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Sig Sauer P232 Stainless Gun Review

By Dan S. Defense

The SIG SAUER P232 Stainless is an interesting 380 ACP handgun. Made from polished stainless steel, it's heavier than most pocket 380 ACP handguns. It is the smallest 380 ACP handgun in the SIG SAUER line and yet it's larger than most other 380 ACP pocket guns. It uses a a fixed barrel blowback action, as the famous Walther PPK , but also has night sights, something most other pocket guns don't have.

In fact, most pocket guns have laughable sights, while the ones on the SIG SAUER P232 Stainless are excellent, as you'll see when you reach the range report section.

This version of the P232 stainless comes with Hogue finger groove rubber grips. They offer an outstanding grip and absorb the little recoil that the 380 ACP ammo generates. It even allows you go get a full grip, something that's rarely seen in 380 ACP pocket guns. The combination of the fine Hogue grip, 380 ACP ammo and stainless steel, make the SIG SAUER P232 a pleasure to shoot.

Something you can't say about the vast majority of 380 ACP pocket guns. So far you can see that this odd duck has lots going for it, but that it is also bigger and heavier than most 380 pocket guns--a con is the small carry department. It's also more expensive. So lots of us to look at and consider in this article, as we look as all relevant aspects of self defense, in the SIG SAUER P232 Stainless model. And now that we set the stage for the review, we can close the introduction section and move into specifics.

Model Options:

The SIG SAUER P232 is currently available in three options: A black version, a stainless version and a stainless version with the Hogue finger groove rubber grips. The models are mechanically similar but do vary in some respects, something you need to keep in mind when looking at a different model. This review will focus on the P232 stainless with the proprietary SIGLITE night sights (three dot green tritium) and the Hogue finger groove rubber grips. For price please check with your local dealer or on-line retailer.

Data & Specifications:

We'll start with some data to describe the P232 Stainless, to get to know it better and to see how it measures up. You can use that information to compare it to other 380 ACP pocket guns. The P232 has a SA/DA action which means that it will work in single action or double action.

It also has a de-cocker that allows you to safely lower the hammer on a loaded chamber. The combination of the action type and de-cocker means that you can load a bullet into the chamber, lower the hammer safely with the de-cocker and then top off the magazine with a fresh round, for a fully loaded pocket 380 with a round in the chamber. In the case of the SIG SAUER P232 stainless, it means that you have 7+1 380 ACP bullets, all ready for action.

Pocket 380 ACP guns typically have nasty little triggers with very high pull weight. They are not fun to shoot. The P232 stainless has the same trigger pull as the bigger P239, which means 4.4lb in single action and 10lb in double action. Since the grip allows for a proper hold, the 10lb pull feels much lighter and it's easy to shoot well with this pocket 380. It feels easier to shoot because it is also heavier than a typical pocket gun.

The weight comes to 23.6 oz. and the length is 6.6 inches, where the barrel is 3.6 inches. An additional factor that makes this pocket gun more accurate than most of its peers. I have already mentioned the magazine holds 7 rounds of 380 ACP bullets and it's a slim single stack magazine. The fixed barrel helps with accuracy and is the reason for the unusual (for most modern semi automatics). You get used to it after one or two dis-assemblies.

Part placement & Usability:

Now let's look at the usability of the P232 stainless. The trigger offers good finger support and the SA/DA action is easy to use. The de-cocker is a bit small for my taste. It's functional but its edges could use a bit more polishing and the spring could be a bit lighter. It functions reliably 100% of the time, but it could be more polished. I have had a few instances where I had to change my grip in order to lower the hammer during a shooting session. Not a bigger but worth mentioning. The cocking serrations on the slide offer a positive grip and work well during shooting and disassembly (remember that this is a fix barrel handgun).

The flaw to this handgun and to me is a significant flaw, is the placement of the magazine release button or catch. The designer opted to place it neat the bottom of the magazine well. To me it is an odd place to put a part that gets used very often. You expect to find it next the the grip or trigger guard but the little fellow is "hiding" elsewhere. It is the main reason that this handgun only gets used (by me) as a back up gun. more on that at the end of the article.

Range Report & Accuracy:

I took the SIG SAUER P232 stainless to the range on a cold and rainy day. As you may know, ammunition isn't easy to get now days, and with the extreme popularity of pocket guns, 380 ACP ammo is even harder to find. But i was fortunate to find 150 rounds of 380 ACP FMJ bullets at a local gun show (if you live next to Seattle, look for the WAC gun show schedule) at a reasonable price.

Not wanting to shoot my entire stock of 380 ACP range ammo, I took 100 rounds for FMJ and then 30 rounds of self defense HP ammo from the Winchester Ranger line. I loaded the magazine and was surprised when the last round loaded nicely and without too much resistance. I was even more surprised to see it remain nice and steady after being loaded for a long time. With my loaded magazine, I cocked the hammer back, closed my grip, alighted the sights and slowly pulled the trigger.

The smooth trigger broke nicely, I felt a little bit of recoil (I typically shoot 45 ACP) and I was rewarded with a nice center hit. I ran about 50 FMJ bullets with no problem and enjoyed the smooth action and good accuracy. I loaded the Winchester Ranger HP self defense ammo and sent it down range. There was an increase in recoil and reduction in smoke and flash. These bullets are of much better quality and are built to reduce the flash that hurts night vision. You can read more about 380 ACP self defense ammo in this article. These too hit home and I really appreciated the Hogue grips that buffered the recoil and afforded my a good, full grip.

The SIGLITE night sights worked well, and I used the white outline since the range has sufficient light to drown the dim Tritium glow. The SIG SAUER functioned flawlessly and all ammo was fed, fired and ejected as expected. It got a perfect score for the most important aspect of a self defense handgun--it was 100% reliable.

You know have all the facts of my review. The objective functional data and the subjective usability report and range session. It's time to sum it all up with a recommendation. Out of the pocket 380 ACP handgun that I own, this is the most accurate, reliable and fun to shoot handgun. Bit I have one complaint on the placement of the magazine release catch. While it is possible to get used to it with sufficient practice, I don't take the time to train with this gun often enough to be proficient with quick and efficient magazine replacement.

Because of that fact, if i can only take one pocket gun with me, it's a 38 special revolver. This handgun is a great backup gun and as such i carry it often and feel sufficiently comforted by its presence, but as a primary pocket gun I take one that I can quickly reload, even under stress. You can read a review about other 380 ACP pocket guns in this article, which compliments this one very nicely.

So there you have the pros and cons of the SIG SAUER P232 Stainless. I hope you found this review interesting. You can also read my review on the larger SIG SAUER P239 in 9mm as well as the review of the 45 ACP SIG SAUER Equinox.

Until next time, stay safe by staying alert!

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