Sig Sauer P938 Nightmare Compact 9mm Semi-Automatic Pistol

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

August 29th, 2012


Click pictures for a larger version.





P938 Nightmare has thin black checkered G10 grip panels.





Slide lock (top), magazine release (bottom).



Ambidextrous safety levers.



SigLite tritium Night Sights.











Author experienced five failutes-to-extract when the P938 got dry and dirty.



The Nightmare is the latest variation of the popular Sig P938 semi-automatic pistol. The P938 follows on the heels of the P238 380 auto, but is chambered for the more-powerful 9x19mm cartridge. The P938 Nightmare has a unique appearance, with a dull black anodized frame matching the matte black Nitron slide, black checkered Hogue G10 grip panels, black barrel, hammer, and trigger. Contrasting with these are satin stainless slide lock, recoil spring guide rod, magazine release, and ambidextrous safety levers. Being a left-handed shooter, I particularly love the ambidextrous safety levers. The magazines are also bright stainless. Two magazines are supplied; one a six-round capacity that fits flush with the base of the grip frame, and the other a seven-round extended magazine with finger rest.

This P938 is one of the most comfortable of the current crop of compact 9mm pistols in my hand. The wide beavertail frame, thin grip profile, and perfect trigger reach settle this little jewel into my hand just right. The front and back grip areas have sections of checkering to assure a positive hold. The P938 has a single action trigger mechanism with an exposed hammer, and is meant to be carried cocked-and-locked, just like a 1911. The sights are plenty large for good visibility, but are not sharp nor obtrusive, and will not cut the user’s hand when manually cycling the slide. Also, most importantly, the sights are windage adjustable and wear SigLite tritium night sights. The slide lock holds open the slide on an empty magazine.

The P938 slide wears a heavy-duty external extractor. The chamber area of the barrel locks into the ejection in typical Sig fashion, providing a rigid fit between the barrel and slide. The slide incorporates a firing pin safety, to prevent the weapon from discharging if dropped. The firing pin cannot move forward unless the trigger is pulled. There is no magazine disconnect safety on the P938. The magazines eject briskly when the magazine release is pushed, as they should. The magazine release is easily reached by the thumb of a right-handed shooter or with the trigger finger of a left-handed shooter. There is very little use of polymer on this pistol, with most parts being either aluminum or steel.

Critical specifications for the P938 are listed in the chart below. Weights are listed in ounces. Linear dimensions are listed in inches. Trigger pull is listed in pounds of resistance, as measured with my Lyman digital trigger pull scale. Height includes sights and magazine base with the standard magazine in place. Maximum width is measured across the top of the frame, and includes the ambidextrous safety levers. The weight includes an empty six-shot magazine.

Chambering 9x19mm
Weight with Empty Magazine 17 oz.
Trigger Pull 8.25 lbs.
Barrel Length 3.08"
Barrel Diameter 0.495"
Overall Height 4.01"
Overall Length 5.94"
Grip Thickness 0.91"
Frame Width 0.662"
Slide Width 0.876"
Maximum Width 1.17"
Trigger Reach 2.57"
Grip Material Checkered G10
Magazine Capacity 6 and 7
Magazines Supplied 2
Accessory Rail No

I fired a variety of ammunition over the chronograph to check velocities, with the results listed in the chart below. Velocities are listed in feet-per-second. Bullet weights are listed in grains. JHP is a jacketed hollowpoint bullet. DPX, Buffalo Bore Lead Free, and Double Tap Tac-XP are hollow nose homogenous copper bullets that are made by Barnes Bullets. Guard Dog is a FMJ with a soft plastic core to promote rapid expansion. FP is a frangible, pre-fragmented flatnose bullet. FMJ is a full metal jacket roundnose bullet. FMJ-FN is a full metal jacket flat nose Buffalo Bore Penetrator bullet. PB is Pow’RBall, a specialty bullet from Cor-Bon. Glaser is a pre-fragmented bullet. Velocities were taken at an elevation of 541 feet above sea level, with an air temperature of ninety degrees Fahrenheit and sixty-seven percent humidity. Velocities were recorded at ten feet from the muzzle.

Ammunition Bullet Weight Velocity
Buffalo Bore Lead Free HP 95 1303
Buffalo Bore Lead Free HP 115 1113
Federal Guard Dog 105 1091
Double Tap Tac-HP 115 969
Double Tap FMJ 147 982
Atomic HP 124 1101
WCC NATO FMJ 124 989
Fiocchi FMJ 115 1035
Buffalo Bore FMJ-FN 124 1201
Buffalo Bore JHP 115 1256
Buffalo Bore +P JHP 115 1193
Buffalo Bore +P JHP 147 1008
Cor-Bon Glaser 80 1576
Cor-Bon JHP 115 1298
Cor-Bon Pow’RBall 100 1245
Cor-Bon +P DPX 115 1136
Cor-Bon JHP 125 1243
Stryker JHP 115 998
International Cartridge FP 100 1023
Stryker FMJ 115 944

This being a compact defensive pistol suitable for pocket or other deep carry, I made no attempt to benchrest the P938 for accuracy, instead shooting the pistol for practical accuracy at distances from five to twenty-five yards, firing at a human silhouette target. As noted above, the P938 wears real sights that are easy to see, and keeping all hits in the vital zone at twenty-five yards is easy to do, firing offhand standing at that distance. I found the sights to shoot to point of aim using Buffalo Bore and other Plus P hollowpoint ammunition in the 115 to 124 grain weight range. Reliability was perfect at the beginning of the shooting tests. However, as the gun got pretty filthy later the second day, I began to have a few failures to extract the empty cartridge case, bringing things to a halt. This happened a total of five times, with various types of ammo. I tore the weapon down and found the chamber to be very dirty. After giving the P938 a good cleaning and lubrication, things were running smoothly again.

The Sig P938 is a dandy little compact 9mm pistol, being almost as small as the modern pocket 380 pistols, but firing a more powerful cartridge. The P938 is easy to fire, and easy to control, having very good ergonomics with easy-to-reach controls. The trigger pull is a bit on the heavy side, but an overly-light trigger pull is not a good thing on a compact fighting pistol. The Sig P938 is small enough and light enough to carry all day, every day, but carries enough punch to do the job, without excessive recoil.

The P938 comes packed in a durable hard plastic case with cable lock, oil, two magazines, and owner’s manual. My sample was missing the owner’s manual, but it had been to at least one other writer before me, and somewhere along the line, the manual did not get placed back into the box.

Check out the extensive line of Sig firearms and accessories online at

To order the Simply Rugged holster shown here, go to

To order quality fighting ammunition, go to,,, and

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.



P938 Nightmare comes packed in a hard plastic case.



Pistol comes with both a six-shot and a seven-shot magazine.



Simply Rugged holster carries the P938 securely and discreetly.