Range Reports

Range Report: Smith and Wesson SD40

S&W SD 40 with laser

A reliable handgun at a fair price requires research and understanding of the manufacturing process in order to obtain the correct handgun for your needs. As an example, it just isn’t possible to offer a quality 1911 handgun at the same price as a polymer frame striker-fired handgun. However, due to the latest polymer frame technology there are good choices in self-loading pistols at less than $400. These handguns are well made of good material that go bang! every time you pull the trigger. Among the best buys on the market, and one I personally trust, is the Smith and Wesson SD40.

The SD40 is a striker-fired polymer-framed handgun that appears similar to other Smith and Wesson self-loading pistols, but stands alone in a number of design details. The pistol offers a good range of features for the price.


Let’s get caliber out of the way first. I chose the .40 caliber version because this is a gun I intend to keep and carry. The SD9 (The SD9, in 9mm Luger, is much the same handgun as the SD40.) would have been easier to fire for test purposes—the ammunition is less expensive and I will not sugar coat the issue; the .40 kicks more than the 9mm. In a 23-ounce handgun, recoil is a factor. However, having found myself in the wrong place at the wrong time more than once and observed the effect of handgun calibers I prefer the larger caliber.

The laws of physics cannot be changed and the .40 caliber cartridge offers superior wound ballistics. Recoil tolerance is personal, related to many factors not always including muscle and brawn, and the 9mm might be the better choice for most shooters if your practice schedule is occasional, and that is understandable in today’s busy world. That being said, I have never favored high capacity over wound potential. But just the same, 14 rounds of .40 S&W ammunition in a 23-ounce package is a good choice. I simply prefer the .40.

Fit and Finish

Fit and finish of the SD40 is good. The magazines are all-metal and seem durable. They lock in place solidly. The stainless steel slide features an attractive design with forward cocking serrations and nicely etched markings. The SD40 locks up in the SIG fashion, with the barrel hood butting into the slide. The well-designed recoil spring and guide rod seem durable. The sights are dovetailed in place. They may be changed out for TruGlo sights from Cheaper Than Dirt! if desired. An Apex Tactical trigger spring kit is also available for those preferring a lighter let off.


The polymer frame fits the average hand well. Even better is that the grip is not oversized and does not stretch my average-sized hands. There is stippling on the flats of the handle and checkering on the front strap and rear strap. The frame features a slight concave to help with trigger reach. An upraised portion of the grip frame protects the magazine release. All who handled the pistol commented favorably on the grip frame. Another comment was that the SD40 isn’t the typical blocky, angular polymer-frame handgun.


Some noted that the slide lock and magazine release are not ambidextrous. On an economy handgun, at about $335 at the time of this writing, I cannot gripe about the lack of an ambidextrous slide lock. Left-handed shooters have learned to use the forefinger to actuate these controls. There is a cutout in the barrel that acts as a loaded chamber indicator. Disassembly is Glock-style with two levers.

Firing the SD40

The firing test is where the rubber meets the pavement. I lubricated the barrel hood, barrel at the point it meets the slide, and the cocking block. I began the firing evaluation with the affordable SIG Sauer Elite FMJ ammunition. I have familiarized myself with the SD40’s trigger during dry fire. I begin every test with a few rounds at seven yards to familiarize myself with the trigger and to confirm size regulation. The result was two bullets in the same hole and one nearby for the first three shots. Not a bad start.

The SD40 trigger action is a double action only partially prepped by the slide. It is different from the Glock and not as smooth as the Smith and Wesson Military and Police, but useful. The double-action trigger requires the shooter to understand how to fire, allow the trigger to reset, regain the sight picture, and fire again. Firing in a rapid cadence, firing as quickly as I could regain the sight picture after recoil, results were good at 7, 10 and even 15 yards. I would not hesitate to trust this handgun in a personal defense role.

Moving to a personal defense loading, I used the Hornady American Gunner 180-grain XTP ammo. This load gave excellent feed reliability. I also fired a magazine of my handloads, using the 155-grain Hornady XTP and enough WW 231 Powder for 1,000 fps. There were no failures to feed, chamber, fire or eject with any load. As for absolute accuracy, firing from a solid bench rest and managing the trigger, I fired several groups with the SIG Sauer Elite loads as well as the American Gunner. At 15 yards, I recorded groups of 2.5 to 3.2 inches. This is plenty accurate for a personal defense handgun. With more time on with the trigger, I could probably do a little better.

The SD40 is a credible choice for personal defense. In my estimation, this handgun is among the best buys among personal defense handguns. The SD 40 combines reliability, combat accuracy and power into a compact package. Best of all, it is backed by the name and warranty of one of our oldest makers.


S&W SD40
Action Striker-fired
Barrel Length 4 inches
Caliber .40 S&W
Overall Length 7.2 inches
Weight Unloaded 22.7 ounces
Sights Dovetailed, 3-dot white
Grip Black, polymer
Capacity 14+1 rounds
Frame Black polymer frame

9mm or .40 S&W? Would you prefer Smith and Wesson’s SD9 or SD40? Share your thoughts or experiences in the comment section.


About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (38)

  1. Hey yall. So I have recently bought my first S&W aside their revolvers and it’s the sd40 fde cmc. I dont know much about the sd other than they are the bottom of the line for smith. I couldn’t pass up a .40 with 14 capacity and crimson trace for under 4. I bought it and literally took it right back to academy for failure to feed. Tried everything. Mags, better ammo different mags…..so the clown at academy sent it off after I show him how to break down the weapon and couple months later I got it back and damn near everything was replaced but SN. Even sights which baffled me. So now that I have it back I’d like to purchase a few parts but I can only find the value edition aftermarket parts for example a steel guide rod or extended slide lock lever. My question is can the value edition parts be used on the non value edition weapon? Specs are damn near identical. Cant find answer online and I dont want to waste my money on some useless parts to me. Thanks to anyone who took the time to read this and help. -gmoney

  2. The funny thing, is that I own both the 9mm and the .40caliber SD. I once wrote a comparison of the two guns, and it was almost identical to what you said. For the average shooter, with limited time for training, the 9mm was the better choice, because the polymer frame, due to being so light, allowed a lot of the recoil to transfer to the shooters hand and wrist, and therefore barrel rise was extreme and impossible to stop. You would have to learn to compensate for it instead, and to fire it quickly and accurately would require constant training and possibly working out of the forearm. The 9mm, on the other hand, was a weapon that you could much more easily hold onto target, and that you could fire fairly rapidly without losing that accuracy, with much less training. It can’t be said enough, shot placement, or knowing where to shoot someone and being able to hit that spot consistently, is by far the most important factor when it comes to the effectiveness of a firearm
    Therefore, no matter what you do, you need to train enough in the beginning, to be able to identify and hit your targets, and you need to be able to put two rounds on that spot quickly. Then, you need to train enough afterwards, to maintain that ability. This is much more easily accomplished with the 9mm. You have to, at the very least, make time for that, because it is your life that depends on that person being put down before they can harm you, and keep in mind that their finger is likely already on the trigger. It is also potentially someone else’s life at risk, if you miss. We always say, “know what is beyond your target”, because you need to make sure that you are not endangering someone’s life if you miss, and you will miss. In a life or death situation, you are going to have to take shots that you wouldn’t normally take. You need to have the confidence that you will hit your target, so that you do not hesitate, and then you need up actually hit it, so you do not kill someone that you do not intend to. Finally, ALWAYS shout to kill. You are not John Wayne. A person that is taking their very last breath can still shoot you. All of that stuff that I just said, is why the average person should shoot the 9mm. In fact, if it has been a while since I have trained, or I have not trained enough recently, then I take my 9mm with me. If I have been training regularly, and if I can hit a 4″ round steel plate from 20′ consistently, then I will take the .40cal. Don’t ever lie to yourself about your ability, it won’t do you or anyone else any good. When in doubt, grab the 9mm. Better yet, go to the range!
    Finally, don’t think the 9mm won’t do the job. I saw a conversation between 3 or 4 special operations soldiers, all from different branches of the military, and a few that had contravention to the Cia afterwards (as bodyguards, likely), and they were all showing their EDC (every day carry, or what they castor with themselves everyday, even in civies). There were Leathermans, knives, and a few other random items, but they ALL carried one thing in particular, a 9mm handgun. Some had Glocks, and some had Smith & Wessons, but they were all 9mm. No 40’s, no 10mm’s, only 9’s, and if they carry them, they HAVE to work!

  3. 37 consecutive years in law enforcement and corrections…I have fired MANY varied firearms…U.S. made and otherwise…I own an SD 9 and intend on purchasing an SD 40, too…I own EVERY M&P Shield made and the SD model is just as reliable…MUCH LARGER…yet reliable…the local police and Sheriff’s Office carry Glock 22’s…my partner was here last night with his Glock 22 and we compared it to the SD 9 (realizing his fire .40 Caliber and mine .9mm)…the S&W was as comfortable as the Glock.

  4. Just bought the SD40..2 hours later on my range..had 7 FTF issues, dont know if its an ammo isdue or what..

    1. New guns often need a break in. I would clean and lube it first. then run 100 rounds or so through it. It is very possible this will break it in for you. ~Dave Dolbee

  5. No, both use “firing pins”. Google is your friend-lots to read about it.

    I have an SD9VE that has approximately 2500 rounds through it now. The pistol has NEVER had a SINGLE failure to load//fire. I don’t buy examples of multiple pistol failure examples for a second-if true, suspect idiot trigger pullers/very poorly maintained pistols, bad training.

    Shot the pistol in factory condition 500 rounds to break it in-NO failures of any kind. Didn’t need it but I’m a “fiddler” and added an Apex trigger and spring kit, 20 lb recoil spring/stainless guide rod, hi-vis sights and polished the feed ramp to a mirror finish.

    I own/owned S.W., Browning, Colt, CZ, Kahr, KelTec, Taurus, Astra, Highpoint, HK, Ruger, Makarov, Rossi, Tanfoglio—–and other than the Browning Hi-Power with slim grips, Kahr CW9 and CW40, CZ, CZ clones (Tanfolgio, EAA, etc), I’ve never held a pistol that felt its grip was custom made to fit my not large hand. I currently own more than a few very nice pistols and it’s amazing how often I pick up the SD9 and throw it in the range bag.

    Final note-I highly recommend the Apex trigger and spring kit for this pistol. I paid less than 300 dollars (on sale) for the pistol and adding 60 dollars worth of parts turns the SD9 into a 600 dollar pistol-in my humble opinion.

  6. I’ve had the SD40 for about three years now. It was my first handgun. It’s all around a great gun for the price, but there’s an unmistakable rattle when a loaded mag is inserted, and if you use ammo that has a lighter kick, the casing tends to stovepipe. If you’re practiced with correcting that stuff, you’ll be fine.

  7. I have been a firearms instructor for over 12 years. I bought the S&W SD9’VE to test before making any recommendations to my students. Many of my students are looking for solid, reliable, handguns that don’t break their budgets. After buying my first SD9’VE brand new for $239 and testing it, I bought 3 more. I was very impressed. The trigger pull was not as smooth as my S&W M&P, but it was smooth enough. I did polish some of the internals, just to make it a bit smoother. I bought an Apex trigger kit, thinking that I would hate the heavier trigger pull. I never installed it. After familiarizing myself to this gun, I found that the trigger was just fine. I am NOT a trigger snob. Smooth and non-stacking are more important to me than light trigger pull. Each of the AD’s I bought came with three magazines. After thousands of rounds, I have had nothing but good experience with these guns. A lot of people complain about the plastic sights that come in the gun. So far, I have not had any issue with them after many presentations from the holster. I am sure that they will not be as durable over the lifetime of the gun as metal sights, but most users probably will not wear them out anytime soon.I carried this gun for eight months in an alien gear IWB holster while testing both the gun and holster. This was a VERY inexpensive carry setup. $239 for gun, $30 for holster. I would say that it was 95% as good as my M&P + Crossbreed carry combo at less than 1/2 the cost. Based on personal experience, I highly concur with the authors opinion that this is one of the best bargains currently on the market.

  8. I have the SD9 and installed the APEX trigger kit. What a difference! I also installed the extended slide release kit also, easier on the finger tips! Great shooting gun. Well built and good feel in your hand! Great gun for the money!

  9. A fairly easy installation of the 20 dollar Apex trigger spring kit does wonders for the trigger pull reducing it to under 6 lbs/

  10. I purchased the SD 40 Smith and Wesson a few years back and have loved every minute of this handgun. I have successfully shot four inch groups at 20 yards using Winchester’s 180 gr. Fmjfn. The Smith and Wesson sd40 is very dependable and affordable it has never once malfunction in the two years that I have owned it and having several hundred rounds fired through it. I would highly recommend the Smith and Wesson sd40 to a novice shooter the recoll is a little much for a beginner perfect for me.

  11. I am tired of everyone comparing various handguns to a GLOCK. I owned 2 Glocks – a Model 19 in 9mm and a Model 30 in 45acp. I hated the triggers with that sharp piece of sheet metal popping out of the front of the trigger and hitting your trigger finger. I sold both of them as quickly as I bought them. Other Handguns have similar triggers – but they have a wider trigger safety popping out so that it is not painful to your finger.

    On the SD9 VE and SD40 VE Smith & Wesson Pistols. I have examined them in the gun stores. They are attractive, well built, and offer a Great Value for the Little bit of money that they cost. Usually in the $300. range. The trigger pull is a little heavy – but the trigger pull is very smooth. I think with some practice they could be good choices for someone looking for a self-protection handgun.

  12. I am on no budget, after researching the sd9 I bought one. I visit the range at least twice a week and each time fire about 300 rounds. It is an amazing gun and feels better than the glock 19. I did change the trigger spring to the apex kit and now it it an awesome gun. Patterns are grouped close together and the factory trigger does give it a bad review. I do how ever agree it does shoot low so if you are going to use a sd series for defense go to the range and learn the gun first . just like you would with any of them.

  13. I had to get a shotgun worked on once and took it to my local gunsmith. I went in back and he had two of these guns in .40S&W on the bench. I looked closer at them and both had a bulge, bulging out from just in front of the chamber all the way to the back of the chamber. I asked him what happened and he said they could not take the pressure of a .40 as built. He also told me he told the owners not to buy them. I’ll stick with the M&P’s, glock, ruger and sig’s. Just saying

    1. How does a gunsmith “:work on a barrel with a bulge”??? A barrel with a bulge only needs to be replaced!!! Smith and Wesson’s lifetime warranty would replace those barrels for free, as long as some IDIOT didn’t put PLUS P ammo or BAD RELOADS in it. That’s why they were given to a gunsmith, because if they were sent back to S&W they would have seen what the IDIOT put in the pistol. The SD & SWVE line of pistols are the least returned product in S&W’S HISTORY!!! They are direct copies of the GLOCK pistol. Glock sued them over these pistols. They settled out of court. Supposedly, GLOCK gets 9 dollars for every pistol S&W sells!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have owned 6 of these pistols over the years and put at least 50 rounds through each. They all worked flawlessly!!!! Oh, and by the way, I am a gunsmith and a former armorer on HUEY Gunships.

    2. You didn’t mean to say only 50 did you? I won’t carry a weapon unless or until I fire at minimum 4 boxes of ammo and get ZERO failures of any type attributable to the weapon so 50 is sort of small no?
      Dr D

  14. I recently purchased the sd9ve, 300 rounds first trip to the range flawless. I then upgraded to the apex tactical trigger, spring kit, and a 20 pound stainless steel guide rod and spring. My next trip to the range, another 300 rounds, with what feels comparable to $600 glock. This is my concealed carry weapon and I am happier than a pig in mud with it, despite what a lot of bloggers have to say.

  15. I own and shoot a S&W SD40VE. I love it. Shoots great, very accurate with cheap ammo. It goes bang every time I pull the trigger. 500 + rounds and no misfires or failure to feed. I keep 155gr Hornady Critical Defense JHP in mine at all times. Great weapon for under $400.

  16. The SD9VE was my first full sized handgun. Took me awhile to hit the mark. Yes the trigger is heavy and low and left are hard to practice out of. I put an Apex spring kit in and things got much better. With that and practice its accurate enough. As for reliability its darn near perfect. With over 1000 rounds I’ve had one double feed and three misfires that were ammo related. Good gun.

    1. @dg

      I would agree with you on the reliability of the S&W line. My S&P has been as reliable as my Glock, and to me, that is saying something. As I mentioned below, I haven’t owned a S&W handgun, but a college professor friend of mine who I respected a lot and who carried daily swore by his S&W.

  17. 1) .40 does not offer superior wound ballistics. Not unless you’re claiming to know more than surgeons and medical examiners. If more recoil, less accurate shots and slower follow up shots is your thing, then “yea fawty”

    2) The SD 9/40 is a low priced hunk o’ junk. It’s a cheap gun with a crappy trigger and it consistently fires low and jams fairly often. When a customer on my range has a problem with a gun, THAT one is one of the guns that give people trouble.

    3) I would agree with trusting that gun if I had a choice between that POS and a Hi Point.

    1. Your information is second hand, mine is from personal experience.

      I do not know who these surgeons are but the human body isn’t an efficient testing ground. Lab results and measuring wound cavity isnt possible with a human.

      Physics cannot be changed. Big bullets make a bigger hole. They let out more blood. The SD 40 is no POS, but a reasonable choice for those on a budget. We all have budgets, some are tighter than others.

    2. Bob
      As usual well written unbiased article. I have to agree with you and as you know I AM one of the surgeons who cleans these messes up. The size of the bullet is most certainly a valid issue. When the radio squawks 45 or 40 it generates a different team energy then when the radio squawks lower caliber GSW since know we have lots more work in store for us. Not only is the size of the hole an issue but the energy going from 1K FPS to 0 instantly makes a huge difference. So hole for hole the 40 devastates bone and tissue more then the 9mm and its cousin the 380.
      As most know I fought very hard when I was with the Fed to use my personal Walther chambered in 380 as my carry weapon and I have continued to for now 30 years. Have I used it? You bet but then remember I have a team of really good guys with me to CMA so caliber for me is far less important then recoil. I need to hit the subject to matter and since my hands are my income and during a panic situation I opted for a lower caliber knowing that the 40 is a far more deadly choice but atleast I would hit and if I hit one I could hit 2 or 3 if need be.
      Bob is spot on and the 40 will stop and or kill easier then the 9mm Luger or the 380 (9mm Kurtz in the old days). The reason for the shift in the LEOs is NOT based on hole size it is based on economics as well as the fact that most agencies simply do not have the funds to allow their members to practice enough so by shifting to 9mm they can get more shots on the target (with less concern on recoil and re-obtaining the sight picture) and they can get a few more rounds for the buck to practice with when they have the funds to allow them the time to actually practice. (money to buy ammo is less of an issue then paid time to allow for practice)
      Calling this gun a POS demonstrates nothing short of biased ignorance. Sure most of us “gun guys” own Glocks and even some of us have Les Baer 1911’s but this gun gives all the self defense individual NEEDS to protect himself and his family from harm. Lets be realistic 99.9% of you all will never expose your barrels to daylight unless at the range of showing off but SOME of us carry for a purpose other then statistical paranoia and this weapon will suffice the average consumer for a good long time even with routine occasional range time use
      Once again Bob thanks for an informative article and illuminating both the values of the gun but the facts on the variations
      Dr D
      Surgeon and former Director of the Federal Drug Interdiction Task Force.

    3. @Dr. Dave.

      Well said, and thank for a professional assessment.

      9mm is considerably less expensive than .40, particularly in terms of practice ammo. One thing that is regularly brought up in LEO shooting discussions is the relative lack of range time for many PDs.

      We simply cannot have everything, and I would rather the LEOs have more range time and better familiarity and accuracy with their service weapons, than the benefits of a .40 round that they may not be able to hit the target with. Look at any dash cam or body cam record of police shootings and you will see that they shoot multiple rounds, not just one well placed shot because they are under stress and want to survive the encounter.

      Incidentally, my EDC is a .45 with a 9mm BUG. I have both military and LEO backgrounds, and I currently do international private security work in high risk locations, and the bigger and more nasty the round, the better i like it.

    4. It has been my complain for 3 decades now. We are so worried about the best equipment the best ammo the micro details about penetration the entry wound the exit wound (if there is) the potential for collateral damage if one gets too much power and a thru and thru happens but no time or effort is spend getting funding for actual range time.
      The cost of equipment amortized over the life of the gear is next to zero the MST expensive cost to a LEO department is the cost of man power. Taking an LEO off active duty to spend range time is costly and departments (even the Fed) simply do not see the value. They would rather have high tech gear that misses the target and generates it’s own collateral negligent damages then to give the officers the needed time and ammo to get up to high skills in actual crisis level full on adrenaline pumping scenario training.
      I have been tossed out of more meetings then most of you have rounds down range for saying it is a waste of time and effort debating equipment if the guys miss the freaking target due to inexperience or failure to train. Then of course by simply stating it makes me the bad guy because then if the media gets ahold of it they can run with it to claim that LEOs are negligent and undertrained vigilante shooters who miss more then they hit.
      Guess what the studies ALL demonstrate that EVERY FBI study ever done demonstrates how poorly LEOs actually put lead on skin. How many extra rounds needs to be used to get enough to stop the advancement or behavior and how many actually miss ALL together. It drives me crazy
      Their solution is to build a multi-million dollar state f the art 50 or 100 stall static range so LEOS can waste more ammo and time on scenarios they will NEVER ever see in real life. In 30 years I have never seen a purp stand there and take a shooting without moving. Or worse I have never seen a gun fight where the LEOs were standing still puling from a holster and shooting down field at a body set at 90 degrees. Even the newer “state of the art” ranges are a joke. The ONLY way to train as a LEO is a shoot town or house. The kinds the Fed have at Quantico or similar. But they are sexy and so politicians don’t get Photo-Op values by investing in them.
      I am ALL for the 9mm atleast the LEOs have a reasonable chance f getting lead on skin but lets be realistic the bigger the hole the bigger the impact energy the faster the mess is over and the EMTs can take over. The problem is at 40 or God forbid 45 the chance of missing the second shot is exponentially greater with the limited skills of the typical LEO. I would LOVE to see 45 cal in every LEOs holster add to that HST or the new ALL copper Lehigh spirals but be realistic the media will go nuts when the mom pushing the baby gets hit from a thru and thru of the upper arm from the missed sighting or the fatigued wrist that caused the second round to be off target
      As far as this little S&W goes it is FAR from garbage and the limiting factor with 99% of you is you not the gear. I hear all the time about how many rounds you send down on a weekend the point is when 3 guys are at 3 yards with their guns drawn and you have a wife on one side and a kid on her other what is the likelihood you will be able to do the right thing and accurately enough drop them without them dropping the Mrs. or Jr? Most of you will need a shorts change so don’t blame the gun for poor quality start training for realistic scenario not competition range type shooting.
      Dr D

    5. @Dr Dave

      I sense a little frustration in your comment. 😉

      All kidding aside, your point is well made. Many LEOs are notoriously poor shots under pressure. Case in point, the NYC shooting last year where all the collateral damage to bystanders was from police rounds.

      Bottom line, if you carry a gun, be sure it is reliable and you are familiar with it enough to hit what you are aiming at. If the SD40 fits the bill . . . carry it every day, in every situation where you can legally carry, and be trained and prepared to use it to defend yourself.

    6. OOPS it came out sorry 🙂
      You are right being on both sides of the ED door I can tell you that if we want to limit collateral damage by both civilians and LEOs we must train under the same conditions we are going to be under when actually use our guns. The NYC case is a good example. EVERY incident be it self defense LEO intervention or for that matter gang banger shoot out ends up with some sort of off target damages. I see it all the time how the hell did someone get one center mass shot and then one in the lower leg or usually one in a hand or similar? SIMPLE the first shot was the center mass triangle then the recovery shot was over or under corrected and we ended up with a flyer. Be it too low and got a leg (thank goodness atleast it didn’t get the kid riding the bike behind the target) or under corrected and when the center mass hit the person’s arms flailed and the recovery was WAY high and hit the arm that was now over the head.
      There s NO place for that kind of inaccuracy. Be it a LEO or a citizen with a CCW who claims to be well trained. How can a citizen get well trained for a street type scenario? Most of the shoot houses I know are for LEO only and the few paintball ones are full of wannabies who are there to have fun and play games.
      We need to find a way to be properly trained.
      I even had some investors ready to build a series of national training facilities like ranges only not long distance rows of targets on strings but actual scenarios until the Gov got involved and made it all but impossible to make the endeavor financially expedient.
      Any wonder we have situations where both police and civilians end up with excessive force concerns. I have no stats to support it but I would bet big money that most of the shootings for self defense or LEOs could have different outcomes if training was available.
      I know my guys were trained and trained and trained and we had some of the lowest shooting incidents in the industry. Since they were already trained on what it feels like to be amped up on adrenaline and be in so many situations they would only shoot when all else was exhausted and then usually shot to disarm and not to kill.
      Sorry for the frustration it just hot a soft spot and I figured if any group would understand it would be this group. Thanks buddy for hearing me
      Dr D

    7. The FBI recently announced that it was going back to the 9mm. This caliber has been improved dramatically, because bullet technology, has made dramatic advances. The article I read, said that a 9mm can now produce a wound canal equal to a 45ACP. The military hates its 124gr, 9mm because it does not have the stopping power needed in battle. The reason they are saddled with such a dismal cartridge, is because they must adhere to the Hague Convention, which outlaws hollow point ammo. However, another article had stated that the military was considering a move backing out of the Hague agreement, allowing our military to use JHP.

      I have no idea what planet you came from, but it isn’t anywhere close to here. I think you are confused. The S&W SD series pistols have a much better trigger than its forerunner, the Sigma, of which you must be thinking. The SD and Sigma are almost identical in appearance and regardless of what some say, the only noticeable difference between their magazines, are the magazine bases and followers. The metal body of the magazines are identical. I’ve tried it, so I know.
      The trigger on the SD is not in the same league as the M&P, but it wasn’t designed to be. The trigger system on the SD is long but does not have the horrendous trigger pull the old Sigma series had. Evidently, you never actually shot an SD. I have shot a few of them, and contrary to your remarks, it is both HIGHLY reliable, happily eating whatever you feed it, and it is as accurate as it needs to be for its intended market – Defense. No, it is not a target pistol, but to say it is inaccurate is misguided. If you take the time to master that trigger, you’d be very surprised at how accurate it can be, in the right person’s hands. It was meant to be a reliable, accurate enough for its intended purpose and be inexpensive.

      I would feel comfortable carrying an SD pistol for self-defense. I’d feel just as comfortable to use it for plinking. There is NOTHING cheap about this pistol. It is very well made. Everyone I know who owns one, likes theirs. They are NOT a hunk o’ junk. I have not had any of the jamming problems you suggest. No one I know has had any either. As far as shooting low goes, I suggest it is the shooter, not the gun. Are you aware that the SD uses the exact same front and rear sights as its more expensive brother, the M&P uses?

      In my area, I have seen several police officers carrying SD pistols. The town they worked for has a low budget and officers buy their own guns. Some own Glocks – big deal. I’ve out shot others who used Glocks, and other various brands, including some with Kimbers. Most of the time it is the shooter, rather than the gun, where the problems lay. No one who limp wrists a pistol can expect flawless performance. Some people see no other brand pistol, than the one they favor, whether it’s a Glock, a Sig, an HK or a 1911. The brand they like is better than any gun, anyone else has. I’ve seen one such as these turn their noses up quicker than Obama will stick his nose in things he ought not, like the infamous “Beer Summit” after he was shown to be completely wrong.

    8. @Daniel

      Extremely well written and intelligent comment. And one to cause anyone who reads it to carefully consider your points.

      Very refreshing in light of so many comments being rash and just plain rude.

    9. Waddaya mean pos is better than a hi-point. Ever shot one,or own one. I bet not. I do, and it’ NEVER failed to feed or fire. And my friends own a SW 9 and 40ve. No problems there, either. Crawl back in your kimber hole,and just comment on what you’re familiar with

  18. First off, I want to compliment Bob on a well written and well organized article. The way that you used headings to organize the review was refreshing after reading too many reviews where the author simply plowed everything together in a long dissertation. Very readable, and that’s what counts. If it isn’t readable, people won’t get as much out of it.

    As for the gun itself, I will confess that I have never owned a S&W handgun , although I have an M&P M4 that I absolutely love. Of the 3 5.56/.223 ARs I own it is my go-to gun for range and defense.

    But having said this, I have to say I am not that impressed with the SD, whether in .40 or 9mm. Since it is probably going to be shooters with limited experience, or limited funds that make it difficult to do a lot of range time who will buy an inexpensive handgun, a gun like this that “The double-action trigger requires the shooter to understand how to fire,” may not be the best choice. Some of us are blessed with adequate funds to buy a lot of different guns and shoot them regularly, but not everyone is in that situation and they need to buy a gun that is intuitive to shoot with the amount of practice they can afford.

    This doesn’t sound like that gun.

    I DO agree with you on caliber. I carry a .45, although my wife likes her 9mm Beretta. But within the price range of this gun a person with limited funds can get a Hi-Point (laugh if you want but they are accurate and reliable), EAA, Caniks, Taurus and even Kahr, all of which would seem to me to be a better choice for someone limited funds for a personal defense gun, and still have a little bit left for practice ammo and a good HP round for EDC.

    But, in the end, it is the individual who must make the final choice, so this is another option and that is a good thing. And, please, let me say one last thing about the often maligned Hi-Point. I own a lot of nice guns from Springfield Armory, Glock, Desert Eagle, etc. But I have owned quite a few Hi-Points and still do. In short; they work. I have shot thousands of rounds through Hi-Points and when I pull the trigger they go bang and the bullet goes where I want it to. I have given two to step-children for home defense.

    If you are someone who supports themselves by working at Wal Mart or the night shift at 7-11, you may not have as much money to spend on a gun as you would like, but you deserve to be able to defend yourself and your family. Yeah, you can save your pennies for months or years to by a S&W or a Sig, and hope nothing happens in the meantime, or you can save your pennies for a couple of months and buy a Hi-Point or EAA and some ammo and at least be ready to put up a fight instead of being a sheep ripe for the slaughter.

    We, as discerning gun owners need to stop simple dissing guns and try to provide some sincere and professional advice to people who need it.

    1. Thanks so much for your always well thought out and interesting comments. I did intend this to be a review of a budget firearm. As it turns out the performance was better than expected.
      Excellent points!


      Bob Campbell

  19. While I agree on your opinion between the .40 and 9MM, there is just something I don’t like about the trigger safety on S&W pistols with that hinged type look and feel. I know others are using it like FNH also for example. I like the blade style in the center of the trigger. Don’t know of any really major advantages of one over the other. Just MHO.

    1. If this were your only gun you could learn to use it. However, I agree in principle but have a lot more time in with the Glock.
      For home defense and one or two shots this gun is as good as any

      to run a combat course, well, that trigger would interfere with our best work.
      Good point.

  20. I had a SD 40 VE and found the trigger pull was heavy at 8-10 lbs and rattled while I had it holstered, no surprising anyone, not that I would. I had a hard time with tight grouping, again I believe the trigger is to heavy. I did however like that it has metal slides but would spend the extra money buying a Golck 22 .40 cal.

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