Subcompacts Side-by-Side: The P365 X vs. The Hellcat

We’re living in a golden age of EDC guns. Serious upgrades in gun design have paved the way for increases in capacity with no appreciable increase in size. But with so many strikingly similar guns out there, how do you choose? My advice has always broken down into a couple of classifications: price, size, and features. Some, though, are so similar across all three classifications—like the Springfield Armory Hellcat and the Sig Sauer P365 X—that making the decision can be complex.

Springfield Armory Hellcat and Sig P365
Both the Springfield Armory Hellcat and the Sig P365 are small enough to easily conceal. Their capacity, though, is the big selling point for most. These two guns continue to set the pace for EDC.

Basic Considerations

Let’s assume that both of these guns are equally reliable. I’ve got a long history with the Hellcat, and have never had any hiccups that would make me doubt my decision to carry it. I’m newer to the P365 platform, but my round count is growing and I’ve not had any issues there, either. From this perspective, I’d consider the decision a draw.

And price? The P365 is coming in lower than a Hellcat—but not by much. The basic Sig P365 is selling for just under $500. The Hellcat is consistently below $550. As you add features, colors, mags, and optics—their prices climb a bit.

So what about the builds?

Like most subcompacts, these are a mix of plastic and steel. The plastic is exceptionally well done on both. The geometries are similar. You won’t likely mistake the feel of one for the other, but the two are close.

As for capacity, the thin-walled grips are what allow for the fat little magazines. They’re not as wide as double-stacks, but they’re not as slim as a single-stack. As such, both of these guns fill the hand well without feeling bloated—a genuine accomplishment for a gun with this kind of capacity.

Sig P365 mag well
The mag well on the Sig has a slight flare around the edge. It is not a race gun, but the thin walls of the grip make mag changes fast enough.
Springfield Hellcat mag well
The Hellcat’s mag well is almost exactly the same size. On this, there’s no appreciable distinction between the two guns.

The magazines are steel-bodied on both. The Hellcat mags come in 11, 13, and 15-round variants. The Sig mags are—no surprises here— 10, 12, and 15-round variants. The Springfield mags are a bit stiffer. The 15-round version is hard to load without mechanical assistance from a loading device of some sort. The witness holes on the Springfield mags are more easily read.

Either way, these mags are ideal for EDC, offer the kind of capacity many of us used to beg for from subcompacts, and are easy to maintain.

Hellcat and P365 standard magazines side by side
Springfield has a long history of easy-to-maintain stainless magazines. But the Sig mags can be kept in fighting shape with just a bit of basic maintenance. The standard mags for both the Hellcat and the P365 are strikingly similar. Sig felt they’re too similar, and has gotten litigious over the patent.

I’m not inclined to baby my carry guns. And there’s nothing about either of these builds that requires special attention. The Hellcat, in the FDE finish, at least, offers the added benefit of Cerakote. But the Sig is stainless with a black Nitron finish, so it won’t pose wear issues, either.

muzzle end of Springfield Hellcat and Sig P365
The muzzle end of these guns is, again, similar. It comes down to the slide serrations. Wide, or thin?

The Controls

While the guns are small, the controls on both are sizeable. The mag releases on both are easy to find. The slide drops—not so much. The release levers can be manipulated with the thumb, but I find it easier to manipulate the slides rather than the levers.

The mag catches on both the Sig and the Springfield are large in relation to the size of the guns. This is a big win on a factory gun.
The mag catches on both the Sig and the Springfield are large in relation to the size of the guns. This is a big win on a factory gun.

If I were to choose one for its textures, alone, I’d go with the Hellcat. Sig stops the texture just below the mag release. The rest of the frame feels slick. That’s not a deal breaker, but Springfield has chosen to carry those textures much farther on the frame.

The texture above the grip on the P365 is smooth. This is an overlooked area on many handguns.
The texture above the grip on the P365 is smooth. This is an overlooked area on many handguns.

The image below shows the slick path to the mag drop (on the back side in this case). This path allows the thumb to find that button very easily. It slides into place.

The Hellcat area above the trigger guard has a nice patch of texture
The Hellcat adds texture to almost every blank space on the frame. The area above the trigger guard, where your trigger finger lands before you move to the trigger, has a nice patch of texture, too.

The Trigger

Two things to note here. Guns this size are not known for their brilliant triggers. These are self-defense guns. They’re meant to be most effective when you’re adrenaline is pumping. That said, you shouldn’t feel like you have to make excuses for a shoddy trigger. So I’m not making any excuses for the Sig’s trigger. It is a mess.

Hellcat and Sig P365 triggers
The triggers on these guns are a major point of departure. The Hellcat’s trigger has a safety lever built into the shoe and is crisper, but the shoe on the Sig has clean, sharp lines.

I’ve yet to find a P320 trigger that I like. I don’t care for this one. But—and here’s the paradox—it shoots great. When running drills, firing multiple shots, and running tight follow-ups, the Sig performs exceptionally well. The P365 trigger pull is just over 6 pounds and has always felt a bit spongy to me—nothing like the trigger on my P226, which is a phenomenal factory trigger.

The Hellcat’s trigger is better, about a pound lighter, and I shoot the Hellcat well. At 5 pounds, and with a crisp break, this trigger is the winner of the two. My groups are tighter with the Sig, but the Springfield is still my choice for an EDC gun.

The Accessories

Need a light? Both have rails for those small subcompact lights. And, as both platforms have gained in popularity, there are now more aftermarket sights. But both Springfield and Sig have their own optics lines—and both are solid, performance-wise. Models are available with these optics installed.

But, if you have another brand you trust…

The rear sights on both are very different. The Sig has the optic back just a bit further.
The rear sights on both are very different. The Sig has the optic back just a bit further on the slide. The Romeo Zero really matches the aesthetic of the rest of the P365 with a perfectly matched texture. The Hex Wasp would match better if it was in FDE, too. Though it has solid working surfaces, the Wasp isn’t really themed around the Hellcat, specifically.

Optics are such a no-brainer, now. They’re so much faster and better for low-light scenarios. That said, they aren’t without risk. They can fail for any number of reasons. So what do the irons look like as backups?

Sig P365 optic co-witness
I’m less enamored with the way the back of the optic functions as a backup sight on the Sig. It works, but it is far from an ideal co-witness setup. Sig has heard the criticism and is putting higher sights on some P365 models now.
The U-shaped rear sight on the Hellcat is still high enough to be used in case of a failure of the optic. The optic sits low in the recess on the slide.
The U-shaped rear sight doesn’t have to be removed in order to install the HEX Wasp optic. It is still high enough to be used in case of a failure of the optic. 

No matter what you decide to roll with, make sure you train with the irons, with the red dot, and with a red dot that’s disabled. Find out what each scenario presents, and you’ll be better prepared.


I’ve got a couple of good years with the Hellcat under my belt. And on my belt. It is my go-to now, more than most of the other subcompacts I carry. And I’ve just moved up to the Hellcat Pro. The Jury is still out on that one.

The Sig has its strengths, though, and the more I train with it the more it grows on me. I’ve not yet tried the Macro—but I think it might fix some of the issues I want to address with the smaller P365s.

The recoil impulse on the Hellcat feels slightly sharper. Despite the trigger, I am faster and more accurate (albeit marginally on both) with the P365.

Maybe the decision between these two is somewhat harder to make than I’d imagined. There are fewer versions of the Hellcat, but Sig is getting a bit aggressive with the P365 model variations. It would be difficult to do a side-by-side on all of those updates.

David Higginbotham is a writer and editor who specializes in everyday carry. David is a former backcountry guide in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and Boundary Waters Canoe Area who was a college professor for 20 years. He ultimately left behind the academy for a more practical profession in the firearms industry and was (among other editorial positions) the Managing Editor for a nascent Mag Life blog. In that Higginbotham helped establish The Maglife's tone and secure its early success. Though he went on to an even more practical firearms industry profession still, he continues to contribute articles and op-eds as time and life allow.

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