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.
Be safe and train often!
* * *
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.
One sound defensive tactic that surely all of us are aware of is getting to some concealment or (even better) cover when someone is shooting at you or in your vicinity. Doing so makes good sense because you’re a less viable target if the attacker can’t see you. Moreover, mounting a defense from the relative safety and partial concealment of hard cover is far better than doing so while standing in the open.
To increase your chances of survival in an active shooter situation you must first understand the difference between concealment and cover and then know what to do once you get to either one of them. These things are vital because in the event you’re compelled to seek concealment or cover due to gunfire you are still in a fight for your life once you get there! Your survival likely depends on knowing what benefit—if any—you have gained and then how to exploit that benefit before it disappears. Because the moment you arrive behind cover or concealment, its value typically diminishes every second you’re there. Without deliberate action to exploit the value of your potential advantage, it could be that you’re merely waiting to die later rather than sooner.
Concealment vs. Cover
The difference between concealment and cover is, on the surface, pretty simple: concealment merely hides you from view, while cover shields you from gunfire.
In some active-shooter situations, hiding behind simple concealment may be the best option for some folks, whether that’s behind a short aisle of product in a convenience store, behind clothing racks in a department store, or in a room or closet of an office or school. One problem with concealment is that in a life-threatening situation concealment will not protect you from bullets that are being fired toward your location. Even if you’re in another room, bullets from almost any firearm will penetrate many simple sheetrock walls and are still deadly after passing through a few of them.
One other problem with simple concealment is that if all you’re doing is hiding, the shooter need only discover your location to completely evaporate your advantage and take your life.
One odd lesson one can glean from security footage of armed attackers and public gunfights is that the average criminal and defender in public both tend to treat concealment as cover in these violent altercations. When someone who is being shot at finds concealment from their attacker, the shooter almost never continues to fire through the concealment to try and hit their victim. I tend to believe this is due to two primary factors: 1) these criminals and armed citizens are seldom trained in gunfighting and have no point of reference for how to proceed when their target disappears from view, and 2) most of this type of footage depicts petty thieves, where the criminal is shooting only at those who are interfering with them or those who are not yet scared away and might interfere with them in the moments to come.
Even with these accounts from crime footage, as intelligent, responsible citizens we must not train ourselves to discount the important differences between concealment and true cover. By the same token, we should not rely on the ineptitude of our attackers.
Cover, too, is a visual barrier, but in addition has the quality that it cannot or is unlikely to be penetrated by bullets. Common examples include a thick concrete wall, the corner of a brick building, a car’s engine block, or an earthen hill.
Note, that the degree to which something qualifies as cover varies depending on the type and caliber of round being fired at you. For instance, cover from pistol fire is not necessarily cover from rifle rounds. Therefore, the quality and potential of cover is always contextual.
Concealment and Cover for Armed Defenders
As mentioned before, cover and concealment are not just for getting behind; you must then USE it to improve your position and/or tactical advantage, along with your chances of survival.
So what do you do once you get there?
The answers depend on quite a few factors, but one issue that is fairly consistent to all scenarios is that the assailant and everyone else in the vicinity are likely not just standing still. So remember that when you get to cover or hide behind some concealment, the situation that you can no longer see will continue to evolve. This may include the attacker advancing on your position because he saw you duck behind cover! That would be an example of why the value of your concealment diminishes by the second once you get there. This horrible video from the 2016 sniper attack in Dallas, Tx shows just how quickly the advantage of cover can disappear (Caution: it’s an immediately violent and disturbing video).
As for the specifics of what you might or should do, I’m going to be deliberately terse and vague from here on out because 1) context will dictate what is appropriate and there’s no way to touch on every possible tactic, and 2) you cannot learn this stuff from an article; this one or any other! You learn this stuff by receiving relevant instruction and then practicing what you’ve been taught on a continual basis. There is no substitute. I’m writing this article merely to illustrate just how much most of us have to learn about these issues.
Now, depending on context, once you reach cover it may or may not be a good idea for you to draw your weapon. Your survival may depend on your ability to return fire and stop the threat, but having a gun in your hand could greatly increase your danger if, say, police officers or other armed security are on site or imminent. Even another armed defender could perceive you as a threat if you have a gun in your hand where people are getting shot. So choose wisely and know how to best respond to various situations in this context.
If you do draw your firearm, remember that even though this is a violent and dangerous situation you must maintain proper safety protocols: muzzle in a safe direction, finger off the trigger unless your sights are on your intended target. Moreover, now that you are under threat it is VITAL that you exercise precise target discrimination (Rule #4): you don’t just shoot the first person to come around the corner to where you’ve taken cover!
Note that if you point your weapon at any well-trained civilian gunfighter—with or without deadly intent—s/he is going to drop you like a sack of potatoes. So if you don’t want to needlessly take the room-temperature challenge, know how to practice good discrimination and how NOT look threatening/criminal while holding your firearm (This stuff is complex and difficult! Take many classes.).
If you’ve already fired your weapon in defense, behind cover/concealment is a good place to reload (you do carry spare magazines, don’t you?). Even if you’re down even just a couple rounds, exchanging for a fresh mag is always a good idea if you have a moment.
If your concealment/cover affords you a view of or path to an exit, escaping the scene without being seen by the attacker(s) is likely the way to go. Logic makes clear that when it comes to gunfights, not being in one is always the best defense.
If you cannot escape from your concealment, best to quickly prepare your defense, including:
- changing your position behind your concealment (don’t let them just shoot you through the concealment to your one position) – if it’s merely concealment, mobility matters quite a lot
- setting up a counter-ambush, returning fire from a different or various location(s) while partially concealed
- If you carry a backup gun(s), maybe share with others gun-competent people who are seeking cover with you: multiply your defensive force!
- If you’ve been injured and don’t immediately have to mount a defense, use your IFAK to treat your injuries (you do carry a personal first aid kit or at least a tourniquet every day, don’t you?). For example, here’s a 1-handed tourniquet drill.
Remember that if you are being targeted as you get to cover, your assailant is doing things to improve his/her position, too. They’re not just waiting to see what happens. Work to achieve specific goals that negate their deadly actions.
Know when to move away from the cover and when to crowd your cover; yes, there are times when crowding is beneficial.
But do something!
The overriding point to remember is that once you get to cover or concealment you are still in a fight! So when you get to concealment, know that you are eminently vulnerable and need to take immediate action to save your own life. When you get to hard cover, you are less vulnerable, but you must still exploit your momentary advantage in order to survive…before your advantage evaporates.
Learn and train on specific tactics for specific circumstances. Learn what works and what doesn’t. Learn how distance from cover can give you a visual advantage over one who is closer to the barrier (It’s true!).
These skills are forged in training, under the tutelage of good instructors. Make sure that in addition to your gun-handling-skills classes you’re also taking tactical gunfighting classes. Regularly. And practice what you learn on a continual basis so that in the unfortunate event you are caught in a deadly situation, you have experience from which to call on viable survival tactics.
Featured photo is from the Palm Beach Post.
If you’re in the market for your first handgun, you may be feeling overwhelmed by all of the different available options. You also may not be entirely sure what terms like “caliber” mean or what the differences are between pistols and revolvers.
This guide will fill you in on everything you need to know to choose your first handgun confidently.
Choosing a handgun chambered in the right caliber for your needs and shooting ability is the most crucial decision you’ll need to make.
Caliber is a measurement of a bullet’s diameter, measured in either inches or millimeters (mm). 9mm Parabellum ammo, for example, has a bullet diameter of 9.01 mm and .45 ACP has a bullet diameter of 0.451 inches.
When we say “bullet,” we’re specifically referring to the projectile shot from a firearm, not the entire cartridge which includes the bullet, case, powder, and primer.
With very few exceptions, you can only safely shoot a particular caliber from a firearm chambered specifically for that caliber. For example, you can NOT shoot .40 S&W or .45 Auto from a pistol chambered in 9mm. You should always refer to the owners manual of your firearms to be sure what ammo can safely be shot from them. Failure to do so could result in the catastrophic failure of your gun and even severe injury to the shooter or bystanders.
In addition to differing bullet diameters, handgun calibers are loaded to different specifications from one another.
The most important factors to note are the mass of a bullet, measured in grains (gr), and the velocity it will travel. These factors play a tremendous role in both the “stopping power” and felt recoil of a given round.
Common Handgun Calibers
There are hundreds of calibers that handguns have been or are still commonly chambered in today. To keep this guide concise, I’ll be focusing on the most popular options.
Among the most popular calibers, .22 Long Rifle (.22 LR) is the only one with rimfire cartridges.
Rimfire ammunition requires a gun’s firing pin to strike and crush the cartridge’s base to ignite the primer. Rimfire ammo has a very thin case which limits this type of ammunition to low-pressure loads.
By contrast, Centerfire ammunition has an external primer located at the base of the case head.
.22 Long Rifle most commonly has a bullet weight of 36 grains or 40 grains, yet a velocity roughly on par with the much heavier 9mm. Particularly for experienced shooters, it can feel like this caliber has almost no noticeable recoil.
This makes .22 LR pistols, revolvers, and rifles a excellent options for introducing children and new shooters to firearms. .22 LR ammo is also the cheapest available by a significant margin, making it a favorite caliber to shoot for even the most experienced shooters.
The downside to this caliber is that it has limited applications beyond just shooting for the sake of it. .22 LR can be used for hunting very small vermin but lacks the power to hunt larger animals.
While .22 Long Rifle can certainly be lethal to a human with a well-placed shot, it’s by no means remotely close to optimal for self-defense. For these purposes, .22 LR lacks sufficient power and is likely to fail to penetrate to the required depth needed to hit vital organs.
Self-Defense Calibers/Concealed Carry Calibers
The most popular pistol calibers used for self-defense, including concealed carry, are:
- .380 Auto (.380 ACP)
- 9mm (Specifically, 9x19mm Parabellum a.ka. 9mm Luger and 9mm NATO)
- .40 Smith and Wesson (.40 S&W)
- .45 Auto (.45 ACP)
Some also choose to use revolvers for self-defense which can be chambered in other popular calibers like .38 Special and .357 Magnum.
.380 Auto is the minimum viable caliber many would consider using for self-defense. Of the options I’ll cover, it has the lightest bullets (most commonly 90 grain or 95 grain) and a velocity usually slower than 9mm.
This makes it easy to shoot, having minimal recoil compared to larger calibers. Nearly all non-disabled adult shooters should be able to shoot it comfortably.
The small size of the cartridge also allows firearm manufacturers to make some extremely small pocket-sized pistols chambered in .380 Auto.
Smith & Wesson M&P380 Shield EZ
The negative to .380 Auto’s lack of power is that it performs worse than larger calibers in important metrics during ballistic gel testing. It’s common for this caliber to underpenetrate recommended depths of 12″-18″ and most loads have very poor bullet expansion compared to hollow point ammunition in larger calibers.
With that said, any gun is better than no gun if you need it for self-defense, so .380 Auto can be considered if you can’t handle larger calibers.
9mm is the most popular handgun caliber commonly recommended for self-defense use.
It’s the caliber of standard issued sidearms in the U.S. military, as well as all NATO forces. Though larger calibers were popular among local and federal law enforcement over the last 30+ years, many have switched to 9mm in recent years (if they weren’t already using it).
Recently, the FBI switched from .40 S&W to 9mm after ballistic testing and studying the performance of officers with different calibers. They found that the design of modern 9mm ammunition reduced the gap in ballistic tests when comparing it to larger calibers. Participants in their study also shot faster and more accurately with 9mm pistols compared to .40 S&W pistols. Lastly, they cited the larger magazine capacity of 9mm pistols as a significant benefit compared to pistols chambered in larger calibers.
9mm is a fantastic choice for a self-defense pistol. Even if you feel comfortable shooting larger calibers, you may find that you’re meaningfully faster with 9mm when doing drills.
With bullets weights most commonly being 115 gr, 124 gr, and 147 gr, combined with velocity in a similar range to the heavier .40 S&W, most people will find that they can comfortably shoot 9mm.
The heavier bullets of both .40 S&W and .45 Auto typically produce more energy than 9mm.
Though an argument can be made that this increases their “stopping power” compared to 9mm, it also results in greater felt recoil that can decrease your ability to perform with these calibers. Because of this, new or weaker shooters may also feel uncomfortable shootings pistols chambered in these calibers.
If you’re an experienced shooter or feel that you perform just as well with .40 S&W or .45 Auto, then, by all means, get a pistol chambered in one of these calibers. However, I’d generally recommend 9mm for people looking for their first pistol to use for self-defense.
Revolvers vs Pistols
Another decision you’ll have to make is what type of handgun to buy. The two major options are revolvers and pistols.
Today, most people opt for pistols for the increased capacity they offer. When comparing two very compact handguns from each group, the Colt Cobra (revolver) and Glock 26 Subcompact (pistol), the Glock pistol can hold 4 additional rounds in its magazine compared to the cobra’s cylinder.
Most revolvers only hold 6 rounds, so the difference in capacity becomes even more significant when you start looking at larger handguns. The full-size Glock 19, for example, has a standard magazine capacity of 17 rounds.
Revolvers do have a major benefit of being incredibly simplistic. Thanks to their simple design, handling malfunction can often be as simple as pulling the trigger again.
Military, police, and most civilians typically favor the increased capacity pistols offer over slightly more reliable revolvers.
Though I wouldn’t carry a revolver for everyday carry chambered in calibers like .38 Special, revolvers do have their place. Larger caliber revolvers are a great option for protection against large animals when hiking or camping.
Handgun manufacturers make handguns in a variety of sizes.
Full-size handguns are often more comfortable to shoot because you can easily get a full grip on them. Though most modern handguns aren’t heavy, the extra weight of full-sized handguns can significantly reduce felt recoil. Remember though, larger handguns are more difficult to conceal, so they’re unlikely to be a great option if you plan to concealed carry.
In the picture below, you can see two SIG Sauer pistols I own. The larger of the two (P320 RX) is one of my favorite guns to shoot at the range and a great choice for home defense, but I carry the much smaller (P365). (If you’re wondering what’s mounted to both pistols, each of them has a pistol light attached.)
The smaller P365 is a bit more challenging to get a good grip on and it holds 5 less rounds (12 vs 17), but I accept these tradeoffs because it’s comfortable and easy to conceal in a holster.
Keep in mind, these two handguns are at opposite ends of the spectrum. You can find plenty of handguns sized between these.
Choosing Your First Handgun
Now that you have some idea of what to consider when buying your first handgun, the next step is to head to your local range and find what’s right for you.
Think about the reasons you’re buying a handgun before you get there, so the staff can help point you in the right direction. Many gun ranges have rentals available so you can try different options and see what feels best to you.
Once you own your first handgun, be sure to familiarize yourself with it and regularly practice at the range!
At Eagle Gun Range you can rent any handgun for $5.00
You will need to purchase ammunition with your rental gun. This will allow you to try out many different options before you decide which handgun is right for you.On Ladies Day, ladies can rent lanes for $5 and handguns for Free with ammunition purchase. Ladies Day is all day Tuesday every week.
This article first appeared on GunPros.
It will come as no surprise to those of you who keep up with my reviews here that I’m a Glock fan and a practicality fan, and habitually measure every pistol I shoot against a Glock; either directly or subconsciously. Given that few pistol can match Glock’s simplicity, reliability, and size/weight-to-capacity ratio it’s hard to consider recommending most pistols over a similar (but superior) Glock model. This time, though, I’ve got little to argue against. The Sig P365 does what it does better than either the Glock 26 or the Glock 43. With one caveat.*
I guess I’ve summed up my review right there. Okay, there probably is a reason to continue reading and my positive assessment of the 365 is not without dissent, but Sig got some things right here that can’t be denied. I spent part of this month shooting and getting familiar with the Sig P365 and this is what I found.
Why Consider the Sig Sauer P365?
The Sig P365 is a purpose-made concealed-carry pistol. It is also…the work of gypsies, as it takes a frame and slide that are either the same size or SMALLER than that of the Glock 43 (a single-stack gun) and adds 4 rounds to it. And it does it in a way that is more comfortable to hold and has a better trigger.
So you might consider the Sig P365 for its impossible sorcery of improved capacity and grip comfort over all competitors or perhaps for how it logically allows you to carry an 11-round, 9mm pistol that disappears onto your waistline as almost no other gun. Or perhaps you might consider this one because it’s a Sig Sauer pistol, known (with a cringy exception or two *cough*P320*cough*) to make excellent firearms.
Now, about that caveat I mentioned. Despite reports of issues with this pistol, I experienced no issues when running the gun through a couple hundred rounds (a gun that had 2,200 rounds through it already) and since this is a first-impression and shooting review, I will merely report on my experience.
Sig Sauer P365 Specs:
- Caliber: 9mm
- Length: 5.8 “
- Height: 4.3” with flush magazine
- Width: 1”
- Barrel: 3.1”
- Trigger: ~6 lb.
- Sights: XRAY3 Day/Night Sights (3-dot)
- Weight: 17.8oz. w/empty magazine
- Slide: Stainless Steel, Nitron finish
- Capacity: 10+1 (1 flush mag, 1 extended mag) – 12-round magazine available
- MSRP: $599
Shooting the P365
The first time I shot the P365 I tried to use my normal grip, with a high-forward support hand. I left not liking the experience because the slide-lock lever painfully abraded my support-hand thumb knuckle at the palm. Shooting it was genuinely uncomfortable. It later occurred to me to augment my grip so that the thumb knuckle was not in contact with the lever. This grip proved to be both effective and comfortable.
I came to enjoy shooting the little pistol and had no problems or difficulty running the gun; inserting mags, getting a grip, firing, ejecting the mag, locking the slide back, etc… The controls seem to be well located for my medium-sized hands and perfectly functional to what I’d expect. Frankly, I was expecting difficulty and never encountered any.
In one session I went back and forth between my Glock 43 and the P365, shooting groups at various ranges. I used my normal grip with my G43 and the altered grip with the P365. I was surprised to see that at every distance, the groups with the P365 were half the size of the Glock 43 groups. Yes, that is anecdotal and I am not quite sure what to attribute this difference to, but I believe it is the better trigger on the Sig. Also the sights on the Sig seem a bit more precise.
I’ve read where the P365 is rated for +P ammunition, if you care about such things. The average defensive 9mm round is perfectly effective without any added pressure so I’ve always been against +P ammo. It’s possible that +P matters in a tiny gun like this, with such a short barrel, but I confess I don’t at this moment know where performance would necessitate a +P round.
Comfort, Controllability, & Capacity
As I mentioned earlier, once I changed my grip, I found the P365 to be quite comfortable to hold and to shoot. The grip is actually quite small and would be excellent for people with smaller hands.
Generally speaking, it’s a tiny pistol so shooting 9mm from it means it’s going to be snappier than a mid-sized pistol. That said, I found it very easy to control—even with a modified grip—and easy to make quick follow-up shots. This is especially true when I was using the extended magazine, where I was able to get my whole hand on the grip. I still find it amazing that this short, thin, little grip can hold a magazine with 10 rounds. It seems impossible, yet here it is.
Components & Features
The slide is a mere 1” wide and it has good serrations both fore and aft. The stock sights are very nice, with tritium inserts front and rear (mostly invisible in daylight, so you get a blacked-out rear) and the front dot is surrounded by a day-glow-green ring for daytime high contrast. I found the sights to be very easy to pick up and to use for easy accuracy.
As do all good pistols, the P365 has no extraneous external controls; only a slide-lock lever and a takedown lever mar the otherwise clean design. The trigger is plastic and does not have a safety-tab rib, making it a bit more comfortable on the finger pad than most striker-fired pistols’ trigger shoes. The trigger action is very nice for a stock trigger. It has some takeup, a clear wall, and a sort of dull break (not super-crisp). The reset is quite short and a bit soft; not as tactile as you’ll find on many striker-fired pistols. I found the trigger to be very nice when running the gun and, I think, it’s a component that contributes to the easy accuracy.
The frame has a nice, if not very aggressive, texture and it features an accessory rail up front. Note, however, that this is not a picatinny rail and is entirely proprietary. I expect that Sig will release some Sig-specific accessories for this rail in the future. The magazine release is easy to find and use and is reversible for lefties. The pistol comes with a 10-round flush mag and 10-round extended mag (with 12-round mags available).
I experienced no issues whatever shooting a few hundred rounds through the Sig P365. That said, there have been many reports of some specific failures and issues from the early purchasers of this pistol. The primary issue reported is that the pistols firing action causes the tip of the striker to drag across the primer (primer smear), often leading to a broken striker where the tip breaks off. As counterpoint to those reports, there are reports from folks who have 10,000+ rounds through theirs with no issues.
As this is not an in-depth review, I can only report on my own limited experience with this pistol. Issues after a first release are in no way uncommon with pistols and what matters most at this point is the manufacturer’s response to them. As you can likely tell, I’m a fan of the gun for a few important reasons. I cannot, however, recommend that anyone use this pistol as their sole personal-protection tool until Sig has a chance to address these post-release issues.
The P365 has the best size-to-capacity ratio of any subcompact pistol. The trigger and sights are quite good right out of the box. While small, the pistol’s ergonomic design makes it fit comfortably in the hand and the extended magazine allows most folks to get all of their fingers on the grip. For carry, the pistol is small enough to disappear onto your body no matter what carry location you choose. I found it to be easily accurate out to 15 yards, which is plenty for a subcompact.
The slide-lock lever will painfully abrade your support hand if you take a high, thumb-forward position. Being so small and light, the pistol is rather snappy firing the 9mm round. The P365 seems to have some function and construction issues yet to be worked out by the manufacturer, so it may not right now be the best choice as your only carry gun. Some may find the purchase price to be a bit off-putting.
So for rating the Sig P365…
For such a small pistol, it’s quite comfortable in the hand. I found the controls easy to reach and use.
Definitely a shootable pistol, with its nice trigger action and excellent sights. It’s only detriment is it’s subcompact size.
I found it plenty accurate and easy to get there. Again, sights and trigger are positive contributors here.
The P365 tiny and thin and should be invisible on just about anybody in any carry location.
Sig has seemingly done the impossible here; squeezing 11 rounds into a super-tiny striker-fired pistol that is both comfortable and accurate. It’s the kind of thing that most concealed carriers always wish for. I have to believe that this P365 will eventually become a concealed-carry staple for lots of folks.
I’m a Glock guy because I’m a 100%-reliability guy and it’s hard to contemplate replacing my G43 with something other than a Glock, but this little pistol has me seriously considering it. I’m not quite ready to jump yet, as there seem to be some function issues that Sig Sauer needs to address, but once done I am likely on board. I think this little pistol is a gem.
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