Sig Sauer makes three models of pocket pistols: the P238, P938 and P290. The P238 is chambered in .380, while the P938 and P290 are 9mm. All three models measure no more than 1.1 inches thick and 5.5 inches long. All feature a single-stack design with a standard magazine capacity of six rounds. There are between six and 17 variants per model, for a total of 28 pistols, in Sig Sauer’s compact lineup.

Pint-Sized P238

The P238 is a single action and fires from a locked breech using the same tilting barrel and locking block method that Sig Sauer uses for its full-size pistols. A locked-breech design is unnecessary for .380 and lesser calibers, but it does offer advantages over blowback designs, including shorter length and a lighter-weight slide and recoil spring.

Dimensionally, the P238 pistol is about 1 inch wide, measured at the slide, and at 5.5 inches long and 4.5 inches high, it’s compact enough to fit into an average man’s hand. The P238 weighs less than a pound unloaded (15.2 ounces) for versions made with an aluminum frame (20.1 ounces for stainless), and it comes with a flush-fitting six-round or extended seven-round magazine depending on the variant. Three-dot night sights made of steel are standard. Packaged with most P238 variants is a right-handed, strong-side, plastic-molded belt holster.

The P238 uses a stainless-steel slide made from 416 bar stock, a carbon-steel barrel and, depending on the model, either a forged aluminum frame (finished in a black anodized hardcoat or Cerakote) or a stainless frame. The metallic frame, like the locked-breech design, sets the P238 apart from its polymer-made peers. Only the trigger shoe, mainspring housing and grips are non-metallic.

The P238 is operationally similar to a 1911—they both are single action, use a single-stack magazine and have a frame-mounted safety lever operated by the left-hand thumb. Certain variants like the Equinox offer an optional ambidextrous safety. There is no magazine disconnect safety. There are some noteworthy differences, however. The P238’s safety does not lock the slide closed when applied with the hammer cocked. When the hammer is down and safety is on, the slide is locked. Also, unlike on the 1911, the trigger is hinged, not sliding, with total travel of about 0.125 inches. The factory-specified trigger let-off is a heavy 7.5 to 8.5 pounds.

Because the P238 has a firing pin block that only releases when the trigger is depressed, it can be safely carried in a proper holster with a round in the chamber and the safety applied. Do not carry this pistol in your pocket in a cocked-and-locked condition without a holster.

The P238’s 17 variations appeal to a broad market. There are designs that are “strictly business,” while others possess an aesthetic appeal. Among the business variants are the Tactical Laser, Equinox and Extreme. The Tactical Laser sports aluminum grips, a stainless slide, a black anodized frame and a red laser mounted ahead of the triggerguard. The Equinox offers a Tru-Glo green fiber-optic front sight with a tritium insert designed to focus the shooter’s attention on the front sight in bright light or darkness. The Extreme has very aggressive, scallop-finished G10 grips, a Nitron-finished slide and a seven-round magazine with a pinky rest to provide better control.

For those who want a pistol with panache, there’s the Gambler, the Lady and the Rainbow. The Gambler has rosewood stocks and a gold inlay of “aces and eights” on the top of the slide, while the Lady has laser engraving, a gold flower inlay and a red Cerakote finish on the frame. The Rainbow version has a slide, safety lever, mag release and slide lock finished in titanium oxide, reflecting light in several colors.

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