Sig Sauer is a company that waited for advanced design and cutting edge manufacturing capability before roll stamping their brand on John Browning’s 1911. Opponents to enhancing the original configuration have stood behind the thought that “if John Browning thought it could be improved, he would have made it that way.” Not having Sig Sauer’s state-of-the-art processes, machinery, and strict quality control… to those I say John Browning never saw his full potential.
What has reached its potential is the .380ACP cartridge. Federal has a law enforcement proven 90-grain Hydra-Shok delivering 200 foot-pounds of energy (fpe) at the muzzle. CorBon’s JHP speeds out of the barrel at nearly 1100 feet per second (fps) and Hornady’s newest Critical Defense loads ensures uniform expansion with a flex-polymer-filled cavity that resists deforming due to clothing materials worn by a threat.
Reacting to many requests from the market and witnessing improved ballistics behind recently developed .380 cartridges, Sig Sauer has produced a practical subcompact for everyday carry. The 6 + 1 capacity P238 is built on the same premise and quality standards as Sig Sauer’s tack-driving 1911s but is the best model suited for deep concealment.
How small is it? For starters, the overall length measures just 5.5 inches. The height is less than 4 inches (3.96 inches to be exact) and the controls have a slim profile contributing to the pistol’s ultra-thin 1.1-inch width. This means the risk of printing against clothing like many other handguns has been significantly reduced. Having a weight of just 15.2 ounces (that’s less than a pound, by the way) means that you’ll be more likely to actually carry it every day.
Built on an anodized alloy beavertail-style frame with a checkered mainspring housing, the P238 is extremely durable and can be comfortably controlled even during rapid fire. In part, this control is aided by a curved arch cut between the triggerguard and frontstrap that allows fingers of the firing hand to grasp higher on the grip. Thin profile aluminum grips are fluted for aiding in a tactile grip and secured with slotted screws. Within the frame, the sear and trigger return spring are redesigned for the P238 to prevent spring override of the ejector during assembly.
Controls are like most other single-action 1911s with the slide lock also serving double-duty as a takedown lever when aligned with a notch at the bottom of the slide. Gripping the P238, the slide lock, magazine release and thumb safety are right there for easy access by most hands.
The stainless steel slide is forged with signature Sig Sauer lines and serrations that adorn the slide’s rear for racking to clear or chamber a round. Quality control specialists work carefully to verify tolerances between the slide and frame’s rails as well as barrel-to-slide fit. The P238’s accuracy and reliability are also enhanced with a quality 2.7-inch barrel.
Presenting the P238 towards a target, the shooter obtains a quick sight picture using either the standard contrast dot sights or the SIGLITE night sights. Both sets of sights are drift adjustable on top of the slide for tuning windage at the range. Pulling the single-action (SA) trigger requires a smooth 5 pounds of pressure before the skeletonized hammer drops onto the firing pin.
The P238 is available in either a two-tone or Nitron finish that’s specifically formulated for corrosion resistance and to protect the pistol’s professional looking appearance from wear.
“Sig Sauer is moving into a new market segment, a segment that we have not paid attention to in the past,” says Sig Sauer’s VP of Marketing Bud Fini. “The .380 caliber is taken on more significance and popularity because it can be used in sub-compact frames. Our model, being all metal, brings Sig Sauer quality and design excellence to the sub-compact market.”
Caliber: .380 ACP
Barrel: 2.7 inches
OA Length: 5.5 inches
Width: 1.1 inches
Height: 3.9 inches
Weight: 15.2 ounces (empty)
Sights: Post and dot contrast, SIGLITE night
Finish: Nitron or natural stainless slide, black hard anodized frame
Capacity: 6-shot mag