Introduction and Why Carry the SIG P365XL
By the late twenty-teens, the tactical meta evolved into a full-size pistol carrying fifteen to twenty rounds, often with a red dot sight mounted and usually with a full size weapon light attached. It’s certainly a capable pistol: it’s very easy to shoot, it allows for precise fire all the way across the food court, and it has enough capacity to make it through a USPSA stage.
Some of those people on the internet actually stuff such a blaster in a PHLSTER Floodlight from time to time. Most folks, however, do not truly carry them all the time. There are a variety of reasons for this. Guns so configured are heavy. They’re also quite large (the height on my PDP is over six inches with a red dot sight), and the bulk is often detrimental to both concealment and comfortable carry.
Above all, they’re difficult to conceal. Notice I said conceal and not cover. Some people simply cannot afford to have others see their gun, and getting made has actual consequences beyond freaking out the Starbucks patrons. For me, there’s a very real risk that some very motivated people who don’t need to have a firearm may grab it. For others, it might mean loss of a job or even arrest.
But what if I want the capability of a full-sized gun in that environment? Enter the SIG P365XL. This article is something of a long-term review of that gun.
What Do You Need The Gun to Do?
We all have standards for ourselves. As with anything else, mission drives the firearms selection train. When selecting a firearm for carry, we should define those standards – or else, we’re left with unmeasurable feelings. For me, I feel the need to do the following with a carry gun:
- Engage at least three assailants with the ammunition in the gun
- Deliver five rounds from the holster to the NRA B8 black at 5 yards in under 2.5 seconds
- Draw from concealment and hit an NRA B8 black at 5 yards in under 1.4 seconds
- Rapidly hit a head-sized target at 15 yards
- Shoot a 90 or better on an NRA B8 at 25 yards
- Reload rapidly and without serious shifting of my grip
- Shoot a firearms training class without being held back
Some things I use to measure this performance are the Super Test and the Test, as well as running the No Fail Shot drill at 15 yards and shooting the FAST Test in under 7 seconds. The P365XL can do all of those things. It’s made it through two firearms training courses and some informal structured training days. It can shoot in the high 90s on a B8 at 25 yards. The last FAST I shot with it was a 6.31 clean. It does all of these things in a package that’s scarcely larger than a J-Frame.
The New J-Frame
Scarcely larger than a J-Frame is an important point. The size and portability of the gun have given me no reason to go any smaller. The size and weight of the P365XL mean that I can do deep concealment in a PHLSTER Enigma, casual concealment around the house in a Dark Star Gear Hitchhiker, and hiking in a Blackhawk T-Series with equal ease. If I felt the need to pocket carry (I don’t), I could simply add the requisite P365 slide and grip module to get a gun that’s actually slightly smaller than a S&W 642.
For me at least, I can truly conceal this gun anywhere there aren’t metal detectors. I can also shoot it to a level largely on par with my full size guns.
The P365XL gives up three rounds to the Glock 19, the traditional CCW standby for many. While I won't say that the P365XL is easier to shoot than a Glock 19, it's absolutely not much harder. Unlike something like a Ruger LCP or S&W 642 -- both firearms which many users find very difficult to shoot well -- the P365XL doesn't really hold the user back. They also shoot softer than the Glock 43s and S&W Shields this class of micro-9s replaced.
The Benefits of Adaptibility
The P365 family is “modular” like its larger sibling, the P320. The serialized trigger group can be swapped into different grip modules, and the user can change slide and barrel lengths at will. This meant I could upgrade to a Boresight Solutions grip without losing my gun for months. I don’t run a stippling business, but I imagine that being able to sell customized grip frames is a lot easier than dealing with receiving guns. From a customization standpoint, the modularity is a win-win for both users and makers.
My next step is to continue to work with a manual safety. My carry gun does not currently have a safety; I need to spend a couple of months with one on my practice gun to feel comfortable. Manual safeties are not for everybody, but for those who see a benefit to them SIG makes their addition easy.
The P365XL comes cut for the Shield RMS-C footprint. This means the user can add a red dot if they so desire. With the recent release of the P365X, factory options exist for either slide length to be red dot-equipped. And like many other modern handguns, quality aftermarket slides exist. The user thus has the ability to employ modern sighting systems if they choose. About the only knock I can give to the factory cuts is the lack of a rear sight (though most micro-RDSs now have integrated rear sights).
The P365XL has a rail, though an odd one. There are two semi-serious WMLs available for it should the user choose to add one. I am of the opinion that neither light does what I want a WML to do, and further that the WML spoils some of the gun’s portability. Nevertheless, the option is there. A user could assemble a pretty credible do-it-all handgun with a Surefire XSC, a Holosun 507K, and a few 15-round magazines.
SIG has been maligned over the years for using consumers as beta-testers, outsourcing to save a few cents, and shipping with poor quality control. I’m not here to dispute any of that. What I can say is that my carry gun has been reliable. That includes over 300 rounds of my carry Federal 147gr HST (and 80 rounds of Underwood Xtreme Defender 90gr+P). There was one instance where I was gripping the gun too high and pushed the slide release up, causing the slide to lock back while firing. Unfortunately, I cannot say that my practice gun has a similar track record.
My practice gun developed a failure to extract issue around the 3300 round mark. It was persistent through multiple types of ammunition. Ultimately, I sent the gun to SIG – who replaced the extractor and the FCU. Two failures to extract occurred after receiving the gun back. I have noticed that these occurred with a particular magazine. Taking that magazine out of the equation and replacing the recoil spring (which was apparently not done by SIG) seems to have remedied the issue as of this writing. I find that odd considering neither item is typically identified as a cause of failures to extract. Nevertheless, this specific gun exhibited an unacceptable level of reliability and honesty requires I disclose this.
Rust has been an issue as well, albeit a minor one. Neither gun has rusted but some of my magazines have. I don’t know who SIG uses for the magazines, but the finish they use simply not on par with other manufacturers. A recent trip to the Gulf Coast yielded surface rust inside both of my carry magazines. Over the past year, I’ve also found small amounts of surface rust on the exterior of the magazines. In every case the surface rust was easily removed. Nevertheless, for those of us used to Glock magazines, this is a new concern.
Conclusion After a Year with the SIG Sauer P365XL
I've been extremely happy carrying the P365XL over the past year. The gun is capable of both shooting and carrying all day long. While it's not been without its problems, overall I think the category of micro-9s the P365XL is a leading example of is an excellent option for the overwhelming majority of CCWers. Give it a try -- you may be surprised at how well the gun fits into your daily routine.