Concealed Carry

Review: S&W CSX — Ditch the Tupperware!

S&W CSX and Two Magazines

There’s no doubt that polymer guns have their place. They’re lightweight, absorb recoil, and budget-friendly. However, there’s something about an all-metal pistol that feels right. From the SIG P226 to the 1911, I’ve always had a special place in my heart — and gun safe — for steel and alloy-framed pistols. So, when Smith and Wesson introduced the CSX, I was excited to say the least.

S&W CSX Features

The new Chief’s Special X isn’t another plastic fantastic, it’s a unique pistol that holds its own in the concealed carry market. Those who don’t want to carry a plain old striker-fired 9 would be wise to consider the CSX. The alloy frame and single-action trigger are its main claims to fame. The frame features polymer grip inserts to help fit the gun to your hand. The ambidextrous thumb safety is positive and easily manipulated by both right and left-handed shooters. Cocked-and-locked carry is the name of the game.

Fieldstripped S&W CSX
The CSX easily field strips for cleaning and maintenance.

Now I’m not going to lie to you, the trigger safety is a useless feature. This is often used on striker-fired pistols to prevent a negligent discharge. The CSX being a single-action pistol with a manual thumb safety makes it redundant. It also adds some unnecessary sponginess to the trigger press. This is not a crisp 1911 trigger. That being said, it did not get in the way or hinder my firing in any way. It’s on par with a standard striker-fired carry trigger.

The CSX incorporates serrations on the top of the slide to cut down on glare. Now, I’ve never really seen this to be super effective, but I love how it looks and it’s a more refined detail S&W could have easily skimped out on. Like other popular carry pistols, the CSX can accept magazines of different lengths and capacities depending on your carry and shooting preferences. A 10-round mag is the most discreet, while a 12-round mag gives you a full grip on the pistol.

How does it carry?

Since the primary purpose of the CSX is concealed carry, it only makes sense to review it in this capacity. This new staggered-stack micro nine size is a good balance between concealability and shootability. The CSX sits between the size of a pocket .380 and a traditional subcompact such as the Glock 26. It’s just a bit thicker than the single-stack Glock 43, but offers higher ammo capacity. The CSX is right in line with other popular options such as the SIG P365, Springfield Hellcat, and Ruger MAX-9. This slim package works well inside the waistband without printing with as little as a t-shirt for a covering garment. Depending on your pocket size, you may even be able to fit it in a pair of jeans.

S&W CSX and Glock 26 pistols
The CSX is noticeably smaller than a traditional subcompact like the Glock 26, but still holds 10 rounds.

At the Range

One issue with tiny guns is that they tend to be hard to shoot. This is not the case with the S&W CSX. Don’t get me wrong, physics still comes into play, and the pistol is snappier than a full-size handgun, but for a concealed carry piece, it’s totally manageable. Shooting it side by side with other options, it was somewhere in between the SIG P365 and the Glock 26 — the latter being the easiest to shoot. This is going to be a bit subjective, as hand size and grip preferences will come into play, but the bottom line is that it’s within the realm of what you should expect from a pistol this size.

Size also comes into play with sight radius and manipulating the controls. If you have giant paws, small pistols like this may be awkward and hard to run. However, I believe most people will have no issue shooting the CSX. I found the pistol to be accurate at self-defense ranges, and with more practice, I have no doubt you could stretch that out farther. 

I experienced no malfunctions and the grip texture worked well and offered good control during rapid-fire with sweaty hands. The basic 3-dot sights worked as intended, but were nothing to write home about. If there was one thing I’d change about this pistol, aside from the trigger safety, it would be to add factory night sights.

S&W CSX on Target
The CSX demonstrated good accuracy and reliability.

Conclusion: S&W CSX

The S&W CSX is not a do-it-all gun, it’s a purpose-designed concealed carry piece, and in that role, it excels. In an age where Tupperware reigns supreme, it’s refreshing to see something different. If you’re like me and prefer all-metal pistols, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better option for concealed carry.

Do you prefer all-metal pistols to polymer-framed guns? What do you think of the S&W CSX? Share your answers in the comment section.

  • Three pistols on shooting range bench
  • S&W CSX
  • S&W CSX
  • S&W CSX slide
  • CSX Grip
  • S&W CSX and Two Magazines
  • Fieldstripped S&W CSX
  • S&W CSX and Glock 26 pistols
  • S&W CSX on Target

About the Author:

Alex Cole

Alex is a younger firearms enthusiast who’s been shooting since he was a kid. He loves consuming all information related to guns and is constantly trying to enhance his knowledge, understanding, and use of firearms. Not a day goes by where he doesn’t do something firearms-related and he tries to visit the range at least a couple of times a month to maintain and improve his shooting skills.

His primary focus is on handguns, but he loves all types of firearms. He enjoys disassembling and reassembling firearms to see how they work and installs most of the upgrades to his firearms himself, taking it as a chance to learn. He’s not only interested in modern handguns and rifles, he appreciates the classics for both historical value and real-world use.
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 (19)

  1. Best carry for me yet. I have a lot of great 9s, but they’re too big for work concealment, so I’d been carrying a PPKS (7+1 rounds of 380). CSX is same length & height as my PPKS but slightly THINNER, but with 12+1 rounds of 9mm! That’s fantastic. The grip angle is more like a 1911 than a Glock, so it lines up for me automatically. And I love the thumb safety and despite the complaint in this article about the trigger safety, that is a drop safety. That’s it’s function — important. I’m super sold on this as my work conceal-carry. I love having a metal gun with a thumb safety that’s easy to integrate into your draw. Solves a big problem for me!

  2. If you were taught to drive a manual transmission. Your dad said don’t ride the clutch.same goes for the csx trigger.dont ride the trigger and it works great.

  3. I’ve yet to see a perfect handgun or rifle for that matter but the CSX will defiantly work for me as just one more handgun. Can’t carry all of mine in the first place, definitely not a good choice for pocket carry unless you’re one big dude. When I have to pocket carry I just slide the old P3AT in my pocket. But I love my CSX and if I’m walking my dog for instance I just carry it on my side with a shirt or coat over it or just out, here in W.Va. you can carry any way you want to permit or not if your not a criminal. Of course I have a permit for other states that we have reciprocate laws with. But I love the CSX and think it’s a fine gun.

  4. Wow, S&W really didn’t do well with this one. Cocked and locked is not acceptable for a concealed weapon. Needs a longer grip for big hands and a few more rounds. I love the all-metal idea, my favorite feature. The take-down requiring a tool is OK for me, but the tool must be included. Nice try S&W, but needs work.

  5. I bought mine a few months ago and the one time I got to shoot it I loved it and had no issues what-so-ever, only problem is the indoor range very near here burnt to the ground a month or so ago. How do ranges burn to the ground? IDK but they are gonna rebuild it and it will be ready in a cpl months.
    But like I said I love my S&W CSX, and the 12 rd. mag is hardly noticeable from the 10 rd. one.
    IMHO a very nice piece. And I personally love a single action handgun w/a hammer and am getting a little burnt out on poly stryker fired jobs, The CSX is the kind of handgun I grew up with.

  6. I own a csx, and all metal in micro frame is good. These little firearms jump more the lighter they are. A nice size for a pocket pistol. And yes, I really dislike the safety triggers on any pistol. Nothing better than a solid 1-piece curved trigger for a consistent firm feel of hammer release. Overall, a nice
    well-designed pistol. I would buy it again.

  7. I, for one, am happy to see that there are more manufacturers out there willing to build products outside the norm. i personally own, and carry, a Sig 938, and i love it. i have owned a couple of plastic subcompacts, and i just don’t care for them. they don’t give me the confidence of a metal gun. i still own some plastic guns, but the Sig is the one that i carry the most. i have not been able to examine the CSX yet, but it is definitely on the top of my list. if it’s as good as i think it will be, it will become part of my collection for sure.

  8. The S&W CSX has many desirable features, including metal frame, single action, good sigths, and ample capacity. But it has a design flaw: it is very difficult to disassemble, which discourages routine maintenance. Disassembly requires a punch tool (not provided by S&W) to drive out the takedown pin on the left side of the pistol. This must be done while holding the partially retracted slide and frame precisely aligned against spring tension, with no alignment marks. The punch tool must simultaneously press the 1/32 flush end of the takedown pin on the right side of the pistol. So presise alignment is required on the left and right sides, while holding the gun against recil spring tension. I need my girlfriend to drive the punch on the right while I look to hold the slide aligned with the unmarked frame on the left. FLAWED S&W DESIGN!

  9. It looks like a good gun but I would prefer it to come with adjustable night sights and have S/A D/A trigger. If I am going to have to carry a S/A only gun and have to carry it cocked and locked like a 1911, I’d rather carry a 1911.

  10. Very good looking firearm. Not a very good choice for pocket carry. A single action, cocked and locked firearm is not ideally safe for pocket carry and requires an experienced hand in presentation; and should not be advertised as such. Redundant trigger safety is not a good 1911 feature as is the not so good trigger. I love the size and look of this gun and would try it in a proper holster IWB.

  11. In the 80’s STAR model BM 9mm pistols were commercially sold. As an “almost: mini 1911, it was a good pistol. Too bad, as except for the few Spanish military surplus guns showing up from time to time, they are no longer available. S&W should have examined a STAR BM, and as the STAR factory no longer exists, upgrading the design of the BM could have been a good starting point. As example, look at what has happened when the BROWING HI-POWER was updated by FN and some others.

  12. The trigger complaints are one of the reasons I’ve hesitated getting one. My favorite small-medium pistols are the Star BM, BKM, and BKS. They are perfectly sized 9mm handguns capable of holding 8+1 rounds. My only complaints are the lack of an ambidextrous safety and a drop free magazine (corrected on the heavier and clunkier Starfire) . If a company were to start making improved versions of these handguns again, they could compete with the S&W.

  13. Great little gun that you almost forget you have, but it’s there when you need it. Shoots like a big gun and feels like solid equipment.

    Downside: Take it to a range and everyone want’s to hold it and try it out.

    5/5 stars.

  14. I have a Glock 9mm and it shoots good, but do not use it much can never get past no hammer, and plastic, I know there suppose to be the gun, and police,and everyone loves them, well I don’t matter fact I like wheel guns are best only 6 rounds true, but 357 you only need 1 2 at the most SP 100 out of the box I was getting 2 inch groups, thinking of selling my Glock and going back to all metal , really like 1911 45 ACP I like the 40cal the 9mm are ok, just ok.have to think about it, but this carry S AND W does look nice thanks

  15. I beleive S&W has always made quality handguns. I have owned and still have quite a few. I have had them for years and theybare the Models 4506, and 4516-1. I have always been a hugh fan since I read an article back in 1991 for Guns Bad Ammo that featured both models on the cover. To me, the solid feel of an all metal firearm feels the best. Recoil absorption is far more supine than polymers. I also ow a performance center .45 Shield. At first in was apprehensive but curious at the same time. The price was great since I made my purchase from a great sale and rebate program. Compared to my 4516-1, there is none, however I grew to enjoy shooting my PC and put some 15k rounds threw it over the years and it remains solid as it did from day 1. I was impressed. I carry that firearm daily since I made my purchase and It seems to made a nice home with its older generations. I haven’t had the opportunity to check out the CSX , but the more I read about them, the trigger seems to be the biggest issue pointed out. I wonder why S&W would put out a quality firearm and know the trigger is inferior to others. Anyways I do look forward to checking this firearm and maybe adding it to my S&W family.

  16. Maybe if Smith and Wesson offer a Gen 2 or a Performance Center Model with a better trigger I would be interested. As it stands I love the idea, but there’s no excuse for a Single Action to have a crummy trigger.

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