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Smith & Wesson SD9VE – review

February 10, 2014

sw01My wife decided recently that she wanted a handgun to carry for self defense, so we started doing a little research and window shopping to try a pick out a good one.  We pretty much decided to go with an auto-loader for magazine capacity, and we talked some about caliber.  We considered both .380 and 9mm.  Many .380’s are more compact and it’s a slightly tamer round than the 9mm, but my wife wasn’t concerned too much about recoil.  She regularly shoots my .357 revolver so she knew that the 9mm wouldn’t be a problem.  Our main concern was the thickness of the grip.  She shot my Taurus PT-92 and found that it didn’t feel comfortable in her hand.  The grip was just too bulky, and her thumb couldn’t reach the left side magazine release button.  She fired my brother-in-law’s Ruger LCP .380, but she felt that it was too small and she was concerned about the stopping power of the lighter round.  So we pretty much decided on a 9mm; it was just a matter of finding one with a double stack magazine that would fit her hand.  A 9mm would have the added bonus of being kind of a family standard round.  I have a 9mm, my son has a 9mm, my brother-in-law has a 9mm, and my son-in-law has a 9mm; so when we get a good deal on ammo we can buy in bulk (no good deals lately).

 So we knew that we were looking for a 9mm auto loader with a high capacity magazine.  The next step was to go to the gun shop and try a few on for size.  We tried a Beretta, a Glock, a Sig, a Springfield, a Kel-Tec, and a Smith and Wesson.  The Smith and Wesson SD9VE was the best fit. We held the SD9VE up next to a couple of the other nines and determined that the difference in size was due to the thinner slabs on the grip.  The body of the grip was the same width as the other pistols, so it had no problem holding a double stack magazine.  sw02

The only thing that worried me a little was that, with the exception of the Kel-Tec, it was considerably less expensive than the others.  I didn’t want my wife trusting her life to a junker (although I have never heard of a Smith and Wesson junker), so it was time to do a little inter-net research.

 The reviews that I read and watched were nearly all positive.  There were some concerns expressed about durability of the slide guide-rod since it is polymer rather than steel; and several noted that the SD9 has no safety.  But all reviewers seemed to agree that it was a sweet shooter and fed all brands of ammo with great reliability.  I was interested to read that Glock had actually sued Smith and Wesson over the design of this pistol, and I can see why they did.  I held it up next to my son’-in-law’s Glock and it looked almost like a twin.  Glock lost the law suit, by the way.

 So here’s the basic info on the Smith and Wesson SD9VE: sw01

The Smith and Wesson SD9VE is a medium size auto loading pistol with a polymer frame and a stainless steel slide and barrel.  The barrel is four inches long.  The SD9VE is chambered for 9mm parabellum.  It has a double stack magazine with 16 rounds capacity. sw03

View holes on the sides of the magazine allow you to see how many rounds are in the mag.  The SD9VE is striker fired so there is no exposed hammer.  sw04

Every shot is double action, and the trigger has about a seven pound pull.  There is no safety on this firearm.  It will still fire without the magazine inserted.  The SD9VE is 1.5 inches wide, 7.2 inches long, and weighs 22.7 ounces without the magazine.  The sights are fixed with a white dot on the front post and to each side of the rear notch.  sw05

There is a small rail under the barrel that can be used for mounting a laser or light.  sw06

The body of the SD9VE is black and the slide is dull silver-gray.  The slide is deeply textured for easy grip when chambering a round.  sw07

The slide release and magazine release are both located within easy reach on the left side of the frame.  sw08


One feature that I particularly like is a small half-moon view port on the back of the chamber that enables you to see, without pulling the slide back, if there is a round in the chamber. sw10

To disassemble the SD9VE for cleaning; make sure the chamber is empty, pull the trigger to drop the striker, and remove the magazine. sw10a

Pull the slide back slightly, pull down the small pins located on both sides of the slide. sw11

Push the slide forward to remove it from the frame. sw12

Remove the the slide spring and guide rod. sw13

And, finally, remove the barrel. sw14

My personal impression of the SD9VE is that it appears to be a good solid, reliable firearm.  The price is very reasonable.  Both my wife and I fired several magazines through it.  The trigger pull did not feel too stiff to either one of us, and every round fed without problem.  Magazine transitions were smooth and easy, and accuracy was good.  Of course, this firearm is not nearly as rugged as my all metal PT-92, but we are not anticipating prolonged field carry or huge volumes of fire.  This firearm is plenty rugged enough and plenty reliable enough for civilian defense purposes.  It is a great gun for the money, indeed it is the easy equivalent of guns that cost much more.  I would recommend it to anyone.

From → Weapons, Modern

  1. Brian Slack permalink

    A very good review on a great pistol. I also own the S&W SD9ve and am very pleased with the purchase. I agree with Your conclusions, I bought mine for many of the same reasons. 🙂 There is a bit of back story on this “Evolution” pistol. S&W’s first foray into a striker fired polymer gun was the Sigma. That design was the one that Glock successfully took S&W to court about. Glock and S&W settled by having S&W pay trademark royalties for the design “share”. Fast forward to the SW9 and 40S&W line of pistols sold by S&W. They had made improvements to the Sigma design and most notably the trigger assembly. That was the number one complaint about the Sigma line. The Sigma had a long sluggish and very heavy trigger, (over 10lbs) but it actually sold fairly well, as did the follow up design designated SW9, SW40 lines. During that time S&W was developing the “new line” and that would become the M&P pistols. That line has been an extremely successful platform for S&W brand.
    The genesis for this, most recent pistol and the subject of Your excellent review, was to take the improvements and lessons learned from those pistols and refine it down to an affordable, but still quality built Self Defense firearm. Clear as mud yet? 🙂 The published 8.5 trigger is still long, but a definite improvement. So, to review, S&W has built a streamlined 9 and 40 caliber pistols, that have better than average build quality for the money. A good looking pistol with a more economical slide finish, a non adjustable plastic rear sight, no external controls, except for a slide release, a mag release and take down levers, at a very attractive price. Well done S&W! I’ve added a simple Hogue Handall slip-on grip to mine. That adds a very secure gripping surface, while maintaining the thin grip profile, for $10. After shooting several hundred Fault Free rounds through it, I did add the Apex spring kit (so easy even I could do it) for $25 delivered. The spring kit smoothed out the long stroke and brought the trigger pull weight down to a completely acceptable 5 to 6lbs. Those simple and inexpensive additions have made a Good pistol, a Great Pistol and one of the Best Buys currently on sale. BTW I also Love the fact that it is a very Accurate Shooter as well. Thanks for Your review and the step by step photos were great too.

  2. It’s a good gun for the money for sure. S&W has a great warrantee on it, if it does give you problems however, numerous folks have put thousands of rounds through their gun with no problems. It tends to get a bad rap because it is a descendent of the Sigma but that gun is nearly 20 years old now and the reliability is much better now.

    Oh, and about the Glock lawsuit, that too is about 20 years old. The original Sigma design is what prompted glock to sue.

    Despite all that, the SD9VE is probably one of the best guns you can buy for $300 new.

  3. CharlesSolomon permalink

    I have the Smith&Wesson SD9VE, Please see SD9VE in “the truth about guns”. It is a HomeRun and EveryBit fun as well as protection. S&W Corrected ALL the Mistakes they made with the Sigma and the sigma magazine fits nicely into the SD9VE; an added Bonus.
    This 9MM Pistol is Excellent and Am Waiting for it to come in All Black Matte as I have The Two Tone. I like this S&W 9MM Pistol and will buy it in All black. the SD9VE is an EXCELLENT Value for the Money, very difficult to go wrong.

  4. Andy permalink

    I have a SD9VE , bought it three weeks ago , have put about 300 rounds through it with no problems . This handgun is considered part of the M&P family , when I ordered the firearm through Buds Gun Shop , I also ordered three spares with it , the packaging has M&P markings on them . As for the lawsuit brought by Glock , they did win and have to pay Glock $9.00 per firearm made . Love this firearm , the reason I bought this over a Glock was because I did not like how a Glock fit my hand the ergonomics suck on a Glock . Hope to get many years of service from mine . Be prepared and ready . Keep your powder dry .

  5. hitman88 permalink

    I have the sd40ve one tough gun will not trade it for anything an excellent firearm go bang everytime don’t skip a beat love it next the sd9ve.

  6. Adam Alford permalink

    Hey man glock sued over the gun that came out before this one called the sigma series. Academy labels this gun as a sigma but it isn’t. This model has a few things changed. When glock sued over the sigma they won and smith and Wesson paid them $8 for every sigma sold.

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