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In the early 1950’s, Smith & Wesson was resolute to obtain a weapons contract with the U.S Army for semi-auto pistols, which consequentially led to a new division of their business. The result was the Model 39, and S&W has been revolutionizing the handgun market ever since. One of their more impressive innovations was the SD/Sigma Series, which were constructed with synthetic components, but were phased out and eventually replaced by the SDVE Series in 2012.
Smith and Wesson was confronted by legal issues when the SD Series debuted because of its design’s similarity to the Glock 17, which is a remarkable gun in its own right. The new and improved SDVE Series is as slick and sexy as it is durable and ergonomic. Overall, it’s a great gun to own for shooters of all experience levels who want reliable protection and easy handling. To see how it compares to other Smith & Wesson semi-autos, check out our reviews of the M&P and 500 Magnum. Oh, and welcome to our Smith & Wesson SD9VE 9mm Pistol Review!
- Model: BP12
- Model: S&W SD9 VE Std Capacity.
- Caliber: 9mm.
- Capacity: 16+1.
- Safety: No Thumb Safety.
- Action: Striker Fire.
- Barrel Length: 4″ / 10.2 cm.
- Overall Length: 7.2″
- Front Sight: White Dot.
- Rear Sight: Fixed 2-Dot.
- Grip: Textured Polymer.
- Weight: 4 oz. / 635.0g.
- Barrel/Slide Material: Stainless Steel.
- Frame Material: Polymer.
- Slide Finish: Satin Stainless.
- Frame Finish: Black.
- MSRP: $389.00.
- Purpose: Personal Protection.
Smith & Wesson SD9VE Pistol Build
The SDVE Series took the best qualities of its polymer-framed predecessor, filtered out the crap, and evolved into what is now a high-ranking budget firearm. Because of its polymer frame and plastic grip, it weighs in at lightweight 22.7 oz., but don’t let that cause you to doubt its durability. The stainless-steel slide and barrel, and the Smith & Wesson lifetime service policy attest to its resilience. The texturized grip feels great, but to guarantee that it would handle comfortably they added a finger locator and improved the aggressive front/back strap texturing. The SDVE series has standard and low capacity options as well as a .40 caliber variant. Many users prefer Smith & Wessons chambered in .40 to be better; check out our ammo guide to find out why.
One of the things that really grinds my gears is when gun retailers simply parrot the supplier’s flattering rhetoric. I came across several sites and supplies praising this gun’s new Self Defense Trigger (SDT). This is nothing but ostentatious babble. They say that this innovative trigger provides a smooth, consist pull from the first round to the last. In reality, this trigger is a travesty. It has a heavy pull, and after firing a few dozen rounds your forearms will be aching. The SDVE’s are built well, but the “new and improved” SDT is its Achilles’ heel.
The good news is that it’s not un-salvageable; for $20, you can buy yourself an Apex Tactical Spring Kit. For a reasonable price, you will transform your gun into the effective and reliable machine it was meant to be. When it comes down to it, Smith & Wesson did a great job building and designing the SD9VE’s. Even with my disdain for the trigger, the quality of materials, ergonomic handling, and reliable performance outweigh all the imperfections.
Smith & Wesson SD9VE Pistol Shooting & Performance
The way the SD9VE’s shoot depends on the trigger; if you replace the trigger you can rely on its accuracy, but if not, why haven’t you replaced the trigger yet? There’s no way around it. Right out of the box, its accuracy is subpar, especially once the firing rate is increased. For a gun that is marketed as a self-defense weapon, I can’t imagine how or why Smith & Wesson allowed a pistol with this kind of accuracy to be sold with their namesake and reputation on the line. One of the only performance improvements they made to these striker fired pistols was reducing its recoil.
The thing I like about this gun is its simple sight and safety combo, which make firing as simple as point and shoot. Another highlight of the SDVE series is its typical S&W unwavering reliability. Owners of the SDVE should have no worries of their gun malfunctioning or deteriorating over time. Bottom line is: fix the trigger and you’ve got yourself a great home defense weapon.
Smith & Wesson SD9VE Pistol Magazines, Sights & Safety
The SDVE magazine system is tremendous. For a weapon of this value, I was shocked how well the mags operated. The standard-capacity version has a 16+1-round capacity for SD9VE and 14+1 for SD40VE, but for those looking for something less, the low-capacity version holds 10+1 for both calibers. Smith and Wesson graciously ship the SDVE’s with TWO chrome-finished mags that glide smoothly (not to mention the easy mag release).
I love the simple and elegant sights that S&W put on the SDVE’s. They are dovetailed, white dot sights that make target acquisition a breeze. I think these sights are great for all shooters, especially for those that aren’t as experienced or accurate. Having a good sight system is particularly important on this gun when you have to factor in the horrific failure of a trigger. Smith & Wesson also designed this gun with a standard Picatinny-style rail, which means additional sight options for those of you who want a little something extra.
The safety features of the SDVE’s are very interesting. This gun wasn’t engineered with a manual or grip safety but is nonetheless reliably safe. As much as I have bashed the frickin’ SDT trigger, its one saving grace is the safety features it adds. The SDT trigger system prevents the firearm from discharging unless the trigger is fully depressed, even if the pistol is dropped. Otherwise, it’s just point and shoot, making it the ideal gun to have in a self/home defense emergency.
Smith & Wesson SD9VE Pistol Assembly
In my experience, Smith and Wesson’s handguns are generally straightforward to disassemble and put back together; the SDVE is no exception. Taking apart the SDVE is relatively simple. First, pull the slide back a tad, next, you may have to wiggle the takedown tabs to remove them, and then slip the slide forward. Finally, remove the recoil rod and barrel, and clean as needed. In general, I’m very anal about keeping my guns clean; but surprisingly, the SDVE seems to avoid building up gunk, so I can’t imagine needing to disassemble/clean your firearm that often.
Smith & Wesson SD9VE Pistol Price and Where to Buy
Because of its popularity and price, the SD9VE Series is highly accessible. If you don’t want to buy directly from the Smith and Wesson catalog, there are other options out there. There’s a lot of online stores that offer these, but if you insist on shopping on the internet, I recommend stores like Cabela’s and Gander Mountain. I prefer buying guns at a store or gun expo simply because it’s always good to get a feel for the gun and hear from people who are involved in the business all the time. They might know more information or hear more complaints about a certain product that could save you from making a purchase that you’ll regret.
Buying directly from the manufacturer will cost you a reasonable $350-$400 or so (depending on caliber and capacity). It was designed to be a budget gun but don’t let that deter you. Even with its modest price tag, you’ll still walk out with a reliable Smith and Wesson handgun. I think the SD9VE is a great gun to have and is definitely still worth buying even knowing that you should replace the trigger.
Smith & Wesson SD9VE Pistol Accessories
Smith and Wesson engineered the SD9VE to be self-sufficient in the sense that accessorizing it would be superfluous. It’s meant to be small and concealable, so adding attachments only takes away from its ideal usage. The main accessory that I recommend buying is a quality holster. There are plenty of companies out there that manufacture worthwhile holsters, but I’d take a look at Fobus and DeSantis first. They are reliable companies with great reputations.
Buying an extra magazine from S&W could empty your pockets, but that’s mitigated by the fact that each SDVE comes with two mags out of the box. If you’re partial to accessories, don’t forget that these pistols are built with Picatinny rails, so adding lasers, lights, sights/scopes is still an option. The only accessory that is a must is a tactical spring kit to fix that damn trigger, go out and buy one; even before you shoot your SDVE.
2018 has been a relatively quiet year for S&W, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t make a few nice additions to their catalog. Regarding the SDVE series, Smith & Wesson now offers several models outfitted with HI-VIZ fiber optic sights. When it comes to fiber optic sights, few companies have proven their excellence quite like HI-Viz. Their new and improved LITEWAVE technology promises increased durability and enhanced visibility – in other words, these aren’t just any ordinary fiber optics!
Overall, Smith and Wesson did a great job with the SDVE Series. With over 150 years of experience, Smith and Wesson has made yet another reliable semi-automatic handgun that can offer a sense of security to its owner. Although it was designed to be an evolution of prior guns that failed, it’s still not perfect. But for a budget handgun, you’re getting a great gun for the price. It has superb handling, decent accuracy, great aesthetics and components, and is American-made. The SDVE is surprisingly fun to shoot and a pleasure to own. If you’re looking to beef up your home security or looking for another concealable carry weapon, you should definitely consider the SDVE Series.