Sig Sauer P238 Review

Sig Sauer P238 SAS

Sig Sauer P238 SAS

Once you get past the obvious, the lower ballistic performance of the 380 compared to any other self defensive caliber, and then make the decision to carry cocked and locked, the Sig Sauer P238 becomes a top choice pistol for self defense.

Based on the Colt designed Mustang which was itself based on the Star 380 from Spain, this .380 caliber Sig is a diminutive all metal 1911 style semi automatic pistol. In fact it looks just like a little 1911 and feels like a real gun in the hand. It operates like a real gun too using the Browning locked breech recoil operating system unlike many other small pistols that are blowback operated.

Sig P238 Trigger
The single action trigger requires a 6 pound pull to release the cocked external hammer. Some individual p238s have a smoother trigger than others but this usually improves with use. There are reports of greatly improved trigger feel after polishing to smooth the trigger pull. The short pull single action trigger helps make this little pistol quite accurate for its size.

Sig P238 Safety
An ambidextrous safety version is now available for most models. It has an easy to use thumb operated manual safety lever which is a must because this gun is commonly carried in condition one, cocked and locked. Actually the slide is not locked and can be pulled open with the safety on. Sig was smart and provided a safe way to load a round in the chamber while the safety is on. Chambering a round and removing and reinstalling the magazine is all done with the safety on.

How to safely load 6 + 1 (or 7 + 1 with extended magazine)

  • Place the safety on.
  • Install a loaded magazine.
  • Rack slide to chamber a round.
  • Remove magazine.
  • Replace round.
  • Replace fully loaded magazine back into the gun.

There is no magazine safety so a chambered round can be fired with the magazine removed. The slide does not lock back without a magazine in the gun.

Shooting the Sig Sauer P238
After a quick cleaning and lube I took my new Sig 380 to the range for a test run. The little gun just feels good. All the controls are where they should be for ease of operation. The safety lever takes noticeably more thumb force to flip the safety up and on than it takes to flip it down and off. Loading the magazine into the gun is routine. I put the safety on, loaded a round in the chamber, removed the magazine, replaced the round in the magazine, put the full magazine back into the gun all with the safety on and the hammer fully cocked. For the inexperienced with 1911 style pistols this tends to create fear and anxiety. But in actuality, it isn’t much different than loading and carrying a round in the chamber of a striker fired pistol. Like the striker fired guns the only way the hammer will drop on the P238 is by pulling the trigger. Just follow the basic rules of gun safety and Keep your Finger Off the Trigger.

Recoil is a non issue. My P238 is the HDW model so it is 5 oz. heavier than any of the other P238 models and that probably dampened recoil some.

Accuracy is excellent. The small pistol shoots, feels, and handles like a larger gun. For those contemplating a small carry gun purchase and not sure about owning a small size small caliber firearm then shooting the Sig P238 could push you over the edge. The Sig Sauer P238 is in a separate class for performance, looks, and quality than all other similar size 380 caliber pistols.

It holds six rounds in a single stack magazine with an optional extended 7 round magazine available.

The slide and barrel are stainless, the frame is aluminum alloy except on the HD and HDW models which have a stainless frame. Yes, this makes the HD models heavier by almost 5 ounces.

The sights are three dot Sig light night sights and are dovetailed into the slide.

Sig P238 Problems
Like many new design pistols when first introduced, the P238 was plagued with several introductory product issues.

One of the main problems was failure to eject and failure to fully go into battery. This was cured with a new recoil spring design that was longer and is referred to as the flat spring because it is made with flat spring wire instead of round wire.

The magazines have gone through three changes to date. One notable problem was interference with the barrel actually contacting the magazine during recoil. The contact hammered a burr on the edge of the feed ramp that caused jams. This was remedied by the Gen. 3 magazine.

Sig Sauer P238 Recall
At one point there was a Safety Recall to replace the manual safety lever on older Sig P238 pistols. This only affected pistols with serial numbers between DA000501 and DA003215. New pistols with serial numbers beginning with 27A and 27B are not affected. Read the safety notice at the Sig Sauer website.

To Sigs credit these issues have all been identified and corrected in present production firearms. Over the past few years the Sig Sauer P238 has earned an excellent reputation for reliability and accuracy.

Sig P238 Specs

  • Caliber                     .380 ACP (9mm short)
  • Action Type             SAO
  • Trigger Pull SA        7.5-8.5 lbs
  • Overall Length        5.5 in
  • Overall Height        3.9 in
  • Overall Width         1.1 in
  • Barrel Length         2.7 in
  • Sight Radius           3.8 in
  • Weight w/Mag       15.2 oz
  • Mag Capacity         6 Rounds
  • Sights                      SIGLITE Night Sights
  • Grips                       Custom Wood Grips
  • Frame                    Aluminum alloy
  • Slide                        Stainless Steel
  • Accessory Rail        No
  • CA Compliant        No
  • MA Compliant       No

Sig P238 Accessories

  • Sig P238 Holster
  • Sig P238 Laser
  • Sig P238 Magazine
  • Sig Sauer P238 Extended Magazine
  • Sig P238 Grips

Sig P238 Models
There are over 20 different variations in colors, grips, engraving, and inlay. Some border on ridiculous but then beauty is in the eye of the beholder. My favorite is the Sig P238 SAS. Unfortunately I ordered my Sig P238 HDW before I actually saw an SAS model in person. Once I saw it and held it I was hooked. I also didn’t catch the fact that the HD models are heavier than all the other P238 varieties. The weight difference is quite noticeable once you hold them. The whole purpose of choosing the smaller 380 caliber is to get a smaller easier to conceal gun. The extra weight seems to be counter to that idea, so I’m seriously thinking about getting the SAS model too.

Some of the more popular Sig P238 models:

  • Sig Sauer P238 SAS
  • Sig Sauer P238 Equinox
  • Sig Sauer P238 Rainbow
  • Sig P238 Extreme
  • Sig Sauer P238 Scorpion
  • Sig P238 Nitron
  • Sig P238 HD
  • Sig Sauer P238 HDW

The Sig Sauer P238 Sport is a special order feature rich model with a 6 and a 7 round magazine, Hogue grips, pocket holster, and fiber optic front sight with sig lite in the rear all at a special 2011 price of $550.00. SIG makes special order runs of 500 or 600 P238s that are unique to select retailers and dealers.

Sig Sauer P238 Take Down Disassembly
Take down is similar to other Sig Sauer pistols. Remove magazine. Rack slide to check chamber. Position the slide cutout over the take down pin. Push out the take down pin. The slide assembly slides off the front of the frame. Remove the compound recoil spring. Remove the barrel. The pistol is ready for cleaning and inspection. NOTE: With a little practice the P238 slide can be positioned using the one handed Glock method.

Sig Sauer P238 Cleaning
Cleaning is the same as any semi-automatic pistol. Clean the barrel, clean the slide, clean the frame and rails, sparingly apply quality lube. Reassemble

Sig P238 vs P938
There isn’t much to compare between the two. The P938 is a 9mm version of the P238. Other than that they are pretty much the same. The P238 has been in production longer and has already worked through its debut problems it is now well known for its reliability. The P938 has had a few new gun production issues but Sig seems to have attended to those.

Compare the Sig P238 to popular similar size 380 caliber pistols

Sig P238 vs S&W BodyGuard 380
Model Sig P238 BodyGuard
Caliber .380 .380
Action Single Double
Safety External External
Firing Pin Ext Hammer Int Hammer
Barrel Length 2.7″ 2.75″
Overall Length 5.5″ 5.25″
Width 1.1″ .79″
Weight 15.2oz 12.oz
Capacity 6 6
Frame Alum Alloy Polymer
 

Sig P238 vs Kahr P380

Model Sig P238 Kahr P380
Caliber .380 .380
Action Single DAO
Safety External None
Firing Pin Ext Hammer Int Hammer
Barrel Length 2.7″ 2.53″
Overall Length 5.5″ 4.9″
Width 1.1″ .75″
Weight 15.2oz 9.97oz
Capacity 6 6
Frame Alum Alloy Polymer

 

Sig P238 vs Ruger LCP
Model Sig P238 Ruger LCP
Caliber .380 .380
Action Single DAO
Safety External None
Firing Pin Ext Hammer Int Hammer
Barrel Length 2.7″ 2.75″
Overall Length 5.5″ 5.16″
Width 1.1″ .82″
Weight 15.2oz 9.42oz
Capacity 6 6
Frame Alum Alloy Glass Nylon

 

Sig P238 vs KelTec P3AT
Model Sig P238 KelTec P3AT
Caliber .380 .380
Action Single DAO
Safety External None
Firing Pin Ext Hammer Int Hammer
Barrel Length 2.7″ 2.7″
Overall Length 5.5″ 5.2″
Width 1.1″ .77″
Weight 15.2oz 8.3oz
Capacity 6 6
Frame Alum Alloy Polymer

 

Sig P238 vs Beretta Pico
Model Sig P238 Beretta Pico
Caliber .380 .380
Action Single DAO
Safety External None
Firing Pin Ext Hammer Int Hammer
Barrel Length 2.7″ 2.7″
Overall Length 5.5″ 5.1″
Width 1.1″ .725″
Weight 15.2oz 11.5oz
Capacity 6 6
Frame Alum Alloy Polymer

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