As you may know, I am a huge fan of Ruger handguns. For the past year, my EDC has been a Ruger SR9c. But recently, I began experiencing more back issues when carrying consistently, so I decided to investigate the idea of pocket carry.
I have long admired SIG weapons but, frankly, didn’t want to spend the money necessary to buy one. I’m still not quite sure how it happened, but about a month ago, I stumbled onto a phenomenal local deal on a brand new SIG P938 Equinox. The price made the purchase a no-brainer. If I liked the gun, I would have found a tremendous value. If I disliked the gun, I could easily sell it and get my money back (or more). So I bought it.
First, let me say SIG does a great job packaging their firearms. The included lockable plastic case is significantly nicer than anything that came with any of my Rugers. It looks the part of a more expensive purchase. Included in the box was the gun, a 6-round flush stainless magazine, a 7-round stainless magazine with pinky extender, a lock, warranty info, a manual, some SIG promotional material, a SIG decal sticker, some gun oil, a kydex OWB holster, and a gun lock.
The gun is small but feels rock solid. My Rugers are polymer guns. This little SIG is a metal gun. In fact, the gun looks and feels a lot like a miniaturized 1911. I have to admit, it’s very, very nice. I particularly like the look of this Equinox edition when compared to most other models.
- 9mm Luger
- ACTION TYPE Semi-Auto
- FRAME SIZE Micro-Compact
- GRIP TYPE Custom Black Diamondwood Grips
- FRAME FINISH Hard Coat Anodized
- FRAME MATERIAL Alloy
- SIGHTS TFO Front / SIGLITE Rear
- SLIDE FINISH Nitron
- SLIDE MATERIAL Stainless Steel
- BARREL MATERIAL Carbon Steel
- ACCESSORY RAIL N/A
- TRIGGER SAO
- TRIGGER TYPE Standard
- TRIGGER PULL SA 7.5 lb (33 N)
- BARREL LENGTH 3.0 in (77 mm)
- OVERALL LENGTH 5.9 in (150mm)
- OVERALL WIDTH 1.1 in (28mm)
- HEIGHT 3.9 in (100 mm)
- WEIGHT 16 oz (454 g)
But let’s talk about the features that drew me to the gun.
Reliability. As I have written previously, this is my top priority in any gun that I may carry or use for defense. I have read online that early models had some issues with reliability. Mine was made in April 2017 and has been very consistent when using proper ammo and ensuring the magazine is firmly seated. But I’m early in the process, so this is a work in progress. I am very encouraged so far and expect the gun will work whenever I need it to as long as I take proper care of it.
Accuracy. When I first fired the gun, I missed the target entirely. In fact, I did that the next several shots, too. After seeing my initial misses, a shooting instructor I was out with suggested I needed to use a “death grip” to hold the gun. That did work, but that wasn’t how I wanted to shoot. I kept experimenting and finally found an easy cheat that works for me. I put direct backward pressure with my left index finger on the front of the trigger guard. It’s actually a somewhat natural grip posture, given the size of the gun. And it works like a charm. I was immediately far more accurate and consistent. Over time, I have become very accurate with this little gun.
Grip. I like the grip on this gun, and I love the look of the “Black Diamondwood” grips. I have flirted with swapping out with the Hogue Black Rubber Grips, which should give additional control with the finger slots on the front of the grip, but these Diamondwood grips are just too pretty. For reference, I’m a 50-year-old male with medium hands, about 5’9″ tall. With the 6-round mag, you have to tuck your pinky under. With the 7-round mag, you get a full purchase. Both work fine, but I prefer using the 7-round mag.
Recoil. Yes, it is a very small 9mm, but I’d say the recoil is just slightly more than a Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm. The Shield is, I believe, one of the most popular carry guns out there, so the recoil is clearly not a major issue for many folks. The P938 has substantially less felt recoil to me than, say, a Ruger LC9s. OTOH, recoil is more noticeable than with my Ruger SR9c, but it’s shockingly soft for the size of the gun. I’ve switched over to using 147-grain bullets, and I think that helps with lower felt recoil. I expected shooting this gun to hurt, as some other micro 9s have done previously. But it didn’t. I can shoot it all day with no regrets.
Appearance. Ok, so this isn’t really a huge factor for a defensive gun, but this is truly a drop-dead gorgeous little gun. If you don’t think this is an attractive gun, I can’t help you. The grips are really pretty, and the slide has special treatment to create a bi-tone look, which is complemented by the deep rear serrations. I would have preferred the type-face for “Equinox” on the slide to be a bit smaller, but it’s fine.
Build Quality. SIG is known for producing quality weapons. They are one of the more respected “premium” names in guns in the US. And the gun delivers with a solid feel and great quality throughout. Plus, SIG backs up their weapons and will fix any issues you may encounter. One minor gripe is the extended magazine has some wiggle to it. I feel like SIG could have done a better job making this fit a bit tighter with the contour at the base of the grip.
Features. We have to talk about the sights. Wow! The SIGLITE rear sights are tremendous, and the front TFO is super nice. These are large, easy-to-see sights that glow in the dark. It’s actually the same sight sysem SIG uses on their nicer full-size guns. The TFO on the front also makes sight acquisition quick and intuitive in bright light. The fact all three sights glow make finding your point of aim much easier in the dark. I also note the positioning of the sights creates a larger sight radius than you’d normally find on a gun this size; in other words, it aims like it’s about an inch longer. I cannot overstate how impressed I am with these sights. Otherwise, you have two magazine sizes (the 7-round mag does not come with all models of the gun; just some), pinky extension, ambidextrous thumb safety, grippy backstrap, left-side magazine release, special grips that have a mix of textured and smooth composite wood, and a hinged curved trigger that looks like a 1911 style trigger.
Now, let me talk about my experience with the gun.
The size and weight makes it far more comfortable for me to carry than my SR9c. I have been experimenting with pocket carry with this particular gun, and that seems to work well. The gun conceals easily, even with the 7-round magazine. The weight is not an issue. As noted in my prior blog, I really loved my SR9c; so I needed to find another gun I could also love in order to feel good about considering a change in my EDC.
I actually enjoy shooting this gun. That may sound silly, but I have not previously enjoyed shooting other 9mm guns in this size category. It aims well. The recoil is manageable. To be fair, a relative has a Kimber Solo, which is roughly the same size. He feels no difference between the two. I feel a significant difference between the two. The Kimber pivots painfully up into the webbing of my thumb no matter what I do. The SIG feels comfortable. YMMV, so I suggest trying it before buying it, if possible.
In terms of groupings, I don’t have target photos to post. That’s not my style in this sort of review at this point. My first day at the the range with the P938 removed any recoil concerns I had, but it raised concerns about how accurately I could shoot the gun, particularly under stress. The second range trip answered that question, too. All shots were on target and nicely grouped. Again, I was initially more accurate with my larger Ruger that I had literally shot at least 1,000 times more often. But the gap was much more narrow than I would have thought at early on and closed very rapidly. I feel like this little SIG and I get along very well now, and I trust it in any emergency.
Takedown and reassembly is a bit of a pain; there’s no two ways about it. I’ve seen reviews saying takedown is simple. Those folks clearly haven’t taken apart a gun that truly is easy or they just don’t want SIG mad with them. For starters, you have to manually hold the slide in a certain position and then manually disengage the slide stop pin, much like a 1911. If the slide locked and held in that position, that’d be ok. But no. You have to hold it there while also pushing the pin. Remember, this is a tiny gun; there’s not a lot of real estate available for your hands; so this is a bit trickier than it sounds. But ok, it’s not rocket science, and it is doable. The rest of the takedown is easy. Disassembly is a minor gripe.
My initial attempt at reassembly, though, was the worst experience I’ve ever had cleaning a gun. Getting the spring back in was a nightmare. There is a trick using a dowel I learned about later from the good folks at SigTalk that makes it far easier, but wow. It took me fully 25 minutes just get the spring back in. Why, SIG? You also have to be careful to just gently push down on the extractor when you put the slide back on. Push it down too far, and you damage it. Don’t push it down far enough, and the slide doesn’t go back on. That part is not as hard as it sounds. But, again: why, SIG? I managed to get it reassembled, and I found out about the dowel rod trick for the spring, but this is still a relatively annoying gun to reassemble. This is my one major gripe. It was a pain for me, and I think it’d be a major impediment for someone who is a relative novice at guns.
The slide lock functions as a slide release. I appreciate that. The slide is also very, very easy to rack right out of the box. My wife, who sometimes struggles with racking the slide on some guns, was easily able to rack the slide. One nice bonus feature is that the slide can be racked with the safety engaged. This is a feature I didn’t know I’d use, but it comes in handy.
If you want an ammo tip for this gun, I suggest using either 124 grain ammo or 147 grain ammo. For defense, I use 147 grain HST. For plinking, I use a combination of 124 and 147 grain ammos. I have used 115 grain in the gun, but I’m happier with the heavier rounds. I think the gun is, too.
Of course, this is a single-action only hammer-fired gun that looks, feels, and handles in most respects like a miniature 1911. Many guns these days, including most of my other guns, are striker fire guns. The P938 has an external hammer and is intended to be carried “cocked and locked.” If that concerns you, I’d suggest looking elsewhere. I made my peace with that concept quickly. My brother and I tested the safety during our first trip to the range, and I continue to test it on each range trip. As expected, safety on meant no boom. That’s good. I’ve always carried my striker fire gun with one in the chamber and a safety on; so this seems the same to me. I know some folks have a hangup about it, but that’s not an issue in my mind. I am very comfortable carrying in what is commonly called Condition One.
I have seen some folks complain about the trigger. I think that’s mostly folks who thought this was truly a small 1911 instead of a small gun that looks and feels like a 1911. There are some important differences. For one, the P938 has a much heavier trigger. At 7ish pounds, I think it works great for concealed carry, but it is not a match trigger. Also, the trigger is hinged, which may offend 1911 purists. I love 1911 guns, but I know this is not actually a 1911, so it’s ok with me. The trigger is consistent with a crisp break and has a good feel and short reset. That’s what matters to me. If you’re worried about the amount of take-up with the trigger, Galloway Precision makes a nice flat aluminum trigger that is adjustable for over-travel.
Although the P938 is not actually a 1911, it is a very good gun for 1911 owners who want a smaller carry gun they can feel comfortable with. It has the same manual of arms and will feel immediately familiar. I enjoy shooting 1911 guns and find them very attractive; those factors were part of what drew me to the SIG P938. I had been on the prowl for a good deal on a nice 1911. While not a 1911, this little SIG looks and feels enough like a small 1911 that it has at least temporarily scratched that itch.
A few other quick notes. I’ve already mentioned that takedown and reassembly is a deterrent to new owners. Overall, the P938 is something of an advanced user’s gun. I am not an expert, so don’t think I’m being arrogant about this. But I have invested a lot of time in understanding guns and how to properly use them. If you have not done so, then this gun may not be a good fit for you. Even things like the smaller sight radius can really mess you up, as can having to adjust your grip style to ensure accuracy. None of these things are really all that hard if you practice a reasonable amount. But it’s not a gun I’d necessarily expect great results from if you don’t put in sufficient time at the range, unless you’re already fairly proficient with the style of gun.
That said, if you spend a little time getting to know the P938, I believe you’ll find it to be an extremely rewarding relationship. I really enjoy this gun so far and, while I’m sure opinions will differ, I don’t think there is a better 9mm pocket carry option out there.
Suggestions for improvement:
- Make it easier to get the magazines to seat properly.
- Tighten up the fit with the 7-round magazine.
- Make take-down and reassembly easier. Really. Much easier. Please.
Overall verdict – The SIG SAUER P938 Equinox is a gorgeous small 9mm SAO gun that looks and acts a lot like a tiny 1911. And that’s a very good thing. The gun has the best sights I’ve ever seen installed by a manufacturer and is shockingly easy to shoot. So far, it’s been reliable, although there were a few tricks to learn (grip and magazine seating). Cleaning is really the only fly in the ointment, but there are tricks for that, too. This one is a keeper and is well on its way to becoming my new primary EDC.
UPDATE 12/25/17 – I’ve used the SIG P938 as my EDC for months now and couldn’t be more pleased. It’s a terrific small gun and works well for pocket carry and IWB. Cleaning is much easier now that I’m used to it, but it’s still not nearly as easy as a Glock or similar. However, there is no Glock I’d use over the SIG. The P938 has been extremely reliable and remains comfortable to shoot, particularly with the left index finger trick. And the sights are still amazing.
UPDATE 3/28/18 – I’ve carried the SIG P938 roughly a year now and still love it. In terms of pocket carry, I think the strongest rival now is the new SIG P365. I am more accurate with the P938, and I definitely like the look and feel of the P938 more. The advantage for the P365, and it’s a significant one, is the 10-round magazine capacity vs 7-round capacity for the P938. For now, I’m sticking with the P938, but I’ll have to re-evaluate that decision when SIG introduces the P365 with manual safety.