To be honest, when the Smith and Wesson CSX was announced, I was kind of burned out on the whole line of micro nines. As a journalist who reviews guns for a big portion of my livelihood, I feel it’s important to give shooters my take on the various manufacturer offerings to help them make the best decisions when it comes to buying guns. I’m on board with the idea of having a small gun that carries at least 10 rounds as opposed to the six- or seven-shot single-stack nines we’ve had in recent years.
Today, there are a bunch of new micro-nines that have more capacity, and I’ve reviewed most of these. However, I procrastinated on the CSX for some reason. Instead of being out on the forefront, I sat back and let others review the gun, and I read or watched their take on it.
Most liked it. As with any new gun, there were a few complaints. Some complained about the trigger and others found fault with the magazines. There was some discussion about where Smith and Wesson got the name and speculated that it might be because this gun would make a good substitute for the Chief’s Special revolver of days gone by because of its size and the steel frame. Smith and Wesson’s Marketing Manager Corey Boudreau admitted that was where the designation was derived from.
Examining the Smith and Wesson CSX
When my review copy of the CSX arrived, I immediately knew upon picking it up this was not just another black gun. Although it’s small, the all-metal construction makes it feel substantial. Smith and Wesson’s designer Brett Curry was obviously inspired by the 1911 as he created a little gun that doesn’t seem to know it’s little. The individual parts, such as the sights, slide lock, magazine release, and safety, feel strong and function perfectly for the role they play. The thumb safety, slide lock, and magazine release snap into and out of place precisely and with no hint of looseness.
Although the slide serrations, both front and back, are small to go with the small height of the slide, they are cut deep enough to provide a secure grip. Cocking handles in the form of small protrusions on each side at the rear of the slide are there to assist. While not quite as easy to rack as the EZ Rack Shield, the slide on this gun is not unpleasant to rack at all.
An opening at the rear of the ejection port serves as a loaded-chamber indicator. The sights are dovetail-mounted, drift-adjustable, and have a bright single dot up front with two dots in the rear. Anti-glare serrations on top of the slide remind me of the Smith and Wesson 1911s and add to the overall coolness of the gun. The slide lock and frame safety are ambidextrous, and the magazine release is reversible.
Unlike many magazine releases that simply turn around, the CSX has a separate magazine release for the right side. To install it, the one on the left side must be removed. It’s not a complex task and the only tool required is a small screwdriver. The trigger has a blade safety which, when depressed, results in a nice flat trigger face. The single-action trigger breaks at just a little over 5 pounds.
The Smith and Wesson CSX is packaged with two magazines — 10 and a 12-round. Also in the package is an extra palm swell and a small palm swell insert grip tool used to depress a button that holds the palm swell in place. The largest palm swell was installed when I got the pistol. I tried the smaller one but went back to the larger one, even though I think of my hands as being rather small and somewhat chubby.
To check out the Chief’s Special reference, I compared the CSX to the K-Frame I have on hand, the Model 10 revolver my dad was issued as a game warden. It’s an interesting comparison because the only thing about the revolver that is bigger is the grip. The action, from the hammer to the end of the barrel on the Model 10, is actually shorter. The revolver cylinder makes it wider, but there really is a legitimate reason to think of the CSX as a modern-day replacement for the snubby revolver many cops wore on their belt.
Takedown for cleaning is almost pure 1911 except the notch for the slide lock removal is in a different place. Because it’s an ambidextrous slide lock, it breaks down into two parts for removal which requires a punch. Once the slide lock is removed, the rest of the takedown is pure 1911.
Although the CSX doesn’t have a grip safety, it was still designed to be carried cocked and locked. This is safe because the thumb safety is precise and secure, and there’s a trigger safety. I must admit, I wasn’t sure I would be comfortable with this at first, but after several shooting sessions and a thorough understanding of how the action and safeties work, I became comfortable with it.
I don’t adopt a carry gun unless I’ve shot it a bunch with defensive ammo. I must have determined that I can shoot it well, and it’s not prone to any type of failure. Because I intend to carry it, I spent considerable time with the CSX at the range.
Smaller guns are typically more challenging to hold correctly, aim properly, get a good trigger squeeze, and hold on target until the desired outcome has been achieved. However, I found the CSX easy to shoot despite its size. I spent most of my time with it shooting at 5, 7, and 10 yards. By the end of my fourth range session, I was producing targets, such as the one shown here, shot at seven yards. The CSX proved plenty accurate for defensive purposes. I’ve read other reviews in which the gun was fired from a rest at 25-yard targets, and the results were impressive.
After that fourth range session, I loaded the CSX with Norma 65-grain NXD rounds, inserted it in my Bianchi Model 101 Foldaway Belt Slide Holster, and considered myself armed. The 19.5-ounce CSX that’s only 6.1 inches long, practically disappears on my belt as far as feeling it goes. As I write this, I’m at the end of my third full week carrying the Smith and Wesson CSX as the backup to my EDC pistol.
Conclusion: S&W CSX
Am I happy with it? Yes, it’s comfortable, capable, and I’m full of confidence that it will be up to the task should I need to employ it. I’ve joined the ranks of the many who feel the CSX pistol is right for the mission and right for the times.
One of the advantages to my doing this review sort of late in the game is I’ve reviewed most of the other pistols in this same class, and although the Smith and Wesson CSX is among the smallest in the class, its aluminum frame construction and similarity to the 1911 makes it feel and shoot as if it were larger than the other guns. Of course, that’s a subjective observation and you may have a different experience. I’d love to get feedback from others who have shot this pistol.