at the top of the EDC belt game because they understand the actually important factors of successful daily carry and have created belts that, unlike those from other brands, can properly serve as the foundation of a daily carry system.
Surely there are other brands that make proper EDC belts, I’ve just never seen any and can’t report on them here. Just keep in mind that if their belt doesn’t have a rigid core material and/or doesn’t have a ratchet buckle, they’re not worth the expense or your time. They will not provide an optimal platform for your carry system.
Note that these gun belts come in many varieties of appearance, from slick leather to alligator pattern to suede to nylon webbing and more. Most manufacturers have lots and lots of buckle styles, too, so there’s going to be a proper gun belt to suit your preference and style and various needs. We’re not relegated to plain, chunky cowboy-leather or military cobra belts anymore.
For comfortable and efficient everyday carry of a firearm and other vital items, it is best that your belt be utilized for as many of those items as possible. At minimum, I’d recommend that your handgun, extra-mag(s) pouch, fixed-blade knife, and either phone or tourniquet (or both) be carried on your belt. This frees up pockets for other items, like folder knife, flashlight, etc… (for some good organization options, see my article on this topic). Only a proper belt can allow you to comfortably and confidently carry these items on the belt.
There several holster manufacturer companies that market gun belts, but I’ve never seen one that properly measures up to the task. If you prefer not to go with my brand recommendations, at least now that you know what to look for you can do your own scouting without wasting your money on inferior products.
The Glock 48 was introduced roughly a year ago and since that time it has garnered a fair amount of attention and popularity. There’s nothing really novel about the G48; it is essentially a single-stack G19 which, depending on how you look at it, makes some good sense or very little sense at all.
Since I make a habit of training with the G43 and carrying it when I’m at home, I’m familiar with the feel, carry, and manipulation of the Glock single-stack pistol platform. While the G48 has a longer slide and taller grip, it also has a slightly thicker frame than the G43, so it both feels and shoots like a more substantial pistol than its predecessor.
As I am not an active warfighter or LEO, the only pistols I care about are everyday-carry pistols; mostly concealed-carry pistols. So I confess that I initially found it hard to justify owning this pistol, since it is exactly the same length and height as the G19 and—even though it’s a single stack—it’s almost as thick as the G19. I have therefore long observed that if you can carry a G48, you can carry the much better option of the G19. But on serious reflection I’ve come to believe that there are legitimate reasons to own and carry the G48. So, after having spent some time shooting this single-stack pistol, I’ll details some thoughts here you might consider.
Why Consider the Glock 48?
The Glock 48 is a 9mm pistol that is made for concealed carry. It offers a slightly slimmer option to the G19 as a means to reduce the weight in/on your belt and/or for people with smaller hands who don’t like a double-stack grip. Loaded, the weight savings vs. a Glock 19 is 5 ounces. The slimmer slide and frame makes the G48 slightly easier to conceal than the G19.
The reduction in frame width and the single-stack magazine means fewer rounds; the G48 magazine carries 10 rounds. That’s the same capacity as the smaller, but thicker G26. One might think of it as a lighter Commander-size 1911 that is actually reliable.
Other reasons you might consider the G48 is for when you want less weight and easier concealment, but still want a near-full-size grip and longer slide, and the easier manipulation and control that offers. Yet another reason is that you want this smaller option, but still want the dead-simple mechanics and utter reliability of a Glock.
The Glock 48 Specs:
Overall Width: 1.1”
Slide Width: .87”
Barrel: 4.17” Glock Marksman barrel
Trigger: ~5.5 pounds (usually more when new)
Sights: Polymer “U” dot configuration
Weight: 20.74 oz. w/empty magazine
Slide Finish: Silver nPVD – or – black nDLC
Price: $580 (often found for ~$500)
Shooting the Glock 48
Being a polymer single-stack pistol, the G48 is somewhat snappier than similar sized double-stack pistols. The reduced slide and frame weight just allows you to feel more of that recoil. But as I’m used to shooting plastic guns, I found it to be just fine and not at all difficult to manage. I do like the full grip on this pistol as compared to my G43. It lends comfort and confidence.
I’ve shot the G48 several times before, but for this review the pistol I used was a rental gun with several thousand rounds through it and the trigger was right at the spec weight of 5.5 pounds. I’m a Glock shooter, so the trigger was familiar feeling and not really a factor in fast strings or accuracy. It was just “normal.”
I did take the opportunity to get in some fast manipulations and fast shooting strings with speed reloads while shooting it this time. I found these manipulations to be much easier than with my G43 and nearly as easy as with my G19. It’s a Glock, so the controls are well placed and familiar for me. The longer slide and sight radius than my G43 didn’t seem to factor much, as I don’t have much problem with the 43’s smaller sight radius, but the G48 does have that longer sight radius and some folks may find it easier to be accurate with.
The one thing I didn’t really like was the near lack of any texture at all on the grip. The texture on the G48 is the same as for the other smaller models, like the 43, 43x, and 42, which is to say it has barely any texture at all. This is a pistol that requires a stipple job or—if you’ll almost never shoot it—some Talon Grips.
So why the G48 in a world with the Sig P365 and the Springfield Hellcat?
That would seem to be a pressing question when those two models have shaken up the handgun world with regard to size vs. capacity. The answers are surely subjective, but for one objective one that cannot be ignored. Yes, those other two guns are smaller and yes have equal or better capacity than the G48. But a couple of benefits the G48 has over the other two is the easier and more comfortable to grip and the fact that it’s easier to draw from a holster and to manipulate/run in a gunfight.
Surely there are benefits those other pistols have over the G48, especially with regard to personal preference, but the fact remains that neither of them is a Glock…with widely available parts and accessories and proven reliability. These things matter a lot.
Something else to keep in mind is that there are some new magazines from Shield Arms that, without any extension, allow for 15 rounds in the standard G48-sized magazine. Though they’re obviously not OEM parts, they’re intriguing in theory. The possibility exists that they’ll diminish the Glock’s famous reliability, but the benefit surely warrants further exploration (just be sure to replace the poly mag catch with a metal mag catch, else the steel mags will destroy the catch).
The G48 is a Glock. There is no new, unproven technology and the G48 will, like its brethren, surely go reliably for 100k rounds+ when properly maintained. The slimmer frame and lighter overall package is more comfortable to carry and easier to conceal than similarly sized models. It shoots and manipulates easier like a medium-sized pistol. Maintenance is easy (any part can be replaced in seconds) and replacement parts, replacement sights, and add-ons are always widely available. Because it’s a Glock, there are lots of holster models available for it.
Though slightly slimmer, the G48 is the same size as the G19, but with five fewer rounds so overall it seems like an unnecessary compromise. Since it’s a Glock it comes with those stupid polymer sights that must be replaced (at additional expense). The trigger on the G48 tends to be heavier than you’re apt to find on larger Glock models. The texture is pretty crappy and must be amended somehow. It’s larger than some other carry pistols that have similar or better capacity.
So basically, the Glock 48 is a study in contrasts. There’s much to like about it yet it’s not too hard to find comparative criticisms; perhaps more so than any other pistol (save perhaps the Glock 43x!). I’ll say then that if a Glock is what you prefer, it requires that you get it in your hands and put a few rounds downrange for yourself because…
“Go not to the elves for counsel, for they will answer both no and yes.”
– J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
Those who carry a pistol every day should possess a number of pistol manipulation skills in addition to those skills that are concerned with marksmanship. Competence at getting your gun into a fight and scoring effective hits, all when things are optimal, is a good thing to have. But what about when things are not optimal; when things go sideways and you still have to fight to preserve your life? This is where you’d better have some other basic-but-uncommon skills.
One of these basic skills that all everyday carriers should possess is the ability to reload your pistol when one of your hands or arms is incapacitated or otherwise engaged. Doing so requires, of course, that you carry a spare magazine or two and that you keep them in a concealable and handy position.
For most concealed carriers, a concealable and handy position will mean that spares are in a magazine pouch inside or outside of your belt. For right-handed folks, this means either on your support-hand side near 8 o’clock or in front around 11 o’clock. Swapped sides for lefties, of course.
The process is pretty simple:
Get to cover!
Eject the magazine (use your knee for an inertial assist)
Place the pistol between your knees, upside down, with the barrel pointing down and away from you
Retrieve a new magazine and place it into the grip
Smack the new magazine into place
Grab the pistol and rack a round into place off of your belt or holster or mag pouch
Get back into the fight
So while the process there is pretty simple, it does contain a couple of novel actions. You’ll need to practice quite a bit with a blue gun and/or an empty gun and/or with snap caps before trying this in live fire. Done properly, though, it is entirely safe and no mistake should endanger you or those around you. Done wrong or carelessly, this process can put you and those around you into significant danger. So learn the discrete steps completely and safely before using any live ammo and around others at the range.
The Complete Reload Process
Here’s a short video showing the whole process, with both the support hand only and the primary hand only. After the video, below, we’ll touch on some key components.
So the process is nearly identical for both hands. The important difference here for those who carry spare magazines on their support-hand side is that when doing this reload with your primary hand, you’ll have to reach around to the other side of your body to retrieve a new magazine. This operation is pretty simple for fit folks, but for those who carry too much extra weight, getting to your magazines in this way could be highly problematic.
The Magazine Ejection
You can greatly improve your success and speed getting the empty magazine out of the gun by bringing your forearm down against your knee as you depress the magazine release. The bump against the knee easily jars the empty mag loose to fall freely. For safety’s sake, be sure to keep your pistol pointed directly forward.
Placing the Pistol Between Your Knees
Again, keep yourself and those around you safe by making sure your muzzle is pointing down and away from you, and not at either of your feet.
Racking a Round Into Place
Pick up your pistol from between your knees with a proper grip, trigger finger straight along the frame, and raise it upside down to place the rear sight on/behind your belt or mag pouch or holster, then move the gun sharply down and away from you in a safe direction. If the first try doesn’t do the trick, just do it again. Be sure not to point the muzzle too far down toward your leg or feet. This operation will rack a round into the chamber and you’re ready to get back into the fight.
That’s it! When you practice, just be aware of your muzzle and keep it pointing in a direction that is safe for you and for those around you. Be sure to work this technique into every practice session, with both your primary hand and your support hand. It’s a technique that might save your life or the life of someone you love.
Some Parting Caveats
Some instructors will teach using your holster as a resting place for your pistol while you retrieve a new magazine. I highly recommend against this practice. All kinds of things can and often do go wrong when using this technique. For instance, your muzzle is not facing in a safe direction, so a fumbled handing or a slam-fire event can mean a severe injury or death. Moreover, the slide stop may disengage, and the slide slamming home can cause your pistol to fall out of the holster to the ground. Just use the between-the-knees position.
Some may argue that having the pistol between your knees does not allow you to be mobile while placing it into your holster does. The important point here is DO NOT RELOAD OUT IN THE OPEN. If you need to reload, run to cover where you can more safely effect your reload. This is quite mandatory if you have only one arm working with which to accomplish a reload.
The Sig P365 is a now-famous EDC icon of size vs. capacity, packing at least 11 rounds into a tiny, shootable, and accurate package. Last year we did a first-blush review of the Sig P365 and the overriding conclusion was positive. Back then, however, there were still ongoing reports of the P365’s propensity to break springs and strikers. Since then, the pistol has seen a lot of use and testing and Sig seems to have worked out the kinks in its revolutionary subcompact pistol. By all accounts, it is now a reliable gun.
Since the time of our last review, Sig has released two new variants of the pistol: the XL and the SAS models. I’ve recently gotten to spend some time shooting all three versions and here I want to share my impressions and comparison notes regarding the original P365, the P365 XL, and the P365 SAS.
Why the Sig P365?
This is a pistol made specifically for everyday carry, and even more specifically for times when carrying a larger gun is not preferred or not possible, but you still want a few extra rounds. It’s also, according to its grip dimensions, made for folks who have smaller hands—the grip is quite small as compared to just about every other pistol. Like all subcompact pistols, it’s made for experienced shooters and is not advisable for beginners.
Why the Sig P365 XL?
The XL adds some other dimensions to the “specific mission” list. The P365 XL is larger both in slide length and in grip height, and while it maintains the general frame dimensions (same grip circumference) and controls, it comes with the flat “X-Series” trigger shoe and the slide comes optic ready for the Sig Sauer RomeoZero or the RMSc reflex optics. Its primary purpose would seem to be a slightly larger compromise toward more rounds and easier accuracy and longer distances at the expense of concealability and weight.
Why the Sig P365 SAS?
The SAS model is the size of the original, but the controls are modified/minimized and the sighting system is moved into the slide, all to support the snag-free idiom specific to this model. It’s apparent purpose is for non-holster carry in, say, a purse or pocket or even “Mexican carry” in the waistband. I’ll admit I find this purpose problematic and downright irresponsible. More on that later. The SAS model also features a ported barrel and slide, ostensibly to help mitigate the snappy muzzle rise when shooting. The takedown lever and slide stop lever are both greatly minimized on the SAS, which leaves a very slim and genuinely snag-free tool.
I do think that a “de-horned” pistol makes good sense in most cases, but the removal of traditional front and back sights in favor of the flush-mounted “FT Bullseye” sight could present something of a learning curve for most folks.
Overall, it’s the size vs. capacity vs. weight genius of these models that makes them noteworthy. They do a fantastic job of offering up a lot of capacity in such a small package and at such a low weight. These things matter, so it’s no wonder that Sig’s P365 is so popular.
X-RAY3 Night Sights
Optic Ready with X-RAY3 Night Sights
Note that despite the basic 10-round capacity for the original and SAS models and 12-round capacity for the XL model, there are extended 12 and 15-round magazines available.
Shooting the Sig P365 Pistols
I spent time shooting these three pistols individually over several sessions and all together in one session. What is immediately apparent when shooting them, and this is should be no surprise, is that they’re all fairly snappy even with practice ammo. I shot some Federal 124gr Hydra Shok through the P365 and the recoil difference from practice ammo was pronounced and not so enjoyable (I wouldn’t want to do a 200 or 300-round training session with it).
For practiced shooters, this unsurprising feature of the P365 should present no problems. I have to wonder, though, if the 9mm report in this little pistol will be a bit uncomfortable for new shooters and untrained petite women. Surely, this is a question each has to answer for him/herself. As I mentioned earlier, the two smaller models are best for experienced shooters and are not ideal for beginners.
Gripping and controlling the original and SAS models of the P365 with the pinky-extension magazine was quite easy, as it presented a full grip for my md/lg-sized hands. It is worth mentioning that all three models of the P365 are very comfortable to grip. This pinky extension offers something close to the same grip as one gets on the P365 XL. Without the pinky extension, the smaller models are a bit harder to grip and fire confidently; something that, again, new shooters and those with weaker grips may not find comfortable.
Shooting the SAS model was essentially the same as shooting the original, though the ported barrel and slide offered the slightest difference in muzzle rise with each shot. I’m no fan of ported slides/barrels on defensive pistols due to the potential for injury in close-quarters encounters and retention scenarios. Not sure they’re worth it on this pistol. The minimized slide stop lever on the SAS is a bit more difficult to manipulate, but I don’t see this as a problem as locking the slide back is not usually a tactical manipulation.
I found short range accuracy with these smaller models fairly easy (with one caveat*) and was able to maintain sub-3” 4-shot groups out to 9 yards when shooting at a little faster than 1 shot/second. As these pistols are made for close encounters, I’d say they’re plenty accurate for more precise work at typical-encounter ranges and somewhat beyond (I never went out beyond 9 yards with them).
Shooting the larger P365 XL model offered a slightly more enjoyable experience than with the smaller ones and I can say that I enjoyed the XL’s flat trigger more than the curved trigger of the smaller models, but that’s a personal preference. Recoil was only slightly less than that of the smaller models and accuracy was at least as good.* The one little hiccup I experienced was that I could not easily eject an empty magazine without drastically changing my grip, as the meat of my hand prevented the mag from falling free. For a fighting gun, that is not optimal, but that was with my hands, others’ hands may not present this issue.
*The caveat regarding accuracy with all three of these pistols stems from the rather small grip dimension and how that affected both my grip and my trigger-finger placement. With a “normal” grip my trigger finger was a bit too far into the trigger and my accuracy suffered somewhat until I modified my grip to keep some of my finger out of the trigger. This will likely be a factor for most people when shooting these pistols, though whether it’s a problem is more of an individual factor. Surely, for some folks the smaller grip circumference will be a boon!
Carry and Concealability
I had the opportunity to briefly carry and draw the original P365 with a flush magazine in both an appendix holster (I regret I do not remember the brand) and a soft pocket holster (Kydex would have been better). In either position, the pistol concealed ridiculously well and comfort-wise was easily forgotten seconds after donning.
I typically carry a Glock 43 when I’m not able to carry my larger EDC pistol and the P365 was at least as easy and comfortable to carry as the G43. Perhaps more so. Since the P365 is made for concealed carry, I’m not at all surprised.
Though I didn’t attempt it, I have to believe that the XL model would be slightly less concealable than the smaller models, though it isn’t really a subcompact anyway. The XL is slightly shorter in both height and length compared to a Glock 19, but the fact that it is at least 10 ounces lighter than the G19 makes the P365 XL much easier to carry and conceal!
Conclusions on the P365 (original)
The P365 is a tiny, lightweight powerhouse with pretty amazing capacity. As Sig seems to have fixed the reliability issues, it’s hard to fathom a reason not to consider this pistol for fancy-dress carry, non-permissive-environment carry, or minimal-clothing carry. All with the caveat that because of the small size and snappiness, it is best suited to experienced shooters with smaller hands.
Conclusions on the P365 SAS
All that was mentioned above applies to the SAS model. My only caveats are than the slide and barrel ports are an odd feature, and potentially dangerous, and the slide-integrated FT Bullseye sight may be difficult for folks to get the hang of. I also note that the lack of a traditional rear sight makes one-handed slide racking off of a belt quite a bit more difficult. For a defensive gun this is, in my opinion, a flaw that potential purchases need to take into account.
Due to the oft-discussed reason for the slick-sided design of this pistol, I feel the need to criticize the notion of non-holster carry. It is highly dangerous and adults and children pay the ultimate price every year for this irresponsible mode of pistol carry. The “de-horned” nature of a pistol is not necessarily a bad thing, but the reasons for creating such a model are highly suspect, in my opinion. Even the notion of a soft pocket holster is irresponsible and reduced snag is not an issue for responsible carry in a Kydex holster. This move by Sig truly puzzles me.
Conclusions on the P365 XL
The XL model is a more-comfortable-to-hold/shoot variant that allows for a couple more rounds in the magazine and a slightly better grip…at the expense of concealability and weight. When one goes for superior concealment, these tradeoffs are not necessarily good. However, when one is trying to go more concealable then, say, a Glock 19 or similar-sized pistol without sacrificing too many rounds, the XL makes some good sense. The sights are good right out of the box, it’s comfortable to grip and to shoot, and the trigger is not terrible. Some folks will like the fact that it’s optic ready (for just a couple of reflex models).
Other manufacturers have worked to mimic the size vs. capacity that Sig originated with the P365, but none of them are named Sig Sauer and for many folks, that name matters. I recommend that you come to Eagle Gun Range and rent one or all three of these models and try them for yourself. You might find a perfect solution to your EDC needs.