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Sig's P938 vs Sig P238

P238 or P938?

If you're looking at a tiny Sig, you'll naturally start weighing the P238 vs P938. They're the same gun for all intents and purposes, but the P938 is a little bigger and chambers 9mm rather than .380 Auto.

There is no person for whom the P938 will not be eminently concealable, so it's hardly the case that one is an easy concealing gun and one isn't. Neither of these guns is, say, a Beretta M9 or anything.

How do you pick between them? That's actually a great question. It is not an easy decision, because it's basically the same pistol just in different calibers.

Sig P238: The Sig 380 AkA An Improved Colt Mustang

The Sig P238, along with the Kimber Micro and a few other guns, is basically just Sig's take on the Colt Mustang. The Mustang, which Colt still makes, was a tiny version of the 1911, even smaller than an Officer frame and chambered in .380.

The Sig P238, like the Mustang, lacks the grip safety of the full-size 1911, so you carry it with the safety on or with the hammer down. That means you have to carry with a good holster, to keep the pistol safe and the controls undisturbed, or lower the hammer (over a live round) every time you load the pistol. Upon drawing, you either sweep off the safety or cock the hammer, just like the full-size gun.

The P238 has a 2.7-inch barrel, sitting 5.5 inches long, 3.9 inches tall and 1.1 inches wide. Unloaded, it weighs 15.2 ounces though this can vary depending on the model. It holds 6+1 of .380 with a flush-fit magazine, though a 7+1 magazine with a pinky extension is also available.

Like most Sig pistols, you get options of finish and other appointments, such as choosing white dots or SIGLITE night sights. Models range from the basic black Nitron model ($679 MSRP) to the Spartan Micro Compact with all the bells and whistles, at $1,013.

It's actually one of the best pocket pistols to shoot. Oh, you'll get the drawbacks of tiny guns - there's a whole lot of muzzle rize and the slide will cut your hand like it won't give up its lunch money if you hold too high - but it isn't unpleasant and reasonably accurate. If you gotta have a little .380, it's one of the best...though, as you can gather from the range of MSRP, you pay for it.

Sig P238
Sig P238 Specs
  • Overall Length: 5.5"
  • Height 3.9"
  • Barrel Length: 2.7"
  • Width: 1.1"
  • Weight: 15.2oz unloaded

Why The Sig .380 When The 9mm Is Barely Bigger?

It's true - this Sig 380 is basically the same thing as the P938 but is just a little smaller. Why would you bother if 9mm is a more proven, more effective round for defensive purposes?

That much is a personal decision.

However, some people carry a Sig 380 because they need the smallest possible pistol with the smallest possible footprint, or perhaps prefer it that way. A tiny gun that is no big deal to have on you all the time is one that you will have on you all the time, so there are some people who prefer to have a carry gun that's minimally intrusive.

Additionally, some people will carry a Sig .380 (or other brand) elsewhere on the body as a backup gun. As the saying goes, 2 is 1 and 1 is none.

This much is totally a matter of preference, so it's something you may have to decide for yourself.

The P938 Is The Same, Just A Little Bigger

The P938 is just like the Sig P238, just slightly bigger in every dimension including the bullet that it fires since the 9x19mm is just a hair bigger than the .380 Auto. The bullet itself is actually the same diameter, at .355 inches/9 millimeters. However, 9mm employs a heavier projectile (115 to 147 grains being the norm, compared to 85 to 100 grains in .380 ACP) with a longer case (19.15mm vs 17.3mm) and a bit more powder.

In other words, the bullet is only slightly bigger. Likewise, the Sig P938 is slightly bigger.

The P938 has a 3-inch barrel, sitting 5.9 inches long, 3.9 inches tall (with a flush magazine) and 1.1 inches wide. Unloaded - depending on model - it weighs 16 ounces unloaded. The flush-fit magazine holds the same number of rounds 6+1, and there is a 7+1 magazine available with a pinky extension.

If choosing between the P938 vs P238...honestly size isn't going to be what does it.

Just like the P238, there are a range of models available, ranging from the Nitron Micro Compact (MSRP $760) to the P938 Rose Gold model at MSRP $986, with the bells, whistles and so on. There's even a suppressor-ready model, the Emperor Scorpion TB Micro Compact. Night sights are an optional upgrade, as are models with Hogue rubber grips, which are a very popular accessory for both the P938 and P238.

Just like the 238, the P938 is known to shoot better than it's small frame would suggest, especially with the Hogue grips. It may not necessarily shoot as well as a Glock 26 or an M&P Shield but it's one of the better tiny nines out there.

Also looks pretty good too.

Sig P938 rosewood handle
Sig P938 Specs
  • Overall Length: 5.9"
  • Height: 3.9"
  • Barrel Length: 3"
  • Width: 1.1"
  • Weight: 16oz unloaded

P238 vs P938: Actually A Really Hard Choice

Really, choosing between the P238 vs P938 is not easy. It's for all intents and purposes the same gun; it's just one uses a different bullet.

Sure, the P938 is a little bigger but not so much that it makes a difference. Yes, it shoots the 9mm round but these aren't target guns or service pistols; you'd only use them up close and personal. At close range, the P238 chambering .380 actually doesn't make any real difference if you place the shot well and carry a quality defensive ammunition.

The Sig P938 for concealed carry
The Sig P238 for concealed carry

Both are incredibly easy to conceal and carry. Where the size of the P938 might be a hindrance is for someone intending to pocket carry, as it may not fit the smallest of pants pockets. Then again, pocket carry should only be done with a pocket holster as an IWB or appendix carry holster is going to be far safer to tote your gun with.

What, then, would actually tip one way or another for most shooters?

The grip, actually. Thing about the P938 is that it is a little bit taller than the P238, and with the pinky extension will actually fit a lot more hands and do so better than the P238 will. When you put the grip in your palm, an extra half-inch actually makes a difference. For shooters with slightly bigger mitts, that's going to make a difference in how good it feels to handle and shoot.

Then again, you'll also want to handle - and ideally, shoot - both of these pistols before committing to one. You'll likely find one you like more than the other, and the best gun for you is one that feels good to handle, feels good to shoot and that you can shoot well with.

About The Author

Writer sam hoober