My wife of over twenty years has a new love now. Am I jealous? Nah… after putting up with me for all these years she’s entitled to take her fun where she can get it. Besides, it’s a gun.
We are in the habit of picking out our Christmas gifts together and putting them on layaway. This year her gift was a Microsoft Surface, and we paid off the layaway this week… only to discover it was not up to her needs. We returned it for store credit at Ben’s Loans in Renton WA. This is actually a pawn shop, and one of our favorite gun stores. Hmmm… store credit at a gun store… what to do… what to do?
Linda does not shoot nearly as much as I do, but she has a good eye for guns– and bargains. The store had happened across an exceptional deal on a Sig Sauer P238 Legion, and were willing to pass those savings on to Linda. Despite the deal she was a little hesitant; Linda has an unhappy history with sub-compact .380s. She has a dodgey wrist and snappy recoil is painful to her, and tiny .380s are notoriously snappy. After consulting the internet via her phone for reviews she was reassured; they all agreed that the gun was unusually pleasant to shoot for a gun its size and caliber. She was also reassured by the fact that we could certainly sell it for more than we would be paying for it if she didn’t like it.
We snagged a couple boxes of .380 from the store and another of my reloads at the house and headed for Champion Arms gun range. I fired the gun first, grinned at my wife and said, “You are going to love this.” She did. It is not snappy; not at all. Moreover she was able to start getting hits immediately, and it only got better.
Let’s talk a little bit about the P238. It looks a lot like a miniature 1911, and it is a bit like one. It’s a single-action semi-auto of largely conventional Browning-style operation. Disassembly is pretty standard- line up the notch in the slide, pop the slide-stop out and it all comes apart. There is a full-length steel guide-rod with a non-captured recoil spring and a cammed tilting barrel. The single-action mechanism insures a consistent, short trigger-pull and makes the preferred carry method Condition 1- cocked-and-locked. Unlike the safety on a 1911, however, the Sig’s safety can be applied when the slide is locked open, meaning you can chamber a round with the safety on- a useful feature, I think. Like a 1911 the Sig has a seven-shot magazine.
The gun is 5.5″ long, 3.9″ tall and 1.1″ thick. It weighs in at 15 oz. empty- about the same as an alloy-frame J-frame revolver, but in a more concealable package.
So what does the Legion package add to this? Quite a lot, actually. Starting with the trivial it has a Cerekote finish called ‘Legion Gray’ and a Legion badge on the grips. Legion Gray is an attractive finish in a medium gray with, to my eyes at least, a greenish tinge. Add aggressively textured G10 grip-panels, checkering on the front-strap, trigger-guard and mainspring housing. It also has front cocking serrations on the slide, an ambidextrous safety, a metal magazine funnel for easier loading under stress, high visibility day/night sights and an aluminum trigger to replace the standard model’s polymer trigger. All of this adds an almost $200 premium to the standard gun’s price.
So, how is it to shoot? In a word– excellent. Recoil is soft, the sights are highly visible, the grip comfortable. It’s an easy gun to shoot well, and Linda found it very easy to put rounds on target at standard defensive distances.
The large, green-dot front sight lends itself to speed more than precision, appropriate enough on a self-defense firearm, but precision can be achieved.
This little gun is a ball to shoot. The trigger is excellent, the sights are easy to use and the grip is quite comfortable for such a small gun. I rode the safety with my thumb, just like I do with a 1911, and the gun never bit or caused any discomfort. Recoil is mild and follow-up shots come fast and accurate. It’s addictive; Linda put more than a hundred rounds through it quite happily, and the next day she asked if I could reload some more .380…
We did experience one malfunction, a failure to eject. This happened with one of my reloads, so I’m inclined to chalk it up to the ammunition. We’ll run a few hundred more rounds through it to insure that it is reliable– believe me, that will be no hardship!
Michael Tinker Pearce, 4 December 2018