Monday, February 25, 2013

Sig Sauer P938 Review...A Good Concealed Carry Option?

 My wife is now a card carrying concealed weapon permit holder, and being such, it was time to get a gun for her that she would be comfortable carrying.  She practiced, and qualified at the range with a Springfield XD Sub Compact 9mm, which she really enjoys shooting at the range.  The problem is, my wife is 5'2" and admits to having little upper body strength.  She wanted a pistol that would be easy to manipulate the slide, and would have a smaller profile then even the XDSC.  The 9mm round is comfortable for her to shoot, and she was resolved to not buying a revolver.  So, the search was on.

We spent a good bit of time going from store to store, trying different firearms.  She would pick up every gun she could, but she couldn't find "the one", until she picked up a black beauty, called the P938 Nightmare.  She could pull the slide back like it was a stick of butter sliding on a hot griddle.  She wanted it, and I wanted to research it.

Sig P938 with extended 7 round magazine.

The P938 is a 9mm version of Sig Sauer's popular P238, a .380 pistol.  It was only just released in May of 2012, and was met with much anticipation.  Here are some of the specs:

Action: SAO
Trigger pull: 5 lb (we will discuss this)
Length: 5.9"
Width: 1.1"
Barrel Length: 3.0"
Weight w/ empty mag: 16 oz
Sights: Night Sights
Frame material: Alloy
Frame Finish: Black Hard Coat Anodized
Slide Material: Stainless
Safety: Ambi-Safety
Magazine: 1 magazine, 6 round supplied

Sig P938 with ambidextrous
safety and night sights
After reading the reviews of this pistol, prior to purchase, I ran across some difficulties that some of the owners were running into.  Some purchased the pistol and ran round after round with no failures.  Others, and it seemed to be a good many, were struggling with FTE's (Failure To Eject), where the spent casings were getting caught in the slide.  Sig fixed the problem for no charge, replacing the extractor, and most have seen the problem fixed. 

So, I decided to take the plunge, knowing we might be doing some free beta testing for Sig.  We bought the pistol for $720 and took it home.  I knew ahead of time, but I was still disappointed that the pistol came with only 1 magazine.  I immediately ordered the extended magazine that Sig has available. 

So, let us first share what we love about the pistol.  The grip is excellent, and when holding the pistol it feels completely secure in the hand.  The finish is beautiful, and the silver accents are nice.  The night sights are excellent.  It's nice to be able to line up your sights in a pitch black room, something we need to add to our other pistols. 

The nitty-gritty...I took the Nightmare to the range, and sure enough I didn't get through the first magazine before my first FTE.  I alternated with different brands of ammunition and wasn't able to get through a magazine without a failure.  I was a bit disappointed, however knowing full well that I was aware of this problem prior to purchase I called Sig.  They issued me a return label immediately and I sent it off, free of any charge to me.
The pistol was returned within 10 days.  We took it to the range and started throwing lead down-range.  No FTE at all.  The sights are nice, and I was able to shoot the pistol with decent accuracy at 7 yards.  The true test however was to be done by my wife who would be carrying the pistol. 

There are two issues that frustrated my wife.  The trigger pull is the main problem.  Advertised at a 5lb trigger pull, this pistol feels much more like a 8-9lb pull, and the trigger pull is gritty.  The second problem, is a bi-product of the first.  The trigger has deep cut grooves.  This doesn't bother my fingers, but for my wife, and her admittedly weak upper strength, the heavy trigger pull means those grooves dig into her trigger finger.  By the end of shooting 50 rounds, her trigger finger was red, sore, and had these deep grooves imprinted on it.

Sig P938 with standard
6 Round magazine
Overall, I think the Nightmare is a great carry piece if you can get the problems worked out.  My wife can shoot it, but to make it more comfortable as a carry piece we will have to spend a little money to get the trigger worked on to make it a manageable 4-5 lb pull.  It is a beautiful gun, and I think it has great potential.  I do think Sig rushed this pistol to production and didn't spend enough time putting the gun through the torture test it needed, and unfortunately their customers are paying a premium price for a gun that needs improvements to make it trustworthy.  It is my understanding that Sig has started placing the new extractors into the new models making it to the shelves, but this one was an earlier serial number that didn't make the cut.

I will do a follow up review on the trigger mods once they are finished!


  1. Appreciate your article. I have the 938 Extreme version. To date I have put 500 rounds through mine. The only ammo it hates is Remington and Precision One from Mt Pleasant,SC, Now I did receive a new box of Precision One and no issues. I have used Winchester, Federal and now Freedom Munitions without one FTE. I like my gun very much for conceal carry. Would have no problem using it. My wife has a Ruger LC9 which we will need to have some trigger modifications done to it which will improve accuracy. We recently purchased the Glock26 gen 3, which she is deadly accurate with. In reference to the Sig purchase it was always a dream of mine to own a Sig....I feel in love with the P938 and have yet to find another at a gun show or dealer. Purchase price was only 675.00, cannot touch or acquire one new or used for less than 750 to 825. I am very happy with mine. Hope to meet you at the March 10th meetup in Salem.

    1. I just picked up same Sig(dream gun) in Orangeburg with the laser for 599.00

  2. Jeff,

    Thanks for your comment! I loved the P938 Extreme version, especially since it came with the extended magazine, but my wife preferred the grip on the Nightmare. I have heard great things about the LC9, and I love a good Glock. I owned a Glock 30, gen 3 which was a fantastic .45 acp.

    Sounds like you got a great deal on your Extreme! I have seen the prices on the P938 only go up during this "panic" buy. The ammo you are using, is it 115, or 124 gr? I have read where some are having great luck with 124 gr through the P938. My only problem with that is that when I pay $700+ for a gun, it should eat any ammo I put through it.

    Thanks again, and I'll update the blog when the final mods are done.

  3. Jeremy,

    My wife did exactly as your wife… we went pistol shopping and the p938 was the first one of the day she held. She loved it. However, I wanted to take her to the other gun shops to get a feel for some others. We went to every gun shop in the town we were in and nothing felt as good as the P938 So, after determining the P38 was the one for her, we went back to the store to buy it… and lo and behold, someone else had snatched it (only about a two hour span). Luckily, we found her a new Nightmare from a dealer on Armslist and it just arrived today.


    1. Chadwick, thanks for commenting. I wound be very interested in hearing a range report with your P938. I am hopeful that you may have picked up one of the later serial models that had the extractor replaced so you won't have to go through the hassle of sending it in.

      I have been looking at options to work on the trigger. I cannot find anyone in my local area that will tackle it, so I have been doing some research. I am going to replace the hammer spring, and the trigger itself to see if that helps. I ran across a threat online where a guy replaced the spring and the trigger and brought his trigger from 8.2lb to 4.3, and that is exactly what I am aiming to do.

      Congrats on the purchase. Be armed and be safe!


    2. If you are not afraid to disassemble the P938, do what I did to mine to get rid of the gritty trigger pull. I polished the trigger bar and sear on all the contact areas and that took gritty all out. I just ordered the Colt Mustang .380 reduced power hammer spring today from Midway. That should bring it down between 4-5 lbs. I love mine and have not had any of the issues that other posts have mentioned. My only concern was that when I first started shooting it, I was shooting 6-8 in low at 7yds. I found that the sight picture on this little gun is a little different than my 1911. After a little practice now i can keep 6 shots in a 2 in group at 7 yds. Good Luck and safe shooting!!

    3. Megarooster59-
      Thanks for the comment! In fact, I have done just those same things! I ordered the replacement spring and just received it the other day. I have also ordered and received a new trigger to replace the plastic grooved trigger. As soon as I have some time to set aside I am going to get these mods done.

      As for sight picture, I had read some people were having problems with the site picture. I haven't had that problem, and I am glad to hear you got it figured out.

      Thanks again for commenting with those great suggestions. I am going to put a follow up comment on here when I finish the mods so people can order the parts they need.

  4. Jeremy,

    I see that you are in SC. I live in SC, as well. (Shoot me an email and I will give you my contact information.)

    My wife's P938 Nightmare is one of the newest ones with a build date of 2-20-13. She shot about 50 rounds (PMC Bronze 124 Grs. FMJ) today without any problem. It is a sweet shooting pistol. She is very impressed. I was impressed, as well.

    This is the first Sig that we've ever owned. Field stripping the P938 is tricky. It took me a while to learn how to field strip the P938. The guide rod is tricky to put back in place when reassembling. I stripped it down after the shooting session today without any trouble. (I have a Glock 27 and it is totally different in field stripping.)


  5. I'm much like your wife, no upper body strength, small hands plus a wicked case of autoimmune arthritis that play havoc on my joints. I wanted a Sig because every one I ever picked up, I could rack with no trouble. Even on days with swollen hands. That said, I fired my brand new P938 this morning. Loved it! Put 70 rounds though it, 20 124 grain and 50 115. Zero problems with ejecting. Everything appears to be exactly as it should. The fact it fits in the tiny purse I carry is a bonus!

    1. CurlyRedHead,

      So glad you found a weapon that works for you! I love to hear of women involved in their own self defense, and I really glad to hear you found a P938 that is working out so well!

      Thanks for posting!

  6. What a great honest review. Thanks. I am a loyal Sig fan and planning on buying one soon. Glad too know what to watch out for. ..

    1. Thanks for the comment! Good luck with your find!

  7. I am a displaced (SE) Alaskan, now living in the Fairbanks area. I've recently bought a P938 SAS, and have had one failure in the first 212rds that I've fired (a light primer strike). It has fired several types of ammunition so far. I've downsized from a Kimber Ultra Carry, and am loving the Sig... except for the trigger. I believe that it could be much better. If anyone cracks this nut, please post up specific modifications.


    1. Mike,

      Thanks for the comment! I am glad you have had such good luck with the pistol. My wife continues to struggle with comfort with the trigger and I think she has decided to part ways with this Sig and start looking for a new conceal carry weapon.

      If you get any info on successful mods to the Sig, feel free to post it here to share!

    2. I finally got some self defense ammo! The little Sig ate them all. My round count is up to 378; 3 brands of ammo @ 115gr, 124gr, 135gr & 147gr. My single malfunction is a single light primer strike.

      I did a detailed disassembly and cleaning which pretty completely took care of the remaining "gritty" feeling in the trigger. I replaced the hammer spring with a Wolff Colt Mustang hammer spring (PN 31420) which has significantly reduced the trigger pull. I'm hoping to get to the range tomorrow to check function and see if my accuracy is improved.

      I split 7-9 cords of wood per year by hand. Apparently this has hardened my hands enough that the ridges on the trigger are not an issue for me.


    3. hi,

      displaced texan here.

      both the 238 and 938 have "trigger problems". for the 'gritty' trigger, found that several hundred (maybe thousand) dry fires (snap cap, and manually cock the hammer), the pull is much smoother, and seems to break cleaner (and it is much better than any DAO i have tried). for the trigger gooves (and to assist with securing a good hand hold) used some glock tape (yep, that's the product name) and with low heat from a hair dryer, added grip to back and front strap...but more important, glock tape on the trigger front surface removes the problem of the ridges. on a related note, used a metal fingernail file to smooth the low end of the trigger. that sharp point can be uncomfortable, and catch your finger between the trigger and lower trigger guard). just gently remove the plastic and wipe clean; trigger still looks factory.

      cheers, ya'll

  8. Jeremy,
    Thanks for starting this discussion. I have the Equinox and love it. After about 200 rounds no FTF. It seems to be loosening up a little. You may want to consider using a Dremel tool to smooth out the trigger and get rid of the ridges. A friend of mine did that and it really helped him.
    I too will be looking for a replacement spring to reduce the trigger pull. Mine is just over 8 lbs. I shoot fine but at 25 yards I can't keep the group under 5". Shooting rapidly I'm lucky to keep it in the center chest.
    Thanks again.


    1. Todd,

      Thanks for the comment, and the suggestion! For this little gun, a 5" group isn't too bad at 25 yards, and I agree it gets "squirrely" with rapid fire, especially at that distance!

      I did drop a new reduced power 20lb spring in mine. It made a small difference in the trigger, but honestly not enough to make a difference. I bought a new trigger for it, stainless steel to get around the grooves in the trigger that my wife hates so much. For the life of me I cannot get the trigger pin out.

      I honestly am disappointed in the trigger for a $700 pistol. Between the trigger pull/discomfort and the FTE issues requiring a new ejector, a recent FTF, and firing pin falling out once...I just cannot risk my wife carrying this gun.

      This is my first Sig, and I was so excited about getting it as Sig has a great track record. However, this first experience has soured my flavor for another Sig.

  9. Jeremy,
    Thank you for a well informed review.
    I have owned a P938 for about six months and fired about 800 rounds through it. I sent it back to Sig Early on because it consistently failed to eject about three times in every 50 rounds. They returned it saying it worked just fine. I still have problems with it, although less frequently. Not a good option for a self defense carry pistol.
    I have a P238 that never, ever, failed to eject. That is what prompted me to purchase the 9mm version. I will carry the 238 or a Kimber CDP11 .45 depending on weather and attire.
    I am very disappointed that Sig would offer such an unreliable pistol. Interesting that so many of your readers had no issues with the gun. Oh,well.
    Lee (Hilton H., SC)

  10. I was looking for a new concealed carry as well. I looked at the Sig P938 because I own two other Sigs a P220 and a P228 which I love and have never had a single malfunction with either and I've fed all different kinds of ammo through it in excess of 5000 rounds but the feel for me about the 938 I just didn't care for, I agree I don't like the feel of the trigger it's a little heavy and doesn't feel smooth plus I'm used to the decocking lever on my other Sigs and not fond of the 1911 style of carrying it cocked and locked, so my search continued until I had the opportunity to hold and fire a Walther PPS I love this little 9 especially with the extended mag It just feels great in the hand and the trigger is as smooth as sliding a pad of butter on a hot skillet, it has a safe action trigger and field strips much like the Glock. Ive fed through it all grains of ammo in FMJ and JHP and no issues at all with about 1000 rounds through it. Just thought you'd like to know if your wife is still unhappy with the little Sig, she may want to take a look at the Walther PPS, also it comes with a flush fitted magazine and the extended magazine standard no need for an additional purchase like the Sig. Well good luck!

    Matt (Misplaced New Yorker in NC)

  11. I bought a P938. It is very accurate and easy to shoot...but it has been a nightmare with FTE. It will FTE every 2nd or 3rd shot. It has been worked on twice with very minimal improvement.

  12. I bought for conceal carry however I dont like the trigger on these. I had a trigger job from local Gunshop and I still hate it. It is Inconsistant! I had a P239 for years and i made a big mistake by trading it in on this. I hope people read this and I hope sig can work on improving this weapon because it is accurate and awesome to conceal. We bought a XDS 9mm and it blows away the 938 its a little bigger but it shoots way better for me and my wife.

  13. My experiences are similar to those above. The trigger serrations were slightly flattened with a couple of seconds with a fine riffler file. Now it feels great. I has a couple of FTE issues during the first couple of hundred rounds. None since. I have a bunch of reloads with some exposed, soft lead, JHP bullets that I picked up in a lot from an auction. They FTF in the P938. My P250, sub-compact/full sized, eats anything I feed into it. The P938 takes any factory load and any FMJ reload, as long as I pay strict attention to overall cartridge length. Too long and there are occasional FTF issues.

    The P938 is easy to shoot, accurate, and so simple to carry, IWB, pocket carry, anything works due to the small size.

    As a personal protection weapon the P938 removes any excuse to carry whenever and wherever you can do so legally. And it just looks cool!

  14. I took a student shooter to our local firearm dealer and had her look at plenty of good options when the salesman showed us the Sig 938. I'm a fan of Sig and have a 1911 that has just been as reliable as all get out, not one malfuntion in hundreds of rds. and that's a 1911. Well she liked the grip, size and looks of course. As we were there and ready for her to purchase her first gun for our upcoming class and clinic I didn't have time to research it. I know Sig and Sig makes good stuff. Unfortunately Sig has admitted to several issue with this gun after I did my research and after several FTE in our clinic. Embarrassing and lesson learned. Our guide rod has no isses with it after I broke it down to check this as it is the main cluprit on message boards. I tried several ammunition, and shot it myself, hoping it was limp wristing... FTE with me too. I will say we only shot 200 rds. but this thing should work out of the box, or there should be a disclaimer that says ureliable for personal defense until 200+ rds. are fired. Maybe it does lol, I do not have the manual but it's safe to say it doesn't otherwise I believe I'd have run passed that on the boards. There's more, I've read that folks have sent back their rods and spring to have different length springs sent back to them. That is STRANGE. So, too many unknowns for us to continue with this gun, if it works for you which many seem to do, than stick with it. If you're thinking of buying this as a EDC, I'd recommend looking elswhere if your time is limited and you can't spend the time to return, test & evaluate until you feel confident.

  15. I have and carry a Sig P938 which likes 124 gr. practice ammo but has not had any problems with various brands of carry ammo even down to the 95 gr. DPX and 115 Hornady FTX. I just cannot use 115 WWB ammo in the gun and I do not prefer that anyway.

  16. I bought the Sig P938 Extreme just over a month ago and I love it!!! - I had a Ruger LCP 380, but my husband thought that I should get a 9mm instead. We went to many gun stores to find one that felt comfortable in my hand, since I'm very small (5'2"), and without a doubt, the Sig P938 was the best!
    I've shot about 400 rounds so far, and have not had a single FTE. The accuracy is much better than with the Ruger and now that my husband got me the speed loader, I'm having a great time practicing!! - I highly recommend this pistol !!