A significant factor in whether or not a concealed-carry pistol will actually get carried is the form factor of the weapon, including both size and weight. It takes a dedicated die-hard to acquire the right belt and holster to comfortably carry a midsized, or even a compact, weapon consistently every day.
A good number of CCW holders do not match that definition, and they tend to take a path of lesser resistance, meaning they will look for a pistol that is very small and lightweight for their needs. That’s nothing new. Even during the days of the Old West, regular citizens generally carried smaller weapons than did the dedicated gunslingers of the day.
With the introduction of a number of new products, SIG Sauer has been meeting the demand of this ever-growing market segment quite successfully. We recently received one of its newest offerings, and it’s an appealing blend of classic American style and something you might find in a James Bond novel—the SIG Sauer P938 Emperor Scorpion.
THE EMPEROR SCORPION
The latest offering in the P938 line, the Emperor Scorpion, is SIG’s “micro-compact,” 1911-style pistol that fires the popular 9mm (Luger or Parabellum) round. This little beauty comes with an FDE PVD coating and G-10 “Piranha” grips for its main styling points.
As for function, there are several attributes that make the Emperor Scorpion not only aesthetically pleasing, but also an effective weapon. First, the pistol can be carried cocked and locked, just like a 1911-style pistol. Many find this to be a quick and efficient way to deploy a pistol of this variety, although this method requires absolute discipline and proficiency.
The trigger pull on the Emperor Scorpion runs a little heavy for a single-action pistol, coming in at an average of 6.25 pounds. But when you consider there is no additional grip safety, as found on typical 1911s, there’s an argument to be made for having a heavier trigger pull on a defensive, single-action pistol.
The Emperor Scorpion is trimmed with a number of serrated and checkered surfaces that provide a sure purchase for the user. The front strap has a nicely checkered surface, as does the lower half of the back strap. The magazine release is checkered for positive engagement; and, rather than serrations, the top of the slide release is also adorned with checkering.
Even the trigger face has six full serrations on it, although I have mixed feelings about that particular trait. While the serrations do help capture the trigger finger, they wear on the finger during extended practice sessions. Also, the bottom edges of the trigger are a little sharp and poke aggressively into the skin; they occasionally pinched my finger against the bottom trigger guard.
While the Emperor Scorpion can be shipped with a standard barrel, the model we received came with a threaded barrel to act as a host for a suppressor. Unfortunately, GovCo, Inc. had not sent back the approved paperwork for the Octane 9 that was acquired six months back, so the review had to be conducted without a suppressor.
And finally, for a pistol of this size, the Emperor Scorpion came with an excellent set of SIGLITE night sights. Constructed with a 90-degree shelf, the front of the rear sight can be used to rack the slide one handedly off a boot heel, table or other such surface. Having experience with several SIG pistols of my own, I have always appreciated the ease of target acquisition the SIGLITE sights provide.
RUNNING THE GAUNTLET
As with any other pistol, no matter how attractive the P938 Emperor Scorpion looks on paper, only two things really matter—accuracy and reliability. However, due to its relatively short, 3.5-inch barrel and shorter sight radius, long-distance accuracy isn’t this pistol’s forte. It was created to be a closequarters defensive weapon, so there’s a built-in margin of forgiveness with regard to accuracy.
To wring out the little carry pistol, an assortment of ammunition was brought to the table, including three weights of SIG’s Elite Performance Ammunition’s V-Crown JHPs (115, 124 and 147 grains). Additionally, Federal Premium’s 147-grain +P and 124-grain HST loads were added to the mix. For the initial break-in period, as well as doing drills near the end of the sessions, both SIG’s and Federal’s (American Eagle) 115-grain FMJ rounds were rotated through each magazine.
Straight out of the gate, the P938 ran strong and made a great initial first impression. The thumb safety had a very positive feel when swiped off to fire and put back in the “safe” position.
The recoil of all the rounds was easily controlled—thanks, in large part, to the extended base plate on the magazine. Too often, I find these little more than decorations, but in this case, it made a huge difference in comfort and control.
Even so, after firing the first few shots, I noticed what you might call “scuff marks” on the webbing between my thumb and forefinger. This was a bit of slide bite occurring, because that webbing was riding a little higher than the beavertail. (And I don’t have particularly large hands, although they are a bit chunky.)
I ran a mix of all the hollowpoints and FMJ rounds available through the weapon with no initial reliability issues, but then it happened: I had a failure to feed. Two rounds later, and there was another one. In the next 50 rounds fired, I experienced four failures to feed. In fact, every weight and type of ammunition failed to feed except the SIG 147-grain V-Crown load.
This was not typical of the SIG pistols I’ve owned and tried through the years, and it had me rather perplexed and wondering what the cause of the problem might be. The fact that the heavier rounds weren’t jamming had my “spidey sense” tingling, so I thought about how that factor might be related and set about figuring out the issue.
After shooting another 150 rounds, both one- and twohanded, and adjusting my grip on the pistol, I finally settled on my beefy hands and fingers as the culprits. It seemed that the high placement of my thumbs with a two-handed hold was exerting too much pressure on the slide and dragging it enough to hamper a proper cycling action.
During all my one-handed shooting, there was not a single malfunction. I also handed off the P938 to two other people with “normal” hands. They fi red another 100 rounds and experienced no malfunctions with a two-handed grip on the pistol.
So, as it turned out, this was entirely an issue with my sausage-like thumbs exerting too much pressure on the slide of the little pistol. This was good to know and absolutely validated my thoughts on the reliability of SIG pistols. Now, I just need to be very exacting with my grip on the pistol (and talk to someone at Jenny Craig).
For a pistol of this type and size, long-distance accuracy isn’t a real concern, provided center-mass shots are still fairly easy to acquire at 25 yards. The P938 Emperor Scorpion’s intended role is as a backup or a primary concealed-carry piece for close-quarters work. This was my logic for most of my shooting and accuracy testing accomplished at 7 and 10 yards.
Despite the pistol’s relatively short sight radius, it certainly didn’t disappoint, and the excellent SIGLITE night sights helped make all the difference in obtaining rather nice groups while shooting from the bench and off hand.
Controlled testing was done from a standing rest at 10 yards, and the best group of the loads on hand was the 147-grain SIG Sauer V-Crown, with a spread of just .75 inch. This particular SIG load has proven extremely accurate in a number of pistols I’ve test it in, and it has quickly become one of my favorite carry rounds.
For a pistol such as the P938, the 147-grain weight of the V-Crown is ideal for penetration, considering the velocity loss from the short barrel and especially considering the accuracy of the load.
Shooting offhand at 7 yards with the 147-grain V-Crown, a full magazine of seven rounds was emptied into a B-29 target with a spread of just 1.38 inches. Off hand at 10 yards, the 124-grain Speer Gold Dot load turned in a 1.75-inch, five-shot group.
All in all, the P938 Emperor Scorpion acquitted itself with aplomb and offered good-to-excellent accuracy with a variety of bullet weights … although the 147-grain offering was definitely its favorite.
YEA OR NAY?
When the smoke finally cleared, there was no doubt that the SIG Sauer P938 Emperor Scorpion is an outstanding concealed-carry pistol. But with an MSRP of $893, it’s supposed to be. That’s a large chunk of change for a pocket pistol. SIG does include an injection-molded belt holster with a clip, but I’m still going to get nitpicky here.
A pistol of this quality and price point should ship with two magazines instead of one. Of course, that’s just me talking. But when you consider the lengths SIG Sauer went to with all of the details, including the fine fit and finish, the checkering and the excellent sights, it’s surprising to find just one magazine with the kit.
As for my verdict, the Emperor Scorpion is a superb rendering of how a pistol should be crafted and how it should perform. The enduring appeal of a 1911-style pistol is well justified. The cocked-and-locked carry mode makes it quick into action, and the single-action trigger pull aids with accurate shot placement.
SIG Sauer took the classic 1911-style platform, miniaturized it and enhanced the system with modern materials such as the G-10 slabs and FDE finish. The inclusion of the tritium sights is an improvement over sighting options available on most other pocket pistols and further augments the operator’s ability to get shots on target rapidly.
Rather than simply being a pistol, it is a system designed to meet concealed-carry requirements while still offering potent defensive capabilities. There is little left to want with the P938 Emperor Scorpion.
If you’re in the market for a high-speed, low-drag, concealedcarry pistol, the P938 Emperor Scorpion should definitely be at the top of your list.
- MAKE/MODEL: SIG Sauer P938 Emperor Scorpion
- ACTION: Single action only
- CAPACITY: 7+1 (one magazine)
- BARREL LENGTH: 3.5 inches
- BARREL TYPE: Threaded, .5×28 TPI
- SIGHT TYPE: SIGLITE Night Sights
- OVERALL LENGTH: 6.4 inches
- WIDTH: 1.1inches
- OVERALL HEIGHT: 3.9 inches
- FRAME: Aluminum alloy
- WEIGHT: 16 ounces
- GRIPS: G-10 FINISH: Flat Dark Earth
Bullet weight was measured in grains; average velocity (five rounds) was measured in feet per second (fps) from the muzzle at 15 feet by a Competition Electronics ProChrono Digital Chronograph.
|SIG Sauer 115-grain V-Crown||1112|
|SIG Sauer 147-grain V-Crown||967|
|Speer 124-grain Gold Dot||1030|
|Federal Premium 124-grain HST||1081|
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the March 2017 print issue of Gun World Magazine.