The SIG Sauer X-Five is the competition-oriented version of the P320, but makes for a highly capable (though large) concealed-carry gun, too.
I recall a conversation with an editor at the 2017 SHOT Show about the various new “X-series” pistols SIG Sauer had just launched at the show: The X-Five, X-VTAC and X-Carry. Of the three, I told him, the one I was most excited about was the X-Five.
“The X-Five?” he asked, “Isn’t that the gamer one?”
“Well, yeah,” I replied, “Until you stuff it in a concealment holster—then it’s the concealed-carry one.”
Although nearly every manufacturer of plain-Jane, duty-style semi-automatics these days makes a version with a slightly longer slide, the genre as it exists today traces back to Glock’s introduction of the G34 and G35 in the late 1990s. At the time, Glock’s original longslide offering, the G17L, didn’t fit in the box for some action-pistol sports, and the shorter 5-inch-barreled guns did.
Marketed as the “Practical/Tactical” models, they quickly expanded beyond the world of gaming to be found in the duty holsters of SWAT teams and other law enforcement applications.
For concealed carry, barrel length really doesn’t matter with an inside-the-waistband holster, and I know of a few respected trainers who use these longslide Glocks as their day-to-day carry guns.
Tom Givens carries the Glock G35 in .40 S&W instead of the 1911 he used to carry, pointing out that its overall length is the same. But, he also points out, while the eight-round 1911 was a “two-bad-guy gun,” there’s an increasing trend of multiple attackers and the Glock had enough ammo on board for a three-bad-guy world.
Gabe White, out in the Pacific Northwest, is another respected trainer who opts for a longslide Glock, carrying a G34 in an appendix holster. A phenomenally talented shooter, he runs his carry gun in USPSA and, because his holster is forward of his hip, shoots in the Limited division. This means he’s running a Glock from a concealment holster against guys shooting tricked-out custom STI 2011s in race holsters, and he more than holds his own.
Nowadays there are longer slide versions of not just the Glock, but also the Heckler & Koch P30, Smith & Wesson’s M&P M2.0, the Walther Arms PPQ, Springfield Armory’s XD, the aforementioned P320 X-Five from SIG Sauer and others. Even Canik offers a racier, longslide version of its TP9. What’s the attraction for these as carry guns?
Well, the same thing that makes them attractive as competition guns: The longer, more nose-heavy slide is easier to shoot fast, being much flatter in recoil than the shorter guns. If precision work at longer distances (or small, precise targets at shorter ranges) is called for, the longer sight radius makes it a lot easier to do.
The extra half-inch or inch of barrel will also give a bit of a velocity bump, which can only enhance terminal ballistic performance, both aiding penetration and helping to ensure that jacketed hollow-points will expand properly.
Lastly, the longer slide on an IWB holster actually aids in the stability of the gun by positioning a larger proportion of the pistol’s mass below the belt line and eliminating any tendency for the gun to “flop” or try and roll outboard, like can happen with some subcompact carry choices.
The downsides are fairly obvious, in that it’s a heavier, larger gun to carry and requires “dressing around the gun” in the way a .380 ACP in a pocket holster doesn’t. Also, you need to ensure that your jeans or pants are bought with an eye toward ensuring there’s enough rise between the crotch seam and the waistband to accommodate a full-size pistol (this was definitely not the case with low-rise jeans; mom jeans to the rescue).
The other downside is that frequently these guns come from the factory with extended controls that are designed with an eye toward gaming performance rather than concealed carry duty. I know as an example that I replaced Glock’s factory extended slide stop and mag release on my personal G34 and G35 with their Vickers Tactical equivalents from Tango Down.
If you get a chance to try one of the longslide variants of your current carry gun, it’s worth seeing if the enhancement it offers to your shooting abilities is large enough to make it worth the slight trade-offs in concealing it. The results might surprise you.