Smith and Wesson 9mm

Smith & Wesson 9mm. The Best S&W 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&P Shield M2.0: The Most Popular Smith & Wesson 9mm For CCW

S&W M&P Shield 9mm M2.0

The S&W M&P Shield 9mm M2.0 takes everything that's great about the Shield and adds a few improvements. While the M&P series as a whole is excellent, there are some known bits that could always be improved. A mushy or gritty trigger, for instance, is a common complaint.

Granted, a person complaining about how a sub-$500 pistol doesn't have a custom shop quality trigger is asinine, but unfortunately you can't compel people to be reasonable.

The M2.0 series is a facelift of the M&P series, having been applied to the full size and compact as well as the Shield. The revisions aren't enormous; it's still more or less the same gun, but a few bits have been changed to make the overall gun better.

The grip texture has been changed, adding a little more texture and changing the nature of said texture to be a little rougher, a little more grippy. The other major superficial revision is to the slide serrations, as the rear slide serrations have been changed to a fish scale-like pattern. A bit of same have been added to the front of the slide, though not full front slide serrations.

The other major revision is to the trigger. The actual trigger is the same; it's the same hinged trigger and passive safety system. However, the trigger stop was moved higher for less overtravel and a shorter reset, and a slightly better spring kit added.

The go-switch has long been a complaint about the M&P series. The new unit is decent - it's not in the same class as the VP9 or VP40 among striker guns - but is certainly an improvement. Granted, this is a sub-$400 gun in most stores, so expecting a custom-shop trigger would be silly to begin with.

It's the M&P Shield. You know that you're getting one of the best carry pistols possible with the M&P Shield 9mm M2.0. You'll run into both versions both new and used, but 2.0 is going to eventually be the only new one available as production of the original Shield winds down.

S&W M&P9: An All-Purpose Smith & Wesson 9mm

Smith and Wesson 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.


The Original Smith & Wesson 9mm: Model 39

S&W Model 39

There are some vintage 9mm pistols that actually make a good carry gun, one example of which is the Model 39...which is actually the first S&W 9mm. The Model 39 was more or less the first widely available double/single action semi-autos made in America, first hitting the market in the 1950s and staying in production until the 1980s, when it was superceded by the three- and later four-digit pistol which were produced into the early 2000s. 

It has an alloy frame, making it lighter than all-steel guns and a 4-inch barrel, and making it similar in size and weight to a Glock 19. The finish is an anodizing that makes it look blued, and has wood panel grips and low-profile steel sights.  

The control system is the Walther/Beretta control scheme with a slide-mounted decocking safety, so it's not hard to learn. By modern standards, the 39 is a little heavy (28 oz) and has poor capacity (8+1 of 9mm) but they're soft-shooting, ergonomically excellent and darn easy on the eyes. That said, the 39-1 models were known for feeding issues with hollow points; look for a 39-2 or better yet, a second- or third-generation model, which were dubbed the 439 and 3904, respectively. 

S&W M&P9 Compact M2.0: A Smith and Wesson 9mm That Makes The Glock 19 Nervous

That Smith and Wesson is competing with Glock is no secret, but the S&W M&P9 Compact M2.0 is designed to offer basically an exact alternative to the Glock 19, but with Smith and Wesson's design touches. The M&P9 M2.0 Compact is dimensionally identical to the Glock 19, as is capacity...but what could sell you on the S&W 9mm rather than the Glock?

For a start, the M2.0 trigger (while not perfect) is definitely a bit better than the factory Glock trigger. The 18-degree grip angle is more ergonomic, and the M&P comes with swappable backstraps. Granted, Gen 4 and later Glocks do too, but Gen 3 guns don't. You can also choose the Compact with a 3.6-inch barrel instead of a 4-inch barrel.

Another selling point is that you aren't limited to the base model. You can opt for ambidextrous manual safeties or not. There are Performance Center and CORE models with almost any upgrade you can think of; optics-ready models, ported barrels and slides, night sights or fiber name it.

Performance Center Model 986 2.5": A Smith & Wesson 9mm Revolver?!

S&W Performance Center Model 986 9mm Revolver

Of course, S&W is known for their revolvers and as it happens, they have a great one for packin' - the Performance Center Model 986 2.5" barrel model. It's a K-frame revolver with a round butt frame (meaning the rear of the grip frame is rounded, for those who don't speak wheel gun) so it's a bit beefier than a J-frame snubby revolver but still plenty compact enough for concealed carry.

The Model 986 family is a revision of the Model 686, the stainless steel variant of the Model 586. The 986 PC model swaps the standard fluted 6-round cylinder for a straight cylinder holding 7 rounds, with the cylinder face machined to accept moon clips. This is actually more advantageous than .38 Special or .357 Magnum; moon clips actually ensure faster reloading and sure ejection.

Functional aspects along with the lower cost of ammo actually makes the 986 Performance Center a much more ideal CCW revolver.

The gun is a bit of a beefcake, as overall length is 7.5 inches, cylinder width is 1.4 inches and weight is 31.7 oz unloaded. It's also not cheap, at $1,129 MSRP. So it's expensive, and not small...but it's also crafted by Smith and Wesson's Performance Center, so you know you're getting quality.

Simple, classy, effective and novel, which is definitely more than can be said for many plastic pistols. For the gun enthusiast who dares to be different, this is the gun to buy.

S&W M&P9 Shield EZ: The Easiest Smith & Wesson 9mm To Operate

S&W M&P9 Shield EZ 9mm Pistol

The Smith and Wesson M&P9 Shield EZ is one of the easiest pistols to deal with, and are also ridiculously easy to shoot very accurately.

The EZ series replaces the striker-fired system of the standard Shield with an internal hammer-fired single-action system. This reduces the amount of spring tension required to fire the pistol, and therefore the "stiffness" of the slide. For weaker or smaller hands, that makes it far easier to charge the gun. The loading assist tabs in the magazine also help in this regard, especially since loading Shield magazines is a ROYAL PAIN IN THE YOU KNOW WHERE.

The M&P9 Shield EZ is a little bigger than the standard Shield, with a 3.678-inch barrel and taller grip, so it does have larger dimensions, but it's hardly difficult to conceal. However, with the easier operation, and very easy shooting's one of the easiest guns to live with.

S&W Performance Center SW1911 Pro Series 9mm: Smith & Wesson 9mm Excellence

SW1911 9mm

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.


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Writer sam hoober