I've owned this pistol for about three months, and have put about 500 rounds through it. It is utterly reliable, other than an occasional failure of the slide to lock back after the last round (perhaps 15% of the time).
The break-in period required about 100 rounds. I experienced a few minor problems; the slide failing to go all the way forward into battery (corrected by a gentle nudge and later a good cleaning), a couple of failures to fire (corrected by pulling the hammer back and pulling the trigger again), and the slide failing to lock back after the last round. After 100 rounds, it settled down and worked exactly as expected.
A search of the Internet will show a number of people having problems with the P238. I also had a problem with the P238-HD, all stainless version. In my case, the pistol had to be replaced due to frame damage. I suspected metallurgy problems in the all stainless model, and chose the Rosewood grip version as a replacement. I couldn't be happier with the choice.
Sig Sauer's customer service is fast and excellent. I suspect there are the occasional lemons in this model, so just in case, be prepared to test it soon after purchase. Take notes, be clear about any problems you might have, and stick close with their customer service folks. Once reliable this pistol is a dream to use.
* Single action design, with a safety that allows you to carry in condition 1.
* The perfect back-up or hot-weather carry gun for 1911 owners. It has the same manual of arms as a 1911 and you won't get confused switching between different types of pistols.
* Great ergonomics for right handers. Every major control is within thumb's reach.
* Size and weight is perfect for concealed carry; 15 ounces with a width of 1.1".
* The ease of concealment gives you maximum carry options, and the ability to switch between them quickly.
* Unlike many of its sub-compact competitors, it looks, feels, and shoots like a standard pistol.
* The relatively light, non-threatening 380 recoil permits rapid, accurate shooting.
* The Siglight sights are outstanding. They support rapid acquisition of a sight picture, and are clearly visible in bright sunlight or total darkness (go tritium).
* Despite the experience of others, I have had NO problems shooting any and all ammunition fed into it.
* The build quality is first-rate.
* Break-in period appears to be pretty short. You should know within 150 rounds whether the pistol is reliable.
* Reliability can be, and should be outstanding.
* Customer Service is outstanding.
Only ONE: There appear to be lemons leaving the factory. Its a purchase risk, but problems can be corrected, and the benefits out-weigh the risks.
* Be prepared to test your gun quickly to establish reliability. Document problems, frequency, ammunition type, etc.
* Don't use anything on the pistol that isn't factory issued (third-party magazines) until you've established reliability.
* Be prepared to look in the mirror. Sub-compact pistols are unforgiving of bad shooting form. They magnify problems like limp wristing, shock-absorber elbows and poor trigger control. They can result in problems with the slide cycling, ejections, etc.
IF YOU GET A RELIABLE P238 WHAT'S THE WORST PROBLEM?
* Not much. The single-action trigger pull is relatively heavy; about 7 pounds.
* More expensive than most pistols; but you also get tritium night sights, and great ergonomics and quality. Deduct $100 for the night sights and the price would be fairly close to the competition.
* The sights are combat sights; quick target acquisition over marksmanship accuracy. The pistol IS accurate, but the combat sights make you work hard to get really small shot groups. This is a working pistol, designed for short, close-in defensive work. In this they excel.
* For just a small trade-off in size, the chambering could be 9mm, and the additional power would make it off-the-charts good. Are you listening, Sig?