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380 Showdown

In today’s world of concealed carry and subcompacts the old reliable .380 is making a big comeback. The .380 offers enough power to thwart off an attacker while still maintaining easy concealment and control.

Recently the opportunity arose to put two popular .380 models to a head to head challenge. The Kel-Tec P3AT vs. the Sig Saur P238. Before we get to the results let’s look at what each brings to the table.

                                  Kel-Tec P3AT               Sig P238

Wieght                       8.3oz.                            15.2 oz.                   


Length                        5.2”                                5.5”


Width                         .77                                  1.1”                                


Capacity                   6+1                                  7+1


Trigger Pull             5 lbs.                                4 lbs.


Sights               Dovetail and blade      Siglite Night sights



Material                Composite                    Aluminum


Finish                      Black                        Tan and black w/accents


Size and weight wise the Kel-Tec wins in the department of being light and compact by a slight margin. Despite the Kel-Tec being a little smaller and lighter the Sig still proved to hold its own in these departments.

On the ease of use the Sig won hands down. The Kel-Tec’s down fall was its near non-existent sights. The P3AT sports a very small rear dovetail and small front blade that are molded into the slide. The Sig on the other hand has clear well defines sights that stand out from the gun that make getting on target simple and easy.

The Sig Copperhead also won in the comfort and handling arena as well. Of course each person differs on what they define as comfortable. I personally found that the Kel-Tec’s slightly smaller size made it a little harder to get a good grip on for me. The Kel-Tec also had a more muzzle flip with each shot which added to the decrease in comfort. The Sig fit well in the hands of everyone that shot it. The shooting party had members ranging from under 5 feet tall to over 6 feet tall and various body types and builds. With little muzzle flip for a sub-compact the Sig proved to fit most anybody easily.

The Sig racked up another win in the performance aspect of the tests. The Sig P238 managed a group of just under 3 inches at 15 yard while the Kel-Tec had a wider group of 4 inches at the same distance. The afore mentioned sights had a lot to do with these results. Let’s face it, when the sight picture is more defined, you will be able to get on target better.

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When the time on the range was over it was time for the usual cleaning process for the firearms used that day. Breaking down the Sig Saur P238 was the normal exercise of pulling the pin, pulling the slide forward, pulling the barrel and so on like on most automatic handguns. The Kel-Tec P3AT was a different story. Per the Illustration in the instructions from Kel-Tec you need a round to assist you in pulling the pin to even start the teardown process. Once the pin is removed, the normal forward pull on the slide and you will have gained access to the internals. Another drawback to the Kel-Tec was that the small extractor will easily fall out once the slide is removed (Kel-Tec does warn of this in the instructions). You do not need a PHD in engineering from M.I.T be any means to tear the Kel-Tec down, but it is not as easy as most handguns that I have torn into. With the assessment of the ease of tear down and cleaning process the Sig gained another mark in the win column.

With their small size and light weight either the Sig Saur P238 or the Kel-Tec P3AT would make a good concealed carry or backup gun. With all of the tests and rounds that we put through the two the Sig Saur P238 stood out with only one mark in the loss column, and that was only for a slight difference in size and weight. It is hard to argue the useful features of the Sig that aided in its triumph over the Kel-Tec. Thanks to the overall comfort and ease of use you couldn’t go wrong with the Sig P238


Happy shooting and God bless America and God bless you and yours.


About James


  1. If I were going to carry a .380, the P238 would probably be the one I would choose. I have been very impressed with the shootability of the Sig.

    • The Sig definetly stood out between the two. The nice thing about these sub-compacts is the fact that they are easy to conceal yet gives you multible rounds at your disposal. I could easily put it in my pocket without anyone being able to tell that I was carrying yet still be able to have it in hand very quickly. No way you can do that with a large frame gun.

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