WON Landing Page March 2022

Gear Court: SIG Sauer’s P238 Nitron, Sara’s Temptation

I have resisted the temptation to test firearms for the WON because I know that if I like them, I will probably buy them. That could get expensive. Since I had never fired a SIG Sauer firearm, I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity. So, I decided to try out the SIG P238 Nitron®. I am glad I did.

My profession allows me to carry concealed. The drawbacks I have encountered carrying concealed firearms is being able to conceal and access the weapon.

The first small firearm I purchased to carry conceal was the Ruger LCP®, which is also a .380. Initially I was pretty excited since I could adequately conceal it. I didn’t particularly enjoy shooting it. The grip was small and thin and didn’t feel good in my hand. The sights are fixed and black. In poorly lit environments, they were hard to see. I ended up painting the top of the front sight with correction fluid, which helped me pick up my front sight. I really wanted to find a firearm offering improved options that I enjoyed shooting. When I researched .380’s, I was attracted to the SIG P238, which is a similarly sized .380. It was just what I was looking for! I am pretty sure I won’t be carrying the LCP again after testing the P238. Maybe I will hand it down to my husband.

The features of the P238 that appealed to me include its compact size, the 1911 style frame, the adjustable front and rear sights with night sights, and the feel of the grip. The P238 is solidly constructed.

I had some initial issues when I tested the P238. Although the firearm is not perfect, mere awareness of the issues will most likely prevent any problems. Fortunately, SIG Sauer provides this information on either their website and/or in their accompanying user manual. Personally, I only look through manuals after I experience problems.

The first lesson the P238 taught me was not to use old ammunition. Since .380 ammunition is unavailable most of the time, my coworker provided some to me. The box was worn and the casings were tarnished. Perhaps that should have been my first clue. After firing the weapon and experiencing multiple malfunctions, I decided to take a closer look at the mechanics of the firearm. My first thought was that the firearm had packing grease that was needed to be removed. I took the gun apart. This led me to my second lesson; always research how to disassemble a weapon before you do it. If not, you may make a mistake similar to mine.

When I disassembled the firearm, I broke it down to the operator level. I cleaned the weapon to see if that was the cause of my malfunctions. I figured out that in order to reassemble the weapon, the operator must depress the ejector, which protrudes from the top of the lower receiver. The gun is rather small and my fingers were too big to depress it enough to slide the upper receiver onto the lower receiver. I decided to use a punch to depress the ejector. When I depressed the ejector, I apparently depressed it too far and lost the spring tension. I realized something went wrong, so I completely disassembled the weapon. I felt comfortable taking the gun all the way down. Soon I realized I was in a bit over my head. I looked for assistance on YouTube, which offers videos on assembly and disassembly of most firearms. I found a video and reassembled the gun.

I was confused by what I had experienced when disassembling the gun, so I went to the SIG website. There, I found a warning, which states that “over extension of the ejector may cause it to bind…” and that “it must be sent back to the factory” for repair by a certified armorer. I had already reassembled the weapon and it was in working order. I conducted safety checks that reinforced my belief that the gun was functional. Although it was recommended to send the gun back to the factory, I didn’t. I do not recommend disobeying the manufacturer’s recommendations, but I am an armorer (just not for that weapon).

During my research, I also discovered that old ammunition could cause malfunctions. I purchased new ammunition and fired about 200 rounds through it. The trigger pull is heavy, (7.5 – 8.5 lbs.) I had one failure to eject. After a sight adjustment, I found the gun to be very accurate. Most importantly it was comfortable to shoot.

Below is a list of features of the SIG P238 Nitron®:

Trigger Pull SA 7.5 – 8.5 lbs
Overall Length 5.5 in
Overall Height 3.9 in
Overall Width 1.1 in
Barrel Length 2.7 in
Sight Radius 3.8 in
Weight w/Mag 15.2 oz
Mag Capacity 6 Rounds
Sights SIGLITE Night Sights
Grips Fluted Polymer Grips
Frame Finish Black Hard Coat Anodized
Slide Finish Nitron

Although there were a couple ‘hiccups’ during my testing, I feel confident that those issues could have been avoided.~Sara Ahrens


The reviewer received this item for review.

The Conversation

  • Mike Ahrens says: July 31, 2011 at 12:04 am

    Sara did hand me down the Ruger LCP….Just like she handed me down the Glock 23 when she went to the Glock 35. I can’t wait to get the SIG.

  • Tammy Ballew says: September 15, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    Sara, this was a GREAT review! We appreciate your honest and reliable opinion on the products you review. I’m sure a lot of our readers found this review extremely helpful.

  • Deb Ferns says: September 11, 2010 at 8:32 pm

    Great review – very honest and helpful! Plus a reference to going back to YouTube to help yourself (where I would have ran for my patient gunsmith) was a good one and not something I’ve tried before. Thanks!

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