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Review: SIG SAUER’s Popular P938 Pocket Pistol Gets the High-End Legion Treatment

This article originally appeared in CONCEALMENT Issue 13

TINY LEGION

SIG’S Popular P938 Pocket Pistol Gets the High-End Legion Treatment

SIG had a juggernaut in its catalog with the 2009 release of the .380 P238 micro pistol; a few years later, it followed up with the 9mm version, the P938. Between the two pistols, the Px38 series was SIG’s best-selling design for years.

The x38s are based on Colt’s Mustang compact pistol, originally introduced in the 1980s. While the barrel-to-slide interface differs between x38s and Mustangs, just about everything else on the guns is the same. In fact, plenty of people run Mustang magazines in their SIG pistols, and vice versa.

These pistols appeal to the 1911 crowd by mimicking the classic platform’s looks and exterior controls. Accordingly, SIG’s remake of the tiny single-action-only is often called a mini-1911, though it’s not really a mini 1911 because the x38’s hinged trigger system will fall short of a 1911 guy’s expectations. But, if you’re looking for a small 9mm with a crisp trigger, and you want the emotional security that comes with both a hammer-fired operating system and a manual safety, you won’t do much better than the P938 series.

Legion Edition Additions

From executive-themed rosewood editions to utilitarian versions with giant Hogue grips and everything in between, SIG capitalized on the P938’s popularity by offering versions that appeal to every corner of the hammer-fired, self-defense gun buying market.

The Legion edition represents a sort of best of album containing the most useful upgrades and modifications performed on the P938.
In the Legion, you’re looking at a P938 with upgraded sights, flat-faced aluminum trigger, reshaped hammer, reprofiled frame and slide with more checkering and front cocking serrations, G10 grip panels, and a funneled magwell for the Legion’s redesigned magazine baseplates, all in an exclusive Legion Gray Cerakote finish.

Anyone who’s removed a P938 trigger knows you should never remove a P938 trigger.

It’s an impressive list of upgrades, headlined by the new trigger, the compact magwell, and the new extended mag baseplates. SIG also touts the Legion’s all-metal construction, but the P938 was mostly metal to begin with. It has the same 416 stainless steel in the slide and 7075 aluminum in the frame, but the Legion does away with the final bits of polymer by replacing the plastic trigger and mainspring housing with metal parts.

Bottom Half Enhancements

First off, the new aluminum trigger provides a little more leverage, but the feel of the P938 trigger break is unchanged compared to its bone stock brethren. And that’s not a bad thing. It has a bit of transparent pretravel, then a crisp, creepless, and consistent break; this makes sense since SIG didn’t change the internals of the P938 Legion’s fire control system.

While the break might be unchanged, the benefit of the Legion-exclusive aluminum trigger is the sharply defined edge of the trigger blade and the angled face that funnels the trigger finger into the same location when getting a firing grip, aiding in consistency at speed.

Metal mainspring housings are already a popular P930 aftermarket upgrade, but SIG needed to dump the basic P938’s polymer part and shift to metal to support that sexy new magwell.

“We wanted to give folks with larger hands a more comfortable grip on such a small weapon,” said SIG’s classic line pistol product manager Steven Gilcreast, “so we added the metal magwell without compromising the concealability, which is one of the primary features of the gun, and adding a little more utility by speeding up reloads.”

It’s subtle, but all the edges of the Legion are either entirely reprofiled or softened.

Instead of a one-piece mainspring housing with an integrated magwell, SIG went with a two-piece setup to reduce cost, we assume. People might bitch about a two-piece magwell, but SIG’s engineers did a fine job of integrating the magwell, mainspring, and grip so that there’s no pressure pulling mainspring down when the magwell screw is tightened. The parts also mate up with a deep anti-rotation socket that promises to keep the parts lined up no matter how hard we stab the magwell with a reload or how much pressure our midsection exerts on the holstered pistol. And lingering aesthetic issues are addressed by the Legion’s grip panels, which cover the mainspring pin and line up well with the frame/magwell reveal line.

The standard P938 checkering on the front and rear of the grip is augmented on the Legion with a bit of checkering on the underside of the trigger guard. Every little bit of grip enhancement helps, especially on a small, metal gun that’ll leave a front sight imprint in your forehead if given the chance.

The rest of the grip scene is comprised of Legion-exclusive G10 grip panels featuring deep texturing and emblazoned with the Legion shield. Gilcreast refused to confirm rumors the Legion grip medallions are made from melted-down Spartan shields unearthed by a team of SIG SAUER archeologists during a 2015 expedition to Thermopylae.

Slide

Upstairs, the slide got a subtle haircut in addition to the front cocking serrations we’ll talk more about below. Like the frame, everything is rounded, and we’re not talking about just breaking an edge or dehorning. Compared to our several-year-old P938 BRG, the slide countour is completely different and even the unchanged edges and angles left alone are noticeably cleaner.

The other slide internals are untouched from the standard P938s. This is one place the P938 falls out of the sky like a meteorite that not only smashes through our roof, but sets the whole house on fire, burns it to the ground, and leaves it an uninhabitable radioactive wasteland for five centuries. Yeah. We’re making a point.

SIG’s known for years the P938’s two-piece guide rod loves to unscrew itself while the pistol’s running, and yet, even in its highest-end gun, filled with upgrades and high-fives, it addressed the guide rod problem the same way it has in the poor people P938 pistols, with a drop of thread locking compound instead of switching to a one-piece guide rod.

We get it, machining a one-piece guide rod is expensive and thread lock is a 95-percent fix for the problem. But this is already a $900 pistol. Why the company chose to leave such a glaring legacy issue in its Legion edition is baffling. And, yes, we noticed our guide rod unscrewing itself during a day-long pistol class at the Sig Academy. It never ejected or caused any malfunctions. But it got to the point that we added a twist-the-guide-rod-tight step to every third reload until we could get the gun back to the shop.

On the bench, we found hardened glue residue pooled at the beveled intersection of the rod and the base, but there was none on the threads. It looked like a production oversight, and a conversation with a SIG employee confirmed Rocksett as the company’s fix for the guide rod separation issue and that it should have been applied down in the threads.

Mags

The Legion’s 7-round magazine baseplate is more compact, just as capable, and better looking than the bulbous extensions that adorn the standard, single-stack, 7-rounders. This has the bonus of making carried spares slightly easier to conceal. Sidenote: we’re in the age of slim, double-stack mags in tiny guns that make this 7-rounder seem downright quaint.

Somewhat sadly, the Legion’s magwell precludes the use of Mustang mags and the original P938 extended mags won’t fit in the Legion magwell, but the baseplateless six-rounders will. Though, when seated they’re recessed to the point that you’ll need to get a screwdriver blade under the front lip to pry it out if it fails to drop free. In the grand scheme, giving up the ability to use those old Mustang mags is well worth the utility gained with the Legion magwell. The Legion comes with three 7-round mags, which is, thankfully, all most people will need since spares are a brisk $49.

In the Hand

Front cocking serrations on most full- and compact-sized pistols are a nice-to-have feature that adds a bit of versatility. On a micro pistol like the P938, we think they’re far more useful. We learned a nifty technique that takes advantage of the P938 Legion’s front serrations while attending Sig Academy’s new micro pistol class.

One of the instructors demonstrated that there’s a bit of time to save for those who rack the slide on reloads by palming the mag home then, instead of flipping the pistol over and grabbing the slide for retraction, we slide our support hand slightly forward, reach up with up with our thumb and fingers straddling the frame, and pinch the slide while pulling it to the rear to unlock it.

While you can use this underhand slide release technique with larger pistols, anyone with normal- to large-sized hands will find their support hand is already three-quarters of the way to a full firing grip after letting the P938’s slide go. It’s a bit of a time saver. And, the technique doesn’t require above average finger strength, at least not on the P938. There’s a slight downside, though; if the reload goes wrong and you need to rack the slide to clear a misfeed, the pistol needs to be flipped for a proper, slide-racking grip.

Reloads, in general, are more positive with the new magwell and the P938 Legion’s redesigned floorplates. The beveled magwell guides the mag home, and the geometry all but eliminates the chance of catching a fold of palm skin between the mag base and the butt — a very common occurrence clearly evidenced by the amount of blood blisters on the palms of P938 shooters.

Firing the Legion, we were expecting (hoping, really) to feel a reduction in recoil. The all-metal construction adds about 2 ounces to the base model’s weight, but it’s mostly added to the grip area and doesn’t offer a noticeable reduction in muzzle flip due to the laws of physics as they apply to leverage. While shooting anything more than 124-grain loads, and any +P loads, we found the pistol retained its characteristic micro pistol recoil bite and increased our group sizes.

Dropping the ammunition grain weight, predictably transformed the pistol into a poodle. Hornady’s Critical Defense 100-grain FTX produced the tightest shot groups and measured 1,093 FPS at the muzzle with our Labradar. Shooting Hornady’s 124-grain +P FlexLock, though, felt like holding a firecracker while producing 1,100 fps.

Performance

Our pistol’s trigger breaks crisply at 5 pounds. When we say crisp, though, we’re not talking 1911 crisp. Close, though; it’s still a single-action trigger. The P938’s got a tiny bit of take-up to move the striker channel block out of the way. But, it’s not much, and the clean break certainly contributes to the pistol’s accuracy.

The big, bright SIG X-RAY3 sights help gather up a good sight picture under pressure. Inside or in sunlight, the bright green beast up front nestled into the plain serrated rear with a little room around it that’s useful for lining up slow, accurate shots — but not small enough to bounce between the rear uprights when things need to happen fast.

Aside from the self-dissembling guide rod, the only other issue we encountered with the pistol was a poorly aligned front sight. After a few boxes of shooting left, a refusal to blame the gun, a few more boxes, and some self-loathing, one of SIG’s instructors noticed the front sight was actually offset enough to cause issues during a walkback drill. A few taps to the sight and things were in the A-zone.

Despite the pistol trying to take itself apart and shooting a few hundred rounds of SIG’s 90-grain frangible ammo for an indoor class, the pistol experienced only one failure to feed malfunction with the Hornady 135-grain Flexlock. Mid magazine, one round hung on the feed ramp. We stripped the mag and reset that round, and it fed, fired, and ejected.

All told, we ran 520 rounds through the P938 Legion, and it ran reliably and accurately. Practically speaking, its accuracy was on par with, or better than, its hammer-fired competition, but we didn’t notice a big difference when compared to its P938 stablemates.

Wrap-up

By the end of our time with the P938 Legion, we appreciated how easy and comfortable it is to carry, and grew to like the security of holding the hammer while stuffing the pistol in an AIWB holster. We’re not trading in our striker-fired EDC for the Legion, but we’d consider it if we were after a slim, reliable, 1911-style pistol. But, we’re already on the 12-round, SFP, micro pistol train. So, we compare the P938 Legion to something like the SIG P365 the same way we’d compare a sports car to a compact pickup; we appreciate one for what it can do because of its size, and the other for what it can do despite its size.

Looking at accuracy and reliability, the P938 Legion doesn’t offer a measurable improvement over the non-Legion P938. But, SIG didn’t have any work to do to improve the gun in those regards. It shored up the pistol’s weaknesses (except for one) and gave it a few tricks that make it more durable, controllable, comfortable, and easier to reload. If you’re looking for a tiny 1911-style pistol, SIG did the work of testing and installing the upgrades you’re most likely to want and badged it as the Legion edition of the P938.



Visit https://www.sigsauer.com/


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