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Old July 12, 2018, 10:17 PM   #1
river251
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Softest recoil: SIG P238 .380 or Walther PPS 9MM?

Hi, my first post here. I have arthritis in my right wrist. I want to start carrying a handgun and must pocket carry. I want to get extremely good so want to practice (300 rounds 2 or 3 times a week). I have narrowed it to two guns which both fit into the front pocket of my pants.

1. Sig P238 (HD or Spartan all steel frame), small but fairly heavy at 21oz unloaded, shooting 380
2. Walther PPS Mod 2. Larger gun, about the same weight 23oz, shooting 9mm.

Simple question: Which will be most comfortable (least recoil) for extensive target practice?

Thanks
Jim
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Old July 12, 2018, 10:56 PM   #2
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The heaviest pistol shooting the least powerful cartridge.


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Old July 12, 2018, 11:10 PM   #3
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I cant speak for the PPS, but I think the P238 has a very forgiving recoil.
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Old July 12, 2018, 11:10 PM   #4
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You just described shooting 31,200 to 46,800 rds a year though a single stack micro pistol. Doable, but it's not going to be super comfortable.
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Old July 12, 2018, 11:16 PM   #5
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My Wife and I both own Sig P238's with steel slides and aluminum frames and don't find the recoil bad at all.
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Old July 12, 2018, 11:18 PM   #6
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The Sig P238 is VERY soft shooting, and quite accurate. Much softer than my M&P Shield in 9mm, which I consider to be one of the softest shooting single stack 9mm's. I prefer the comparatively high power of the 9, but that Sig is about the best option for a truly shootable micro pistol. My wife carries one, and I love shooting it.

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Old July 13, 2018, 08:20 AM   #7
libiglou
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The 238 is a great little pistol. I would also consider getting the extended mag with the finger grove. It makes shooting this pistol even better. Mine replaced a walter ppk clone that was brutal on the hand.
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Old July 13, 2018, 08:35 AM   #8
Areoflyer09
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Can’t say on the P238, but I had a 938 that was more pleasant to shoot than the PPS was.

I’d think if the PPS fits, a P938 would fit as well. The P938 is .1” wider but shorter in length and height.
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Old July 13, 2018, 08:57 AM   #9
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To JMag1's comment "The heaviest pistol shooting the least powerful cartridge. ", it's more complicated than that. Mass in the slide vs. mass in the handgrip affects the felt recoil. Further, so does timing and spring constants. No springs would produce a very harsh recoil, as will uber stiff springs.

The trick is to find the right balance between the cartridge, mass of the gun, mass of the slide, and spring constants. Clearly the 238 has done this and has a very nice, smooth recoil.
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Old July 13, 2018, 09:18 AM   #10
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My wife and I both have the little Sigs. She got hers first, and she got me one so I would leave hers alone. They are remarkably easy to shoot well for such a small pistol, and the recoil is very manageable. A lot of .380s are blowback, but the P238 is locked breach, so the mechanism dissipates a significant amount of recoil energy.

All that said, you are setting some pretty ambitious goals for round count. With arthritis problems, you might want to consider buying some snap caps and substituting dry fire for some of the live rounds. It really helps improves skills of sight alignment and trigger control that translate well to live fire.
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Old July 13, 2018, 10:36 AM   #11
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Haven't shot a P238, but the PPS is very soft-shooting for it's size. It shoots like a much larger gun than it is. I can say that the felt recoil of the PPS is less brisk than that of a Ruger LCP, which is the only other locked-breech .380ACP pistol I've shot recently.

You much have some large front pockets, because the PPS really pushes the boundary for pocket carry in my opinion (unless you just don't care about printing). There is no doubt that it is chambered in a much more effective caliber for self-defense.
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Old July 14, 2018, 09:11 PM   #12
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OP, I have a Spartan model (all steel) P238 and had oh so slightly less felt recoil over my Kimber Micro 380 with an alloy frame. So all steel is your friend at the range.

You really need to shoot the guns you are considering since felt recoil is so subjective.
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Old July 14, 2018, 10:20 PM   #13
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Quote:
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...
You really need to shoot the guns you are considering since felt recoil is so subjective.
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Old July 14, 2018, 11:14 PM   #14
Carl the Floor Walker
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You can go to Genitron to get a good idea of recoil for any class of handguns.

Here is link to Genitron. I did a link comparing the top 4 smallest guns, but cannot post here for copyright.
However you can plug in your own guns to get a general idea.

http://www.genitron.com/Compare-Handguns

Last edited by Carl the Floor Walker; July 15, 2018 at 03:56 AM.
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Old July 15, 2018, 12:01 AM   #15
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The PPS is soft-shooting for what it is and has a decent trigger right out of the box. It is relatively light and therefore a breeze to carry with some other methods. Just be sure your pockets are big enough to comfortably accommodate it for carrying all day, every day. The PPS is a little big for my pocket, and my pocket is used to carrying an LCR 327.

The LCR is another option if the heavy but smooth double-action trigger is acceptable. It does an excellent job mitigating recoil with its cushy grips but .357 magnum is still pretty brutal. I like the .327 Federal in this role because it offers more power (and capacity) than .38 special but less recoil than .357. With the weaker .32-caliber cartridges it can also fire, such as .32 H&R magnum or .32 S&W Long, it's got very tame recoil and is a fun plinker.

That said, remember that arthritis and some other hand/wrist issues can be exacerbated by repetition. I understand why soft recoil matters here. In terms of "getting good", I don't know your current level of experience. If you don't yet own a gun, I'd recommend getting a softer-shooting full-size gun for nailing the basics. (There are lots of choices.) Having any level of recoil distributed over a larger area in hand can be helpful when dealing with pain or physical limitation. You'll obviously need to stay proficient with any pocket gun you choose, but consider what TunnelRat said:

Quote:
You just described shooting 31,200 to 46,800 rds a year though a single stack micro pistol. Doable, but it's not going to be super comfortable.
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Old July 15, 2018, 08:59 AM   #16
walnut1704
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I'd guess the 238 but everybody reacts differently because there's so many variables.

If you're going to shoot it that much, you better get two or three and rotate them. These are machines that require occasional service. I don't know what the service life of a 238 is but even 20,000 rounds sounds like a lot. They are going to have to be rebuilt. With guns I shoot a lot I use one for 80% of the shooting and the spare for 20%. Then get the first rebuilt when if/when it starts to go and switch that rotation.

Really, if you are shooting that frequently you're probably just wasting ammo after 50-100 rounds per session. Quantity does not equal quality. The frequency you state is great, but remember you can end up just practicing bad habits.
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Old July 15, 2018, 09:33 AM   #17
libiglou
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There are many 238 models to chose from,even some of the discontinued ones are stillavailable new on gunbroker if you wanted to pick up more than one. I took mine to the range yesterday and was easily hitting steel plates at 25 yards. I took 100 rounds with me and wish I had more. Its that enjoyable to shoot. I shoot middle of the road reloads. Not mild yet not spicy either. If you shoot that much I hope your reloading. 380 is more expensive than 9mm. The other thing you can do to reduce costs and fatigue during a range session is to shoot mild loads for 80% of your time and self defense loads for 20% of the session. I've seen people do this. Whatever you do I don't think you will be disappointed with a P238
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Old July 15, 2018, 11:49 PM   #18
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P 238 or Kimber Micro 380, both as easy shooter as you will find... period! Another easy shooter is the S&W EZ 380, larger than the P238 but super easy racking and recoil is as easy as the Sig. This one is easy to load mags also with a button to pull down follower...nice pistol.
In 9mm again the Sig P938 or Kimber Micro 9 are about the easiest pistols to operate and give mild recoil...both are very accurate.
I have all five of the pistols described and have shot many rounds through each finding them totally reliable.
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Old July 16, 2018, 06:14 AM   #19
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The two guns are so different from each other, that the felt recoil is really (in my opinion) not much of a factor. The differences in operation (1911 style vs "Glock style"), trigger pull, size and ease of carry, and caliber are the real differences.

I haven't shot the 238, but I've shot the Kimber Micro 380 and have to think they're similar. I find all small .380 guns to be snappy, and they all shift around in my grip over strings of fire, although the 238 has a nicely contoured grip that I'm sure would help somewhat. To me, the felt recoil of the PPS is less, probably because the gun is larger and I can control it much better. Unless you absolutely want a 1911 style pocket gun, I'd suggest jumping on the PPS without question. I've owned one for about 18 months and put many reliable rounds through it. Consider:

- You can get the PPS for under $300 in a number of places, $350 for the LE that gives you an 8 round extra mag and phosphorescent sights
- 9mm ammo is a good deal cheaper than .380

Get a PPS, and use the money not spent on the Sig to buy your accessories and be nicely outfitted for carry.

I'd also highly recommend the Magguts magazine springs for the PPS, which I also have for my 6 and 8 round mags. $25 and installs in seconds, and then gives you an extra round in the magazine. I carry with the 8 (now 9) rounder +1, so 10 rounds in a very concealable package plus 7 in a reload. And all that in a gun that is surprisingly easy to shoot and doesn't discourage me from actually shooting it!
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Old July 16, 2018, 08:01 AM   #20
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I also have experienced with both the PPS and P938 - neither is a big kicker - and I'd expect the P238 to have less recoil than the Walther.

I wouldn't consider any of them to be heavy-duty pieces, so you could possibly get a new gun every year and try them all.

As for purchase cost, if you are shooting thousands of dollars in ammo every year, the difference in gun price doesn't amount to much.
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Old July 16, 2018, 10:47 AM   #21
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I also have experienced with both the PPS and P938 - neither is a big kicker - and I'd expect the P238 to have less recoil than the Walther.

I wouldn't consider any of them to be heavy-duty pieces, so you could possibly get a new gun every year and try them all.

As for purchase cost, if you are shooting thousands of dollars in ammo every year, the difference in gun price doesn't amount to much.
Good point about ammo swamping the hardware costs.

Given the massive volume of shooting planned, isn't that yet one more check in the 9mm column? The price Delta over many thousands of rounds will certainly be felt.
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Old July 16, 2018, 11:31 AM   #22
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No .380 will have recoil like any 9mm. It's about the physics. The actual pistol only matters due to its weight. It's not the pistol that has recoil.
There's really no comparison between 'em as the .380 shoots much lighter bullets than any 9mm Parabellum. Closest comparison you can get is a 90 grain .380 at 1000 FPS out of a 1.5 lb. pistol(21 or 23 ounces is about that. Tiny bit less.) giving 2.5 ft-lbs. of energy. Vs a 115 grain 9mm at 1155 FPs out of a 1.5 pound pistol's 5.2 ft-lbs. of energy.
Biggest issue is will you be able to hold any pistol well enough with your arthritis?
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Old July 16, 2018, 03:43 PM   #23
RickB
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There can be a considerable difference in felt recoil among guns chambered for the same cartridge, depending on action type.
A blow-back .380 will probably have a lot more than a locked-breech design, due to the heavy recoil spring, and perhaps a heavy slide, in the former.

A locked-breech .380, like the P238, should have less than a locked-breech 9mm.
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Old July 16, 2018, 07:36 PM   #24
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I carry a PPS M2 and I love it. I'm not sure what kind of pants you are wearing, but it is a little on the large side for pocket carry. I can fit it in there if I need to, like if I just want to carry it to from the car to the house, but I don't think I could draw and fire it quickly this way. It shoots damn near as well as a full size handgun.
The 238/938 are almost too small for me, can't easily flip the safety in a hurry. Having arthritic hands this could be additional issue on top of recoil sensitivity.
The best answer is to find a range that you can rent both at and try them.
For true pocket carry I'd look at something like the beretta tomcat in .32
I know its even weaker than a .380 but it might make up for that in usability and light recoil, plus its DA/SA so you have second strike capability(another benefit if you have impaired use of your hands/wrists) I'm sure a few .32 acp gold dots at point blank range would change a muggers life.
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Old July 16, 2018, 07:49 PM   #25
Bill DeShivs
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Of the two- I would suggest neither.
Do yourself a favor and look at a Keltec P32. It's much smaller, thinner and lighter than any other pocket auto. Recoil is very light.
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