Sig Sauer P238 .380 ACP Pistol Review

Clean lines and the slide’s classic P-series profile make the new P238 handgun an unmistakable Sig Sauer product.

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.

sigp238-1.jpgGun Details
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.

Final Note
“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)
Grips:     Aluminum
Sights:     Post and dot contrast, SIGLITE night
Action:    SAO
Finish:    Nitron or natural stainless slide, black hard anodized frame
Capacity:    6-shot mag
Price:    $543-600

Load Comments
  • John W Bletsch

    I bought my P238 after admiring them since their first intro. The manual of arms is essentially the same as for my Springfield 1911. I did not have much 380 ammo on hand so I just shot 30 rounds through it and find much to love about this little shooter. Recoil is very manageable and accuracy is better than my blurred vision can take advantage of in sighting, but this is not a target gun. This is a little gun that will easily place 6 rounds in a 6″ circle at combat distances of 5 to 7 yds rapid fire. I love my 1911 for being at the top of the stopping power for defense, but sometimes I cannot carry the 1911, but now I do not have to go naked.

  • Spike

    Way Over priced and lacking for many reasons, I’ll take the smith 380 bg w laser sight any day, for much less, and don’t give me that what’s your life worth crap, put many rounds through this gun, the int. laser rules and $200+ less than the sig, not too mention way lighter!

  • Mick

    I’m a long time 1911 carrier and I am totally in love with this little beauty!! So light and compact its perfect for a Summer Gun and very accurate. My $1300 Kimber sits in a drawer now that I have carried this gun just once. Whether its in your pocket or waist holster you almost forget your carrying it. If your worried about the way it feels, Don’t Be. Im 6’4″ 240 and have large hands, this thing fits like a glove. All it took was for me to hold it once and I bought it on the spot. Its a little pricey but you get what you pay for. A high quality firearm. It stands in a class all its own compared to the Ruger or the KelTec .380’s. An awesome blend of saftey and comfort, this pistol is at the top of my list. If your a 1911 shooter, you will love this gun.

  • Speedo

    I am one of the very first owner of P238, and I paid premium prices for the two P238 pistols. But up till today, I still love them. The truth of the matter is no other .380 pistols on the market can compete with this model IMHO. I also bought RUGER LCP, and after the first range trip, I gave it up, and it has remained somewhere in my house since then and never been touched again; and the LCP is a joke. Wait till you pull that double-action trigger. Ok, the only thing that I don’t like some models of P238 is its grips, the plastic fluted grips, the stock grips. And I finally found a website that carries beautiful and high quality grips (both wood and aluminum), and I think each owner needs at least one pair even if it’s just for fun. They offer a wide variety of styles and colors, and the most complete “collection” of high quality P238 grips in the market today. Salute to them. here is the link of the web page for the grips:
    Enjoy! You will love the grips.

  • Cool article.
    I carry sp2022 and sp2022c.
    I´m so happy with these guns.
    Thanks for sharing gun´s issue.