S&W SD9 VE, by Pat Cascio

Truth be told, I’ve never been rich. All of my life, I’ve been forced to scrimp and save every penny I could get my hands on. My extra I could come up with from time to time wasn’t put in the bank. Instead, it went to raising a family as best I could. My kids didn’t lack for the necessities in life. That’s for sure.

My interest in firearms started when I was 15 years old. I still have a great interest in firearms. Needless to say, I can’t buy, or hardly ever buy, guns out of my own pocket. Instead, I’m quite adept at working trades. Everyone who reads my articles probably believes I have hundreds of firearms in my “collection”. Well, I don’t! Many of the guns I test and write about are on loan from gun makers. They either get returned or, if I can’t afford to purchase them, I allow the local gun shop to purchase them at a reduced price from the gun maker. Still, I’m one who used to always want the newest and coolest guns seen on the cover of gun magazines each month. A guy can dream, right?

So, I’m very careful how I spend my very limited income. I have no choice. I’m always on the look out for a bargain at the local gun shop, new or used guns. If there is a deal to be had, I’ll sniff it out. You can count on it. My local gun shop, Fast Cash in Lebanon, OR, is pretty small. However, they carry quite a few firearms. If they don’t have the lowest prices, then they come in second place in all of Oregon, in my humble opinion. It’s not unusual for them to see me walk in the door and before I get to the gun counter one of the guys will pull a long gun or a handgun out and stick it in my hand. They know I appreciate a good deal or a trade. S&W SD9

A few years ago, they started carrying the Smith & Wesson SD9 VE and SD40 VE handguns,. It’s still a very good seller for them. We don’t live in a rich area of Oregon. The owners of the gun shop know what sells to their clients. Customers, like me, appreciate a bargain. When I handled the SD9 VE, I couldn’t believe how great it felt in my hand. I’ve been a GLOCK fan for a lot of years, and the SD9 VE felt much better all the way around. It looks very GLOCKish, if you ask me. It’s so much so that S&W was sued by GLOCK for some patent infringements and won. The SD line-up is such a hot seller that S&W still sells them, the way they are, and pays GLOCK a royalty on each gun sold. At least that’s the last I heard about this. S&W SD9

The SD9 VE is a black polymer framed handgun in 9mm. Also, as mentioned, it is available in .40 S&W as the SD40 VE. The gun comes with either a stainless steel slide or a blackened slide. Most prefer the stainless steel slide. The 9mm version holds 16 rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber, and it comes with two magazines, too. There is no manual safety. However, the trigger is a passive safety and it pivots. It is a two-piece trigger, and you must have a proper finger on the trigger in order to fully pull it, in order to fire the pistol. The slide has 3-dot white sights. And the gun only weighs 22.7 ounces. To be sure, with the 4-inch barrel, it is considered a full-sized duty handgun. But it’s not so big that it can’t be concealed with the proper holster and clothing. All-in-all, the SD9 VE is one attractive looking pistol, and it feels great in the hand. So, what’s not to like here? S&W SD9

I dry-fired the SD9 VE and didn’t much care for the trigger. It was a little bit heavy and gritty to my way of thinking. However, the gun was only $329 brand new. So, I was willing to give it a fair test. If nothing else, it would make a great house gun/bedroom gun or a “trunk” gun. It could be one you don’t worry too much about getting banged up or dinged or even a little rust on it.

As usual, I had a good supply of 9mm ammo to run through the SD9 VE, and I tried to test as many different types of ammo as I could. This is what I do with firearms that I test for articles. From Black Hills Ammunition, I had their 115-gr JHP, 124-gr JHP +P, 115-gr FMJ, 115-gr EXP Hollow Point (Extra Power), and their 124-gr JHP. From Buffalo Bore Ammunition, I had their 147-gr Subsonic Heavy standard pressure load, 147-gr Outdoorsman +P Hard Cast FN round, 115-gr Barnes TAX XP all-copper hollow point +P+, and the same in 95-gr. So, this was a great selection to run through this gun. Be advised, all gun makers will warn you to not run +P+ ammo through their firearms because it accelerates wear and tear. Still, I’ve run thousands of rounds of +P+ 9mm through firearms without any ill-effects. S&W SD9

As mentioned, the heavy and gritty trigger pull wasn’t conducive to outstanding accuracy at 25 yards. The best I could do was around a 5-inch group. That’s not satisfactory, if you ask me. But I did a lot of shooting. I put more than 500 rounds through the gun. However, at around 200 rds, the trigger pull smoothed out a bit, and it actually felt like a lighter trigger pull. I then did some more accuracy testing. At 25 yards, I was getting groups down to about 4 inches with all ammo. Things were getting better. After a couple hundred more rounds down range, the trigger pull had really smoothed out. While it felt about as heavy as it did a few hundred rounds earlier, the smoothness really aided my accuracy testing. By the time I was done with 500 rounds of ammo, the gun was consistently getting groups just slightly before 4 inches, and that is good enough for combat work.

Keep in mind, this is a brand new $329 9mm pistol, and the trigger pull wasn’t the best out of the box. My accuracy testing was done over a padded shooting rest, in a solid rest. The gun will probably shoot tighter groups, but that’s not realistic for shooting on the streets. Much of my shooting is done two-handed and over a rest of some sort. For you, a rest may be a jacket that you are wearing and can use when you get behind cover.S&W SD9

It was hard to call a clear winner when it came to accuracy. However, it was the Black Hills 124-gr JHP load. It was the most consistent, if I was on my game. It gave me those groups just ever so slightly under four inches, if I did my part. Remember this was done at 25 yards, while most real-life gun fights take place at 21 feet or less. The SD9 VE will get the job done. That’s for sure.

For those on a tight budget who are looking for a solid 9mm or .40 S&W handgun, you should take a very close look at the Smith & Wesson SD9 VE or the SD40 VE pistols. Don’t let the gritty trigger pull put you off. It will smooth out and get a little bit lighter after you run some rounds though the gun. I always recommend that you run a couple hundred rounds through any gun you plan on carrying or using for self defense. This just makes common sense. Do you want to bet you life on a gun you haven’t test-fired? I don’t think so! The SD9 VE is one of the best bargains out there, if you are on a tight budget or you want to have a “trunk” gun or a bedroom gun that won’t break the bank.


  1. Love my sd9ve and use it for edc. Over 10,000 rounds through it and not one jam. I have beat it to heck and did everything but pour sand in the barrel and it still keeps kicking! Trigger pull gets easier I think due to muscle memory. You’re finger learns the resistance and compensates so it feels smoother. There is a kit your favorite gunsmith can aquire to reduce the lb. on the pull as well if it bothers you too much.

  2. I’ve got the SD9 and I also didn’t care for the trigger. I got a replacement spring kit and reduced the pull to just at/under 5 pounds. Love it now. It’s my carry piece.

  3. Love this gun best deal out there. Last month local gun store had them priced at $240 after s&w rebate. Normal priced around $275. If you don’t like the trigger apextactial sells a replacement spring kit for $20 you can do it yourself in 20 minutes. Makes a big difference. They also sell a replacement trigger for $40. Adds some on to the spring kits benefit. Have installed both in mine and it’s one nice shooter and accurate. Wife’s has just the spring set, it’s just as nice. For CCW it fits in those surplus German police p6 waistband holster which were selling for $10 a while back.

  4. The SD9, post runner of the S&W Sigma which had the worse trigger I have ever tried on a pistol, is not much better. Save a few extra when you can and get a Ruger SR9. I have seen them sell on Gunbroker for $325 new.

  5. Spoke to soon, If you live in Ohio the SD9VE is back on sale at Fin, Feather, & Fur until May 21, 2017 for $239.99 after rebate. That a lot of savings for ammo and extras.

  6. Carried a revolver along time on duty, trigger pull on the sd9ve doesn’t bother me . Mine shoots very good , eats any ammo fed to it , only thing that bugs me is trying to get that 16 th round in the mag. Be prepared and ready . Keep your powder dry .

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