Sig’s P365 is a winner; there’s no disputing it. However, the P356X-MACRO, with its new magazine design and a thin profile that’s easy to conceal and control is the new sheriff in SIG town.
by Bob Campbell
Full-size service-grade handguns are reliable and easy to shoot. Those are two facts you can take to the bank. Just the same, a full-size handgun can be chopped and channeled into a compact pistol, as with the 1911, SIG P Series, GLOCK, and others. These are purpose-designed service pistols that have been re-designed into smaller handguns. The purpose is ease of carry and concealment.
Then there are the purpose-designed sub-compact pistols. The SIG P365 is among my favorites. The P365 is a first-class sub-compact with proven reliability, good practical accuracy, and a small footprint. That all sounds good, but not every shooter is looking for the same features.
Some want a pistol that is easier to shoot well with more cartridge capacity. The SIG P365XL extends its barrel length to 3.7 inches. The grip frame is lengthened to house a twelve-round magazine versus the original ten-round magazine. While larger pistols such as the GLOCK 19 and SIG P320 are easier to shoot, they are also more challenging to conceal. The P365XL is another matter altogether. The P365XL is a good shooter with less recoil than the P365 and handles much better. After seeing the love the SIG P365XL received, SIG upped the ante and gave us the SIG P365XL Spectre, a custom shop pistol with a lot of bling and outstanding performance. A flat trigger and SIG X-ray sights are more than icing on the cake; they are the primary ingredients for excellent performance.
Several correspondents and students have asked what I thought of the P365’s longevity. The pistol has been out long enough that any flaws would have surfaced. The guns are not fired to the tune of 10 to 20,000 cartridges a year on the competition circuit and are not intended to be. Slides and frames don’t crack. In compact guns, the small parts take a beating. I would not expect a P365 to have the service life of a SIG P320, but it just may. Ten thousand cartridges are a great deal of ammunition by weight, expense, and time in shooting. If you change the recoil spring every 3,000 rounds and replace magazines (due to magazine spring, follower, and magazine lip wear) every 5,000 rounds, the pistol will outlast the shooter. That noted, SIG has introduced a new pistol on the P365 frame that takes the process even further. This is the SIG P365-XMACRO.
Unless SIG introduces a P365 Carbine, this may be the end of the lengthening of the original sub-compact pistol. The P365 flat trigger is retained. The SIG P365-XMACRO features among the best-designed night sights ever mounted on a slide — the SIG X-ray. Self-luminous iron sights are an essential feature of any pistol designed for personal defense. This make isn’t any longer than the SIG P365XL, while the butt is about .6 inches higher. The grip frame is large enough that grip inserts to accommodate different hand sizes are included in the package. The new magazines are advertised at a sixteen-round capacity. I could only load fifteen, and I needed a magazine loader to do it. Perhaps they will break in with time. It is asking a lot for a high-capacity magazine to feed cartridges from heavy compression to almost no compression on the last few cartridges. SIG magazines, this one included, are famously reliable. A significant difference in the SIG P365-XMACRO is the slide design. The slide is machined into a dual compensator, resulting in a startling reduction in recoil.
Let’s get some of the mechanical descriptions out of the way first. The SIG P365-XMACRO has a gripping treatment with an excellent combination of abrasion and adhesion. A finger groove located just under the trigger guard is left un-pebbled. This notch and the high rear strap ending in an elongated tang make for a secure and comfortable firing platform. Finger relief grooves molded into the polymer frame aid in trigger reach, and the frame features a true Picatinny rail. This is more versatile than the original SIG-type rail of the P365XL. The trapezoid magazine release is positive in operation, and the slide lock is protected enough that it isn’t likely to be activated inadvertently. At the same time, it isn’t difficult to manipulate during speed loads. Take down is simple enough. Lock the slide to the rear, rotate the takedown lever, and run the slide off the frame. The recoil spring guide and spring come out easily — the barrel slides readily from the slide. The slide-to-frame fit is tight with virtually no lateral play. The slide is stainless steel finished in a hard coating, with both forward and rear cocking serrations. The front sight sets just behind the compensator. The slide is optics-ready. I did not explore this option, but it’s good to have. Trigger compression settled into 5.5 pounds after firing over 500 cartridges over several weeks. There have been no failures to feed, chamber, fire, or eject.
Recoil is subjective, but we know when it is too much. A GLOCK 19 will be a good companion during a 500-round immersion class. A SIG P365XL isn’t a hard kicker, but not comfortable in that aforementioned environment. You may be rubbing your wrists after 100 rounds. The P365-XMACRO is a very comfortable pistol to fire, and it shoots like a big gun. I found the recoil to be modest.
There are fundamental physical principles affecting recoil. The SIG P365-XMACRO is a rule beater. The pistol is a softer shooter than most, but it should be. The larger grip has some effect on felt recoil as the recoil impulse is spread out over a larger area. The compensator is another advantage. A compensator hung on the end of the barrel may dampen recoil simply by weight. While compensators usually work as designed, they may also affect reliability by altering the feed cycle. SIG’s integral design does nothing of the sort and offers a genuine improvement.
The pistol shoots well in fast combat drills. Place the front sight on the target, and it tends to stay there. Use a firm grip, line the sights up, and press the trigger straight to the rear. Do this, and you’ll hit the target regularly. After squeezing the trigger, follow through, re-align the sights before pressing the trigger again, and you have another hit. The sights are well suited to fast and precise shooting. The compensator doesn’t have much blast but don’t fire it at eye level. In the indoor range, there was a discernable orange glow from the compensator. This varied with the load. As for absolute accuracy, this is always interesting, if not valid, concerning personal defense. Firing off a solid bench rest, the pistol will put five shots into 2.5 inches at a long 25 yards. If there is a downside, it is the inevitable loss of velocity compared to the standard SIG P365XL. The P365-XMACRO generates the same velocity as the P365, each with a 3.1-inch barrel. This is a trade-off. The MSRP may be daunting for a sub-compact pistol, but it is an excellent sub-compact make. I carried the pistol in the Crossbreed Reckoning Holster. The Reckoning has a lower profile than the standard Crossbreed models, which I find more comfortable. I use the holster as an IWB, not a tuckable, and it works well.
What We Like:
- I like the fit and easy shooting characteristics, and combat accuracy. The pistol is entirely reliable.
What We Don’t Like:
- Myself and a couple of friends only managed to load fifteen cartridges.
What We Would Change:
- I can’t think of a change as this is a well-designed pistol in a niche market.
SIG P365-XMACRO Specifications:
- Caliber: 9mm
- Capacity: 17 + 1 rounds
- Height: 5.2 inches
- Width: 1 inch
- Length: 6.6 inches
- Weight: 21 3/8 ounces
- Sights: Sig XRay
- MSRP: $799