The Sig P938: Not Perfect, Not Bad, Tons of Potential
Specs: The P938 weighs 16 oz without the magazine. It’s 5.9 inches long, 3.9 inches tall, and just 1.1 inch wide. With a 3 inch barrel and seven round magazine, it’s obviously designed for carry.
We all know Sig for famous pistols like the P226: heavy, hammer-fired, smooth-triggered, German goodness. As consumers, we expect a lot from Sig because of their reputation for durable, great shooting handguns. We had considered the P938 as a handy little pistol for a long time, and read positive feedback about it on the internet. It seemed to check the two boxes that we expected checked (in triplicate) from our German friends: durable and well-designed gun, great trigger. Like any subcompact, it’s not going to fit perfectly into most hands, but there’s a measure of comfort that we can expect from simple ergonomic choices. The P938 shines in this regard. Unfortunately, we experienced a few problems that made us question whether or not this pistol is a great buy right out of the box.
Why The P938?
The P938 is well designed. It’s a simple handgun with nice features, and it’s easy to operate. Every day carriers might squabble about hammer-fired vs. striker fired pistols and the presence of a manual safety, but then again this isn’t a pistol for the Glock crowd. It seems to us that this pistol was designed for folks who were looking for a truly carry-ready 1911 chambered in 9mm, then realized that one didn’t really exist. Sure, a Springfield EMP might be comparable in size, but it also suffers from light primer strikes, failures to eject, etc. Other compact, 9mm, 1911-style pistols suffer from similar reliability issues. Sig filled the market gap with the P938, which packs most of the feel of a 1911 into a more reliable design.
It’s Good When Germans Design Stuff
Usually. It’s usually good when Germans design stuff. In this case they missed a thing or two, but overall the P938 is a very well built gun. The all-metal frame and slide come in a variety of finishes, but they all look pretty good. We’re reviewing the P938 Extreme, which has a nitron-coated stainless slide, Hogue G10 grips, and shipped with a comfort-inducing pinky extension magazine. When it comes to handguns like the P938, it’s all about the details. The night sights, stippling on the frame, slide serrations, and ambidextrous controls come together to make most functions easy to use and pleasant. The Hogue G10 grips look great, and marry the gun to your hand in a satisfying and comfortable way. When you get wrapped around the P938 and start punching paper, it really is reminiscent of shooting a compact 1911, which must have been the intention of the design.
Most 9mm ammunition is easy to shoot out of the P938, and we only experienced one FTF in the first 500 rounds. It seemed to be a light primer strike, and was probably a result of the hard primers that Tula uses in their cartridges. The Sig handled every other load we put through it, hollow points included, flawlessly. Obviously, +P ammunition kicks uncomfortably out of such a small handgun, but emptying a magazine into a target at 7 yards with controlled shots really isn’t a problem with a bit of practice. The pistol is a slim single-stack, but substantial enough that a tight, thumbs-forward grip will keep most shooters on target. We were able to achieve great groups at varying distances. For us, the pinky extension made a big difference (as it does on most subcompacts). Shooting with the extension is much easier and more comfortable than shooting without because of the increased purchase it gives the shooter. It should be noted that the P938 ships with a handy little holster, but definitely not one I would use regularly.
Takedown and cleaning are easy, although the recoil spring can be tough to get back into place. The P938 takes down much like a 1911 minus the barrel bushing: just pull the slide back and align the holes so that the takedown lever falls out with just a tap or push. Everything is well-fit, and avoiding the “idiot scratch” is very easy- even for beginners. The 938 is also has a ton of aftermarket grip options, and Hogue makes a pair for those of us with larger, sweatier, hands.
We have two gripes with this gun, and they’re kind of big. One comes down to an overall design choice that’s pretty questionable, in our opinion. The other is a manufacturing issue.
The pull is great, the break is great, the reset is great, but the trigger itself sucks. For some reason, Sig decided to install a ridged plastic trigger that is very uncomfortable to shoot for any extended period of time. The ridges create a “v,” or point on the trigger face that rubbed our finger pads raw at about 80 rounds. We amended our form a few different ways, and found that tightening our grip to an absurd degree helped mitigate the problem, but we finally decided that an aftermarket trigger was the right choice. That wasn’t a big deal, because we run aftermarket parts in most of our guns. The problem: we needed Thor’s fucking hammer (and godly punch set) to get the trigger pin out, and Thor is not easy to get ahold of.
The Trigger Pin, Welded in Place by Vulcan Himself
We ordered a stainless steel trigger from W Engineering, and the thing looked and felt great. We couldn’t wait to install it. Try as we might, we just could not get the trigger pin to budge. After hours of frustration (see the damage to the frame around the hole), we gave up and brought it to our local gunsmith. It should be mentioned here that we would have stopped much earlier, but we were planning on cerakoting this gun anyway and didn’t mind taking some finish off. The gunsmith took a look, laughed, and said “there’s no way I can get this thing out without damaging the frame. You’re going to want to call Sig.” We will update this review based on our experiences with Sig’s customer service. Note: it’s also worth checking out IDP’s trigger.
That is our issue with this P938. This problem, though, is well-documented in a number of other reviews and reports on gun forums around the web. Basically, the trigger is poorly designed, and we found it impossible to fix this problem that should be fixable because of Vulcan’s trigger pin. It was frustrating, but we can’t ignore the positive design elements on this pistol.
Red Hatchet Says:
The P938 could have been a truly great pistol. Part of the problem is that Sig Sauer is synonymous with quality in most respects, and so these design flaws are highlighted by the fact that they’re so unexpected. When we get that W Engineering trigger in place, we’ll update the review. We expect the pistol to be an absolute dream after that, but as of now it’s just not that fun to shoot. It definitely serves as a solid EDC pistol for the hammer fired crowd, but training with it isn’t going to be fun at all until you replace the trigger.