SIG Sauer’s commitment to make its Elite ammunition line a major player in the training, sporting and defensive ammunition arena shows no sign of abating. Its new Elite 365 FMJ and V-Crown 9mm ammunition are tailor-made for those who use one of the new generations of micro-semi-automatic handguns.

Although the name and concept were inspired by SIG’s outstanding new, high-capacity P365 micro-9mm pistol, the 365 moniker, when applied to its ammunition, reduces recoil and muzzle blast, thus optimizing shooter efficiency no matter the brand of pistol. Like the P365, the new 365 V-Crown ammo is designed to be carried in your 9mm pistol around the clock, 365 days per year, for concealed carry and home defense. And there is definitely a need for this type of ammo.

In modern iterations (whether in standard or +P pressure loadings), the 9mm Luger cartridge is a hot, high-pressure round. For example, SIG’s own standard 115-grain V-Crown Elite bullet is launched at 1,185 feet per second with 359 foot-pounds. That’s a pretty respectable power level, especially when one considers it’s only 265 feet per second slower than SIG’s 125-grain .357 Magnum load and 220 feet per second faster than SIG’s 125-grain +P V-Crown .38 Special load. For some shooters (especially newer, less-experienced shooters), the standard 9mm level of power, recoil and muzzle blast can be a bit intimidating, especially in micro-9mms. Furthermore, the 9mm can still do the job in slightly attenuated versions, especially considering that in the vast majority of cases of civilian and law enforcement self-defense, a shot is never fired.

While tailored, reduced-recoil loadings are nothing new, a lot of them have come and gone. Today, there is much more demand for lower-recoil defensive ammo than there was before the days of near-universal concealed carry. I think the reduced-recoil SIG 365 ammunition is a pretty significant development, and I’m sure the folks at SIG think so as well.

The first of several 365 offerings are the 115-grain 9mm V-Crown and FMJ loads. They are loaded to the exact same ballistics: 1,050 feet per second and 282 foot-pounds at the muzzle. Having both practice and defensive ammo loaded this way is a concept born out of some unfortunate history.

In 1970 in Newhall, California, two robbers, who were armed with a .45 automatic and a pump shotgun, killed four California Highway Patrolmen. One was captured, and the other killed himself prior to capture. One of the many lessons learned out of this horrible event led to the national reform of certain police firearms qualifications practices that specifically established the type of practice ammunition used to conduct police firearms qualifications.

At the time, the CHP issued Smith & Wesson Model 19 .357 Magnum revolvers and .357 Magnum ammunition for duty use. The problem was that the California Highway Patrolmen never fired full-power magnum ammunition during training. The .357 Magnums of the day propelled a 158-grain lead semi-wadcutter bullet at approximately 1,250 feet per second or so and produced 548 foot-pounds, which was a pretty powerful load. All qualification shoots were done using 148-grain .38 Special wadcutter target loads traveling at around 720 feet per second, which produced a mere 170 foot-pounds. The recoil of the target .38 ammo was obviously nothing like the full-power .357 Magnum.

During the firefight, a witness reported that a patrolman who was killed fired a shot from his .357 at the robbers and then stopped and looked at his gun as though it malfunctioned or was about to blow up. Back then, there was no such thing as low-flash powders, and revolvers firing .357 Magnum loads at night looked like flamethrowers compared to their sedate .38 Special counterparts. The delay caused by the patrolman checking his revolver for malfunctions cost him his life.

As a result, most states mandated that law enforcement officers qualify with qualification ammunition that was equivalent in power to their duty ammunition. So, if your duty round was the .357 Magnum, you had to fire .357 Magnum rounds equivalent in power during qualification.

This policy is just as good for civilians who use firearms for home or personal defense as it is for police officers. If your practice and carry loads are reasonably close to each other in power, you won’t be taken aback like the CHP officers if you ever have to fire your handgun in defense of life.

The SIG 365 loads take this concept a step further in that the ballistics for the practice and defensive ammo are exactly the same. There is no real difference in terms of intrinsic accuracy between the two — except big monetary savings when it comes to practice.

All good so far, but how does the 365 ammo perform? Extremely well. To continue to prove the point that the SIG’s 365 ammo isn’t just for its P365 pistol, I tested the V-Crown ammo at the range using a SCCY CPX-2 9mm mini-pistol.

Testing was done at 30 feet from a two-handed standing position using the 365 V-Crown ammo exclusively. Functioning was flawless. Recoil reduction was significantly greater compared to that generated by SIG’s 124- and 147-grain V-Crown ammo when fired from the same gun. This reduced recoil would make shooting very pleasant for new shooters and the recoil-shy. But how does it stack up in terms of defensive potential?

The barrel length of the CPX-2 is 3.1 inches, which is exactly the same length as the SIG P365’s. When I ran the 365 V-Crown ammo through the chronograph, I got an average and very consistent velocity reading of 1,029 feet per second, which was only 21 feet per second slower than the factory-published ballistics. This still yields a respectable 270 foot-pounds at the muzzle, rather than the published 282 foot-pounds.

I shot the 115-grain 365 Elite V-Crown 9mm round into a 25-pound block of moist modeling clay from about 15 feet away. I did not expect as much from a lower-velocity load such as this, but the dead-center hit behaved out of proportion to its mass and velocity.

The first thing that happened when the bullet struck the block was that a marble-sized hunk of clay blew straight back and hit me in the mouth. (For the record, moist modeling clay tastes salty.) The fact that clay blew back toward me showed that this is a hot little round. What showed this fact even more was the large, perfectly shaped dome that was pushed up into the top of the block by the impact. The sides of the block displayed curved bulging as well. The bullet did not penetrate the 10.5-inch-long block.

When the block was sectioned, I found that the internal cavity was perfectly teardrop-shaped. The V-Crown penetrated 9 inches into the clay. The base of the bullet was still intact, but most of it had fragmented (since modeling clay is denser than ballistic gelatin). The widest part of the cavity measured 6 inches in diameter. Frankly, I was very surprised how well the reduced-velocity bullet performed. I would have total confidence in carrying it in anything from a micro-9mm all the way up to a full-sized gun — and of course in a SIG P365.

SIG Sauer continues to provide handgun users with a wide variety of outstanding practice and defensive ammunition in a very large range of calibers. You owe it to yourself to try some, maybe starting with the 115-grain 9mm 365 loads. You won’t be disappointed.

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