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SHOT 2014 — Smith and Wesson SD9-VE 9mm California Compliant

Picture shows the top of a S&W pistol with a california-compliant tactile loaded chamber indicator.

Poor California. Last year was rough for gun owners who live in the Golden State. California Governor Jerry Brown approved 11 new gun restriction laws in 2013. But don’t worry Californians! Smith and Wesson is really nice and for 2014 have made its affordable and reliable self-defense and target pistol California-compliant. The Smith and Wesson Model SD9-VE’s basic functionality and design is nothing new. This series of pistols have been around for quite some time. In fact, they are a throw back to S&W’s first foray into the polymer-framed pistol world replacing what used to be called the Sigma. The SD9-VE is a striker-fired, polymer-framed semi-auto chambered in 9mm. The stainless steel constructed barrel and slide with black polymer grip and frame make for an overall two-tone finish. The magazine holds a California-legal 10 rounds. Though not a hair-trigger by any means, the 8-pound Self Defense Trigger (SDT™) breaks and resets nicely. Basic features remain the same. Sights are white dot and dovetailed. The 18-degree angled grip is ergonomic and has a textured finger locator. There are aggressive front and back strap texturing, as well. To help grasp the slide in racking, the S&W SD9-VE has front and rear slide serrations. A standard, Picatinny-style rail allows you to mount lights or lasers for home defense.

Picture from SHOT show 2014 showing a S&W SD9-VE pistol.
For 2014 S&W made its affordable and reliable self-defense and target pistol California-Compliant.

What is different is the very noticeable lever you see on top of the gun’s slide. S&W has added the California-compliant tactile loaded chamber indicator for safety. At almost a full-size handgun—I consider 5-inch barrel full-sized—with a 4-inch barrel, the S&W SD9-VE makes an excellent entry-level gun or a self-defense and target pistol equally.

.40 S&W is also available. As one of Smith and Wesson’s best deals, the SD9-VE suggested retail price is $409. For those of you who live in a freer state, Cheaper Than Dirt! sells the non-California Compliant model SD9-VE with a 16-round capacity and the SD40-VE with 14-round capacity for $355.

Picture shows the top of a S&W pistol with a california-compliant tactile loaded chamber indicator.
This is the California-compliant tactile loaded chamber indicator.

Specifications and features

  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Capacity: 10 rounds
  • Barrel length: 4”
  • Trigger pull: SDT™ 8 lb.,CA Compliant
  • Safety: Tactile Loaded Chamber Indicator
  • Action: Striker-fired
  • Sights: Dovetailed, white dot front, fixed 2-dot rear, Picatinny rail
  • Grip: Ergonomic, textured with finger locator
  • Frame: Polymer
  • Slide and barrel: Stainless steel
  • Overall length: 7.2”
  • Weight: 22.7 ounces
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 (2)

  1. I don’t live in California now but bought the CA version of the SD9VE because of it’s added safety features. Although I have a concealed carry permit, this gun will spend it’s life (except for some range time) in a bedside drawer. I can leave a round in the chamber or not, but will leave the magazine out or not fully in. In the dark of the night during an emergency I can tell whether there is a round in the chamber just by picking up the gun. I can jam in the magazine and know I’m prepared to defend the family, in complete darkness.

    I won’t have to remember how I left the gun 6 months ago. The gun will tell me.

    On the range it shoots just fine – my first range time was outdoors in the rain and I hit those 3″ metal targets right away.

    I have a laser pointer but may not keep it on the gun. I have tried two different ones and they are at their extreme adjustment angle to align with the sights. The problem may be with the inexpensive pointers or variations in how the pointers clamp on to the polymer rail, but even so, at self-defense distances an inch or two in collimation is not a factor, and the red glow should be a deterrent. I’ll decide later about the pointers.

  2. I purchased the S&W SD9ve, California spec, pistol and have been surprised and pleased by the quality and accuracy of this side arm. I’m not from CA only found myself working here and am still here. 🙂 I’ve owned S&W’s, Ruger’s, Sig-Sauer’s, Taurus, Kel-Tech and others over the years. But in the Most Bang for Your Buck Department, the SD9ve/SD40ve win hands down. In this uncertain political climate I wanted to get a pistol for Self Defense and Home Protection, while I still could. I have a Winchester SXP Defender Shotgun, but wanted a pistol too. I looked around and the same pistol continued to pop up on lists and reviews. So, I finally went in to have a look at a few pistols and after holding the S&W it was all over. It is the perfect size for me. I did not want or need a hide out gun, so I liked the 4 inch barrel. I value reasonable recoil and fast follow up shots, so choosing the 9mm over the 40 S&W was simple. There is no advantage on magazine round count, because it’s maxed at 10. You can get less, but you cannot get more. Let’s face it there is nothing Comparable for sale in California at the SD9ve’s price.Truly nothing, that could match the features and quality. I know because I looked. 🙂 After making my selection and waiting the required 10 days, I collected the pistol and headed home with my prize. I had researched the reviews and blogs. Everyone (almost) complains about the trigger. It’s too long, it’s too heavy, it resets to slow. When I first went to the range I expected to be disappointed….Low and Behold, I was not! It felt like a long DA revolver trigger with a clean snap at the end. This is the Horrible trigger? I shot well centered respectable groups from the very first string. The shooters on either side of me, wanted to know what tack driver I was shooting. Our targets were all at the same distance and they were not having as much success as I was. ( and me shooting a brand new gun with a Terrible trigger 😉 ) I put a 150 rounds of mixed ammo through it and not a hesitation or hiccup was seen. I’m not a Bulls Eye shooter or an expert, but I do try to hit what I aim at. So, lets review: A Brand Named new sub $400 Semi Auto pistol, that is reliable, accurate, perfect for new shooters or crusty veterans, it’s good looking, all with a Lifetime Warranty? I would say that’s an Excellent Job of building a better mouse trap at a better price, congratulations Smith & Wesson!

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