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Smith and Wesson 9mm

The Best Smith & Wesson 9mm Pistols For Concealed Carry And Otherwise

Looking to acquire a Smith and Wesson 9mm? That's a great instinct; S&W has been making quality 9mm pistols for more than half a century.

S&W makes some of the best 9mm pistols for concealed carry, for law enforcement duty use, home defense, and for general plinking/range use as well.

What are the Smith & Wesson 9mm pistols to get? These 7 S&W pistols are the best places to start…

S&W M&P9

M&P9

The S&W M&P9 is one of the best 9mm pistols available today, all things considered. It's a polymer-framed, striker-fired full-size pistol much like the Glock 17. However, it has some features and refinements that similar guns sometimes lack.

The M&P9 has excellent ergonomics with a 1911A1-inspired grip angle for comfortable handling. Swappable palmswells allow you to tailor the grip. The base model has a passive trigger safety system. The base model has a 4.25-inch barrel, and holds 17+1 of 9mm. Three-dot sights are standard.

However, the beauty of the M&P9 is diversity of choice. You can opt for night sights. You can opt for a manual safety (1911-style; flip up to activate) or Performance Center models, extended barrel (5-in) models, threaded-barrel tactical models...more than a dozen variants exist.

The base model pistol is more comfortable than many other striker guns, and you get far more factory options as well. If you're after a modern full-size gun, this is the Smith and Wesson 9mm to get.

Model 39

Model 39

The Model 39 was the original Goldilocks gun, as one of the first widely available double/single action semi-autos made by an American company. The Model 39, the original S&W 9mm pistol, actually still offers a lot today.

The aluminum alloy frame and slide housed a 4-inch barrel, with an anodized finish that resembles blued steel. Low-profile steel sights rode up top and wood panel grips went on the side of the grips, which housed an 8-round single stack magazine.

The operating system is incredibly logical, with a Walther-inspired decocking safety. By modern standards, it's hefty at 28 ounces, which is a lot for the reduced capacity. However, it has a palmswell similar to the Browning Hi Power and an extended beavertail for a nice high grip, which made it easy to shoot.

It's a classic pistol, and it works well as a duty gun or as a CCW. However, you need to pick the right one. Of the originals, look for the 39-2 models; these were revised to feed hollow points as well as for greater reliability. Second and third generation models - with three- and four-digit model numbers like the Model 3903 and 3913 - were made into the early 2000s, which will have less wear and tear.

Smith and Wesson M&P9C

M&P9C

If you love the M&P9 but find it too big for carry, the Smith and Wesson M&P9C is the ticket. This Smith and Wesson 9mm pistol has double-stack capacity - 12+1 in the original model and 15+1 in the M2.0 versions - but is compact and light enough for easy concealed carry.

It's much like the M&P9 full size, but with a shorter barrel and slide and reduced grip. Changeable palmswells and numerous factory options are available too. The original version had a 3.5-inch barrel, but the M2.0 models have a 4-inch or 3.6-inch tube.

The M&P9C is known for being reliable, accurate and as easy to shoot as it is to carry. There aren't many pistols that promise the best of all possible worlds AND deliver, but this is definitely one of them. Modern CCW pistols don't get much better.

S&W SD9VE

SD9VE

The S&W SD9VE is the last vestige of the Sigma line of pistols, which were more or less copies of Glock pistols. So much so that Glock sued them, compelling S&W to pay Glock royalties on them. Some design changes have happened, and today the SD9VE is one of the most outstanding value choices of Smith and Wesson 9mm.

The SD9VE holds 16+1, with a 4-inch barrel but a light carry weight of only 22 ounces. The operating system is incredibly simple, with a hinged trigger and passive safety system. However, it comes with an 8-pound trigger pull, which some shooters don't like. Factory options are limited to high vis sights and a couple of different finishes...and that's about it.

Everything you need, nothing you don't, and they retail for less than $400. They are a touch large for a carry pistol, but more people carry one on the daily than you might think. Simple, accurate, reliable and very affordable...that makes them a better choice than you might think.

S&W Model 5906

Smith and Wesson 9mm

The S&W Model 5906 was the last of the Smith and Wesson double action autos, a noble breed of pistol that lasted from the 1950s into the late 1990s. The Model 59 was the full-size, double-stack gun. This was the Smith and Wesson 9mm to have for police departments and civilians alike, though it was the last iterations of them.

Granted, today's shooter might find some faults. The gun was all-steel, weighing as much as a full-size 1911 unloaded. It carried 15+1, which is not bad but less than the popular full-size 9mm pistols of today. It has a DA/SA operating system, with S&W's slide-mounted decocking safety, and a magazine disconnect safety as well, which some people just hate.

Despite these "flaws", it recoiled softly (due to the weight) and was comfortable to operate. The decocking safety gave the operating system a lot of logic for the time, and they were built like tanks. By today's standards, it doesn't make a great carry gun...but they are a joy to shoot.

S&W M&P Shield 9mm

Smith and Wesson Shield

Arguably the best concealed carry gun available, the Smith and Wesson M&P Shield 9mm is one of the most popular pistols in America at the moment. It has been since its introduction in 2012. The M2.0 version has added some refinements - though not too many - that make it even better.

If you're looking for a Smith and Wesson 9mm as a CCW pistol, this is where you start.

The Shield carries 7+1 or 8+1, depending on the magazine you select. You get S&W's hinged trigger with the passive safety system. The options from there are totally up to you. Better sights, Performance Center models, integrated lasers, with or without a manual safety...whatever you want.

The Shield is light, at around 20 ounces. It's compact, at less than 5 inches tall, 6 inches long with a 3.2-inch barrel and less than an inch wide. Since they also go for less than $400 in most stores, they are eminently affordable. Given they're reliable, accurate and much easier to shoot than their small size would suggest...it's up there for one of the best carry pistols of all time.

S&W Performance Center SW1911 Pro Series 9mm

Smith and Wesson 1911

Except maybe for a 1911, and Smith and Wesson makes a doozy for CCW: the S&W Performance Center SW1911 Pro Series 9mm. This Smith and Wesson 9mm is S&W's Officer frame in 9mm, though .45 caliber is available too.

A 3-inch bull barrel is installed in lieu of a bushing, with a full-length guide rod. Capacity is 8+1 and the grip is shortened to 5 inches with a rounded - not bobbed - mainspring housing for easier concealment. A skeletonized trigger and hammer are installed, along with a beavertail grip safety to make it more shootable. A black stainless slide sits atop a black scandium frame, bringing carry weight down to 26 ounces. It does use an external extractor, which some 1911 aficionados claim is heresy.

It's a bit heavy, but overall dimensions are 7 inches long by 5 inches tall and 1.05 inches wide, with low-profile ambidextrous safety levers. Sights are low-profile combat 3-dots. It does have a Series 80 trigger system, but it's tuned by the Performance Center to have minimal creep.

Granted, you'll pay for the upgrades - MSRP is over $1300 - but the devil is in the details with any gun, and this gun's details have been seen to by some of the best smiths in the business.

About The Author

Writer sam hoober