Unboxing the SIG P238

SIG Sauer P238 [Complete Hands-On Guide]

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Have you ever wanted a concealed carry pistol that contains the functions of the famous Colt 1911? Owning one is equal to having a reliable, compact, and powerful self-defense weapon. I own more than 100 firearms and, let me tell you, shooting the SIG Sauer P238 is fun because of its accuracy. It also operates reliably. This fantastic pocket pistol is what we’re going to discuss. The semiauto pistol chambered in .380 ACP that retained the 1911 pistol’s properties.

First, we’ll talk about its pros and cons. Then, we’ll have a little history so that you’ll understand how the SIG Sauer company came to market a pocket 1911 handgun. Afterward, I will follow a complete hands-on review of the SIG Sauer P238 pistol.

SIG Sauer P238
Image source: SIG Sauer
Pros
  • Easy to conceal even using a holster
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Straightforward to use and operate
  • Has a light spring in the slide that makes it easy to rack
  • An excellent option for beginners, and those with weak or small hands
  • Comes with quality factory night sights
  • Has exceptional accuracy and reliability
  • Easy to strip, clean, and maintain
  • Has almost a nonexistent recoil
Cons
  • Has a very sensitive ejector that can get damaged if not handled carefully
  • Leaves the finger dangling that may cause discomfort, especially for those with large hands
  • Shooting the .380 auto is more expensive than the usual 9mm cartridge

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A Little Bit of History

Generally, I assume that we are all familiar with the widely known Colt M1911 pistol chambered in the renowned .45 ACP caliber. Ever since the Colt 1911’s release in 1911, it became the world’s top gun. Moreover, it also became the standard-issue pistol by the United States armed forces until the mid-1980s.

After the success of the full-sized 1911 pistol, Colt decided to manufacture a smaller version of it for concealed carry weapon users. So, the company produced smaller ones called the Colt Mark IV Series Government. It’s a pistol chambered in the .380 Auto.

Then, people wanted a smaller and lighter pistol. So, Colt made another version which is the Colt Mustang, released in 1986. The Colt Mustang is a compact version of 1911 that you can carry discreetly in your pocket or handbag.

Now, here’s the important part, SIG bought the rights for the Colt Mustang. That means the SIG P238 retains the function of the original Colt Mustang. It’s basically a compact 1911 chambered in .380 Auto.

Who is this Gun for?

Looking at the SIG P238, you’ll already know that it’s a gun made for concealed carry. It’s small, compact, and lightweight. In addition, it’s an excellent gun for backup and self-defense. SIG may have also manufactured this gun for women as it features an easy-to-slide rack, suitable for those with small hands. Additionally, it is an excellent option for those who have arthritic or weak hands. Sliding and reloading this gun is a breeze.

SIG Sauer P238 Specs

Pistol SizeMicrocompact
Weight15.2 ounces
Length5.5 inches
Width1.1 inches
SightsSIGLITE sights/ steel three-dot contrast sights
Sight Radius3.8 inches
Barrel Length2.7 inches
Barrel MaterialCarbon steel
Grip TypePolymer
Trigger ActionSingle-action only
Trigger TypeStandard curved
Frame FinishHard coat anodized
Frame MaterialAlloy
Slide FinishNitron
Slide MaterialStainless steel
Capacity6 + 1 rounds
Caliber.380 ACP
MSRP$600 - $700

Unboxing the SIG Sauer P238

Unboxing the SIG P238
Image source: BassPro

The SIG P238 comes with a plastic hardcore, which is convenient. You can make the most of the case to store or transport the gun anywhere. For instance, when you’re not in the mood to use it for concealed carry. The inside of the case comes with a foam where the pistol sits, protected in a plastic bag. It comes with one metal six-round magazine and a trigger guard holster. In addition, it also comes with gun oil in a small sachet along with some instruction manuals.

Appearance

The SIG P238 wears a look inspired by the original 1911 micro-compact. That’s because SIG built this gun on the famous 1911 platform. It’s made of metal and has a sturdy feel. In addition, it’s heavy at slightly more than 15 pounds, but you won’t notice its weight once you carry it.

The slide outfits itself with a Nitron coat finish for corrosion resistance. It also has serrations for better gripping. Meanwhile, its magazine uses a stainless-steel material and has a single stack design with a six-round capacity.

For the sights, the SIG P238 equips itself with its proprietary SIGLITE Night Sights. The front sight has a green fiber optic with Tritium blend, while the rear has a drift adjustable two-dot Tritium. You can see both sights even at night as they glow in the dark. Additionally, target acquisition is easy as the P238’s sights are highly visible.

The SIG P238 three-dot sight
The SIG P238 three-dot sight. Image source: Gunnuts.net
The SIG P238 front sight
The SIG P238 front sight. Image source: Gunnuts.net

This pistol has a safety that’s easy to engage and disengage. It has a manual slide lock above the magazine release button on the left side.

Operation and Use

Using the SIG P238 is easy. It looks like a scaled-down Colt 1911 that features a smooth operation with well-designed controls. It has a short build, but it rests comfortably on your hands. The slide is light and moves effortlessly on the frame. Additionally, its single-action trigger breaks cleanly at 7.5 pounds. Sure, it may sound like it’s heavy, but I didn’t feel the weight once I shot it at the range. Moreover, I find this pocket pistol reliable. I had no jamming issues or malfunctions even after firing a thousand rounds. I also had fun shooting this gun with its easy handling and low recoil. 

Handling

One important thing you should remember is that this pistol has a frame-mounted safety. Most shooters won’t like this feature, especially in a compact handgun. It has an excellent design, but safety is also something that you should get used to. So, it’s best to train yourself to use it anytime you want to shoot this gun and remind yourself to switch it on and off. 

This gun is small but large enough for you to get a grip on, and it won’t get caught on your clothing. It has no finger grooves but has an ergonomic grip. It can also work with different hand sizes despite its compact size. However, if you have large hands, your pinky might dangle at the bottom.

The SIG P238 magazine
Image source: SIG Sauer

The magazine slips easily in the Magwell and reloading it is easy. It’s slim, and it feels comfortable to grip on.

Features of the SIG Sauer P238

I like that this pistol is heavy (but not too much) because it helps reduce recoil. Its size is also ideal for a concealed carry weapon. You can fit it in your pocket or an inside-the-waistband (IWB) holster easily. In addition, the sights are outstanding. They glow in the dark and are very visible. I can get my targets easily using the factory sights.

However, the only complaint I have is the safety and the ejector. The ejector is super-sensitive. It’s like I might break it accidentally if I forgot to be careful in handling it. Also, I’m not used to using a safety, especially for a compact pistol. Like I mentioned earlier, you need to get used to engaging and disengaging the safety. So, in this case, practice is essential. For instance, if you need the SIG P238 to stop a threat, you can use it efficiently because you have practiced enough to operate and shoot it well.

The SIG Sauer P238 is an excellent choice for concealed carry users. You can carry it using a pocket holster, as long as the type of garment you wear can also help you hide the pistol. I also had no problems carrying it discreetly for self-defense. It’s also reliable. I just had to remind myself to engage or disengage the safety every time I use it.

Taking It Apart

The SIG P238 components
Image source: Gun Advice

Stripping the P238 is similar to breaking down the 1911. First, you have to pull the slide back and then line up the indentations. Afterward, pull out the lever of the slide, and remove the spring and the barrel.

For reassembly, just push the ejector down very carefully to get the slide back to the frame. Now a reminder: the ejector is very sensitive. Engaging with it means doing a delicate step. It looks fragile. So, be careful in handling the ejector to avoid getting it damaged.

Shooting the Sig Sauer P238

Before shooting this gun, I’d like to point out that the SIG Sauer P238 also features a cocked and locked design. This design may be intimidating to some shooters. Aside from the cocked and locked safety, this pistol is also loaded with other safety features. For instance, the manual safety, which most shooters frown upon. Another is the firing pin safety and the disconnector that doesn’t allow the gun to fire when the slide isn’t locked in position.

Like I’ve said earlier, you need to train yourself to get used to using the safety during draws. Some might even forget that it exists. So, don’t skip practicing. Anyhow, shooting the P238 is comfortable and fun. The grips are also cushy and the trigger has a crisp, clean break. 

Accuracy

As for accuracy, I can get tight groups using this pocket pistol. Although this gun has a small barrel and is used for close-range only, it’s surprisingly accurate at up to 25 yards. The sights are visible, and they glow even in bright daylight. Of course, the sights helped in getting more accurate shots. I can acquire the target easily using it as it pops against the targets.

Now, there’s a debate on whether the .380 Auto caliber is strong enough to stop a threat. Sure, the cartridge is small. However, getting multiple accurate shots can stop a threat.

The gun has minimum recoil because of its heavy frame that pushes the weight. We all know that pocket pistols are commonly snappy because of the light pistol and short muzzle design. However, the SIG P238 has a light recoil that helps you stay on target after each shot. Hence, getting follow-ups is also easy.

I had no problems or malfunctions while using the SIG P238. SIG Sauer made this gun out of high quality. Since this gun is small and has a short barrel, cleaning it is also easy. You only have a small area to clean, and it only takes a few minutes. Keep in mind that if you keep this pistol in your pocket, flint might build up in the hammer. So, check this part of your gun during maintenance.

Reliability

In terms of reliability, some pocket pistols tend to be finicky. However, I had no issue with ammo using the SIG P238. Some compact pistols are picky with ammo, but this pistol doesn’t malfunction even using cheaper ammo. I also didn’t experience feeding or jamming issues shooting this handgun. Therefore, I can say that this one’s a self-defense weapon that you can rely on.

Competition

Now, let’s talk about the P238’s competition. There are other guns that share some qualities and features with this pocket pistol. Let’s learn the advantages and differences of the SIG P238’s competition below.

Kimber Micro 380

If you carry both the P238 and the Kimber Micro 380, you’ll immediately notice the Kimber’s lighter weight. However, the heavyweight of the SIG P238 is an advantage because of its less felt recoil. In addition, the Kimber Micro 380 is a bit finicky and comes at a higher price. Some people also report jamming and feeding issues with the Kimber Micro 380. So, if you’re confused about which one to choose between the two, the SIG P238 is the more reliable gun.

Smith & Wesson M&P Bodyguard 380

Smith & Wesson M&P Bodyguard 380

Both guns have a nice feel and great trigger. The good thing about the P238 is that it has a nice feel and has negligible recoil. The single-action is also an advantage as some shooters prefer the accuracy of an SA trigger over the Smith & Wesson M&P Bodyguard 380’s double-action trigger.

Ruger LCP II

The Ruger LCP II is another excellent concealed carry gun. It’s lighter and smaller than the SIG P238. However, the SIG P238 has many advantages over the LCP II. For instance, the grips of the Ruger LCP II feel blocky because of their square shape. In addition, its sights are also hard to see because of its small and low profile. The good news is that it won’t snag on your holster. However, acquiring your targets becomes harder. Another advantage of the SIG P238 over the Ruger LCP II is that the P238 has a lighter spring and does not require any tools to take it apart. Therefore, the SIG P238 is easier to rack and strip.

Springfield 911

The SIG P238 and Springfield 911 are very similar. Surprisingly, both are too similar that you can interchange their magazines. They almost have the same weight and size. However, the difference is that the Springfield 911 features a loaded chamber indicator and Tritium luminescent sights. It also has texturing on its trigger. It’s light and has a very short reset.

Accessories

If you experience discomfort when using this gun, then SIG Sauer has an extended magazine you can buy that can help increase grip length. As this pistol is compact, it might leave your picky to dangle, causing a poor grip. In addition, the extended magazine adds an extra round for your P238.

Since the SIG P238 is a pocket pistol, there is little to no room for adding accessories. There are laser lights that you can purchase for this gun, but they can be pricey. One customization you can do is change the grips. You can customize the cushy feel or the textures or change the grips to your preferred design or color. Furthermore, for concealed carry, I recommend using an IWB holster. Using a holster will make you feel like you’re not carrying a gun at all while helping conceal the P238.

Conclusion

So, if you’ll ask me, is SIG P238 worth the money? It is. It is also a good gun that’s easy to operate and fun to shoot. Its reliability is undoubted as it comes from a well-renowned company. It’s an ideal concealed carry weapon. Make sure to always visit the range to practice shooting this gun, especially in drawing it from your holster, and disengaging its safety. Now, if you want a similar gun that chambers the versatile 9mm round, SIG’s got a P938. It has the same size and function as the P238, only with a 9mm caliber.

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Hi! I'm Mike, one of the oldest writer of Sniper Country! If you have any feedback or question about my articles, please submit it here, it's always appreciated!

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