review sig sauer p238 legion .380 ACP
Josh Wayner for TTAG
Previous Post
Next Post
review sig sauer p238 legion .380 ACP
Josh Wayner for TTAG

I recently reviewed the new SIG SAUER P938 Legion chambered in 9mm. The pistol was amazing and could be thought of as the Rolex of carry guns. Today we’re going to be taking a look at the SIG SAUER P238 Legion chambered in .380 ACP, a similar gun in appearance, but very different in overall function.

The Legion series represents the crème-de-la-crop of SIG’s pistol line. Legion guns have a number of custom features that make them stand apart from their standard pistols. These features range over the models, but they are all upgrades, be it cosmetic or functional.

While all the Legion series pistols share a similar Legion gray color Cerakoted palette with textured black G-10 grips and legion medallion, the differences are quite obvious. You’d think that I would be able to simply copy and paste the P938 review here and just change the ‘9’ to a ‘2’, but there’s actually a great deal we have to cover here that goes beyond appearances.

review sig sauer p238 legion .380 ACP
Josh Wayner for TTAG

For starters, the P238 is chambered in .380 ACP, or 9mm Short. The .380 ACP has a reputation as being underpowered and generally a bad idea for a self-defense round, but that’s no longer true. The .380 has matured substantially in the last 10-15 years and has been a driving force behind innovation in other calibers.

Years ago the only real ammo for .380 was of the FMJ variety and it wasn’t very good for anything besides punching holes in paper. The explosion of the concealed carry market, however, meant that more people of different sizes were buying concealed carry pistols, and the options at the time made it such that there was a large niche in the environment that needed filling.

Women were one of the primary drivers in the success of the .380, as most pistols chambered for it are small, light, and easily concealed.

review sig sauer p238 legion .380 ACP
Josh Wayner for TTAG

This flew in the face of conventional wisdom, which would have you carry nothing less than a 5-inch Government 1911. The old guard of the gun community had a hard time getting behind the idea of a carry gun chambered in .380. Many still do, claiming that shooting a bad guy with a 9mm short round would simply piss him off.

To remedy this, many ammo makers began to produce personal defense .380 ammunition that expanded at the velocities generated by barrels less than 3” long and a new breed of technology was born.

The advancements in .380 ammo have been translated across the spectrum to a number of other calibers. It’s safe to say that modern self-defense ammunition is what it is today, at least in part, because of the meteoric success of the .380.

Technology applied to the small, 90-100gr .380 bullet has advanced even big-bore .45 ACP bullets. The detractors will never admit it, but even 10mm and other ‘big boy’ rounds have benefitted from the gains made in .380 ACP.

A .45 never gets smaller, that much is true, but a .380 in the pocket beats a .45 in the safe any day.

review sig sauer p238 legion .380 ACP
Josh Wayner for TTAG

So, back to the gun. The micro-compact SIG P238 Legion is probably the best single .380 ACP pistol made today. I say that having fired most of them. The slide, with front and rear cocking serrations, is exceptionally easy to rack, which is a huge plus for those with limited grip strength. When you do pull the slide to the rear, it feels like it’s riding on ball bearings.

The action isn’t the only thing that’s smooth. All the corners have been rounded and there are no sharp edges on the gun to speak of. The aluminum trigger is phenomenal, easily the best I’ve used on a .380. It’s so crisp and clean it would make a custom race gun flush with envy.

review sig sauer p238 legion .380 ACP
Josh Wayner for TTAG

The features my favorite addition to the P938 Legion: the 1911-style extended mag well. For being a tiny little gun, this addition makes it feel like a much larger piece. Mags drop free and are easy to load in thanks to the beveled interior of the mag well.

Just like the bigger P938 Legion, the P238 Legion also has excellent SIG X-RAY night sights. These are bright and easy to use in any light and look good to boot.

review sig sauer p238 legion .380 ACP
Josh Wayner for TTAG

Firing the gun is nothing but fun. I tested it over my Oehler 35P chronograph for velocity and at 15 yards for accuracy. Accuracy is the result of three, five-shot groups from a rest.

SIG SAUER 90gr V-CROWN—————————————985fps, 1.0”
SIG SAUER 100gr FMJ———————————————925fps, 1.25”
Hornady 90gr American Gunner XTP————————–899fps 1.5”
Hornady 90gr Critical Defense FTX —————————-923fps 1.75”
Buffalo Bore 90gr JHP +P—————————————-1175fps, 1.25”
Buffalo Bore 100gr Hardcast +P——————————–1100fps, 2.25”
Black Hills 60gr Honey Badger ———————————-1111fps .75”
Lehigh 65gr Xtreme Defense ————————————1184fps 1.0”
Precision One 90gr HP/XTP————————————–845fps, 2.0”

The recoil of the SIG SAUER P238 Legion pistol is very low and, as a result, you can easily make fast follow-up shots. Point-shooting at close range one-handed is a snap thanks to the Legion pistol’s gentle kick.

I took this gun on an all-day shooting trip and put box after box through it. It never failed once and easily chambered and ejected all brass. My favorite is still the Buffalo Bore 100gr Hardcast +P, as it just looks so cool in a retro way and there is a small cloud of white smoke when you fire it.

SIG did very well with this svelte little piece of jewelry. You’ll want to handle it all day and spend the rest of your time admiring how nice of a gun it is. As far as .380 pistols go, this one is hard to beat and the price is right for what you get. Once you pick this gun up at your local dealer, you’ll probably never put it back down.

Armscor ammunition

Specifications: SIG SAUER Legion P238

Caliber: .380 Auto
Capacity: 7+1 rounds (3 mags included)
Barrel Length: 2.7”
Overall Length: 5.5”
Sights: SIG X-RAY3 Day/Night Sights
Weight: 15.2oz
MSRP: $850 street price about $725

Ratings (out of five stars):

Accuracy * * * * *
This is a very small, pocketable gun, but don’t let that fool you. This mouse can roar and even with its short sight radius, it’s a tack driver at personal defense distances. The ability to easily fire one-handed is a plus.

Reliability * * * * *
I put about 400 rounds through this gun including +P ammo and it didn’t so much as blink.

Ergonomics * * * * *
The light weight, slim profile, and easy-to-pull slide makes this gun a dream for anyone, not just the recoil sensitive.

Customize This * * * * *
Like the rest of the Legion product line, SIG pretty much covered all the bases with this gun, so there is nothing you need to add unless you really want to. The P238 Legion ships with day/night sights and three 7-round magazines. But there is a large aftermarket in terms of sights, grips, holsters, and lasers for the P238 line if you’re determined to alter the gun.

Aesthetics * * * * *
I dare you to find a gun this small that looks this good. SIG SAUER’s Legion gray Cerakote and black G10 grips work perfectly together. You’ll find yourself looking at it far more than you’ll ever fire it.

Overall * * * * *
This is the king of .380 micro-compact pistols. You will pay a pretty penny for it, but like most things in this life, you get what you pay for. The P238 is a mature and well-established design and this one takes it to the next level. I can’t think of a better all-day carry gun than this little beauty.


Previous Post
Next Post


    • I totally agree. I guess it must be much harder than we realize since its almost never done. But isnt that what the little Berretta Tomcat things are? C’mon Sig!

  1. Buy an expensive piece of ‘jewelery’ that will never leave your pocket and no one will ever see. Great logic.

    • Paying this much for the gun that you will carry most often and are therefore most likely to actually use if that terrifying moment ever comes makes sense to me. Spending that much on a safe queen that would rarely see action makes less sense to me. Although as 38Specialist was saying, we don’t need a reason to spend whatever on whatever gun.

    • To each his own…

      I spend my money and time training for gun and fist fights I have no interest in getting into.

    • “There is no rule that says ‘You can’t have a good looking gun’.”
      …or so I often say to my customers. There is nothing wrong with being just a bit vain about a device that we are not only going to have attached to us all day, every day but are also going to be betting our lives on.
      Since an Everyday Carry Gun is a deeply personal choice it stands to reason that some of us want it to be a visible reflection of the owner’s personality.

      • So impressed with the 238 Legion I went back and bought the 938 Legion also last month. If you handle and shoot either one you’ll agree they’re worth every cent.

  2. Continuing our discussion from the 938 article….

    I can see a Sig fan buying the 226/229 Legion. These are multi-role pistols. You can use them for IDPA, Bullseye competition and self defense where all the small improvements add up to increased effectiveness especially in that first DA trigger pull.

    So what’s a 238/938 for? It’s something you shove in your pocket not really expecting to need it. If you actually thought you were going to be in a DGU you would have brought your 229 Legion instead. So let’s recap. You are going to spend $700-$900 for a tiny pistol to shove in your pocket when you could have spent $300 on a Beretta Nano to accomplish the same thing.

    About the only reason to spend the money on one of these Rolexes of the gun world is to collect the entire Legion line so you can have the firearms equivalent of a Proof Set.

  3. Ruger LCP2 beats this in everything except the Sig has better sights, and it’s a pocket pistol, for those up close and personal moments, not hunting Grizzly at 150 yards. Who needs a manual safety on a carry gun, one more thing to go wrong. About 3K rounds thru the LCP2, and only ammo that caused any issue was steel cased, which failed to extract after fired. everything else went BANG with no issues.

    • So you own and have handled/ both the LCP2 and the P238, and you find the Ruger superior? Wow. Probably not.

        • You get it, Drew doesn’t seem to that the LCP2 is lighter, less expensive, not ammo picky, and just as accurate and reliable as the Sig.

        • I don’t think it’s fair to say the LCP2 is superior to the P238 just because it happens to edge it out in a couple of categories that you like. If that’s all it takes, then the P238 wins because it has better sights and a more comfortable grip angle.

          Aside from cost, I’d say that intended use is your best way to pick one of these over the other. Is it going to be a get-off-me gun or a backup where concealment matters above all else? LCP all day. If you want a .380 that carries well and still makes a good range toy and nightstand gun, the P238 is a better choice.

        • tdiinva says: As a range toy a 238 is a waste of money.

          By what measure? You’re punching holes in paper, which is achievable by a P238 all day long. In great comfort, I might add, which I cannot say about several other 380 pistols I’ve tried. Some I’ve wanted to lay back down after one magazine (or less) for one reason or another.

          Additionally, my P238 has never, not once, failed to put a smile on the face attached to the hands in which it was placed. Everyone I’ve been with, new shooter or old, has been happy to shoot it as long as I’d let them, and many come back later to say, “Hey, can I shoot that one again?”

          If that’s not the definition of a range toy, I don’t know what is.

      • well, i have a Colt Mstang Pocketlite, and a Colt Mustang xsp polymer version, and a LCP2, and as much as i like the pocketlite’s trigger, the LCP is the one riding in my back pocket.

        the all-metal Pocketlite is better IMO than the csp.

        when i compared the p238 to the pocketlite a few years ago, the colt’s trigger was better although the sig’s sights were better. granted, that wasn’t the “special” version of the 238, but it is nothing but a nustang clone.

        the LCP2 has a good trigger, and it’s flatter, which is an important criterion for pocket carry.

        • geez, what happened to the edit button? i make a lot of typos on the iPad virtual keyboard and would like to fix ‘em.

      • @GUNNER2000 Prove me wrong… LCP2, smaller, lighter, less expensive, no safety, good recoil management, (unless you are pansy) nobody will care if it gets scratched, comes with a pocket holster, just as accurate, and just as reliable. So go spent north of $800 for a P238, me, I have $500 left for ammo and dinner and still have a gun on me at all times. So, who’s the idiot?

        • Buy what you want, but don’t dump on a pistol you don’t like or can’t afford. P238s are great sellers for us and you don’t have to spend $800. We have three for well under $575 and one @ $499. Granted, they are not Legions but you still get a fine shooting pistol with an excellent trigger. I’ve watched our instructor repeatedly put groups under 1″ @ 20 yards. Anyone who spends more than $680 for a Legion is the idiot. If you don’t like a safety, don’t engage it!!! LCPs are belly guns. Get over it.

          • Wow, somebody’s panties are in a bunch… I never said “superior” or “better” , I just said the LCP2 beat the P238 on some key items. It’s funny all the fanboys take it as personal insult, and then start name calling. I didn’t realize there were so many wounded feelings… all I can say is WOW, just WOW. And just to let you know I did consider the P238 before the LCP2. It was a simple choice, and no regrets, except sharing any opinions or experiences.

        • @gunner:

          I agree with MB and there are guns in my safe that cost well north of $1k. I have considered both the 938 and the Kimber Micro 9 but can’t bring myself to spend $600 for a pistol I carry on the golf course or shove in my pocket once in a while. Even people with money know that you don’t buy expensive stuff just because you can.

        • @tdiinva—Yes, people do. Never worked in a gun store, have you? That was an asinine statement.

    • If your only qualification for being “better” is that it digested 3k rounds without issue (a feat I have zero doubt that the SIG could also accomplish), then your chief objection is likely that it costs more than you’re willing to pay. That doesn’t mean it’s “too much,” just that you’re not the target market.

      Don’t yuck someone else’s yum.

      • @Matt, apparently there are multiple people on this forum that can’t read. I never said “superior” or “better” , I just said the LCP2 beat the P238 on some key items. and you would be surprised what I am willing to pay or can afford. A never mentioned ascetics , which also seems to be important to some people, where it’s the least of my concerns, I can buy an STI, a Dan Wesson , a Kimber or all 3 if I wish, but I don’t care about appearance. The only person who will see my guns of choice is the person who mistakes me for his next potential victim…

        • “a never mentioned ascetics…”
          i wonder if that poor group of holy men is concerned with the lack of word of mouth.

    • Try steel cased brass and see if there are any failures to extract in the little P238. Also try large cavity hollow points as well and see if there are any failures to feed. If the answer is no, then its worth the price. And despite its small size, it feels good in the hand.

  4. Hey, seen more than a few guys killed with a .380. Even FMJ. In fact most. Less expensive for the dirtbags to buy. Piss the bad guys off to be shot by one? Years ago a friend, who is no one to mess with, was in a firearms establishment, looking at a Baby Browning .25 ACP. A rather large gentleman approached the counter and remarked, “If you shot me with me that you would only make me mad.” My friend replied, “Let me see how mad I can make you.” Chagrined, the gentleman left the establishment.

    • well, these days .380 ammo is NOT cheaper than 9mm!

      a couple years ago a case of .380 was cheaper, now 9mm is cheaper, which doesn’t make sense since 9mm requires more material due to the heavier projectile.

      there was a time when i had no 9mm, only .380 and .45 pistols (not counting “curios” like .32, .25, tokarev, makarov, etc.)

  5. That’s a pretty expensive pistol to lose after a DGU.
    Because if you ever have to defend yourself with it it’s gone for months or years.
    Better a reliable gun like the ruger for less than half the money.

    Nice gun if you like shooting .380 and are not bothered by the price. But if you drop almost 8 bills for a .380 premium cost ammo isn’t a problem.

    • When I read the 938 legion article, all I could think was “the only thing that makes less sense than this is a 238 legion”, and lo and behold, here we are. I think the standard 238 models bring enough to the table to be worth the money, though. The LCP2 is the most concealable pistol I’ve ever owned, but the 238 isn’t far behind it and is a lot more versatile.

  6. So this this is basically a P238 SAS in gray. Any substantial differences to justify the extra cost? Looks like a flared mag well is all it really offers.

    • You also get a neato coin and a super secret decoder ring that grants you exclusive access to a special store where you can send even more money to Sig. You want to be in the special Operator LARP club, right?

      I own several Sigs. I like my Sigs but damn if this Legion gimmick isn’t a massive jumping of the shark.

      • +1

        I thought about a 226 legion for a while, only because I thought it was the only way to get one with their SAO trigger (always wanted a big SIG but I can’t stand DA/SA). Thankfully I came across an older 226 elite SAO and got my nice trigger without tacking on $300 for some cool grips and a coin.

  7. TTAG badmouths the Colt Mustang and praises the sig. Essentially they are the same gun. The TTAG review some years back of the Colt Mustang pocketlite was a complete con job. If you want an honest review of the Colt, go look up Hickok 45s appraisal. The Ttag reviewer was a hack job. The Sig is a fine gun, but so is the Colt.

    • you are absolutely correct. Hickock, with his big hands, was driving tacks with the tiny Pocketlite. TTAG’s review of the Pocketlite should have had a large type proviso up front: “THIS REVIEWER DOESN’T KNOW HOW TO SHOOT THIS PARTICULAR GUN”

      the sig p238 is a copy of the pocketlite.

    • A .380 to your forehead would blow right out the back of your skull.
      But hey, you sure do type tough.

        • Okay, champ, I’ll try to type slowly so that you might possibly understand.
          1. You stated that .380s aren’t actual “guns”.
          2. I replied with the irrefutable fact that a .380 is in fact a gun, and will kill a person stone cold dead.
          3. Your reply is fucking stupid.
          4. I think we’re done here.

    • yes, i always carry a desert eagle automag in workout shorts and a t-shirt while out and about and .380s have no purpose…oh, wait

  8. It’s a handsome gun but you can get something in a more effective caliber for a lot less money.

  9. The best feature of the 238 is that it’s NOT a straight blowback design. It’s some variety of delayed blowback, which makes recoil very mild. I’ve shot light .380s that had the recoil of a .38 airweight with +Ps. Shooting them was painful.

    And the 238 is a delightful range toy that puts holes where you put the front sight at.

    • I am not saying that it can not be done, but you would have a hard time finding a .380, introduced in this century, that is a blowback.

      There is the slew of 3.380 Government Model based pistols, of which this Sig is one, so is my Kimber Micro 380 (essentially the same gun). Then there’s the Ruger and all of its derivatives. Then there is the the Walther PK380, the S&W Bodyguard and M&P, the Browning 1911-380. . . I can keep going but I think the point is clear. At least this writer skipped the, what is nearly obligatory when testing .380 pistols, line of, “Unlike most .380 pistols, this one isn’t a straight blowback.” For some reason the writers for American Rifleman never seem to tire of that phrase.

      As far as .380, let’s not rehash the calibre war. I carry a .380 (my current seems to be the 1911-380), you might feel undergunned with a 500 S&W magnum. As was said earlier, a person’s, daily carry, firearm choice is a reflection of their personality. That means it is a personal choice and should not be ridiculed just because you feel a need for something different. Just like I choose to ride a bicycle to work, it is a reflection of minimalism.

      No, I would not purchase this gun. Firstly, my defensive handgun needs seem to be met for now. Secondly, I don’t like the way it looks, that is a pure preference with no right or wrong answer. That being said, the person buying this gun is not wrong. I am sure it is a good gun.

      • I also have a Browning 1911-380, and although it is not my carry gun it is the most fun gun to shoot i have ever owned, by a huge margin. i recently replace my 3 3/5” (approx) version with the 4+” barrel version and it is super fun – accurate, with very little felt recoil.

        • Shortly after I got mine I saw a full length slide assembly on ebay. I bought it and now I have both, the compact, that I purchased, and the full length slide. I was out shooting it yesterday and it shoots great.

          I keep thinking that I may mill the full length slide for a red dot of some sort.

  10. Sounds nice but I have a Springfield Armory 911 that is every bit as much pistol in all respects – excellent sights, trigger, general ergonomics – and costs less.

    As to you .380 bashers out there, the Ellifritz (sp?) study from ’11 showed that statistically, unless you are dealing with an assailant with body armor or behind an obstacle, at typical DGU ranges of 10 yards or less, the .380 is just as likely to kill or incapacitate as most larger handgun calibers. That doesn’t mean it’s “just as powerful”, just that it is powerful enough to do the job in real-world scenarios.

    Effectiveness drops off significantly at .32 ACP and below, according to the same study. And also according to the same study – which analyzed 1800 DGUs – if you really want to be able to count on dropping the bad guy with one pull of the trigger…you need a rifle or a shotgun. But on the other end of the scale, while using something even as small as a .22LR is riskier, it can work as long as you have very good shot placement (i.e., in the face).

    .380 to me is practically ideal for EDC because it is fun to train and get proficient with, even when in a light, easily concealable package. Though, I admit that if I have to deal with a bad guy in a car or behind a door or on the other side of a wall, I would want something bigger (which is why for home defense – where concealability is not an issue – I rely on a .357 mag).

    • I think the SA 911 exists because of the 238’s success, to be fair. Training is one of the reasons I went to a 938, though – power aside, one of the benefits of 9mm over .380 is how much less it costs to shoot. I like the 238 too much to let it go, but it hasn’t seen a lot of carry use since I got the new one.

    • I pretty much feel the exact same way as Robman, and just about word for word—
      LOVE my Sig P238 Legion .380, and have had the Colt Mustang Pocketlite .380 for over 25 years, and LOVE that one too—

  11. I sure wish my P238 worked. Its an early gun 1st year of the model. Its been back to Sig CS 4 times and still cant fire 3 shots before an empty shell trying to eject jams up the next round trying to get in the chamber.
    Makes the gun a really small club at that point.
    Its home is in my safe unfired for the last 5 years.
    On the other hand my P938 is dammed near perfect.

    • Funny enough, my 238 runs great, but my 938 startes having severe hammer follow issues. Turned out the frame cracked, so it was sent back on a new one with a new S/N. Happily, it went on to run like a top from there and is my go-to pocket carry gun now.

  12. I have a P238 and a LCP2. I dread range time with the LCP2 – sharp edges and just too small for my hands means discomfort and often a skin break somewhere. It is highly pocketable and better than the original LCP. That’s all it has going for it as far as I am concerned.

    The P238 is a delight to shoot. And for the intended (but hopefully never needed) purpose, I have a lot more confidence I could hit the intended target with the P238 and its better sights and easier follow-up shots thanks to better ergonomics and a bit more mass. And my wife won’t have anything to do with the LCP2, but the P238 is her second-favorite pistol to shoot after the Shield.

    • This is why you have to shoot before you buy. The S&W Bodyguard was the gun I was going to get when I was shopping for a tiny gun, until I shot the thing. I’m sure it’s great at its intended purpose, but one of my criteria was being fun to take to the range, and the Bodyguard was absolutely not that. A couple magazines was all I could take. I do have a friend that has one and loves it, though, so YMMV.

  13. I bought a P238 Sports 12. More features, and costs a minimum of $300 less than what was just reviewed.

  14. I wanted a handgun that fit between the more powerful SR9c that is too large to carry in dress clothing and the TCP 738 whose recoil I don’t mind, but my wife simply cannot handle. She also cannot rack the 9mm. I wanted something physically smaller than a Shield, which I had once rented in 9mm and I felt was otherwise a great compromise. So I went to a really well equipped rental range and tried the Sig 938, LC9s and Glock 43 as the 9’s and the Bersa Thunder, Glock 42, LCP2, Browning 911-380, and the Sig 238 as the .380’s. The Shield .380 and Springfield.380 were not available at the time. For our use, the 9’s simply had too much recoil. Compared to the larger Ruger, why bother, although at least the Sig did not feel like a piece of plastic junk. Among the .380’s I did like the LCP2, but too much recoil for the purpose. The others had too much recoil for being .380’s or for their size. The Sig 238 was perfect for the purpose. No recoil to speak of, easy to rack, tritium sights, accurate, has a safety. I bought the Sport 12 package with 3 mags, paddle holster, Hogue rubber grips, and bought a Remora IWB/pocket holster. It was not a cheap package but as others have said about 1911’s, an all metal gun simply is of higher quality.

    I am fortunate in that I can afford multiple guns. If I could afford only one, I would buy the LCP2 if I wanted the mouse gun or probably a ported Shield in 9mm if I wanted something larger but still reasonably small for carry.

    Let’s not bash each other. This is not like Ford vs Chevy where only the enthusiasts and manufacturers care. The DMV is not planning to take away your driving privileges, at least not yet. The DNC would love to take away your gun rights ASAP. All for one and one for all should be our motto.

  15. I have a P238 Equinox. It’s a great gun. Super accurate.

    I can’t get past the .380 ACP to trust my life to it, especially when I can carry a similarly sized revolver with .38 Special +P that fires a heavier bullet at a higher velocity (Yes, even out of a 2″ snubby).

    I’ve reviewed the gel tests from ShootingTheBull and Lucky Gunner. Yes, .380 is better than it was, but still not “good enough” in this writer’s personal opinion.

  16. Hey, some guys like fat women, some guys like like skinny women. Some guys like Sigs, some like Rugers. Nothing wrong with any of the choices mentioned. Don’t knock the other guy’s preference.

Comments are closed.