When SIG SAUER released the 9mm P365, it shook the gun world. Suddenly sub-compact-like capacity was now available in micro-compact single-stack-like size. While slightly thicker than the pocket 9mm pistols and single-stacks of previous concealment kings, the tiny new micro-compacts weren’t always the most pleasant pistols to shoot on the range.
With SIG offering the now-venerable P365 chambered in tamer .380 ACP, there’s a good chance range pleasantness will increase.
The P365’s slight extra width (at a mere 1 inch wide, it’s still thin) certainly helps by adding surface area to grip and disperse recoil, tiny pistols have never been fun to shoot. Less fun to shoot means less likely to practice which means less proficient with the very gun that many have chosen to protect their lives.
By offering essentially the same gun (see video for comparison below) in a slightly lower-powered cartridge SIG SAUER may have just created the ultimate concealment pistol. At least for a good portion of the gun-carrying community.
Yes, .380 ACP
There are those who question .380 ACP as a valid carry option. While it’s certainly not the most powerful option out there, I have yet to find anyone willing to be shot with it. Browning’s American 9mm (.380 ACP’s dimensions are 9x17mm, AKA 9mm short) has been given a boost in effectiveness thanks to modern projectile design. If you don’t have faith in that, you’re welcome to stick to Luger’s 9x19mm round. This post isn’t written to start caliber debates, just to inform you of new options in the 9x17mm round.
I once did an exhaustive study of .380 ACP versus 9x19mm by testing five different matching pairs of ammunition through three matched pairs of pistols (same barrel length, same action type). After calculating the energy created in all combinations, it of course confirmed that 9x19mm is more powerful than 9x17mm. But the margin isn’t always a dramatic one, and some loads of 9x17mm offer greater power than some loads of 9x19mm.
A SIG P365 in .380 ACP
With that out of the way we can get back to the new pistol. The P365-380 is nearly identical to it’s older brother. Even the magazines appear to be 9mm magazine bodies with a spacer or shim inserted to make up for .380’s slightly shorter overall length.We’ve seen other manufacturers use this same approach and it works while also keeping costs down.
The SIG P365-380 Uses the same modular fire control unit and grip frames as the 9mm P365s and in most cases, P365 holster will work with the new .380 ACP model, too. Its optics-ready slide means you’re good to go if you like to carry a pistol with a red dot sight.
What excited me about the .380 ACP version of the P365 being so similar to the original is the .380 version’s semi-auto action type.
Using a locked-breech in the P365-380 instead of blowback (as in many .380 pistols), the recoil spring on the P365-380 doesn’t need to be as strong. That translates to a pistol that’s easier to rack for those with limited hand strength.
Locked-breech pistols also have less perceived recoil than direct blowback actions so the potential is there for an even softer-shooting pistol. That’s important if you’re particularly recoil sensitive.
How Does it Shoot?
Eager to see if my assumptions were correct, and to potentially enjoy a nice caliber/gun size pairing, I hit the range for my standard battery of tests. The tests are meant to get a general feel for a gun and its reliability in a time efficient manner.
My tests include: Full magazine plus one (not all guns can do this), testing ten different loads including different projectile designs and case materials (known as “What’s For Dinner?”), a challenge of sights and trigger control, and some practical accuracy before giving my concluding thoughts. You can see all of this in the range video below.
Did I get the shooting experience I was expecting of an accurate, well-made, and enjoyable-to-shoot micro compact? Emphatically YES. Finding a well-made .380 is a refreshing experience.
The SIG P365-380 is obviously a relatively simple adaptation of the already well-established P365, but that’s what makes this pistol so good. It’s a contrast to so many other .380 options from major manufacturers which often come across as an afterthought or “B-string” production, feeling cheaply made or produced without much care about quality.
The P365-380 feels every bit as “SIG” and “P365” as the 9mm version.
Specifications: SIG SAUER P365-380 Pistol
Caliber: .380 ACP
Frame Size: Micro Compact
Barrel Length: 3.1in.
Overall Length: 5.8in.
Overall Height: 4.2in.
Overall Width: 1.0in.
Sights: SIGLITE night sights
Price: about $499.99 retail
Ratings (out of five stars):
Reliability * * * * *
With 11 loads tested only one malfunction occurred…a stovepipe from low-grade ammunition that I can’t fault the gun for.
Ergonomics * * * *
The exact same feel and sizing as a P365 9mm. Nicely-designed, but overall dimensions may be a challenge for larger-handed folks. The pistol is very manageable, and if it was larger it would lose concealability.
Accuracy * * * * *
Accepting that most handguns are more mechanically accurate than most shooters, the low recoil makes for exceptional controllability and reduced flinch impulse.
Concealability * * * * *
The P365-380 is about as small as it gets for double-stack capacity. Slide and grip heel are nicely contoured to reduce printing.
Overall: * * * * ½
Grading the SIG P365-380 is tough. When a pistol is this specialized by design, it will, of course, come up short in one way or another. Overall I found it to be one of the best micro-compacts out there as it not only serves well as a carry pistol, but it’s also enjoyable enough to practice with. Now if we could only get ammo makers to lower their .380 ACP ammo pricing….