Sig Sauer P239 .40SW
Sig Sauer 365 XL 9mm
By Jackie Beard
I had a wonderful session this morning with my friend and collegue Luke Feininger, a fellow instructor at the Boston Gun & Rifle Association facility in Dorchester, MA.
We decided that a side-by-side comparison of these two Sig Sauer single stack concealed carry grade semi-auto pistols would be fun to do and provide valuable insight into the pros & cons of both pieces for our new members who are interested in seeking information towards making their first purchase.
I have been carrying the P239 in .40SW for several years and Luke currently carries the 365XL. Both pistols have barrels that are under 4 inches and the 365XL is a newer offering from Sig Sauer advertised as a compact. We decided that we would only fire 7 rounds from each firearm to eliminate the tendency to form any embedded bias towards either gun. We used the same targets as the Boston Police Department uses for the civilian qualification course of fire at their Moon Island range facility. This target would be practical and familiar to shooters who have qualified and earned their Boston issued LTC. Our target distance was 21 feet.
I fired my first seven shots from the 365XL and the second set of seven from my P239. None of my 14 shots left the Ten Ring. The 5 shots that I scored in the X Ring were fired from the P239. I am a right eye dominant shooter, however I do have a right eye astigmatism (oval shape) dictating that I must adjust the rear sight to the right on all of my handguns. Each of my 7 shots with the 365XL printed left of the X Ring, as expected, but never outside of the 10 Ring. We used SinterFire brand 100% lead-free ammunition in both pistols as the BGRA range is a totally lead-free facility.
The ergonomics of both guns were great. Both were very comfortable in my hands and I controlled both very successfully. I saw the straight trigger configuration on the 365 XL and expected to encounter some creep and/or “take up” skid, as opposed to the curved, no-creep “short trigger” that I had installed in my P239. Much to my surprise, the trigger on the 365XL had a very clean feel on “take up” and a very “crisp break” making it really easy for me to control. My right-hand grip didn’t leave my right pinky dangling off the bottom edge of the grip as usually happens when I fire compact size semi-autos. I give the edge to the 365 XL for ergonomics.
The sights on both guns offered me easy-to-find sight alignment with solid sight picture and clear front sight focus (extremely important with my astigmatism).
Accuracy goes to the P239 for me, but honestly that is because my rear sight has been adjusted the proper amount to the right as my astigmatism dictates. The rear sight on the 365XL is not adjustable, though its front sight is drift adjustable if you feel comfortable performing that operation with a brass punch or mechanical sight pusher. The non-XL version of the P365 does have a drift-adjustable rear sight (which is usually much easier to move than a front sight).
The Perceived Recoil was naturally greater (though quite manageable) with my 40-caliber P239. The recoil of the same gun in 9mm may well be on par or slightly less than the P365 (due to the greater weight of the P239). I have not seen many P239 models in 9mm, however I am certain they were manufactured.
In summary, I had “a blast” doing this side-by-side comparison and would advise any new shooter considering purchasing a single stack semi-auto for concealed carry and range purposes to take their time, do their homework, and give good consideration to their priorities to make a solid, informed decision. I hope that this comparison assists you, and I am available to spend some range time with you to allow you to do comparisons with BGRA house guns and some of my own to help with your decision. Practice often and Practice Safety! Thanks a Million!
Senior Certified Instructor
Certified Range Officer
Boston Gun & Rifle Association
Comparison by Lucas:
Sig Sauer P239 (.40 caliber) versus P365 XL (9 mm)
On November 22, 2020 my friend and colleague Jackie Beard and I conducted a comparison of a couple of our favorite “carry” guns.
Jackie had his Sig Sauer P239 (chambered in .40 caliber) and I brought my Sig Sauer P365 XL (chambered in 9 mm). We each agreed to shoot at a “Boston” target at a distance of 21 feet at the range at Boston Gun and Rifle. The purpose of the comparison was for each of us to observe the similarities and differences between the two guns and record our observations for the benefit of our members who may be interested in a carry gun.
Some basic facts about each gun:
Sig Sauer P239:
• Length 6.6 inches
• Barrel length: 3.6 inches
• Weight 27.4 ounces
• Magazine capacity: 7 rounds
• Action: Single action / double action / exposed hammer with decocker
• Produced 1996-2018
Sig Sauer P365 XL:
• Length: 6.6 inches
• Barrel length: 3.7 inches
• Weight: 20.7 ounces
• Magazine capacity: 10 rounds
• Action: Striker fired / manual ambidextrous thumb safety
• Produced: 2019 - present
I started by shooting Jackie’s gun first. My initial impression was that the P239 is a larger and heavier gun than the P365 XL. The grips felt very rounded and had a very subtle texture which made the gun feel a little slippery in my hands. The controls were well placed and easy to use. The gun has a takedown lever which makes disassembly for cleaning easy. The slide catch was a little small and quite far back on the pistol but also easy to use. The gun has a lever forward of the slide catch which is the decocker. With the hammer cocked, rotating the decocker downward releases the hammer safely, even with a round in the chamber. The magazine release button is conveniently placed and not easily activated by accident. Dry firing the gun a few times before loading it helped me get accustomed to the trigger weight and “break”. The gun has the usual crisp SIG trigger feel to it in both single and double action.
Shooting the gun was an unexpected pleasure. I have shot .40 caliber a few other times and did not care for it. I felt it was overpowered for the pistols I shot (S&W M&P Compact) and hard to control. The vast majority of my guns are 9 mm which is a caliber I am much more comfortable with. However, I felt I could control the P239 very well and I did not feel like I was losing control of the gun at any time. The trigger felt great and I was able to shoot a nice group, although not all my shots were in the 10 ring due to the sights being adjusted for Jackie’s vision. I think the weight of the gun and the fact that it is a Sig Sauer product helped a great deal. There were no malfunctions whatsoever.
I then fired nine shots from my P365 XL. The P365 XL has a flat trigger which takes a little getting used to. The trigger is designed to break at 90 degrees and does provide a nice crisp break, especially for a striker-fired gun. Most people who have shot the P365 guns agree that they have an exceptional trigger for a striker-fired pistol. That being said, I shot a looser group with the 365 XL than I did with the P239. No excuses — I need to practice more with the P365 XL. In general, the P365 displays the same “snappiness” one would associate with a 9 mm compact. When shot properly it is possible to be very accurate with the P365 XL as the sights (Day/Night sights) are very accurate. Unless it was necessary to compensate for a vision problem there would be no need to adjust the sights on the P365 XL. It is worth mentioning that the rear sight is fixed. Any windage adjustment would have to be done by moving the front sight which can be difficult. Elevation adjustments would have to be done by replacing the front sight. The grips on the P365 XL are also a major plus for the gun. They have coarse stippling on them, including the front and back straps, and the butt is curved just right to fit the hand. The magazine release is positioned just right to make it easy to eject an empty magazine but not so close to a thumb that it would be accidentally pressed. The controls on the side of the gun are well thought out. The takedown lever (towards the front) is easy to use and make disassembly for cleaning easy. The slide catch is a little small but also easy to use once you get the hang of it. The manual safety feels positive and has levers on both sides of the gun. One thing worth mentioning is the P365 and P365 XL have very strong slide springs and can be difficult to “rack” if you do not have strong hands.
Both guns are good carry guns and relatively accurate for their size. I have to say that I prefer the P365 XL for a number of reasons: 1.) Capacity: The P365 XL holds a total of 11 rounds (10 in the magazine and 1 in the chamber. The P239 holds 8 rounds (7 in the magazine and 1 in the chamber. 2.) Size: Both guns are the same length but the P365 XL is a little narrower with slimmer grips. I carry the P365 XL in an inside-the-waistband holster and it doesn’t “print” at all. 3.) Weight: The P239 weight almost 7 ounces more than the P365 XL. Heavier guns have their advantages but I can carry the P365 XL all day and not feel it dragging down my belt. 4.) Sight upgrade: The P365 XL was one of the first Sig Sauer compacts to be upgradeable to a red dot sight. The rear sight is mounted on a plate on the rear of the slide and can be removed and a compact red dot sight can be attached. I mounted a Sig Sauer Romeo Zero sight to one of my P365 XLs and am very pleased with the results. 5.) Availability: As mentioned previously, the P239 went out of production in 2018, so the market is now used guns. The P365 XL is currently in production and available new. (Due to ECR [Election, COVID, Riots] availability is seriously constrained at this time.)
For those members looking for a good carry gun please consider the P365 XL. If a member would like to try a few rounds through one of my P365 XLs get in touch with Gary and we can set something up.
Sig Sauer P239 (left) Sig Sauer P365 XL (right). Buttons on the P239 front to back: Takedown lever, decocker, slide catch. Buttons on the P365 XL front to back: Takedown lever, slide catch, manual safety
Sig Sauer P365 XL with Day/Night sights and manual safety (left). This is the gun I carry daily and that was used for the comparison. Sig Sauer P365 XL with Romeo Zero red dot sight (right). Note 365 XL with the Romeo Zero sight has no manual safety. This gun was purchased before the version with the manual safety became available.
One of the best things you can do to improve your handgun shooting is work on your grip. As Will Roch likes to say “When you got a tight grip the gun won’t slip” and he is right. The ability to grip the gun tightly while pulling the trigger slowly and evenly and keeping the sights on your target is essential for getting those bullseyes. Hand strength is also essential for a controlled trigger pull, especially in double action, and racking slides on semi-automatics. More than a few folks have come to the range with a new gun and have a lot of trouble simply pulling back the slide to chamber a round. Best of all, this is something you can do at home or anywhere without having to go to the range. If you’re waiting for your license this is a good way to get ready for those sessions on the range.I recommend two different grip strengtheners: The rubber doughnut style is perfect for building overall strength in your hands. Start with the softest doughnut and work your way up to the toughest. You can use these while you read or watch TV, riding the train, just about anywhere. Do 10 reps with one hand, then 10 with the other. An hour a day will make a huge difference after a couple of weeks.The spring style is excellent for building up strength in your trigger finger. As we instructors are always reminding people, a slow even trigger pull is critical for accurate shots. For Boston licensees, when the Moon Island tests resume, applicants will be required to shoot 12 rounds double action and 18 rounds double or single action using a revolver. Some revolvers have a 10 to 12 pound pull in double action. We have had safety class students who couldn’t even pull the trigger in double action. The spring style strengthener will help you build strength in your trigger finger by letting you concentrate on that finger. Focus on your trigger finger and compress the spring on the strengthener slowly and evenly.Both styles are readily available on Amazon and in sporting goods stores. So get going and start working on your grip today!