Sig Sauer P365 Upgrade Part 3

Sig Sauer P365 Upgrade Part 3

Sig fine-tunes the smallest blowback action pistol

By Dennis Adler

There is almost no telling the Sig Sauer P365 CO2 model from the 9mm pistol, which is why the Sig Air Division put the extra time and expense into improving the 2019 model (rear) after some deficiencies were discovered. Internal adjustments alleviated the issues with performance, but Sig went a couple of steps further with the 2020 models.

“New and improved” is one of the great sales pitches of all time. Most of the time it is marketing hyperbole, but every so often there are real improvements to a product that warrant “New and improved” and the Sig Sauer P365 CO2 model is one of them, though you won’t see “New and improved” anywhere on the packaging because it is the same blowback action air pistol with some internal changes made to assuage issues that arose with the first production models in 2019. Alterations to the valve and porting, slide, and trigger have made 2020 models better guns. And unlike the 2019 models, the 2020 design has passed the same reliability tests as the 9mm model. The action is smoother, over cooling of the gun is no longer a problem, and the vastly improved trigger pull will sell you on the P365 all over again. That’s the one thing you can test immediately if you want to know if you have just purchased a 2020 model (especially if you also have a 2019 because the feel is completely different).

An improved trigger makes the gun easier to shoot and delivers a trigger pull feel that is much closer to the centerfire model. The recessed .177 caliber smoothbore barrel was also improved to assure accuracy with a wider variety of BBs.

The proof is in the shooting ability

 There is an astounding incongruity with the Sig P365; the velocity vs. performance and accuracy are disproportionate. If you asked me to test a blowback action CO2 pistol with a 3.25-inch barrel at 10 yards, and that pistol only developed 278 to 290 fps velocity, I would have to ask why waste the time? The disconnect with the P365 is that when you shoot it from 21 feet, the impact of the BB with the target, a hard slap of steel into cardboard, is louder than the velocity would suggest. So too, is the accuracy. So much so, that taking this velocity-anemic pistol out to 10 yards doesn’t sound implausible, in fact, it begs you to do it.

What I found after shooting the 9mm and CO2 model side-by-side in 2019, is that except for the slide locking back short, the barrel not tilting up, both visual differences, and not being able to fieldstrip the CO2 model, there is nothing you cannot learn about handling the 9mm pistol from the CO2 model. The improved trigger on the 2020 version brings the air pistol even closer.

 What has Sig done to this gun (2019 models included) that permits accuracy over velocity? A blowback action CO2 pistol that sends BBs downrange at 320 fps and groups tighter than an inch at 21 feet is given high praise. And these usually have 5-inch barrels, too. Take them out to 10 meters (or 10 yards) and accuracy, with very few exceptions, begins to fall apart, even with their higher velocity. The best known exceptions are the Umarex Glock 17 Third Gen and G19X, which perform well out to 10 meters. So, can the little Sig P365 with its short 3.25 inch smoothbore barrel keep pace with the big boys at the same distance, while only sending its round steel balls downrange at under 300 fps? From what I have learned and from actual shooting, it is the precision build and quality of the barrel in the P365 that allow it to bridge the velocity/accuracy gap.

At 21 feet the Micro Compact with is short 3.5 inch barrel can still keep 10 (or 12) shots under an inch and groups as tight as 0.5 inches. The excellent Sig Sauer sight design is very easy to hold on target no matter what the background and the pistol is almost dead on POA at 7 yards.

Offhand at 21 feet, 10 yards, and combined

At 21 feet the P365 has been shooting sub 1-inch groups and again today’s 21 foot target had a 10-shot spread of 0.875 inches with two overlapping hits, and two in the red. Best 5-shot group measured 0.5 inches. This gun will shoot sub 1-inch groups consistently and just about POA with a 6 o’clock hold on red bullseye. I’m not always as consistent and pulled a couple of shots low at 6 and 7 o’clock, and doubled on two groups to the left at about 9 o’clock. I have done better with this gun, just not today except at 10 yards where I was surprised that POA only required a slight correction up to the top of the bullseye as shots hit just a little low; my first two went wide and low to the right. Correcting POA I put five shots, including two in the red, at 0.51 inches and the last three a bit high and right. Total for 10 shots measured 1.625 inches. If I discount the first two hits, the remaining eight were spread over 1.125 inches. Either way, the Sig P365 was packing them in at 10 yards (with a fresh CO2) and velocity under 300 fps.

Pushing a CO2 pistol that has an average velocity under 300 fps beyond 21 feet is asking for disappointment. But that is not the case with the little Sig, which manages to do almost as well at 10 yards as it does at 7 yards. My group was a bit wide because I was expecting POA to change more than it did, and I ended up with shots a little high, a little low, but finally dialed in for five at 0.51 inches.

My last run was with 12 rounds loaded (max capacity) and fired in quick succession at an IPSC silhouette target starting at 10 yards and moving forward to 7 yards, and then 5 yards. This included two fired kneeling at 7 yards, and one with the offside hand (in my case left hand) supported with the strong hand shooting from a barricade position requiring the shot be taken with the left hand to retain as much cover as possible), and the rest fired from a Weaver stance with a two-handed hold. The gun did start to cool down with the rapid firing and a few shots hit low but still well within the A-Zone of the IPCS target. Total spread for 12 shots measured 4.0 inches, average 5-shot group 1.25 inches.  

Intended as a training substitute for the 9mm P365, the CO2 model can deliver approximate accuracy and identical sighting and handling to the 9mm. All 12 shots fired here from distances varying from 10 yards to 5 yards (with a fresh CO2 cartridge) were close to the A in the A-Zone of this IPSC silhouette target. Firing 12 shots in about 20 seconds did begin to cool the gun down and a few shots hit below POA. All 12 steel BBs penetrated the heavy cardboard target even from 10 yards.

For a blowback action BB model with higher velocity and a longer barrel, this would have been (has been) pretty decent accuracy. For the little Sig, it is good enough to practice combat drills at close distance in place of its centerfire counterpart. Exactly what Sig Sauer intended.

If you recall, last year at the end of my 6-part series on the P365, I did a combat test comparison between the CO2 (right) and the 9mm pistol (left). The centerfire P365 put 124 gr. hard ball ammo into tight groups at 7 and 15 yards (as shown) and the CO2 model did the same at equal distances, which was really pushing the air pistol’s sub 300 fps velocity to the limit. Out of 11 shots with steel BBs, all 11 were 5-point hits on the B-27 target (as circled). As a substitute training gun for the 9mm, or as CO2 target pistol for sharpening shooting skills with a small (CCW-sized) semi-auto, the P365 was already a good gun. The 2020 model is a better gun and well worth the equally small price.

Next week, it’s a trip back in CO2 time to the 1970s.

A word about safety

Blowback action airguns provide the look, feel and operation of their cartridge-firing counterparts and this is one reason why they have become so popular. Airguns in general all look like guns, blowback action models more so, and it is important to remember that the vast majority of people can’t tell an airgun from a cartridge gun. Never brandish an airgun in public. Always, and I can never stress this enough, always treat an airgun as you would a cartridge gun. The same manual of operation and safety should always apply.

One thought on “Sig Sauer P365 Upgrade Part 3

  1. Seems like the exception to the rule and my own experience. One of my most accurate pistols out to around 8-10 yards is the Umarex P38 . Hits around 400 fps with its short blowback and long barrel. Despite a handicap of 100 fps, the improved Sig shoots groups just as good or better. Looks like the relief pitcher saved the game

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