October 23, 2019
This year’s summer release of the SIG Sauer P365 XL was the most anticipated launch since the first P365 debuted on the cover of our May 2018 issue. The original P365 was groundbreaking, winning the 2018 Guns & Ammo Handgun of the Year award and knocking off the single-stack Glock 43, which had only been introduced three years prior to similar fanfare, as America’s best-selling concealed carry pistol. Just as fast as the G43 made the .380-chambered G42 a cheap gun store trade-in, the P365 stunted sales of the G43 once supply caught up with demand.
The P365 instantly secured its place as the gold standard to which all other single- and double-stack 9mms are compared. I say “secured” because its magazine was cleverly designed as a unique stack-and-a-half that’s currently protected by three patents. Engineers at other manufacturers have been frustrated by their inability to work around these patents and stuff just as many rounds of 9mm in a magazine with similar dimensions.
The once-hot G43 only offered six-plus-one capacity magazines, which brought about an aftermarket selling plus-one and plus-two extensions. The only option to carry more rounds without a reload was to purchase a double-stack pistol, but those interested in the G43 wanted it for its slim 1.02-inch-wide proportions.
Double-stack pistols such as the Glock 26 (1.18 inches wide) and newer HK VP9 SK (1.31 inches wide) may be great pistols, but they tend to feel fat in the hand and are more of a challenge to conceal comfortably, which is what gave rise to the single-stack subcompact market in the first place. Now, let’s consider the new P365 XL.
Guns & Ammo sources our own independent measurements, so the specifications that follow may or may not agree with the manufacturer’s data. Our P365 XL featured a barrel length of 3.695 inches, measured from the breech block’s hood to the muzzle. The P365 barrel measured 3.091 inches; The XL’s slide was .675-inch longer than the P365’s. With similar proportions, this extension gives the XL a 5.6-inch sight radius compared to the P365’s 4.85 inches.
Sight radius matters to some because a longer slide typically allows sharp eyes to define the edges of the front sight within the blurred rear notch for more precise visual discernment. The SIG Sauer X-Ray3 day/night sights, which are standard on both pistols, are similar, but different at the rear.
The P365s we evaluated came with a three-dot tritium sight system. The notch between the two X-Ray3 rear sights measured .15-inch, the same width as the front X-Ray3 sight. However, the rear sight on the P365 featured horizontal serrations across the back, intended to minimize the reflection of direct sunlight. The new rear sight lacks serrations. The XL’s front sight features the same bright, green ring surrounding a fine, tritium night-sight vial. I have 20/15 vision and I perceived an improved sight alignment when shooting the XL.
G&A staff chronographed both the P365 and P365 XL with the same SIG Sauer 115-grain V-Crown ammunition. There was no difference in the average velocity of 1,110 feet per second (fps). Ballistically, the longer slide of the XL offers no extra benefit, but when testing for accuracy with the X-Ray3 sights and the same V-Crown load, the average size of our 25-yard five-shot group was reduced to 1.78 inches with the XL compared to the 1.97 average of the standard P365.
Underneath the slide, the striker-fire assemblies are almost identical. However, there are now two, .625-inch-long Torx-head screws that secure the new X-Ray3 rear sight from under the slide. (The standard P365 rear sight is dovetailed to the slide.) Remove the slide to remove these screws and install a micro red dot sight. SIG Sauer’s new RomeoZero ($250) is a snap to install and it fits perfectly within the factory sight cut. The slide will also accept a Shield RMSc ($400).
Besides the added length and weight at the muzzle, the slides and barrels are otherwise the same. Different are the guiderod and recoil spring. The recoil spring assembly in the shorter P365 is a compound part, meaning there are two progressive springs with one rod plunging inside an outer rod. This system manages recoil to run the P365’s shorter slide. Because the P365 XL has a longer raceway for the slide to recoil against, it utilizes a single captured spring and guiderod assembly.
Not only is the P365 XL longer, it is also taller, with a grip extending .587 inch. Interestingly, the P365 XL with the flush-fit 12-round magazine installed measured the same height as an original P365 with optional 12-round magazine inserted. The frame is also longer due to a new beavertail that breaks up the flush profile with the bottom of the slide as seen on the standard P365.
The arch of the backstrap and the contour of the triggerguard’s untextured undercut appear the same, but there’s more purchase area at the frontstrap due to the longer grip. At the range, this resulted in felt recoil that was more manageable than the P365’s, which wasn’t bad either.
Combining the extra weight out at the front of the slide with the longer grip and beavertail made shooting the P365 XL impressively controllable, regardless of a 9mm’s bullet weight and velocity. In total, the XL weighed 1 pound, 4.7 ounces compared to the P365’s weight of 1 pound, 1.8 ounces. The P365 XL is easier to shoot, in part, because there is almost 3 ounces of weight at the muzzle.
Texturing surrounds both grip modules and will wear down with use. It’s a rough texture, but not something that can be classified as aggressive; It’s a nice balance that also improves control of the gun.
At the base of the grip, the standard P365 features a pair of notches at the side, which fit like a puzzle piece with the magazine’s baseplate as well as the optional angled baseplate and 12-round extension. The XL’s funneled magazine well does not.
The P365’s 10 and extended 12-round magazines, and the P365 XL’s standard 12 and optional 15-round magazines blur the lines between a single-stack 9mm pistol and and a larger double-stack subcompact. The FN FNS-9C, Ruger SR9c, Springfield Armory XD-9 Mod.2 subcompact, Taurus G2C and Walther PPQ SC all offer magazines that match or offer greater capacity, but none are as slim as the P365 or P365 XL. The P365 measured 4.74 inches tall with the longer 12-round magazine, and the P365 XL measured 5.35 inches with the optional 15-round mag inserted. For their capacity, the P365 and P365 XL have no competition in size and profile.
A visual difference between the P365 and the P365 XL is the trigger; The P365 features a curved trigger while the P365 XL has a flat trigger. For being flat, the XL trigger actually has a longer length of pull from center at 2.7 inches. The curved trigger on the standard P365 measured 2.61 inches. I’ll leave it up to you whether flat or curved triggers are better, but larger hands might prefer the new flat trigger for the increased length of pull. This was a clever way for SIG Sauer to address any complaints about a short length of pull from large-handed shooters without changing the dimensions of the trigger’s location on the frame.
To me, what’s more important is how a trigger feels. I personally own two box-stock P365s, one with more than 3,000 rounds through it. Both trigger pulls feel similar and average 6 pounds, 6 ounces on a Lyman digital trigger-pull gauge. The trigger pulls on the P365 XL measured almost a pound lighter at 5½ pounds. However, there’s just something about the XL’s trigger that makes it feel longer and interrupted as it is pressed.
The P365 XL features a flared magazine well that’s funneled to gobble up either of the two supplied standard 12-round magazine or an optional 15-round magazine. The 12-round mag fits flush and will function in a standard P365 — and so will the 15-round magazine! Once they appeared on SIG Sauer’s webstore for $49, they became their own commodity.
The basepads on any of the P365 magazines can be changed to fill the void and improve the grip, but there’s no contour at the bottom of the 15-rounder. The square corner of the box pokes at the heel of the shooting hand, which I found uncomfortable. This is odd, in my opinion, because the 12-round magazines feature an arched, textured tail that blends well with the backstrap. This suggests that engineers could have designed a more comfortable baseplate for the 15-round mag. Regardless, it’s hard to argue given the 15-plus-one capacity is now available for either pistol.
Like the original, the P365 XL points well for me. It requires little effort to align the sights instantly or learn how to use a red dot. At the range, the P365 XL proved to be a very accurate pistol. With iron sights, results averaged between 1.7 inches for the best five-shot groups fired from a bench at 25 yards to 2.2 inches. It was noteworthy that there were not the usual flyers that we experience when testing other pistols. Every round fired from the P365 XL seemed to hit its mark.
Once SIG Sauer’s new RomeoZero red dot was installed and sighted in, the groups shrunk even more. In fact, during function testing with Federal’s 147-grain Hydra Shock load, I fired five shots while standing offhand (and unsupported) into a group that measured 1.44 inches! Even more incredible was that all five shots were centered inside the 10 ring. Like a proud kid, I saved the target to hang up when I got home.
I used to struggle with an answer when someone would come up and ask if a particular handgun was a good choice for personal defense. “It depends,” I’d say. These days, I usually reply with another question: “Have you looked at a SIG Sauer P365?”
The P365 XL is no better or worse of a pistol than the standard model. Whether it’s right for you will largely depend on handsize and your ability to conceal the grip without printing. I’m sure of one thing: One of them is probably going to suit you well.
SIG Sauer P365 XL
- Type: Striker fired, recoil operated, semiautomatic
- Cartridge: 9mm
- Capacity: 12+1 rds. (2 incl.); 15+1 rds. (optional)
- Barrel: 3.7 in.; carbon steel
- Overall Length: 6.6 in.
- Height: 4.8 in.
- Width: 1.1 in.
- Weight: 1 lb., 4.7 oz.
- Grip Module: XL; textured polymer
- Finish: Nitron (stainless steel)
- Trigger: 4 lbs., 8 oz.; flat
- Sights: SIG X-Ray3; optic ready
- MSRP: $685
- Manufacturer: SIG Sauer, 603-610-3000, sigsauer.com
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