April 23, 2022
By J. Scott Rupp
The SIG Sauer P365 was a trendsetter, ushering in the era of the “micro-compact” pistol—super-small semiautos with capacities rivaling those of larger carry guns. And because SIG knows a good thing when it sees it, the company was quick to capitalize on the P365’s quick success by trotting out new versions. The newest is the P365 XL Spectre.
It’s an evolutionary gun, adopting the frame size and barrel length of the P365 XL as well as the optics-ready slide found on both the P365 XL and P365 X. But with the Spectre version you get additional upgrades, similar to what the firm did with its Legion series of guns.
Two of these upgrades jump right out at you. First is the finish, which SIG calls “distressed.” You’d be forgiven if you thought distressed applied only to clothing fashion, but the principle is the same. It’s a black finish applied to the Custom Works stainless steel X Series slide, and it has “worn” spots. Being an old fuddy-duddy, I wasn’t sure what to make of the concept, so my wife explained distressed to me this way: “It looks beat-up on purpose.”
The X Series slide has an “X” pattern machined into the top, and in the right and left outboard sides of the “X” you’ll find lightening cuts. The barrel is not ported, so you’re not getting recoil reduction from these cuts, but with the lighter reciprocating weight of the slide, you do get less muzzle rise.
There are somewhat shallow serrations front and back. They’re wider than those found on the P365, but they’re not as sharp. Still, they work well enough.
I think SIG’s X-Ray 3 day/night sights are among the best out there, and they’re found on the P365 XL Spectre. The rear sight has twin, small, green tritium vials set in a serrated face, while the front has a big bright green circle with a tritium dot in the center. These sights are super-fast to acquire and work in all lighting conditions. I especially like them for daylight shooting, because there are no white dots at the back to distract me from that big green front.
As mentioned, the pistol comes optics ready. I mounted SIG’s Romeo Zero sight for the entirety of my testing, and you can find a description of the mounting process as well as the sight in the accompanying sidebar.
The other notable feature on the Spectre is the new LXG grip module, which houses the gun’s serialized stainless steel frame. Like the XL grip module, it’s taller than the standard P365’s module, and it sports a proprietary accessory rail up front. This grooved rail doesn’t have notches like most do, but companies like SIG and Streamlight are making lights and lasers specifically for it.
The big difference with the LXG is the laser-engraved texture, an exclusive pattern done in-house by SIG. It’s on both sides of the grip, as well as on the frontstrap and backstrap. It’s got kind of a basket-weave look to it, and it really locks the gun into your hand.
This grip module also has the extended beavertail that’s found on the P365 XL and P365 X models. It’s also undercut at the back of the roomy trigger guard for a nice high grip.
Last but definitely not least, the Spectre incorporates SIG’s Custom Works X Series Flat trigger. Flat triggers are all the rage now. They produce a more consistent pull, and I find I get much less gun movement through the pull and a cleaner break. I’ve become a big fan because they seem to work really well for me, and in fact, I’m going to install one in my P365.
The trigger on the Spectre sample broke at five pounds even. After about a quarter-inch of take-up, it sports a much cleaner break and a shorter reset than the stock trigger on my P365.
The Spectre ships with two 12-round magazines with flush-fit base plates and witness holes at 5 and 12. Extended 15-round mags are available from SIG. The Spectre also comes with a certificate of authenticity and a challenge coin—à la the company’s Legion guns. My sample didn’t come with the certificate and coin, so I wasn’t able to include them in the photographs.
The weight of my sample, according to a digital scale, was 19 ounces with the Romeo Zero onboard and an empty mag in the gun. If you look at the specs on SIG’s website, you’ll see the gun by itself is supposed to weigh 20.7 ounces. I’m certainly not going to complain about a carry gun that weighs less than its spec.
As an XL, the Spectre has a 3.7-inch carbon steel barrel, which is 0.6 inch longer than the standard P365. This produces a longer 5.6-inch sight radius, which helps with the iron sights, but it also means the Spectre won’t fit in standard P365 holsters. That’s not a problem, though, because there are plenty of holsters that fit the P365 XL, including a number available from SIG Sauer’s website.
Until the advent of the P365, I had a hard time shooting SIG pistols well because they simply didn’t fit me. But once I got my hands on a P365 and spent some range time with it, I liked it so much I bought one right away. Today I shoot that gun as well as any handgun I own.
I shoot the P365 XL Spectre even better. Sure, I had the Romeo Zero three-m.o.a. red dot on it the whole time, and the gun’s larger overall footprint helps. The longer grip allows me to get all three fingers securely on the pistol, and the laser-engraved pattern is Goldilocks-right—aggressive enough to keep the pistol locked in your hand but not to the point it wears on you after a lot of shooting.
The flat-face Custom Works trigger is superb, and between that and the grip, I was able to get more hits faster during drills than I can with my P365. For such a small gun the Spectre is incredibly easy to control, and while I can’t say how much benefit the lightening cuts provide, there was no question this gun comes back on target really quickly.
Is it snappy with some loads? Of course. You expect that from a gun that weighs just 20 ounces. I wouldn’t hesitate to carry +Ps ammo if I felt I wanted the extra power because they are controllable in the Spectre.
I didn’t get a chance to carry the P365 XL Spectre extensively, but since a P365 is my main carry gun, I already have a lot of experience with the platform. Sure, as an XL variant there’s a half-inch grip length to consider over the standard 365’s grip module, although the Spectre’s 4.8-inch overall height is still be ideal for almost any carry situation.
So why would you buy the P365 XL Spectre ($1,200) over, say, the regular XL ($680) or the basic 365 ($600)? A couple of reasons. For starters, compared to the base model, the XL size should prove more shootable for more people while still being a super-small carry gun.
Second, looks count for a lot of folks, and the P365 XL Spectre is a distinctive gun thanks to the “X” machining on the top of the slide and the distressed finish. But what really sells the gun for me are the Custom Works flat trigger and the LXG grip module, not to mention the fact that this model comes cut for a red dot.
Yes, the Spectre is commanding a significant premium over the models I just mentioned, so it’s a case of how much the Spectre’s feature set matters to you and whether you’re someone who doesn’t mind spending the extra cash to get exactly what you want.
Sig Sauer P365 XL Spectre Specifications
- Type: striker-fired semiauto
- Calibre: 9mm Luger
- Capacity: two 12-round magazines supplied
- Barrel: 3.7 in.
- OAL/Height/Width: 6.6/4.8/1.1 in.
- Weight: 20.7 oz.
- Construction: distressed stainless steel slide; anodized stainless steel frame; polymer LXG laser-engraved grip module
- Trigger: X Series straight; 5 lb. pull (measured)
- Sights: X-Ray 3 day/night sights; slide cut for optics
- Price: $1,200
- Manufacturer: SIG Sauer, SIGsauer.com