SIG Sauer P365XL Spectre P365V001 9mm Luger

We really liked the Spectre. There is a lot of bling in this pistol, and the piece handles nicely. The fit and finish are good, the flat trigger is excellent, and the pistol is reliable and accurate. The screw that holds the sight fell out, but that seems to be an anomaly. We would buy this pistol if we were flush with funds.


The past few years have been exciting for those who favor subcompact 9mm handguns. These handguns were first popularized by the KelTec PF9 and Smith & Wesson Shield. There have been other introductions and handguns with superior features, including greater magazine capacity and superior sights. Modern pistols feature superior reliability, good sights, good trigger actions, and high-capacity magazines. These handguns are good choices for concealed carry. They offer twice the rounds on board of the once-standard snubnose 38 Special, ride flatter, and are easier to use. Just the same, larger guns, such as the SIG P320 and Glock 19, are easier to shoot well and handle better. The two pistols tested in this shoot out are designed to split the difference between micro-compact and compact handguns. Each is larger than the parent pistol, with a longer slide and barrel as well as a taller grip frame. The larger grip and longer slide of each pistol results in a handgun that is easier to shoot and only a little more difficult to conceal. Another plus is added magazine capacity.

We like the Spectre’s distressed finish and other details.

The first gun was a SIG Sauer P365XL Spectre P365V001, $1100. With the Spectre, SIG took the route of designing a custom-shop piece with plenty of flair. While based on the proven P365 action, there are important changes, and most of these changes are improvements. The slide is distinctive. The slide features a distressed finish sometimes called battle worn. The stainless-steel slide features a stylized X and cut outs in the slide. The result is a unique appearance.

The Springfield Armory Hellcat Pro HCP9379BOSP, $575, is another elongated pistol that features a longer slide, barrel, and grip than its primogenitor. The pistol is 0.8 inch taller than the Hellcat and 0.6 longer. The Hellcat Pro, then, went a bit longer in the grip than the XL treatment of the SIG P365. In return you have a 15-round magazine. Essentially, Springfield designed a new Hellcat with the Hellcat Pro that is intended to sell at a popular price point.

We found each pistol reliable and accurate enough for personal defense. This was a tough shoot out, with the raters split to the end on which pistol is best suited to personal defense. There is plenty of room for personal choice, but only one handgun is the better buy, in our estimation.

Gun Tests Grade: A- (OUR PICK)


SIG has offered several versions of the popular P365. The standard model with a black Nitron-coated stainless-steel slide seems most popular, and there is also a stainless-steel-slide version. The SAS, or SIG Anti Snag pistol, features a modified takedown lever and slide stop to ensure the pistol is snag free in deep concealment and also features a single tritium front dot for aiming.

Action TypeSemi auto, striker fired
Overall Length6.6 in.
Overall Height4.8 in.
Maximum Width1.1 in.
Weight Unloaded20.7 oz.
Weight loaded27.9 oz.
Slide MaterialStainless steel, distressed finish
Slide retraction effort15.5 oz.
Frame MaterialPolymer
Front Strap Height2.5 in.
Rear Strap Height3.5 in.
Barrel Length3.7 in.
Grip Thickness Maximum1.1 in.
Grip Circumference5.2 in.
Magazines(2) 12 round
Rear SightSIG X Ray Two Dot Tritium
Front SightTritium lamp
Sight Radius5.6 in.
Trigger Pull Weight4.5 lbs.
SafetyNo manual safety, striker block
WarrantyLimited lifetime
Telephone(603) 610-3000
Made InUSA
The SIG P365XL Spectre is a fast-handling pistol with many good features. We liked the original P365, and we like the XL even more. Disassembly of the pistol is simple enough.

The P365 has earned a reputation for reliability. It is a useful concealed-carry handgun. With a 10-round magazine capacity, the P365 offers a good reserve of ammunition. The trigger action is controllable, and the pistol is among the better shooters in the size class. Just the same, the subcompact handgun isn’t the easiest to use well. Some shooters prefer a slightly larger handgun, which the SIG XL series satisfies with a longer slide and barrel.

The balance appeals to some, and the pistol’s slightly longer barrel offers an increase in velocity. The velocity increase isn’t severe, however, and may be counted on to add perhaps 30 to 35 fps with the 0.6 inch extra length of barrel. The longer sight radius is welcome.

The pistol features SIG XRAY sights. These night sights feature two tritium self-luminous dots in the rear sight. The front sight features a bright white outline surrounding a tritium dot. The rear sight is a wedge type that would allow racking the slide on a sturdy belt or boot heel. These are excellent sights for all-round personal-defense use. We found them well suited to firing for accuracy in bright light, and the tritium is visible in dim light to dark conditions.

The SIG is a thin pistol despite a high-capacity magazine.

The pistol features both forward and rear cocking serrations. The SIG P365XL handgun is easy to rack, handle, and load. The slide lock and takedown lever are the same as the P365, in contrast with the cut-down SIG P365 SAS types. The frame treatment is a combination of checkering and hollows in the grip. The result is an excellent gripping surface. The grip tang or uppermost section of the rear grip strap is elongated compared to the standard P365.

The XL guns — and there are several versions, including one with a flash-plated gold trigger — are 0.8 inch longer than the P365, 0.4 taller, with a 0.6-inch-longer barrel, and weigh 2.9 more ounces. The extra weight is mostly in the longer slide. The longer slide isn’t more difficult to conceal when the shooter chooses a well-designed inside-the-waistband holster. While the pistols are heavier than the standard P365s, it isn’t that much, and the extra weight of the XL slide provides a good balance, noticeably better recoil control, and also allows two more rounds in the standard mags. The P365 will accept the longer XL mags.

We ran afoul of the SIG’s rear-sight cover plate attachment by losing a screw. This is the cocked sight picture that greeted us after losing the sight-attachment screw.

The pistol is supplied with two 12-round magazines. These steel magazines are well finished. The magazines were difficult to load to full capacity. We were able to insert 10 rounds with much effort. A loader was required to load to capacity throughout the test. The effort needed to load the magazines eased up, but only slightly during the test period. We used the magazine loader supplied with the Hellcat Pro to aid loading against the strong magazine springs. The Hellcat’s magazines were just as difficult to load to full capacity.

The SIG’s flat trigger is among its best features.

The trigger guard is slightly different from the original P365. The trigger, however, is much different in both design and feel from the original. The P365 XL Spectre features a flat trigger. The Spectre trigger is tight with minimal take up and very little overtravel. Trigger compression is a smooth 4.5 pounds. This is a useful trigger that makes shooting the pistol accurately easier. In contrast, a previous standard-model SIG P365 tested went 6.0 pounds in trigger compression and a well-used P365 SAS tested went 5.8 pounds. With the P365XL Spectre trigger, reset is sharp. By pressing the trigger smoothly and then riding the reset, we got good results. So, SIG came up with an eye-popping ensemble.

The SIG’s frame treatment is a combination of checkering and hollows in the grip. The result is an excellent gripping surface.

How does it shoot? Very well indeed. All our raters noted its excellent control and practical accuracy. We used three loads in offhand fire or combat shooting. Winchester USA Ready FMJs were the primary load along with a few handloads using the 147-grain Hornady XTP at 890 fps. We also used Federal Syntech rounds, splitting them between the two pistols. There were no failures to feed, chamber, fire, or eject with any of the ammunition. The pistol comes on target quickly and tracks between targets better than an original P365 we had on hand for comparison. The P365 itself is a good micro-sized compact, but in the case of the Spectre, the good big man simply beats the good little man, although we  don’t think “big” isn’t a good description of the P365 XL Spectre. Due to the longer slide that’s well balanced, not slide heavy, the pistol stays on target easily, we found.

Here are three SIG 365 pistols: Top is the SAS SIG Anti Snag; center is the standard SIG P365; and bottom is the SIG P365 XL Spectre tested here. Pistols in this weight class are easy to carry but not difficult to fire.

We did run across an odd problem we had not previously encountered with optics-ready pistols. The SIG features a removable back plate that holds the rear sight. The screws holding the backplate on come in from under the slide. They are easily addressed by simply locking the slide to the rear. This allows easy mounting of an optical sight. The red dot actually screws in from the top, but these screws hold the back plate or cover plate in place.  During the firing test, the backplate became loose and wobbly. The sight was cocked to one side. During firing, we had lost one of the tiny set screws that holds the back plate down. The pistol left the factory with a loose screw. This is just something that happens, but it did create a detour in testing. Neither were the screws available for us to install. SIG was helpful because the pistol was in warranty, and they sent a return label. The pistol would have to go to the custom shop, they told us, for the screw to be replaced. We got by with a single screw tightened down for the duration of the test.

The pistol was fired for accuracy using proven loads we have fired for accuracy in the past. Since these were short-barrel compact pistols, the SIG and Hellcat were fired at 15 yards rather than 25 yards for accuracy. These 9mm handguns were each fired from an MTM CaseGuard K-Zone shooting rest. The loads used included the Winchester FMJs, Hornady 115-grain XTPs, and Winchester 124-grain USA Ready +P loads. Results were good. The best group was under two inches.

Our Team Said: The pistol is reliable, easy to use well, concealable, and makes a fine all-round home-defense handgun for most shooters. The SIG P365 Spectre would have earned a solid A rating save for the loose screw and the trouble needed to get it resolved. SIG would take care of the gun under warranty, to their credit, but the hassle has to count for something.

9mm Luger Range Data

We fired groups at 15 yards from a bench rest using an MTM Case-Gard K-Zone Pistol Rest. We used a Competition Electronics Pro Chrony to measure velocity. The chronograph was 10 feet from the muzzles.
Winchester USA Ready 115-grain FMJ Flat Nose RED9SIG Sauer P365XL SpectreSpringfield Armory Hellcat Pro
Average Velocity1150 fps1164 fps
Muzzle Energy338 ft.-lbs.345 ft.-lbs.
Small Group1.7 in.2.0 in.
Average Group2.0 in.2.5 in.
Hornady American Gunner 115 grain XTP Hollow Point 90244 SIG Sauer P365XL SpectreSpringfield Armory Hellcat Pro
Average Velocity1167 fps1159 fps
Muzzle Energy348 ft.-lbs.343 ft.-lbs.
Small Group1.5 in.2.2 in.
Large Group1.9 in.2.6 in.
Winchester USA Ready Defense 124-grain JHP +P RED9HP SIG Sauer P365XL SpectreSpringfield Armory Hellcat Pro
Average Velocity1189 fps1201 fps
Muzzle Energy389 ft.-lbs.397 ft.-lbs.
Small Group1.5 in.2.1 in.
Average Group2.1 in.2.5 in.

Value Guide: Smaller 9mm Luger Handgun Rankings

Gun NameIssueGradeComments
Taurus G3X 1-G3XSR9031 9mm Luger, $310Feb. 2023ABest Buy. It isn’t expensive, but it does a good job as a reliable personal-defense pistol.
FMK 9C1 G2 Dark Grey 9mm Luger, $332Feb. 2023BFunctioned with the ammunition tested. We did not like the trigger, and accuracy was not impressive.
SCCY DVG-1 9mm Luger, $270Feb. 2023CThe size, handfit, finish, and sights are all good features. Bad trigger limited accuracy.
SAR USA SAR9 Compact X 9mm Luger, $632Sep. 2022AOur Pick. Larger and more expensive. The SAR9cx was the most accurate and fastest pistol in this group.
Mossberg MC2C 89031 9mm Luger, $380Sep. 2022B+Best Buy. Provides great capacity within a very thin package. Second in accuracy and third in speed drills.
Savage Arms Stance 67001 9mm Luger, $408Sep. 2022BA concealment pistol and, as such, its groups are acceptable. We would still like to see them tighter.
SCCY Firearms DVG-1 9mm Luger, $245Sep. 2022CLightweight and easy to handle, but we had several failures to extract.
Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield EZ M2.0 12436 9mm Luger, $499Jul. 2022AOur Pick. We liked the way this pistol handles and operates. Racking the slide is easy enough.
Kahr K9 K9093A 9mm Luger, $750Mar. 2022AAn excellent option for EDC. Metal frame mitigates recoil for faster follow-ups. Grip angle is comfortable.
SIG Sauer P365 365-9-BXR3 9mm Luger, $599Dec. 2021AOur Pick. Small enough to fit in a pocket. Carries 10+1 rounds of 9mm. Felt recoil is less than a 38.
Ruger MAX-9 No. 3500 9mm Luger, $544Sep. 2021AOur Pick. This is a sophisticated pistol. No fault with the magazines, capacity, or general accuracy.
Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield Plus 13246 9mm Luger, $553Sep. 2021AA step up from the previously tested 9mm Shield. The new pistol has an improved trigger and more capacity.
Taurus GX4 1-GX4M931 9mm Luger, $398Sep. 2021A-Best Buy. The Taurus is the most compact, and the Taurus is the only pistol with a changeable backstrap.
Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield EZ 12437 9mm Luger, $479Feb. 2021A-The Shield EZ9 was easy to manipulate and soft to shoot, but the sights needed to be calibrated better.
KelTec PF9 Blued-Black 9mm Luger, $358Feb. 2021B+An inexpensive pistol that functioned flawlessly. It reminded us of a good 38 Special snubbie.
Taurus G3C 1-G3C931 9mm Luger, $306Feb. 2021B+Best Buy. The Taurus G3C pistol is an inexpensive offering that functioned flawlessly and shot well.
Springfield Armory Hellcat HC9319BOSP 9mm Luger, $550Mar. 2020AOur Pick. An 11+1 pistol, this small Springfield might be the most versatile pistol in the group.
Walther PPS M2 2805961 9mm Luger, $649Mar. 2020ABest Buy. A smaller pistol with grips that will not abrade tender hands.
Ruger Security-9 Compact Model 3818 9mm Luger, $309Feb. 2020BThe pistol is adequate for the task of self-defense and will not break the bank.
SIG P365 Nitron Micro-Compact 9mm Luger, $465Feb. 2020BThe SIG costs more than the Ruger Security-9 without overwhelming advantages.
Springfield Hellcat Micro-Compact 9mm Luger, $500Jan. 2020F/AHellcat #1 failed when the trigger wouldn’t reset (F). Hellcat #2 worked perfectly (A). Best accuracy.


  1. Great comparison, which helps in selecting a 9mm. Are all A rated pistol all equal?
    Can any one A rated pistol be better than another? I’m shopping for “the best” pistol.
    Thank you for your publication and assistance.
    Mike M.


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