Coming to America

Friends, Freedom, and the SIG Sauer P365XL

The SIG P365XL is the ultimate concealed-carry handgun.
Compact, powerful, reliable, and fun, the P365XL sets the
standard. It runs as well as it looks.

The young man hefted his spanking new SIG P365XL 9mm handgun and took its measure. He squared to his target and presented the weapon a couple of times to get a feel for his sight picture. Then he jacked the slide, rested his finger alongside the frame, and purposefully raised the pistol to eye level. Twelve rounds later, the slide locked to the rear, and he turned to face me.

“Well, what do you think?” I asked.

A big grin broke out across his face, and he said simply, “’Merica!”

This is my friend An from Vietnam. He worked for a decade
to become an American. To celebrate, he wanted a gun.

The Guy

I have a good friend named An from Vietnam. He was a classmate of one of my kids in engineering school. All of my children brought college buddies home to shoot machine guns back in the day. I like to think the experience made their social stock go up on campus. Sometimes, there were a dozen of them at a time. Yes, the ammo costs were, at times, astronomical.

An (pronounced “Ahn”) looks right out of central casting — a crazy smart Asian guy with glasses. However, his story is pretty incredible. When they first came to the house, I tossed him a full-auto MP5, which he promptly ran like a Delta Force commando. An admitted later he never dreamt of the day that he could shoot a live gun, much less “the” MP5 — his go-to weapon in Call of Duty. An devoured gun reviews and teardown videos on the Internet when he was a kid, but he grew up in Vietnam. If you Google “Gun Laws in Vietnam,” you get, “Civilians are prohibited from possessing firearms.”

An is a dyed-in-the-wool gun nerd raised in a place where firearms ownership is legit unimaginable. He longed to live where free citizens were allowed to own not just a gun but a wide variety of weapons. An had the same thirst for freedom that birthed our great experiment in democracy in the first place.

When An was a kid growing up, he saved up his money and bought the cheapest airsoft rifle he could find. This still took everything he had. Believe it or not, over there, even buying an airsoft gun wasn’t particularly easy. Airsoft guns, while not illegal, were still officially discouraged. The gun broke in short order, but that was the best he could do. Replacement parts weren’t available.

An came to America at age 15 and attended a military boarding school. He then earned a BS and Masters in mechanical engineering and married the sweetest American girl he affectionately calls his anchor wife. An subsequently landed a great tech job and has thrived.

Where we native-born Americans are eating each other over stupid stuff, An wants to be one of us in the worst way. He is an old-school patriot who values liberty in ways we simply cannot imagine. He has seen what a world without freedom is like.

It cost An his family to follow this dream. It took every bit of his parents’ savings to give him his chance at a better life. An is quick to admit how fortunate he has been to see what true freedom looks like.

After literally years of effort and tons of paperwork, a couple of weeks ago, An got his green card. The official nomenclature is the Permanent Resident Card. The Permanent Resident Card means you can stay and work in the U.S. indefinitely. He can also now legally own a firearm. When I asked what he wanted to do to celebrate, he said, “I want a gun.”

An will eventually become an American citizen. He can’t wait to vote. I told him I’d buy him any pistol he wanted to celebrate. He shot everything in my collection and then chose the SIG P365XL.

An’s new P365XL is shown on the bottom alongside Will’s
own tricked-out version. The gun is endlessly customizable.

The Gun

SIG SAUER sets the bar among American gun manufacturers. They value the American civilian gun market as much or more than they do the coveted government contracts. They also remain sufficiently intellectually agile as to define the cutting edge of firearms technology. Many big gun companies tend to rely overly on their established lines and can lose the bubble on innovation. Not SIG. SIG won the tender to supply the U.S. Army with both its service rifle and combat handgun. That’s never happened before.

One of the secrets to SIG’s success is true modularity. When Uncle Sam needed a new pistol, they asked the industry to offer something that could be configured in different ways for different missions. Several companies kind of hit around that, but only SIG really nailed it. The beating heart of modern SIG combat handguns is a serialized fire control module. In the eyes of the BATF, this removable trigger housing is the actual firearm. By swapping out grip modules and slide assemblies, their full-size P320 can be everything from a compact concealed carry gun to a service weapon. This same ethos defines the P365, only smaller. That ultimately made the P365 America’s top-selling handgun.

At 12 meters, the SIG P365XL shoots plenty straight. An’s target
is on the right alongside that of his wife Katherine.


The trigger modules are not interchangeable between the full-sized P320 and the sub-compact P365, but the concept is otherwise identical. The P365 offers ample customizable options. I count 20 different varieties on their website. Sundry colors, various slide/barrel lengths, two different frame sizes and a bunch of colors define the genre. The gun also comes either with or without a manual safety. All P365 pistols are cut for an optic if desired. An’s example came with a superb ROMEO-X reflex sight from the factory.

The P365XL sports a barrel 0.6″ longer than the standard P365 for a more generous sight radius and enhanced recoil mitigation. This gun comes with bilateral manual safety levers and optimized everything. The standard magazine carries 12 rounds and the gun comes with a spare. The striker-fired trigger offers the same predictable character from the first shot to the last and is among the smoothest, most comfortable in the industry.

The ROMEO-X red dot optic offers either a 2-MOA red dot or a 32-MOA circle, 15 brightness settings, a 20,000-hour runtime and rugged milspec performance in a tiny indestructible package. You can replace the CR1632 battery from the side without dismounting the sight. As An fiddled with the sight for the first time, his eyes lit up with, “Wow! You can choose between a dot and a circle-dot reticle!”

It really did not take long for An to embrace the American ethos.
He worked awfully hard to become one of us.

As is often the case with us grizzled gun nerds, An’s sweet wife
Katherine actually shoots a bit better than he does. An and Katherine
met in college before getting married and settling down.

Not Another Company

Let me give you a peek behind the curtain into the sausage factory that is gun-writing. Once you pay your dues, a guy like me maintains email addresses for sales reps for all the major manufacturers. When you review a new gun, they send you a sample, you roll around in the dirt with it for a while and then retire to your laptop to, ideally, craft some compelling prose. They then email you a shipping label to send the gun back home.

If you fall madly in love with the weapon, the company will typically cut you a deal to let you keep it. As the gun is now, by definition, used, that deal can be okay or epic with everything in between. When I was arranging this particular example, I explained I would need to pay for it myself so I could give it to An once he had burned a few rounds through it. The gun was to be my gift to him for finally becoming an American.

When I sent the note to settle up, here’s what I got back, “Good morning, Will. No payment is required. That pistol and optic were shipped as no-charge samples to your FFL. You may transfer them to him afterward. Please pass on our congratulations to him — that is an arduous process.”

So SIG just gifted my buddy an extraordinary handgun to congratulate him for finally becoming an American. As I said, SIG is not just another gun company.

Built around a serialized trigger module, the SIG P365 can become
many different guns simply by mixing and matching components.
The P365 is the most popular handgun in America.


This phenomenon of Americans hating America is a very modern thing. Yes, we certainly have our historical warts, as might any great nation. However, modern-day Americans have a higher standard of living, greater access to luxuries and amenities, and better opportunities than any previous generation. Even our poor people are overweight and have cell phones. There is a reason the southern border is forever crammed with people literally dying to come here.

I pack a gun whenever I’m not asleep or in the shower. However, it is easy to take that for granted. We live in a dangerous world, and my government respects my right to avail myself of the means of self-protection. So much of the rest of the planet would give anything to be able to do that. For An, it cost him fellowship with his family and a decade of hard work.

Most folks who disrespect the flag and burn down their neighborhoods in protest have simply never been anywhere else. A couple weeks in Sudan or Yemen would likely remedy that. Unlike most of us, An has lived somewhere that doesn’t value freedom and liberty, as do we. It has been simply great fun watching him succeed in his arduous goal of becoming an American.

An is responsible, intelligent, patriotic and cool. I could think of no better way to celebrate than to gift him a gun of his own. This SIG P365XL is simply as good as it gets. I also suspect this will be the first of many. An has reminded me that we Americans do indeed have a great deal for which to be thankful.

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