The new SIG P365, while about the same size as the Kahr PM9 in height, length and width, uses 10 or 12 round magazines. This approaches the capacity of a full size gun, yet the P365 still carries well in a pocket. (Photo: Sig Sauer)

Guns for discreet carry are popular items on the retail market these days with so many states now issuing permits. Retailers continue to report that demand is good and trainers say that more and more people are seeking concealed carry classes and training in self-defense with a handgun. Recognizing this, SIG Sauer recently introduced the P365.

SIG’s P365 is a bit of a game changer. It’s small enough for pocket carry, is well suited for carry in a holster on a belt — either inside or outside the waistband — and has a magazine capacity approaching that of many full-size service handguns. At the same time, it is similar in size to the Walther PPK, which for many years was the quasi-standard for a pocket pistol. The P365 is also chambered in 9mm Luger while the PPK was never chambered in any round larger than .380 ACP.

The P365 has proven to be so popular that, at the time of this writing, they are hard to find for sale anywhere. SIG is working hard to meet demand, but so far, demand is exceeding supply. There are reasons why the gun is so popular and why, as a retailer, you will likely see demand continue for some time.

SIG Sauer P365 Features

Small guns are popular because people think they are easier to carry without others knowing they are carrying a gun. So, the P365 appeals to many people just based on size. But there is a lot more to the gun than its dimensions.

Somehow, SIG figured out how to stuff 10 rounds of 9mm into a magazine and fit it into a grip that is no wider than most single stack handguns carrying only six or seven rounds of 9mm. It has to do with a hybrid design that combines a double stack magazine that funnels down to a single stack near the top. Yet the length of the grip is also kept to a minimum. And often, the grip of a handgun is what is the hardest to conceal.

SIG figured out how to stuff 10 rounds of 9mm into a magazine and fit it into a grip that is no wider than most single stack handguns carrying only six or seven rounds of 9mm. It has to do with a hybrid design that combines a double stack magazine that funnels down to a single stack near the top. (Photo: Doug Larson)

But a gun with a short grip is harder to shoot than a gun with a longer grip that has room for all four fingers. So, SIG offers two 10-round magazines, one with a flat baseplate and one with an extended baseplate that provides the pinky finger a place to rest. And for those who want even more capacity, SIG offers an extended magazine that holds 12 rounds and extends the grip just a bit so there is plenty of finger room for large hands. Even with the longer 12-round magazine installed, the P365 can still slip into a pocket and be carried without anyone knowing it’s there.

The polymer frame has a grip with a kind of rough texture resembling sandpaper that helps to anchor the gun in the hand. It’s not too abrasive though, so it’s not going to be uncomfortable to hold onto for extended shooting sessions. The magazine release is where Americans expect it to be, on the left side at the junction of the trigger guard and front strap. And the trigger guard is big enough for even the fattest fingers to easily get to the trigger.

This is a striker-fired gun, but it has a surprisingly nice trigger that, on the sample received for testing, broke at just over 4 pounds. While trigger control is probably the most important element in good shooting, sights play an important part too. And the sights on the P365 are excellent. SIG installed its three dot XRAY3 Day/Night sights both front and rear, and the front sight is surrounded by a bright green ring that draws the eye even in bright sunlight. They are drift-adjustable for windage, but the sample gun’s sights were dead on when received.

The slide is stainless steel with a black Nitron finish. It also sports serrations front and rear making it easy to get a grip when racking. The takedown lever is located on the left side just above the trigger and the slide catch is just behind that. Both are big enough to be easy to activate, but not so big they are going to interfere with shooting. SIG has also fitted the dust cover with an accessory rail that will accommodate propriety accessories like a light and laser that SIG will likely offer.

Field stripping for cleaning is conventional, and if you know how most striker-fired guns or other SIGs with a hammer are disassembled, you will have no problem with the P365. However, unlike many other striker-fired handguns, the trigger on the P365 does not have to be pulled before removing the slide from the frame. That’s a nice safety feature.

Concealability

The P365 can be carried just about any way a person wants. Obviously, a belt holster is going to work and SIG currently offers two options. One is an appendix-carry and the other is an inside-the-waistband model that allows a shirt to be tucked in around it. As time goes by, various aftermarket makers like Galco (galcogunleather.com) will offer holsters.

The gun is small enough to be carried in a belly band, in an ankle rig or a pocket, which is the way I carried the sample gun recently at Gunsite Academy (www.gunsite.com) for a concealed carry class. Gunsite, located near Paulden, Arizona, is the oldest and most prestigious gun fighting school in the country and offers instruction for everyone from novices to high-level professionals. It is one of the few schools that offer instruction in pocket carry, which is a very specialized type of carry that is most often done the wrong way.

When carried in a pocket, the gun is easily accessible most of the time, but to do it right it needs to be carried in a holster, not loose in the pocket. Various companies make equipment, including holsters and clothing, to accommodate pocket carry, but it is a type of carry for which instruction is needed. With pocket carry, if done correctly, drawing can be very fast and the gun is nearly impossible to spot.

Shooting the P365

At Gunsite, from the pocket, the P365 performed exceedingly well. Many rounds of Aguila (www.aguilaammo.com) and Black Hills (www.black-hills.com) ammunition were fired in class at distances from a few feet to 25 yards without a single malfunction. The gun was very accurate and seldom missed the mark. Speed of the draw was superb. The P365 performed like a full-size service handgun despite its small size, and held its own against much larger guns.

Small guns may be easy to conceal and carry, but are harder to shoot. This is especially so for shooters with limited experience or training. Smaller grips make them harder to control, and short narrow slides make them more difficult to rack. The sights are usually miniscule, making them harder to see, and the short radius exaggerates sight alignment errors.

Despite the P365’s small grip, which is no larger than most similar-sized handguns, there was plenty of room for a solid grasp to help control recoil even when using the flat baseplate magazine. The extended 12-round magazine offers even more grasping surface and its added capacity is comforting, especially considering that attacks by multiple assailants or terrorists are a greater consideration than they were a decade or two ago.

The debate about the best caliber for self-defense continues, but the reality is that no handgun cartridge is a very reliable fight stopper. In fact, the difference between calibers is nearly insignificant these days when comparing purpose built self-defense ammunition. Availability of ammunition and the shooter’s ability to handle recoil are probably more important.

While ease of carry and concealment are major considerations for anyone seeking a handgun for daily carry, the reliability of the handgun and the carrier’s ability to manipulate it and shoot it accurately are even more important. So, when a customer asks for advice about what gun to get, the most helpful response is to pick one that the customer can actually shoot well.

Customers should always be encouraged to get competent training. No matter what equipment you may sell them, being able to use it competently and correctly is key to surviving a deadly force self-defense encounter. Once the skills are learned, they need to be practiced often so that they are not forgotten or the skill deteriorates. And these skills cannot be learned by reading or by watching a video. They need to be taught by a competent instructor who can observe the student and make corrections.

Quality equipment is nevertheless vitally important to the mix. And we have, with the P365, a very small compact — SIG calls it a micro compact — handgun that has a high magazine capacity and is made by a major manufacturer with a reputation for quality. The public obviously recognizes the value because these guns are selling well.

A former Contributing and Field Editor for Guns & Ammo magazine, Doug Larson’s articles have appeared in many top firearm publications. He has completed hundreds of hours of firearm and self defense training provided by some of the finest world class gun fighting instructors and schools. He has experience with handguns, rifles, shotguns, submachine guns, machine guns and other crew served weapons.

SIG P365 Micro Compact

Accuracy

Load                                                           Velocity (fps)       Average     Best

Black Hills 125 HoneyBadger                        1,283                     .73              .52

Hornady 135 FlexLock Critical Duty            1,002                     .49              .34

SIG 115 Elite V-Crown                                     1,153                     .64              .44

Bullet weight measured in grains, velocity in feet per second 15 inches from the muzzle by chronograph, and accuracy in inches for three five-shot groups at 7 yards.