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Monday, July 2, 2012

Sig Sauer P938 Review - Final Thoughts

I had an extra long weekend and spent the afternoon doing my final test shoots with the P938.  I really wasn't planning on comparing the 938 to anything because it's pretty unique, but I was getting all kinds of questions about how it compares to others so I caved and did my first ever something vs. something else video. I think it turned out well, but we'll see how the viewers react.  I see I have one dislike on the video already, but no views of the video.  This may get ugly.


When the dust settled yesterday afternoon, I had been on the range for over 4 hours and had many hours of raw video to weed through.  I took some of the highlights, and disappointments, from the afternoon and compiled it into a second range video.  I like visiting this range because I'm usually alone and the range allows for movement and creative targets.  Unfortunately, the wind is usually a factor and it was blowing like crazy all afternoon.  I tried to remove as much wind noise as I could with the video editing software, but it's still in the background making it difficult to hear what I am saying at some points.  Not my best work, and I appreciate your tolerance.


My Thoughts and Review Wrap-Up:

After running 300+ rounds through the P938, I think I'm ready to give an overall recap of the ownership experience so far.  As a beta tester I knew my chances of getting a 100% pistol were going to be 50/50 if my past beta testing results were any indication of future results.  Unfortunately, I have to say that this pistol falls into the 50% failure group.  Let me recap why I'm making that judgement.

1)  If you watch the videos you are probably sick to death of me saying that the gun shoots left or I need to work on my grip or trigger control to keep the pistol from shooting left.  Well, as it turns out the shooting left thing wasn't my issue.  Earlier, I had checked the rear sight placement and saw that it was centered in the dovetail.  It didn't occur to me to check the front sight.  In the picture below, you can see the front sight was not installed correctly and if it was centered, by moving it to the left, I'm sure the pistol would be shooting much closer to point of aim.  Chalk this one up to poor QA.   


2)  Failure to extract multiple brands/varieties of ammo.  I guess it could be worse if the pistol failed to extract every round, but as it is currently, it's very annoying.  I've had multiple failures to extract with:
Winchester White Box 115 Grain FMJ
Remington UMC 115 Grain JHP
Federal American Eagle 124 Grain FMJ
Winchester Personal Protection 147 Grain JHP

I did find some brands that had no extraction issues at all.  The Speer products; Gold Dot and Blazer aluminum were trouble free.  Federal 115 Grain FMJ also worked.  S&B is probably ok, but I'll be avoiding that going forward due to the one failure to fire I had on day one.  Some folks would just stick to ammo that works and be good with that.  I take a different view when 4 of the 8 varieties don't work.  I'm willing to avoid one or two choices, but not half of the 8 I have tried so far.

To the credit of Sig's Customer Support Team, I called them this morning about the failure to extract problem.  They emailed me a FedEx prepaid shipping label within minutes.  I'll clean up the pistol a bit tomorrow and drop it off at the FedEx depot on Thursday.  They estimate 7 to 10 day turn around on the pistol.  Obviously I'm glad they made the return easy, but I'm still disappointed I have to though the drill.  I'll get them to push the front sight over while they have it.  I'm sure they have the right sight pusher for the job.

3)  This one is 100% on me to fix, but I shouldn't have to adjust my shooting style to work around a physical design element of a pistol.  The sharp bottom edge of the trigger that tore me up on day one can be worked around with a band-aid or changing the way I squeeze the trigger.  I've also had comments that I can break the sharp edge with a dremel or by hand with files and abrasive papers.  I'll figure out how to deal with it.


Keep or Trade:
I really like several things about the P938.  If the extraction problem can be resolved and the front sight bumped over, I think I will have a heck of a shooter on my hands.

Even though the single action trigger is gritty and heavy at 300 rounds, I'm hopeful it will improve with time.  As it is now, it's manageable and not an inhibitor to accurate shooting.  I do feel that it's short travel and reset will ultimately become an asset for fast and accurate shooting.

The grip angle feels very good in my hand.  I also feel that it flips less than other pocket 9's, which again should contribute to faster recovery between shots.  The combination of front strap checkering and aggressive Hogue grips provide plenty of secure purchase for your hand even when shooting with a one-hand hold.  I definitely do not get the feeling that the pistol is trying to escape from my grasp when shooting one handed.

Sights are outstanding in bright or no/low light.  The best factory sight set I've ever received on a small pistol.

With some additional practice time, I'm quite confident that I will come to appreciate the P938 as much as I have appreciated my Colt Mustang Pocketlite over the last 20 years.  I guess I just have a soft spot for the classic single action and Sig's interpretation of that trigger system in the P938 is quite appealing to me.

I'll post an update when I get the pistol back from Sig's Service Department.  At least we know which ammo brands we're going to try first.

23 comments:

  1. just got my P938 extreme, put 100 rounds thru it and had 1-2 FTE with Federal FMJ bullets.

    But overall the gun was nice to shoot and very accurate at approx 16-21 feet to the target

    Will have to try some Hornady, Corbon, Speer Gold Dot etc...etc.. to make sure its dependable enough to carry it for protection.

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  2. Also forgot to mention I had the Kahr CM9 for about a year and loved it to but I just hate the way the MAG Sticks out when Loaded with Ammo and No Safety but overall a good gun I just prefer the 911 style guns myself.

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  3. update:
    I Called SIG they said try 124 grain and above
    just put another 50 Remington 124 grain
    just put another 50 Speer 124 grain all 100 qty fed and fired perfect
    I again tried 115 grain federal and Remington and both caused FTE
    I again tried 124 grain Speer afterwards and it fired perfect.

    Gun is picky with what ammo it is fed...

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    1. I had the same issue and read this and used 124 gr. and had no problems with several brands or my carry ammo which is 95 gr. DPX. Also tried some 115 gr. FTX with no problem. I basically carry only pocket guns due to my age and bad hips that cannot tolerate any pressure on them even from a very light gun without pain for the rest of the day or even next day. I am used to small guns being fussy and requiring enough power to rack the slide. I just find the ammo they like and use it which is usually one of the brands I would carry anyway like Speer, Hornady or DPX.

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  4. Have fired 250 wwb 115grain fmj & 250 Fed 115 grain & 100 124 grain FTX. Not one hiccup! Best pocket 9 I ever fired & I have tried them all!

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    1. That's great and I'm happy for you. I have not been so lucky. Just posted my last review update a few minutes ago.

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  5. I too had lots of FTE since day one. First, I used FMJ, 8 out of 10 FTE. Tried Remmington, 3 out of 10 FTE. Tried Fiochi, 3 out of 10. And pretty much 3 out of 10 on other brands. So, I shot about 500 round on first day. I wasn't too happy it, not to mention it had quite a few fail to load as well.

    The next day, I call Sig Support line and got the shipping tag to have the pistol shipped back for repair. 3 weeks after, I got my 938 back. Test shot around 300 and had no FTE, FTL.

    Oh, and just like Bruce said, the front sight wasn't adjusted properly, which I also told Sig and they had it fixed, too.

    As to my FTE, they replaced the extract mechanism part.

    All in all, I'm happy with the P938 and it is my daily carry now.

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  6. Had my 938 since they hit the store. Tried all sorts of different brands and was getting ready ti call Sig. When I figured what the hell lets try what they recommend. Bought a couple of boxes of Speer Lawman 124 grain. Zero failures.

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    1. They came out with the recommended ammo list after my review was done or I would have included that in my original two posts about the 938. I agree that it will run with the ammo on their short list.

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  7. Bought a Sig C3 for myself and while I was at the range I found a P938 ITB hidden in the display case in the corner under a Taurus (OMG).... I snagged that bad boy up without hesitation. This is the best 9mm (and I am a .45 1911 guy) I have ever had the pleasure to own. I gave it to my wife as an early Christmas present and she is thrilled.

    I dont understand what the FTE or FTF issues are. Never, ever had an issue. My wife had a FTE but she admittedly limp wrist-ed the shot. There isnt any thing mechanically you can do if the shooter has a weak, limp wristed shot. The limp wrist absorbs the energy required to create the feed for the next round.

    So bottom line. Hang on to that Nightmare like you mean it when you fire it.

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    1. I have a very early SN pistol and there must have been some things wrong with it for Sig to swap out parts on it twice. As it stands now, it's working fine as long as it gets fed premium defense and FMJ ammunition.

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    2. just put 200 rds of 124gr lrn with 3.9 grns of w231 only issue , nice groups all seem to be to the left, looked at sights they seem to be centered????? will work on grip and trigger pull. other wise like it have three other sigs 220 elite,226 and a 228

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  8. My P938 Extreme is Jan 2013 manufacture and I have had it since Feb. I have shot nothing but 115 grain and used the cheapest range ammo I can find including Tula, American Eagle, PPU, Federal, etc... I have now been through approx. 400 rds without a malfunction of any kind. I would not hesitate to feed it any brand or feel the least lack of confidence in the reliability of this weapon.

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    1. It sounds like they have the issues fixed so I'll need to send mine back for the 3rd time so they can get mine working as well as yours.

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  9. Shot two boxes of 115 Gr target rounds through my new P938 with a birth date of Feb 2013, Read info on the pistol prior to purchase and expected that newer versions (2013) had been corrected. Guess not. Had multiple FTE and FTF issues but I want to detail the findings. Disassembled and lubed the gun before going to range. First few mag loads worked just fine. Then I started getting one or two FTE in several 6-round mags. Paying particular attention to the ejected (or stuck brass casing) I found rough edges at two locations at the base perimeter of the cartridge. These positions seem to be at the 4 o'clock and 8 o'clock positions on the shell casing rim. These 'dents' or 'dings' seemed to be the case in all FTE rounds. I also found that when reloading these cartridges (back in the mag) the slide failed to seat properly and leaving the base of the brass slightly visible between the slide port and the chamber. I inspected both magazines and found rough edges at the top of the mag spine - where the cartridge base touches as it exists the magazine. I'm thinking that the bullet is getting jammed or caught on this surface as the slide is cycled and thickness of the base being slightly increased. I haven't done any smoothing of the magazines yet but wanted to know if anyone else has noticed similar casing roughness. I'll do some further inspection and possibly minor corrective actions. Other input on this is welcome, of course. Other than the feed/eject thing the gun fits and runs nicely. But if there is the slightest chance it won't cycle correctly it might as well be a rock.

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    1. I sent mine back again earlier this month. I'm hoping Sig has seen enough of the early guns come back that they can get it running with target ammo and also defense ammo. I'm really anxious to see if they can get it running as well as some folks report with their 938s. Sorry I don't have any advice for you. I've been letting Sig deal with the issues.

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  10. My 938 Equinox was born on 25 Feb 2013. During the first trip to the range, one out every three rounds were FTE shooting WWB and North Georgia New Brass. I took the gun apart when I got home, cleaned / lubed it well and noticed nothing out of the ordinary during inspection. During the next trip to the range, I experienced 100% FTE with the same North Georgia New Brass. I switched to North Georgia New Steel case and the gun fired flawlessly. I later switched back to the North Georgia New Brass and it too fired flawlessly. With the current market conditions concerning ammo it is difficult to evaluate different types of ammo, but I am wondering if the steel case knocked some rough edges off the magazine or extractor causing the gun to operate properly. I really like the gun and when I finally feel confidence in it will carry it daily.

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    1. Mine is due back from the third service trip to Sig on Monday. They sent me a note saying they inspected and test fired the pistol with no issues using Federal American Eagle 115 grain and Aguila 124 grain. Blamed my issues on my shooting technique or the ammo I was using (Winchester white box and Federal Champion bulk packs). I'm done with this pistol. Sig says it's perfect, so I can trade it off with a clear conscience that I'm not passing along a lemon. If a pistol won't run with the two most readily available practice ammo options I have available, then it needs to go. Too many other small 9mm's available that run fine with one or both of these ammunition choices. I don't think I'll ever purchase another US made Sig after this experience.

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    2. My 938 runs perfectly even with lead handloads. I'll buy it!!!

      Mini pistols ARE very sensitive to your technique. Even a slightly limp wrist, loose grip, contact with the slide and etc, can and will cause the problems you and others are having. The pistol needs a solid base to recoil against to function. The lighter in weight the weapon is, the more important it is. Simple blowback style pistols do not suffer from this as badly, but it's the design, not the brand. Even big 1911 45s need a firm grip and locked wrist, but, the mini pistols are so much more sensitive. I suggest you let an experienced shooter fire it to see if it is your technique. Also number your magazines and note if the problem is equal with each, or just one. Good Luck

      And like I said, I WILL buy it if you still want to sell what is the finest pocket 9mm I've seen.

      Martin
      kc0myg@yahoo.com

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  11. Where can I buy the tool to adjust the front and rear sights for this gun? Anyone Know?

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    1. You can usually obtain sight tools from Sig, as well as Brownell's, Midway and other major suppliers. If you don't have experience replacing sights, this probably isn't the best a good pistol to start with.

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    2. I don't get the people who use 115 grain bullets out of this gun. SIG tells us to use 124 grain or heavier yet I read people bitching 'cause the gun won't perform perfectly with 115 grain bullets. I tried 115 to see what would happen. Had a failure to eject on the first magazine. Every magazine I fired with 124 grain XTP's functioned as advertised. I think it's wrong to fault a gun when you use ammo that's not recommended.

      I did ding this gun because of the magazines. Very hard to load and have an occasional round come out of the magazine when withdrawing it from the pistol. But, for a pistol this size, I had trouble believing the groups I got out of it at 25 yds. and that's way farther than I would shoot in a self defense situation.

      This gun is as much of a winner as can be. A 9mm so small you can hide it in your front pocket. Mine shoots a 124 grain XTP at 1118 ft/sec and 340 ft/lbs. which I believe would be a good self defense load. And, when loaded with the right ammo, it seems to be as reliable as any other semi-auto is have.

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    3. @Anon directly above. If you are referencing me, the reviewer, in your comment above then I have a response for you. When the 938's started shipping in Summer 2012 Sig was not stipulating 124 grain ammo in the manual they shipped with the pistols. Why wouldn't I try using 115, 124, and 147 grain loads in it?

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