Shooting the S&W SD9VE

I like inexpensive pistols. Not everyone can afford ‘mid-priced’ ($500-700) pistols, so I like to give those folks some options. Over a year ago, I picked up a S&W SD9VE on sale for about $300. It proved serviceable and reliable but the trigger was a little heavy. It wasn’t unmanageable but it was hard to shoot to the level I like to with it. The three dot sights had to go, so I blacked out the rear dots with a black marker and painted the front sight orange.

Shortly afterward, Apex Tactical Specialties was selling their upgrade kit at the NRA Annual Meeting for half price, so I bought it. It consists of several replacement springs and an ‘Action Enhancement Trigger.’ I didn’t care much for the hinged trigger on the gun, so I bought the kit. After installing just the spring kit, the trigger pull became noticeably easier to use. It lightened up enough that I didn’t even install the trigger.

SD9VE No flash 1

Yesterday, I decided to install the trigger also. It is a Glock® style trigger with a safety bar that also reduces the length of travel and pull weight. Contrary to what the common taters on the Apex YouTube installation videos said, it was easy to install and didn’t mess up my gun. Some people have no mechanical aptitude and simply should not work on mechanical devices more complicated than a ball point pen, much less firearms kept for personal protection.

Another interesting factoid I discovered was that the SD9VE is actually the Glock 19 sized pistol that people have been clamoring for S&W to make for as long as I can remember. When I put the two pistols side by side, it was obvious they were in the same size class.

SD9VE and G19

To test out what I could do with it, today I shot the IDPA 5×5 Classifier. The Classifier is a simple yet challenging test of equipment and shooter. It is only 25 rounds, requires only one target, and can be set up and shot in less than five minutes. It’s a little difficult for newer shooters, so I didn’t include it in Concealed Carry Skills and Drills.

I was able to shoot an overall score of 23.37 (3 points down), which put me squarely in the middle of Expert classification. Considering how little centerfire ammunition I’ve shot in the past few months, I think that gives a good indication of the pistol’s potential.

5x5 classifier

My gun has fired close to 1,000 rounds without a malfunction, so it has proven to be very reliable. Overall, this is a very underrated pistol. I’m looking forward to putting more rounds through it.

Note that I bought the pistol and the upgrade kit with my own money. I get no promotional consideration for writing about it, I just like the gun.

11 responses

  1. 1. I think that’s the “revised” version of the pistol (S&W Sigma) that led to Glock’s lawsuit against S&W for patent infringement of the Glock 19’s design.

    2. Are you concerned about carrying that pistol after lowering the trigger weight? One well known gun writer/legal expert warns continually and adamently about the liability we assume if we carry a gun that has been modified to lower the trigger weight.

    1. I am not concerned about legal liability. That concern relates to a minor component of civil suits, not criminal. But I live in a Free State not the Northeast.

  2. Thanks for the review and the info. I’ve shoes away from this weapon because it had a terrible reputation for being a low quality weapon. I’ve never shot one of them. I have handled one in a store. The most noticeable thing for me was the trigger pull weight requirement. I had written it off as not really worthy of consideration unless the price dropped to around $200 to the likes of the Taurus PT 111.

    I’ve recently acquired a Ruger Security-9 for $321 out the door. Other than not having night sights, I love this weapon. I’m seeing the SD9 running in the same price range as my new Ruger.

    For comparison’s sake, my question to you is what is your “all in” cost after the gun and the enhancement kit(s).

    1. About 350 because I bought the Apex parts for half price at the NRA Annual Meeting.

  3. “Contrary to what the common taters on the Apex YouTube installation videos said, it was easy to install and didn’t mess up my gun. Some people have no mechanical aptitude and simply should not work on mechanical devices more complicated than a ball point pen, much less firearms kept for personal protection.”

    I am in your debt for putting this all in proper perspective by assigning the appropriate terminology. Years ago, when our family would go where a man was smoking a cigar in an inappropriate venue, my late father father would remind us to “not blame the cigar, because cigars don’t care who smokes them.” So it is with YouTubers. The common run of capital “common taters” (AKA, the common potato heads) are likewise free to populate the bandwidth with nonsense and outright garbage; thus, in a democracy, the task falls to thinking, free men and women not restrict such commerce, but to identify and move past it.

  4. Thanks for your review. I now own two of these guns and the only problem I had with one was a broken ejector. S&W took care of the problem quickly and paid for all the shipping. After about 2000 rounds of any and all ammo it functions perfectly. I removed the one trigger spring and am pleased with how they shoot!

  5. Cecil Hutcheson

    I appreciate your thoughts on inexpensive pistols.  Could you describe your experiences or knowledge of Kel-tec P11 and PF-9 pistols? Thanks, Cecil Hutcheson 

    1. I absolutely hated the P11. I sold it soon after I bought it. The PF-9 is the only centerfire pistol I know of that cannot be dryfired without a dummy round in the chamber or the frame can be broken with a single trigger press. Ask me how I know this. 🙂

  6. I thought I was the only one to black out the rear site . Then touched the front one up with orange or red 🙂 This makes all the difference to me . One dot up front and two in the back is too much for my eyes .

    1. The three dots rarely line up the way the sights do. Having the dots on the rear pulls my visual focus away from the front where it belongs. Three dots are the first thing to go on any gun I buy.

  7. My observations are very similar Claude. I think the SD9 is a legit choice for people on a budget. That it seems to fit in the M&P9 holsters makes that a bonus since the M&P is so well supported with quality choices.

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