Sig Sauer P938 Pistol – Self Defense Gun Review

Sig Sauer P938: American Gun Review by Professor Brian Anse Patrick.

Sig Sauer P938 Pistol
Sig Sauer P938 Pistol
Brian Anse Patrick Rise of the Anti-Media
Brian Anse Patrick Rise of the Anti-Media

USA – -( Sig Sauer P938, 9 mm, 3-inch barrel, 2-Tone, Army Green.

Because I consider myself a Second Amendment Ambassador rather than a Second Amendment Exhibitionist, there are occasions when considerable discretion must be practiced in choosing a concealed carry firearm.

Moreover, as a general rule in civic communication, one shouldn’t needlessly frighten the midgets.

Then of course there is the Big Tradeoff. How much adequacy in a firearm are you willing to trade for the sake of concealability?

Smallish guns tend toward marginal calibers, poor sights, crudity of features such as trigger pull and safeties, and, too often, mechanical reliability. A firearm, whatever it may be otherwise, must above all go bang, and too many of the wee ones fail to do so at crucial moments.

I once knew an Italian gentleman who had stuck his .25 caliber pocket pistol “into the teeth” of his adversary, pulled the trigger, “and the son-of-a-bitch, she just went ‘click.’” Fortunately for Old Sunoco Joe, his adversary fainted at that point, so the firearm produced a substantial effect, just not in the quite way intended. (Joe reported that his adversary sickened and died soon after this instance, so perhaps Joe voodoo-ed him to death by the means already described. Joe took his revenge on the .25 by clamping it into a bench vice and beating it with a hammer until it was scrap metal. While Joe was admittedly an excitable fellow, many 25s and pocket .22s with which I have had experience would seem to cluster similarly with Joe’s in terms of reliability.)

For general carry I have preferred lightweight 1911s in 45 acp with excellent sights and triggers. These guns are safe if carried in a proper holster, reasonably powerful and reliable. When discretion demanded it, I often chose small frame revolvers, especially the J-frame Smith and Wessons, which are supremely reliable as well as safe, even in in a suit pocket. But even these little gems lack good sights and trigger pulls. They do go bang, however, and there is much to be said for that, but at 25 yards they are iffy in terms of hitability, and 7-yard groups are far from the ragged one-hole clusters that the 1911 produces so easily. At night the vestigial sights disappear into the gloom

But wait! says the online/Facebook expert, most gunfights are at 3-7 yards, so this doesn’t matter. Nonsense, I say.

Close up it’s probably even more important that one hits precisely and stops a deadly threat. Less and not more room exists for failure. Just as in the zombie films, the old CNSD (central nervous system disconnect) saves the day, because it doesn’t do you much good when someone beats you over the head with a bat, irreparably damaging that fine brain on which so much college tuition money was spent, or shoots you in the liver, while he exsanguinates from a cluster of your poorly grouped bullet wounds in his torso and arms. Good sights and other grown up handgun features enable marksmanship, a practice that is overlooked by the 3-7 yarders, who seem to regard their totemic spatial beliefs as absolution from the obligation of learning to shoot.

We seem to be training up a generation of handgunners who have confused the ability to manipulate a handgun in contrived short-range drills with actual marksmanship. Ed McGivern who shot fast and accurately used and advocated good high sights sets off with gold bead on the front sights, even for quick aerial shooting.

Wanted is a reasonably compact, utterly safe handgun in a serious caliber that can be shot well under a wide variety of circumstances that define daily life: day, night, close, far, in the twilight of the movie house or alley, subway, bus stop, parking structure, stairwell, church or convenience store, wherever the zombies may set upon you. The point is to have a small gun available that gives you the most options, and not a small gun that virtually precludes or handicaps marksmanship. The 3-7 yarders have already handicapped themselves; there is no reason to add more difficulties for them. And handguns by their very nature handicap a defender whom an attacker has already backed into a corner, metaphorically speaking, and forced to respond with this little last-ditch weapon. So it should be a good one.

Sig Sauer P938 Pistol in 9mm and Army Green

Sig Sauer P938 Pistol in 9mm and Army Green
Sig Sauer P938 Pistol in 9mm and Army Green

And with that statement I arrive at the Sig Sauer P938, a gun that suits the need for discretion, while providing some fine options. Nine (9) millimeter is a good caliber, usually less expensive and always more powerful than the .380 round, widely available in many loadings, although I prefer simple ball ammunition, the 124-grain so-called NATO FMJ loading for the sake of functionality and penetration (This is the bullet weight for which the caliber appears to have been designed.) Brownell’s website lists for sale more than 50 variants of 9mm Luger ammunition (aka 9mm Parabellum). So there are bullet weights and configurations to suit many tastes and needs.

I seek:

  • (1) reliability, as in must go bang!
  • (2) accuracy (CNSD capability)
  • (3) enough power to penetrate to vitals.

At the fetishized optimal 7-yard distance, the Sig Sauer P938, operated with one hand, shoots small walnut-sized groups that one expects of a good revolver or 1911. This is possible not only because the gun is accurate, meaning well made, but also because it has excellent sights and an acceptable trigger.

Kramer Vertical Scabbard Horsehide Holster
Kramer Vertical Scabbard Horsehide Holster

The P938 is a single action self-loading pistol. There is no double action style trigger pull. No de-cocker mechanism. No Glock-style actuator. Instead Sig Sauer produced a longish single action trigger pull of, I would guess, about 6-7 pounds. Other reviewers compare the P938 to the 1911 in terms of general function, and suggest that those who like the 1911 would also like the P938. I agree. The Sig Sauer P938 seems designed to be carried cocked and locked. An ambidextrous manual thumb safety disengages with a fair amount of positive pressure, and is held in place by a detente-style arrangement.

The safety when engaged still allows for operation of the slide, a good feature to have when checking for a loaded chamber, or to load the first round into the chamber, all while the pistol remains on safe. This feature is wise because there is a dangerous moment when one loads or unloads the usual semiautomatic handgun, when the gun is “hot,” meaning that the action is cocked, the chamber loaded, and the safety disengaged, an inherently dangerous situation.

Police ranges often have bullet traps (essentially barrels of sand on metal stands) so as to catch an accidental discharge when the pistol is being loaded or unloaded. One performs loading/unloading operations while the pistol is pointed down into the sand. Homeowners and apartment dwellers generally don’t have such conveniences. So one must wonder where a bullet accidentally discharged at this sensitive instant will go, into or through the floor or walls of the bedroom, and then where? Some damages cannot be undone.

By working the slide with the safety engaged the little Sig seems to have added a layer of protection. No safety can excuse unsafe gun handling, however, and idiots, simply by being idiots, seem capable of achieving randomly bad things that are beyond the imaginings of sensible people. Nevertheless the safety seems a good idea. It also allows the pistol to be carried cocked and locked. And while I prefer cocked and locked as well, conditional on quality holster designed for the gun. I would not drop this gun into my pocket for carry. A Kramer vertical scabbard horsehide holster is on order now for the pistol.

But let me state now emphatically, I don’t yet have enough experience with this gun to honestly make any firm recommendations re carry options. Understanding takes times to develop and I’ve had this gun for maybe two weeks as of this writing.

I have been carrying 1911s for many years, and trust them much more in the sense of prediction of outcomes. I carry 1911s in a high quality holsters, designed for the gun, cocked and locked, trigger covered by the holster, well concealed. And I am very afraid of them. I am also afraid of the P938. I regard this as a healthy attitude. The thing that should be viscerally understood about the Sig Sauer, 1911s, and all other firearms, is that they are absolutely unforgiving of mistakes. Take heed. Beware. The ass you save may be your own.

Sig Sauer P938 Pistol in Army Green
Sig Sauer P938 Pistol in Army Green

The Sig Sauer P938 came with a molded plastic clip-on holster. I tried it and didn’t like it, especially after it, gun and all, most indiscreetly fell off my belt in the Walmart parking lot. No one noticed but my wife and me, and perhaps the security cameras, but this is bad, bad business. The holster may work for someone of different build than me, or maybe not. I was also wearing at the time a back brace that seemed to interfere with the holster, but I still have grave reservations. I await my Kramer holster.

The Sig Sauer pistol itself however is excellent in conception and execution. As a test of reliability I had novice students in my concealed carry pistol class shoot it. More than 100 rounds of ball ammo functioned without flaw for several different shooters. Since, I have shot perhaps another 100 rounds of ball ammunition without malfunction. My contribution to reliability was perhaps two drops of oil to the barrel shroud. If I planned to carry this gun with some sort of expanding or hollow pointed bullets, I would fire at least that much of the intended ammunition to be certain of functionality. But as said, I prefer ball and ball seems to go bang.

Bonus hickok45 Sig Sauer P938 Video Review

The Sig Sauer P938 came with prominent fixed night sights in the usual dovetails. These are of the three-dot configuration and show up well in twilight. The point of impact was dead on elevation-wise at 7 yards and required only the slightest of drift to the right for windage. The front sight is about 1/8 inch in width, about the same as one would expect on a good 1911, the rear sight sufficiently wide to make a quick sight picture. When I raise it to shooting position I am looking down the sights, as should be. The sights work well. The groups fired one-handed from seven yards would fall within a silver dollar. Comparatively, a Colt Government .380 that I had considered and rejected for discrete carry fires groups about the size of a cantaloupe, which at 12-15 yards opened up to basketball size, although in terms of reliability the guns compare. The Colt .380 lacked CNSD accuracy, even though it handled well. But if you can’t shoot in the first place, then what is the difference?

The magazine that came with the P938 was of the extended type holding 7 rounds, that provided extra length in the grip, a sort of hook on the front much like the Wather PPK and similar pistols, that allows for an extra finger on the shooting hand to factor into the grip. I can live without this feature, and opted for discretion by ordering a couple of flat base magazines that held only six rounds, but made for a shorter less elongated grip. The pistol handles well either way.

All in all I am well pleased with the P938. It’s too early, however, to say whether I will adopt it. I will prudently continue to test, and await the arrival of a more suitable holster.

Brian Anse Patrick
Brian Anse Patrick

The question of whether the P938 is a suitable concealed carry handgun for experienced shooters is one thing.

But would I trust it to a novice? Most of the women and many of the men in my last CPL class had some difficulties even in physically working the slide—although they were capable of doing so under immediate supervision with some advice. But supervision and advice won’t always be there for them. I have doubts generally about neophytes and self-loading pistol designs.

Plus there are conditions one hears about such as “Glock Leg.” The whole situation makes me nervous. Few people in my experience commit themselves sufficiently to training and practice to master basic skills, but if they are willing, I say this:

The Sig Sauer P938 seems like a truly compact quality pistol worthy of choosing.


About the Author:

Dr. Brian Anse Patrick is a full professor in the Department of Communication at University of Toledo in Ohio. He holds a Ph.D. in Communication Research from University of Michigan. He teaches courses in Propaganda, Communication Research Methods. Group Communication and honors courses in American Gun Policy. His books include: The National Rifle Association and the Media, The Ten Commandments of Propaganda (also available in Polish translation as 10 Przykazan Propagandy), Rise of the Anti-Media—The Informational Sociology of the American Concealed Carry Movement, and Aristotle on Business Communication. He is currently working on a new book, PropaGUNda: the Informational War Over Guns.

He blogs at:

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Hello I have conceal carried the p938 for 4 years now, loaded with hornady critical duty it rips the guts out of hogs. (They hide better when I have a rifle) Great little pistol but, or should I say BUT It has some quirks that show up with time. When you cycle it to load, the next round in the mag becomes loose. If you eject the mag the loose round falls out. it still shoots reliably. Unless you carry it without a round in the mag. For some unknown reason, if I carry it with nothing in the chamber… Read more »

Big Al 512

I own Both The 238 & 938 and love them Both, 238 Army Green & 938 Sport, The just handle really well for me, range I use FMJ and defensive JHP, if you Use +P in the 238 its just like the 938, and of course the 938 with +p will kick harder but still manageable, I do not use +p as a steady diet, its good to know Both will work well, they really are very accurate,

Roy D.

How many are aware that this is basically a remake of a Spanish “Star” handgun? I’m not saying that that is a bad thing as I owned two Star PD 45s decades ago and liked them very much.

Walter Miner

I carried a Star 9mm in the 70’s really a great shooter. Then I got dumb and traded it fo something?


You said “must go bang” way too many times. It made what would have been a good article just ok.


CANNOT RECOMMEND. Within first 4 months I experienced constant jams, the spring on the slide stop failed, and the screw on grip fell out causing the grip to shrift (preventing the ejecting of the magazine). Poor quality results in a dangerous gun! Also, the authorized dealers of the Sig -even though they have certified gunsmiths- are NOT authorized to do even straightforward fixes i.e. replace spring or replace the lost screw. BEWARE – the authorized dealers do NOT guarantee the gun (nor do they stand behind it); that is strictly up to Sig). And since Sig is NOT customer oriented… Read more »


I do not agree with the conclusions in this comment and would attribute the experience as an outlier. I own two Sig pistols, a p938 and a p320. I have owned the 938 (extreme) for 4 months and carry it daily. I have fired over 600 rounds through it (ball, Hornady critical defense etc…) and it eats everything and I have yet to have a single malfunction. I have owned the 320 for over a year and have fired over 2000 rounds through that with only 2 failures to eject which occurred after 1500 rounds. Sig was extremely helpful and… Read more »

Daniel B

I have had the same experience with my p938. I’ve fired about 400 rounds of ball ammo and 50 – 100 rounds of Hornady critical defense with never a single issue. No misfeeds, no failure to eject. The gun works flawlessly from what I’ve seen.


Sorry to hear of your troubles with your P938. I have a Sig P938 nightmare with the rubber grips and also a Glock 27 (40cal) that are my primary carry guns. The P938 is very accurate (I prefer to practice at 25 yards at the range). After about 8 boxes of 9mm American Eagle, Blazer, and Lawman, I still have not had any malfunctions at all. I also shot a box of 20 of Federal 147gr +P and a box of Winchester 147gr JHP Train& Defense. The JHP shot without a hitch as well. The SIG is small enough to… Read more »

Marty Robinson

Glock is a total waste a piece of junk


Yep a BOOGER hook can be used WRONG and needs to be watched very carefully. KEEP it out of the places that are dangerous to surroundings and what not——- UNTIL time to ROCK & ROLL! “CARRY ON”

Clark Kent

“Glock leg” is not caused by the Glock itself but by the operator of same. Off target; off trigger. Pretty simple and it applies to EVERY firearm.

Mr Man375

Well said my friend. I always tell people the same thing when I show them the safety on my Glocks……insert pictures of my index finger both flexing and straight here. Ultimately it is the shooter who is responsible for the shooting no matter where the weapon is pointed.

Enrico L. Appiano

As an Italian, I know the bad habits of my fellow citizens. Most probably, the gentleman was carrying a very good .25 caliber pistol, which he had been carrying for may be 40 years without ever changing the ammunitions….

Jerry Davis

I have a P320 9mm have just passed 11,000 rounds no malfunctions as yet. It is accurate and striker fired which is my preference.


Have two 938’s. One NIGHT MARE and 1 a Two Tone Stainless. The MARE sights were off a little to the left and I corrected that. It is HIGHLY ACCURATE, Accurate enough to shoot a venomous snakes head off at a few feet, Has been EDC ever since I fixed the sight. I will Get the new 938 working soon. A female family member will make it her EDC.


I have been carrying a 938 BRG for over a year as an “almost daily” carry ( alternate days is an UltraCarry ). I am an older guy, a small framed person with smaller hands and this is ideal. It is carried IWB with a DeSantis holster and is virtually undetectable. Must admit, I need the extended grip. It will easily take down 1lb coffee cans at 7 yds but conscious user control is a must, this is a handful when things get noisy. I have had a Colt Gov’t .380 that I carried for many years and still like… Read more »

Philip Levin

I’m a 1911 builder and treated myself to a 938 Elite with a Sig laser when I got my FFL. I was quite dismayed at the condition in which it arrived. The trigger was a creepy and rough 10 or 11 lbs, and the gun didn’t hit where aimed with either the sights or the laser. Since the firing mechanism is fairly similar to that of a 1911, it was easy to address the trigger issue and, after sighting in, the little gun is now a real tack driver. I agree with Hickok 45’s assessment overall, including his insinuated reservation… Read more »


Just an FYI for all –There is no half cock on the Sig 938

Philip Levin

If your 938 doesn’t have a half-cock, you should send it to SIG for repair. Mine DOES have a half cock, and as another commentator noted, I was able to defeat mine, as well. I can do a repair on mine, but I would not consider doing it on a customer’s SIG.

Kevin Crystal

Very nice review on a very nice gun. I’ve been carrying a 938 for two years now and love the combination of 9mm power and small size. One thing that I extremely disagree with: carrying FMJ Ammo for self defense. It is a really bad idea for two reasons: over penetration and underperformance. 9mm FMJ can go thru the bad guy and hit an innocent beyond. It has way too much penetration because it’s streamlined shape slips thru muscle and organs. A much better choice for carry is a modern, top quality hollow point. They are much more effective in… Read more »


I totally agree. The 9mm 124GR Elite Crown Hollow point is the better choice


My wife fell in love with the 938 when she first saw it on the shelf. It didn’t matter that she already had a 9mm (and a .357 and a .380) the 938 was destined to be her carry gun. She even used her own money. She’s taken classes with her other 9mm and with her .357. The next step will be a class with the 938.


Mine fell in love with the P238 (.380 version of this pistol… in Army Green even). She opted for the .380 as she has damage in her support hand thumb that takes a beating with larger frame guns and creates racking problems with smaller frame striker fires. I have been so enamored of her P238 (I carried for a couple weeks vacation in *Yes, I know* California wearing shorts and t-shirt in a Blade Tech Ambi Klipt appendix carry) that my next purchase will be the P938!