Woke up yesterday, came down to computer with a hot fresh cup of coffee to check mail. A few minutes later I looked up to find my wife up and dressed, bright eyed and bushy tailed, definitely looking excited. Her eyes were shining, she was glowing with enthsiasm, and asked me "Want to make a trip to Cabela's today?" Talk about rethorical questions! I replied something like "of course I wanna go to Cabela's (the one in Hamburg, PA, if it matters), what's the mission?" It could have been anything, we were at Gander Mt. yesterday looking for cold weather gloves and mittens. She says something like, "shop for my new gun. I want one of those little SIG's we looked at yesterday." (The "Little SIG" we looked at yesterday was a SIG P238 we saw at Gander Mountain). Worked for me!
What she was referring to was the result of me looking in the display case at Gander for a CM9 or SIG P290 the day before when I saw a couple of SIG P238's on display. I asked to see one, and discovered it has the easiest slide to rack of any pistol I've ever held. So I brought my wife over to see if she could rack it. She could. She obviously liked it, but we left with out it. She likes to think about things.
But I digress.
So, after chores (we have two horses), breakfast, and other mundane things, off we went. Finally got to Cabela's, they were serving #71, we took #81 out of the number dispenser and went scouting the display case. She spotted several P238's on display and planted herself there right in front of them. She didn't move, even to pee. She didn't turn around, spread her arms on the counter and glare to keep others away, but it looked like she might any minute. It was pretty clear to me that until she had seperated "hers" from the collection on display, they were all hers.
Eventually our number was up - we got a very pleasant knowledgable salesman. He did suggest a 5 shot revolver instead of a single action pistol, but when she told him a 5 shot revolver was what she was trading in, he dropped that subject and got with the program. He showed her the one she'd picked out first. Then he showed her the one she didn't - yet - know she wanted.
Cabela's, unbeknownst to us, and not mentioned by the salesman until after she had chosen it, had comissioned a special package for this pistol from SIG. He showed it to us after she held one of the others because it was in the display case with the extended magazine in it. It is two tone (stainless slide, black anodized frame) with rosewood grips and, unlike any on the SIG webpage, it comes with two magazines, one of them with the extended finger grip - a huge plus. All the others come with one magazine though the extended pinky grip magazine is offered as an accessorie on the SIG WEB site for $46 bux, or something like that. Turns out the display model was the last one they had.
And then there were none ... it followed us home.
OK, so this is a micro sized single action .380 pistol (not approved in CA or MD, if it matters). It is designed to be carried cocked and locked with one in the chamber (AKA "Condition 1" which is cocked with one in the chamber and the safety on). That's the same as every 1911 and 1911 clone built in the last 100 years. The safety is located in essentially the same position as the safety on a conventional right handed 1911, easily operated by the right thumb, and makes a very satisfying "click" as the dent engages after moving it in either direction. The way the safety is configured, this pistol is pretty much only for right handed people though with some clumsiness it could be used left handed if necessary. And it has a 7 or 8 lb version of a crisp no creep 1911 trigger. I wouldn't like any less trigger pull for several reasons, but I wouldn't like any more either. It's essentially the perfect pull weight, almost zero creep, crisp break, and almost no overtravel. Doesn't get much better than that. Huge improvement of the loooooooooong pull light triggers on striker fired micro .380's we looked at, and much nicer than the trigger on my LCP. (Don't reach for my LCP with anything you're not willing to lose! I always get it back, sometimes with an arm attached. <G>)
That is where the resemblance to a 1911 ends because while the P238 doesn't have a grip safety like a 1911, this pistol has a very nice feature to promote safety in handling that no 1911 has. It can be loaded, unloaded, and cleared with the safety on. This is huge because done this way there is no way the gun can go off while being loaded, unloaded, or cleared with the safety on.
The key to this feature is the fact that the slide can be racked with the safety on if the hammer is already cocked.
How to load it with the safety on:
Since the safety can not be engaged with the hammer down, the pistol must be cocked. So with no clip in it, rack the slide to cock it. Put the safety on, insert magazine, tap, rack, check to be sure there is one in the chamber (you can see the brass from the side), holster, and you are good to go.
To unload and clear with the safety on:
Piece of cake. Unholster, with the muzzle pointed in a safe direction, push the button to eject the magazine, rack to eject the live round in the chamber, rack again to double check, drop the hammer, and it's done.
With standard flush magazine.
Showing the grip with the standard flush magazine.
With the extended 7 round magazine.
Showing the grip with the extended 7 round magazine.
In the SIG holster that came with it.
What she liked:
What it doesn't have with it is a device to assist old hands in loading the magazines. I have no problem loading them but while she can do it, she struggles a bit, so I'll probably make her one or buy one.
- Her hands are both not very strong and her skin is getting more fragile with age (we are both within a few months of 70). The P238 has the easiest to rack slide of any of the micro .380's we've looked at (all of them we could find). She had no problem doing it the first time she tried, and the slide serration's don't damage the skin on her hands.
- She loves the trigger pull because, though it's heavier it's more like her 686 fired single action than her DAO LCR. She could pull the trigger on the LCR but it wasn't easy for her. She hates the long trigger pull on my LCR, and really gets stung by the recoil of it - she fired it exactly once, put it down, and said, "not going to do that again" - she had no trouble with the LCR. Which brings me to her next like:
- The P238 about half again as heavy as my LCP because of it's all metal no polymer construction, which means it will have about 1/3 less recoil, in rough round numbers.
- The one we bought, a Cabela's special package, came with two magazines, one of which is extended to provide pinkie finger purchase, the other flush with the base of the grip. She did not like the two finger only grip (even with the magazine lip installed as shown on the LCP you have for size comparison in pictures) on my LCP.
- It came with a very practical clip on holster. In fact, she's been carrying it around in that holster under her sweatshirt since we got it home and out of the box. She hasn't loaded or fired it yet, but I had to wait till she took it off to go to bed to take pictures of it! I think this one (her third carry gun) will be a keeper. If she doesn't carry it, I will!
What I like: Just about everything about it, especially being able to load, unload, and clear it with the safety on and the trigger pull, and it continues to grow on me. When she went to bed and I finally got it to the basement I took pictures, field stripped it, looked it over, and cleaned it in anticipation of a range trip later in the week. I have some WWB .380 ammo to use for breakin. Using factory ammo eliminates any issues with handloads if there is a problem.
I have to say this is an extremely high quality piece of machinery. The stainless recoil spring guide and beautifully finished machining are impressive. There are no rough edges, flashing, or other elements of unfinished about it. It's "done", not a work in progress. I love my G26 and LCP, but this little pistol shows some definite quality in design and manufacture that is getting really hard to find these days. There is a whole lot to like about this pistol. I think it is one of the best kept secrets on the market. The price is about 2X or more the cost of an LCP, in fact I think it's the most expensive micro .380 on the market, but well worth it in my opinion. When she decided she didn't like her LCR I told her I'd do about anything to get her a gun she'd carry, and so far, this one is "it" (she's been packing it all morning).
High quality, superb features, definitely worth the price.
Having something she'll carry. Priceless.
More after we take it to the range. I loaded some dummy rounds for her to play with. She's a revolver and bolt action rifle person, this is her first semi-auto. She's practicing loading and unloading it, clearing stove pipes, clearing double feeds (I have to create them, the gun won't), etc. She wants handling it to feel as comfortable as her revolvers do. After that she wants to take it to the range. I reload for .380 (Dillon 550B) and lots of other cartridges, but I bought a box of 100 WWB for breakin.
The gal that checked us out at Cabela's has one of these and just gushed about how much she likes it, and how nice it is to shoot compared to some of the others she's had. I'm expecting it to have less recoil than my LCP by at least a third so there is some basis for expecting what she said turns out to be true.
Did I mention I love it when my bride of 43 years wants to go to a gun store?