best S&W handguns

Top 10 S&W Handguns Ever Made

Some of the best firearms available are Smith and Wesson guns, and they were the name on some of the most iconic handguns of all time. Granted, not everyone will agree on which are best, and not all are specifically designed for concealed carry, but here are 10 of the best S&W guns in existence.

S&Ws of today are wildly popular as CCW pistols, which is why there are so many holsters available for them.

S&W M&P Shield

A lot of people reckon the S&W M&P Shield is the perfect concealed carry gun. It's available in multiple calibers - .45 ACP, .40 S&W, and 9mm - and uses the striker-fired design that so many people are familiar with. You can have either an integrated trigger lever safety (just like that other brand of pistols) alone or get one with a manual safety. It has slim dimensions, as it's a single-stack magazine, without sacrificing accuracy or shootability.

It has an accessory rail for optics and can run +P, should you carry overpressure ammunition. Best of all, it's made in the U.S.A. and it won't break the bank, retailing for less than $500.

S&W M&P Shield Product Info
S&W M&P Shield Holster

S&W Model 36

s&w model 36

Smith and Wesson may be better known today for their semi-autos, but they made their name with revolvers like the S&W Model 36. The 36 is a .38 Special snubbie, with a barrel length just under two inches and a five-shot cylinder. It's been in production for more than half a century.

The Model 36 is available in its original configuration, in blue steel with wood grips. Just like the Model 29, it's part of the Classics line.

S&W Model 36 Product Info

S&W J-Frame

sw j frame

While the Model 36 was the first of the S&W J-frame revolvers, the line has evolved past the original. Granted, there's very little wrong with the original, but the breed has been improved with time. The J-frame was one of the original concealed carry pistols, along with the Colt Detective Special. Unlike the Colt, the J-frame is still around and today is available in dozens of configurations and multiple calibers.

It's really up to the buyer as to what they want. Hammered, enclosed hammer or hammerless, they're all there. Many are .38 Special (+P rated) but .357 Magnum is available as well. Some models come with laser sights, blue steel or stainless, and aluminum, titanium or steel frames, and priced to fit any budget. It's still one of the most popular snub .38 Special pistols for good reason, and there are a good number of J-frame concealed carry holsters around for those who still prefer them.

S&W J Frame Revolvers
S&W J Frame Holster

S&W Model 29

s&w model 29

The S&W Model 29 is easily one of the most iconic revolvers around - it's the original .44 Magnum. It actually didn't sell too well when first released in the 1950s, as only a few hardcore enthusiasts were interested. What kick-started enormous sales for the 29 was when John Milius, the screenwriter/director and world-class gun enthusiast, wrote it into a police movie that he did some script work for.

In fact, when "Dirty Harry" came out, the gun was practically out of production due to low demand, though that changed overnight because of the movie. Sales ticked up after every sequel.

Today, one can still get a Model 29 with a 4-inch or 6.5-inch barrel. They only come in blued steel and walnut grips, though other .44 Magnums are available from S&W. It's still a wildly popular pistol for handgun hunting or as a backup in bear country - exactly what the .44 Magnum cartridge was designed for 60 years ago.

S&W Model 29 Product Info


best sw mp handguns

The S&W M&P pistols are the double-stack, slightly larger versions of the Shield. Designed for military and police deployment (hence the name) in mind, these pistols (along with the Shield, Bodyguard and SD pistols) were created as an evolution of the Sigma pistols that S&W released in the 1990s.

Available in compact or full-size versions and with or without thumb safeties, the M&P line is a very popular service pistol, having been adopted into service by police and military worldwide. Both the full-size and compact versions have been hailed for near perfect ergonomics, accuracy and reliability.

S&W M&P Handguns Info
S&W M&P Handgun Holsters

S&W Model 39

sw model 39

The S&W Model 39 was one of the first domestically available 9mm semi-auto pistols, staying in production for almost three decades. The design would be refined over the next two generations of the design, which went to three- and then four-digit model designations (such as the Model 910 and 6904) until S&W retired their double/single action platform entirely.

Some people still carry them, despite production of the original Model 39 ceasing in the early 1980s. Besides introducing the DA/SA format to the American public, S&W's DA/SA pistols were also the genesis of the .40 S&W cartridge.

S&W Model 39 Product Info

S&W 4006

S&w 4006

The S&W 4006 was the third generation of the DA/SA platform that was initially launched in the 1950s with the Model 39. A three-digit model nomenclature followed in the 1980s and the 1990s S&W DA/SA pistols feature a 4-digit designation.

What set the 4006 apart is that it was the first pistol ever chambered in .40 S&W. The cartridge was designed by Smith and Wesson at the behest of the Federal Bureau of Investigation following the 1986 Miami Shootout. Since then, almost every major pistol manufacturer has adopted the cartridge. The pistol may not be in production anymore, but plenty of people still carry them - as it is hard to improve on the original 40.

S&W 4006 Product Info
S&W 4006 Holsters

S&W Model 500

sw model 500

For some people, a .44 Magnum is just too small, which is why the S&W Model 500 series is a thing. The X-Frame revolvers are a line of extra-large frame wheel guns that are built for handgun calibers in excess of what is thought of as excessive - like the .460 and .500 S&W Magnum cartridges.

The .500 S&W Magnum is a handgun hunting round and has excelled in that role since it's release as it will take every single game specie in North America and most in Africa while it's at it. Concealed carrying is pretty much not an option, but if you need a handgun in bear country, the Model 500 is as good as it gets. A box of ammunition will be quite the expenditure, but that's okay. You probably won't get through a whole box in one sitting.

S&W Model 500 Info

S&W Model 1006

sw model 1006

The S&W Model 1006 was one of the first pistols in 10mm Auto available from a major manufacturer, designed and delivered to the FBI after the 1986 Miami shootout. Unlike the Colt Delta Elite that came before it, the 1006 used S&W's double/single action instead of the 1911 platform and remained a popular gun among 10mm fans for years. The Bureau, though, found it was a bit too hard on some shooters for their liking - which led Smith and Wesson to develop the .40 S&W, one of the most popular defense rounds to date.

S&W J Frame Revolvers

S&W M&P Bodyguard

sw mp bodyguard

Everything that makes the rest of the M&P line popular makes the S&W M&P Bodyguard one of the best-selling micro pistols from a major manufacturer. Not everyone loves a pocket .380, but many of those who do own a Bodyguard. The Mighty Mouse of S&W's lineup has gained a reputation for shooting far better than many other small pistols and having the rest of the M&P line's fantastic ergonomics.

S&W J Frame Revolvers
S&W Bodyguard Holster

Just like every other model, it's reasonably priced, made in America, can be had with or without a manual safety and will run +P without a hiccup. If you're looking for a concealable micro pistol, you'd be hard-pressed to do better.

gun blog writer sam hoober  

About The Author

Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests include camping, hunting, concealed carry, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible..