The P938 is operationally similar to a 1911 and the Colt Mustang; each is single action, uses a single-stack magazine and has a frame-mounted safety lever operated by the left-hand thumb. There are several noteworthy differences from the 1911, however. With the hammer down and the safety applied, the P938’s slide and hammer are locked. With the hammer cocked and the safety applied, its slide can be retracted. Takedown procedures are also different, mainly because the P938 does not have a barrel bushing, which simplifies field-stripping. Simply align the slide-stop lever with the recess in the slide, push the lever outward from the frame, and slide the barrel/slide forward off the frame. Reassembly is also easier, as the slide-stop pin goes through a cam-way slot in the barrel lug, not through a swinging link like the 1911 has.

Dimensionally, the P938 fits perfectly into the pocket-pistol envelope. It is about 1.1 inches wide measured at the slide and, at 5.9 inches long and 3.9 inches high, is small enough to fit within your hand. Sharp edges are nonexistent. Only the sights and hammer protrude slightly from the otherwise smooth profile. Despite the forged aluminum frame and stainless steel slide, this pistol weighs just over 1 pound loaded.

Carrying a compact pistol can be a tactical advantage because the user can grasp it in the pocket and withdraw from concealment only when a potential threat appears. Accessing the pistol is subtle, so its presence is undetected by a casual observer. Pocket pistols are often carried in a coat pocket without a holster, but that’s a mistake because the pistols will often turn upside down and become harder to access. But there are several pocket holsters that break up the gun’s outline through clothing. Inside the waistband (IWB) or ankle carry is also a good choice. The DeSantis Pocket-Tuk accommodates both pocket and IWB carry for the P938. It has a metal belt clip that rotates to your preferred carry angle when used as an IWB holster, but is removable for pocket carry.

Most of the P938 Nightmare’s steel parts (slide, safety, magazine release, slide stop lever and recoil-spring guide rod) are made of stainless steel, which matters in a pistol that may be carried under garments and exposed to sweat and moisture. The stainless slide has a black Nitron finish, which offers lubricity and resistance to wear, and the aircraft-grade aluminum frame is black hardcoat anodized. The P938 Nightmare comes with two-piece, G10 grips that are wafer thin and add minimal girth. Used often in knife handles, G10 grips are made by laminating layers of fiberglass with epoxy and are extremely durable, and because they are thermoset, they will not soften under heat. The texturing of G10 grips is accomplished through CNC machining (which results in a crisper surface)—not by injection molding, as is the case with most polymer and rubber grips.

Because the recoil of a 9mm pocket pistol can be significant, Sig Sauer put 24-lines-per-inch checkering on the plastic mainspring housing and on the frontstrap. The plastic trigger shoe has a grooved face. The P938’s trigger is hinged and has a total travel of about 0.12 inches. The factory specification for the let-off weight is a hefty 7.5 to 8.5 pounds, and my sample broke between 7.2 and 8 pounds with a bit of creep, per a Lyman electronic scale. Because this pistol weighs only about 1.5 pounds and has a small grip, a trigger pull of this weight and grit does test your trigger-control skills.

The P938 has an undercut triggerguard, which is a small but significant feature that enhances your grip. The P938’s ergonomics are very good: The safety and magazine release were easy to find and apply, and the pistol pointed quite well and quickly. The fixed night sights are easy to pick up and are made from steel, not plastic.

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