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Old 10-17-2012, 06:54 AM   #1
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Sig 938, same ole, same ole

On another forum, someone was complaining about the trigger on their Sig P938. I Googled up some photos to confirm what I pretty much already knew by looking at the gun from the outslide. Much of lower is a copy of a VERY old pistol, the Ruby, and I wonder if the Sig engineers are aware the design is that old (around 1906) The designer of the Ruby pistol was (IIRC) one of the founders of Astra.

When I did an article (pending publishing on ShootersJournal.net) on the Star Model B, I noticed that the slick trigger bar arrangement looked familiar. When I did my piece on the Astra A70 (The Astra A-70: Quite Possibly the Best Defense Pistol for a Woman | Shooters' Journal) , I took it completely apart, so what I saw was fresh in my mind; the same trigger bar was on the Astra. Just for giggles, I pulled the grip panels off of my Astra 3000 in .32 ACP and yep, there it was again.

The P938 borrows much of its design from the Astra A70, both top and bottom. Mechanically the Sig P938 looks like an Astra A70 on a diet. The A70 is a continuation of a design Astra began using around 1910 when they started building “Ruby” pistols for the Spanish & French Government. Ruby pistols were very simple yet robust and reliable .32 ACP’s that were very common in Europe in the early parts of the 20th century. The trigger bar design was carried over to both the Astra 400 series, and the Star Model A&B series (1911 based). As radically different looking that the Star and Astra pistols are, from a design standpoint, their lower receiver designs are almost identical.

The trigger bar design is a simplification of Browning’s 1903 “bow-trigger” design. The designer of the “Ruby” pistol cut one side off the Browning trigger bow and made it pivot. By doing that, the one part could then be trigger extension and disconnector. An enlargement of the opening under the grip panel made it so it can be installed by just taking off the grip panel. This makes both manufacture and especially assembly much easier.

When Spain went seeking a new service pistol in 1920, both Astra and Star made competing models (Astra 400 won the initial contract) that were radically different. The Star was a simplification of the Browning 1911 (closer to the model of 1910), and the Astra was a very interesting high pressure rip off of the Browning 1910 pistol that used horrendous springs to delay the straight blowback; made for a very accurate and reliable pistol, but not the most user friendly of designs. Both designs used of the Ruby system for the trigger bar/disconnector/sear arrangement. Both companies continued to use that same system on up until they both went out of business. From the first Ruby pistols, to the last single actions they made (Astra A70, Star Firestar), you can see the same arrangement. Now we see it continued a century later on the Sig small single action pistols.

It’s a brilliant simplification, but the problem with the design is that it has less leverage on the sear, so you need more pressure to trip the sear. The trigger bar is either also the disconnector, or the disconnector slides on it, so you get a touch of drag when you pull the trigger. It’s very easy to clean up and improve the trigger on this design, but as manufactured, one can expect that triggers will be a little stiff and gritty.
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Old 10-17-2012, 03:16 PM   #2
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Huh, er -- wha?
OK, I ain't no expert .... (and that's a FACT) but I sorta thought the Sig 938 was a stepped up "copy" or version of the Sig 238 which itself was a copy of the old Colt Mustang. Now I have no idea where the Mustang came from so I admit, I may really be WAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYY off base here.
I have a Sig P 238. It is a nice .380 pistol which shoots pretty accuratly and has some pretty good sights. Which set it aside from the Ruger LCP and its clones with truly rudimentary sights. Yes I know these are "pocket guns" and having less than terrific sights is not really a bad thing considering their intended short range defensive use.
The 938 has a safety on both sides, and is slightly larger to accomodate the 9mm. cartridge and that is what differs from the 238.
I have no plans to buy a 938 as I have a Sig P 290 which I like and is pretty similar.
Having read your very interesting Article on the Astra A-70. It is a nice looking pistol and I can see the family connection. It's like looking at a brother....you sorta see the family resemblance even though they're not the same person.
So now I am wondering just where the Colt Mustang fits into all this. Supposedly the Mustang magazines even fit the Sig P238 with possibly minor modifications or even none.
Did the "family tree" lose a branch somewhere?

Last edited by TommyGunn; 10-17-2012 at 03:19 PM.
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Old 10-18-2012, 05:38 AM   #3
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Yes, the P938 is an up-sized 238, which is a product improved Colt’s Mustang. Still, the basic design is a VERY old design, which is my point. This isn’t to cast any sort of aspersion to the Sig products, they’re very nice. Just pointing out that there’s nothing new there other than the size and materials.
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Old 10-18-2012, 06:30 AM   #4
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As they say, "what is old is new again!"
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