“Despite its small profile, it is truly a weapon designed to capably defend the user, and that same bantam size helps ensure that it will be close at hand when it’s needed most.”
The superb sights on the P938 Combat are easy to pick up and enhance the user’s ability to put shots on target quickly and accurately.
The best five-shot group came with Federal’s 147-grain +P HST ammo.
The gun also produced sub-3-inch groups with practice ammo.
In general terms, when people refer to combat, it’s typically a reference to action that takes place in a theater of war or some covert military action that occurs under the cover or night. Merriam-Webster defines combat as a “fight or contest between individuals or groups” as part of its online dictionary. For our purposes, especially here at home, a defensive engagement against an attacker is exactly that—combat. And it’s as real and impactful as the word connotes in any context. That said, rule number one of a gunfight is to bring a gun, and for regular civilians who aren’t dressed out for combat in load-bearing harnesses and tactical vests, certain compromises have to be made to live by that first rule. One product line that Sig Sauer has introduced to effectively facilitate concealed carry is the P938, and the specific variation that I tested for this review is the P938 Combat.
Long considered the ultimate fighting pistol because of its lighter single-action (SA) trigger pull, its ability to be quickly put into action and its relatively low bore axis for more natural aiming, the 1911 is one of the most revered pistols in use today. So it’s no surprise that Sig Sauer modeled its P938 series after this time-proven design.
While a relatively diminutive and attractive package, the Sig P938 Combat is all business. It offers all of the requisite features of a fighting pistol while minimizing unnecessary frills. It is a two-tone affair with the slide finished in black Nitron while the hardcoat anodized aluminum alloy frame is Flat Dark Earth.
The slide bears cocking serrations at both the front and rear, and it also wears a set of Sig’s excellent SIGLITE night sights as well. The P938 Combat is also adorned with a wraparound Flat Dark Earth rubber grip with a pebbled surface that facilitates a better purchase on the pistol, which helps mitigate recoil.
- RELATED STORY: Mini Sig 1911 – Shooting the Two-Tone Ultra Compact 9mm
Sig calls this pistol a “micro-compact,” and true to that moniker, the P938 is an imminently concealable pistol due to its small footprint. With its 3-inch barrel, the pistol is just 5.9 inches long. Its height is only 3.9 inches, while the weight pushes the scales to a scant 16 ounces. An important consideration in concealed carry is width, and the P938 Combat is just 1.1 inches wide, making IWB carry an ideal option.
The P938 comes with just one 7-round magazine, but Sig Sauer does include a holster with the package. This allows the owner the chance to start practicing and carrying immediately without having to wait for a special-order holster to arrive first.
The heart of the P938 Combat pistol is its SA operating system, styled after John Browning’s Model 1911, and for many users this system is synonymous with combat pistols. Despite the pistol’s size, it does have an ambidextrous safety, making it just as usable for left-handed shooters. However, unlike 1911 designs, the P938 does not include a grip safety in its construction, though the slightly heavier pull of the trigger alleviates some concern in this regard.
Carrying A Single Action
The P938 Combat is essentially a scaled-down version of a 1911 pistol in most regards. As I said before, it has an SA trigger system. This means that the hammer must be cocked before the pistol can be fired the first time. After the first shot, the recoil of the slide re-cocks the hammer for subsequent rounds until the pistol is empty.
It sounds simple enough, but in a high-stress, adrenaline-infused situation, this can create complications for users depending on how they elect to carry the SA weapon.
The most popular mode of carry is to go with the pistol “cocked and locked.” For beginners, this simply means the hammer is cocked and the safety is manually engaged. When required to shoot the P938 Combat, the user draws the pistol, disengages the thumb safety and fires. For the truly proficient shooter, this is an ideal setup for speed on target, but a lot of training is required to not only engage a target quickly and effectively, but to also handle and carry the pistol safely as well.
If the hammer is cocked and the safety is accidentally moved to, or left, in the “fire” condition, little difficulty is required to cause an accidental discharge. This leads some folks to carrying such a pistol with the hammer down with the thought of cocking the hammer. This sometimes leads to other issues because that increases the time required to get the pistol into action and can lead to fumbling with the pistol to get it ready.
Another school of thought encourages carrying an SA pistol with the chamber empty, and if needed for defensive work, the first round can be fed, and the hammer cocked, by simply racking the slide for the first shot. This condition has basically the same issues as carrying with the hammer down with regard to time and motor control. It’s also a less reliable method of carry, since both hands are required to rack the slide. If one hand is out of action, or is occupied during a struggle with an attacker, that leaves the defender unable to get his or her weapon into the fight.
The most important factor in carrying a pistol of this type is proper practice, and lots of it. The body develops muscle memory after a certain amount of time of training. This is helpful, because when faced with a situation that creates shock or impairs cognitive functioning, muscle memory takes over, and the user’s body will perform as it has been trained. If a person has trained well, consistently and often, they stand a much better chance in surviving a deadly encounter.
P938 Combat Test
The first day on the range with a new pistol is always packed with excitement and anticipation, at least for me. Like many others, I’m always looking for the Holy Grail for each firearm category, and the quest never ends. Finding the firearm that’s perfect for you is more than specifications and appearance. It all has to come together in a synchronous package that performs just as well as—or better than—it looks on paper.
This was my mindset when I took the P938 Combat into the field or testing. I had an assortment of premium ammunition on hand from both Sig Sauer and Federal along with Sig’s 115-grain FMJ practice rounds. There was enough of a variety to ensure we had some interesting results to talk about when it was all said and done.
During the evaluation, I was favorably impressed by how well the pistol handled and how well it shot for me. I had previously tried another P938 with a different grip style, and I encountered a bit of “slide bite” with that one. I’ve got somewhat thick hands, and I just couldn’t keep the web between my thumb and fore-finger out of the way.
While shooting this pistol, however, with its wraparound rubber grip, I noticed my hand was in a slightly different position than with the other P938, and I experienced no slide bite with this model, even with the hottest loads. The finger grooves helped keep my hands locked in place at a point where this wasn’t a concern.
To measure the pistol’s accuracy, I fired the P938 from a standing rest at 7 yards, and I got some pretty excellent results overall. In large part, this was due to the first-rate sights included on the P938 Combat, despite its pocket pistol size. They were easy to pick up quickly, offered a great sight picture and made accurate shot placement a very smooth and natural process.
Aside from the standard fare, I also included some hotter loads like Federal’s 115-grain +P+ JHPs just to get a feel for the pistol’s performance. This type of ammunition and even +P ammunition isn’t great to run through any pistol during practice because of the increased wear and recoil, but many shooters carry with loads of this type for the increased velocity.
Oddly enough, though, when it came to accuracy and group sizes, the P938 Combat seemed to prefer a couple of hotter rounds. The best group obtained with the micro-compact pistol was actually shot with the Federal 147-grain +P HST load, coming in at just 0.63 inches at 7 yards. It also had the best average group size of 1.04 inches.
To get a sense of real-world accuracy when fired off-hand, I backed up to 10 yards and ran through several magazines of Sig Sauer’s 115-grain FMJ rounds. Even firing rapidly (seven rounds in less than 5 seconds), I was able to keep the shots in a 3-inch cluster in the center-mass of the target. That’s more than good enough for defensive work, even at inter-mediate distances.
The one area where I had mixed feelings was the trigger pull. Although Sig’s website lists the trigger pull weight at 7.5 pounds, the sample I received broke at just 5 pounds. This certainly contributed to the smooth shooting experience and the impressive accuracy of the P938, but being an SA pistol, one should be mindful of that attribute while handling and carrying the pistol.
The pistol’s reliability was good overall. I shot a significant number of rounds through the pistol, and somewhere in the 350- to 400-round range, a couple of malfunctions occurred. The pistol had failures to feed with the rounds having a nose-up attitude. After inspection, a good amount of fouling had built up inside and around the chamber. After a quick cleaning and lubrication, no other malfunctions occurred in the next 150 rounds.
Choosing the right firearm for sporting or hunting purposes is hard enough, but selecting the correct one for defensive work can be downright daunting. You’re betting your life and the lives of those you might have to protect on the decision you make. The Sig P938 Combat offers a suite of features that might help lighten the burden of that process.
From accuracy to reliability to portability, the Sig Sauer P938 Combat is the complete package for a subcompact pistol. It points naturally, has a clean and crisp trigger pull, and, with one round in the chamber, delivers a healthy payload of eight rounds of 9mm ammunition. Despite its small profile, it is truly a weapon designed to capably defend the user, and that same bantam size helps ensure that it will be close at hand when it’s needed most.
Barrel: 3 inches
OA Length: 5.9 inches
Weight: 16 ounces (empty)
Sights: SIGLITE night
Finish: Black Nitron, Flat Dark Earth
For more information visit sigsauer.com.
This article was originally published in “Gun Annual” 2018. To order a copy, visit outdoorgroupstore.com.
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