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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.