Sig Sauer P232SL Review

Sig Sauer P232SL: In the competitive small semi-auto self-defense and concealed carry market there are many players. Some come and go, but one star has been around for 35 yrs. Let’s take a look at an old friend that has all the right moves and will always catch your eye.

History: Originally starting out as the P230 it was introduced back in 1976. Then in 1997 the P232 replaced the previous model. The differences were minimal and functionally the gun is largely unchanged in about 35 years. The one significant change was a re-profiling of the feed ramp to improve feeding of Jacketed Hollow Point ammunition. Other changes are the slide serrations for racking are now straight up and down and lack the sharp edges of the predecessor. The sights are also different, no longer stainless and the front is now pinned instead of fixed which will make changing sights actually possible.

Specifications from Sig Sauer (Sig Sauer P232SL (reviewed), other variants Blued and Two-Tone)

Catalog Number: 232-380-SSS
Caliber: .380 ACP
Action: Double Action/Single Action
Trigger Pull DA: 10.0 lbs (10 lb 7 oz as tested)
Trigger Pull SA: 4.4 lbs, but seems lighter and was at 3lb 7 oz (4.5 Blued)
Overall Length: 6.6”
Overall Height: 4.7”
Overall Width: 1.3” Hogue – (1.2” Black Polymer Factory for non-SL’s)
Barrel: 3.6” Fixed barrel blowback operated, captive recoil spring
Sight Radius: 4.8” w/SS slide – (4.7” w/Blued Slide)
Weight w/Mag: 23.6 oz SL – (Blued 17.6 oz and Two-Tone 18.5 oz)
Capacity: 7+1 comes with 2 stainless magazines
Mag Capacity: 7 Rounds single stack
Sights: 3-Dot SIGLITE® Night Sights – rear drift adjustable (standard contrast sights available on other models)
Grips: Rubber Hogue – (Black Polymer for other variants)
Slide: Stainless on SL and Two-Tone, other is Blued
Frame: Stainless SL, (Two-Tone utilizes a lighter black hard coat anodized alloy frame, Blued is anodized aluminum)
Safety: No safety latch, decocking lever, hammer lock & firing pin lock, safety intercept notch, trigger bar disconnect and cable lock
MSRP: $900 – (Blued $720 and Two-Tone $826)
CA Compliant: Yes, SL only
MA Compliant: None
Manufacturer’s Website: Sig Sauer

Photos: Please note euro style magazine release. Additional target photos are 7 rounds slow fired from 7 yards (not my best at all). Small target is from first box I fired through the gun, last two rounds kneeling at 30′.

The Good:
• Sig quality from the good old days – true craftsmanship – proven design
• Exceptional accuracy – the best natural pointing weapon I have ever used
• Sexy good looks – a work of stylish art – everybody looks good with one
• CCW sleek & friendly from every angle – look at the pictures
• Machine grooved and matte finish top of the slide to reduce glare
• Night Sights
• Locks open on the last round
• Easy takedown/field stripping
• Magazine extension really helps to get a full grip, especially when combined with the Hogue grips
• Easy to rack
• Very easy Single-Action follow-up shoots
• You can feed it most anything – previous P230 model had some issues feeding hollow points
• +P handled easily – though I would not feed it a steady diet – I carry mine with Buffalo Bore’s hottest .380 rounds with only a slight increase in felt recoil
• Extremely difficult to limp wrist. I kept trying and finally got it to do so, but I had the loosest grip ever, basically thumb on stock and index finger on trigger
• Crimson Trace grips are available – MSRP of $329
• No Safety – use of decocker allows carry with round in chamber and the Double-Actions heavier trigger pull

The Bad:
• Slightly more recoil due to blowback design – even more so for non-stainless
• Not super light, especially in the Stainless
• Larger frame not typically pocket friendly – but that helps make it reliable
• Not cheap
• Euro magazine release – also a positive if you’re a lefty
• No slide stop – must sling shot (rack it) to feed 1st round off a magazine
• Potential slide bite for some. The Hogue grips do seem to remedy for most folks
• No accessory rail
• No Safety – could be a +/- depending upon what you’re comfortable with

• Sig paddle holster with integrated mag pouch, $45. Comfortable, adjustable and easy to use. The mag pouch is a nice touch but will not be a quick retrieval in an emergency as it is on the same side as the drawing hand.


Blowback design

basically means that the slide and barrel will remain in position until after the round has left the barrel at that point the pressure causes the slide to retract as the fixed barrel stays put, hence the slightly higher perceived recoil with a blowback design. However, the upside is increased accuracy as the barrel is part of the frame – never moving. The slide has an integrated external extractor which also serves as the loaded chamber indicator. The P232 will lock open at the last round, but lacks a slide stop and therefore the slide must be pulled rearward and slingshot forward to pick up a round off a new magazine.

Euro-style heel magazine release

. This has never bothered me and is simply a training point, but to some it may be a negative as the manual of arms may be different from your other handguns. But it would be very rare for you to accidently drop a magazine, unlike somebody I know, who in the midst of a home invasion went to fire the second round “click”.
The decocker allows safely carrying a round in the chamber and trigger in DA, so you will have the safety of a heavy pull on the first round and the capacity of 7+1, with the follow-up shots on the very pleasurably light SA pull.


is German engineering simplicity on display. Please note in the attached photos the takedown lever on the left side of the frame. Merely turn the lever down, pull all the way back on the slide, lift the rear of the slide, it comes up and forward and the gun is basically field stripped other than removing the recoil spring off the barrel.

Summary: This is the gun I bring out if folks are having trouble with their semi-automatics, especially the small pocket .380’s. I hand them this one, it will work every time it is comfortable and has the smoothness and accuracy that makes the aggravated shooter turn back to me and smile. Always works and looks good doing it. So, if you’re looking for the perfect concealed carry semi-auto that is also widely used by law enforcement as a backup gun, then here it is and it’s not a fairy tale – check out the “just right” Goldilocks – Sig Sauer P232SL.

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