Firearms

Smith & Wesson Sigma Gets an Upgrade: SD9 2.0

Smith & Wesson SD9 2.0 9mm semi-automatic double action only handgun with TruGlo combat light attached to the dust cover

In 1994, Smith & Wesson introduced the Sigma, a polymer-framed semi-automatic as its answer to the ever-increasing competition from the Glock pistol. Sigma pistols do not have external safeties and are double action only. They do have an internal firing pin block safety.

The trigger consists of two parts, the lower half which connects to the upper half via a hinge. The lower half must be partially depressed before the trigger can be pulled. Glock sued S&W for patent infringement, claiming the Sigma trigger was a direct copy of the Glock trigger. The two companies settled the lawsuit, S&W paid Glock some money, and made small changes to the trigger mechanism and kept right on making Sigmas.

S&W SD9 2.0 9mm semi-auto handgun, left profile
Changes to the SD include a straight trigger, deeper slide serrations, and internal mods to the trigger and sear assembly.

Sigma History

There have been several configurations as far as color and barrel length over the years. The Sigma model name was changed in 2000 to SDVE 9 or SDVE 40. According to marketing materials from the day, the SD stands for Self-Defense and the VE stands for Value Enhanced. From 2000 on, the gun has been issued with a black frame and stainless-steel slide, or a gray or FDE frame with a black slide.

In 2007, S&W introduced its first M&P semi-automatic, which has become its predominant polymer-framed semi-automatic. The SDVE remained in the lineup. Because it is priced under the M&P, it has been considered by most people as a bargain or introductory pistol. Where the M&Ps have been typically $650 and up, the SDVE price has remained in the $350 to $400 range. The newest model, which is the subject of this review, is priced around $300.

Since day one, the series has featured good ergonomics. It has an easy, but secure, grip texture on the sides with front and back strap checkering. The initial models were released in both 9mm and .40 S&W with 4-inch stainless-steel barrels, steel slide, and polymer frame. The 9mm uses a 16-round magazine, and the .40 S&W uses a 14-round magazine.

The guns weigh 23.1 ounces empty, are 7.2 inches long, 5.5 inches high, and 1.29 inches wide. These are approximately the same measurements as the Glock 19 and M&P 9mm. S&W released a green NATO look in 2001 in an attempt to increase military sales. The advantage to this finish is that it reflects absolutely no light.

The NATO model is when the accessory rail for mounting optics first appeared under the frame forward of the trigger guard. That same year, a ported model was issued to allow the gas pressure generated by the cartridge to be released just before the bullet left the barrel. The sides of the stainless-steel slide were polished, and the top was matte.

S&W SD9 2.0 9mm semi-auto handgun atop a SDVE pistol
The top of the 2.0 slide has full-length anti-glare grooves (top) which is another feature that sets it apart from the earlier models (bottom).

In my early experience as an instructor, I observed that the Sigmas brought to class by students often suffered feed issues. In my mind it was a jam-o-matic. Consequently, I didn’t want one — even though I always thought it was a good-looking gun. As I gained more experience teaching live classes, I came to learn that many of the problems that were blamed on the gun were the result of inexperienced shooters limp-wristing their pistols. Quite simply, the shooters were not providing the guns with a proper platform necessary for smooth operation.

It wasn’t just the Sigma/SDVEs that were experiencing this, but other guns as well, including some pretty pricey Kimber models. Both companies quietly made improvements, so the problems became a thing of the past. If you study the inner workings of the SDVE compared to the inner workings of an M&P, you’ll see there’s not that much difference.

SD9 2.0 Features

In December 2023, S&W released version 2.0 of the SD9 and dropped the VE from the name for the 9mm version. The product we have now is simply labeled the SD9 2.0. I asked S&W to send me one for evaluation. After its arrival, I learned from one of my regular shooting companions that he had an SD9 VE. He brought his; I brought mine, and we had a great time shooting and comparing the two guns.

S7W SDVE 9mm handgun's curved trigger over the flat trigger of the SD9
One of the main differences between the earlier versions and the 2.0 version is the trigger. The curved trigger (top) has been replaced by a straight, flat-face trigger (bottom).

Externally, the SD 9 2.0 has an almost identical frame to that of the SD9 VE, but it has a different trigger. The 2.0 trigger is straight — not hinged — with a flat-faced trigger safety that must be depressed before the trigger can be moved to the rear. My trigger pull gauge registers an average of 3.2 pounds for the 2.0 and 3.6 pounds for the older gun. Not much difference. The slide on the 2.0 has deeper serrations (front and rear), and full-length, anti-glare lines on the top. Both guns have white, three-dot sights that are drift-adjustable and may be replaced with Tritium sights if desired.

The inner workings of the 2.0 have some minor changes that are apparently there to facilitate smoother operation. There is no major technical difference in how the two guns operate. The top of the striker safety plunger is flat on the earlier models and tapered on the 2.0. The back end of the trigger bar assembly and striker housing assembly are reworked on the 2.0 gun.

The part where the trigger bar engages the sear is flat on the new gun and edged on the older guns. They don’t work differently. They’re just shaped differently as far as I can see. I’m sure a mechanical engineer could tell us why the change was made, but it is beyond me.

field stripped S&W SD9 2.0 9mm semi-auto pistol
The SD pistols utilize pull-down tabs for takedown that are similar to the Glock method. Takedown does not require a trigger pull.

Range Testing

My friend and I shot his gun and the new 2.0 gun side-by-side for this review. We swapped guns several times during our shooting session. It’s interesting, but shooting at seven and 10 yards, both of us got slightly tighter groups with the older gun. Not so much that it would make a difference in a defensive encounter, but several times we shot one ragged hole-type groups with the SD9 VE. However, the SD9 2.0 never gave us that type of performance. It got close, but not right on the money.

I couldn’t help but compare the guns to any of the several M&Ps I have. There is no question the M&Ps have better triggers, but are they more accurate? Some are, some aren’t, but in distances up to 15 yards there’s not enough difference to stake your life on. We ran Winchester White Box, Winchester Defend, PMC FMJ, Hornady Handgun Hunter, and CCI Blazer FMJ rounds through the guns. There were no malfunctions in two different range sessions.

Final Thoughts

I came away from the two range sessions with a new appreciation for both the SD9 VE and the SD 9 2.0. These are guns that sell in the $300–$350 range. Yet either one of them would perform when needed as an SD (Self-Defense) pistol carried in a holster or stored in a vehicle glove box or console. In making the changes to the 2.0 model, S&W may have succeeded in bringing new life to the model.

However, I can’t help but notice that as of this writing, the S&W website still lists the SD and SDVE models along with the SD 2.0. The older models include guns chambered in .40 S&W, 10-round magazine guns, and variations in sight types. However, if you want just a basic 9mm, 16-round, three-dot sight, striker-fired handgun, and don’t want to pay over $400, the SD9 2.0

S&W SD9 2.0 9mm semi-auto pistol with a paper test target and a box of CCI Blazer ammunition
The author found both the SD VE and SD 2.0 to be accurate. This target is just one example of many produced during testing. It was shot at five yards using CCI Blazer ammo.

Glock style trigger and takedown without having to pull the trigger, plenty of accuracy, and an a price tag that’s hard to beat… What else could you ask for? Share your S&W SD9 2.0 review in the Comment section.

  • S&W SD9 2.0 9mm semi-auto handgun with boxes of Winchester, CCI, and Speer ammunition
  • S&W SD9 2.0 9mm semi-auto handgun in a De Santis Vanquisher IWB holster
  • S&W SD9 2.0 9mm semi-auto pistol with a paper test target and a box of CCI Blazer ammunition
  • field stripped S&W SD9 2.0 9mm semi-auto pistol
  • S&W SD9 2.0 9mm semi-auto handgun atop a SDVE pistol
  • S7W SDVE 9mm handgun's curved trigger over the flat trigger of the SD9
  • S&W SD9 2.0 9mm semi-auto handgun, left profile
  • S&W SD9 2.0 9mm semi-auto pistol, right profile

About the Author:

David Freeman

David is an NRA Instructor in pistol, rifle and shotgun, a Chief Range Safety Officer and is certified by the State of Texas to teach the Texas License to Carry Course and the Hunter Education Course. He has also owned and operated a gun store. David's passion is to pass along knowledge and information to help shooters of all ages and experience levels enjoy shooting sports and have the confidence to protect their homes and persons. He flew medevac helicopters in Vietnam and worked for many years as a corporate pilot before becoming actively involved in the firearm industry.
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 (9)

  1. I have conducted a direct comparison of a SDVE40 and a Glock G22(40S&W). An inexperienced shooter fired the SD at a 55gal drum at 50 ft. He did not hit the target even once. He then fired the Glock at the same target. He couldn’t miss with the Glock. The difference? Almost certainly it was the trigger. The reason S&W changed that trigger is no mystery to me. The old trigger sucked swamp water. It was definitely due for a change. I don’t see how Glock could have sued Smith over that trigger. There is no comparison. Stay safe.

  2. First of, pretty decent review, Mr. Freeman… however I’d like to point out that you’re a little off with the dates. The Sigma, also known as SW series was introduced in 1994. There was originally the SW9F and SW40F with black frame and slide. Then shortly after were the smaller concealed SW9M and SW380M. Then later in ’94 due to the AWB they introduced the 10rd restricted model, the SW9V and SW40V with light grey frames and slides. At the same time they introduced the SW9C and SW40C with black frames and slide like the original F models but had a DAO heavy trigger to simulate the trigger feel of a revolver and was heavily marketed towards PDs because many were transitioning away from revolvers. Then in 1999 the SW9VE and SW40VE was introduced. A P variant was introduced as well which was ported. The SD9 and SD40 didn’t come about until 2010. The SW and SD are *similar* most of the parts are not interchangable. Magazines are swappable. The SD is the redesigned SW to be more inline with the M&P. Then in 2012 S&W brought out the SD9VE and SD40VE. The SD and SD VE are mechanically identical with the difference being the SD had a black slide and tritium front sight and the SD VE had a stainless slide and standard front sight. Reason I happen to know all this is I eventually made the rank of Master Sergeant with a division of my state’s law enforcement agency. I was our field unit’s 2nd armorer, was one of our range masters and instructors. We had a long standing contract with S&W. We carried the 686 revolver, then transitioning to the M&P when it debuted in 2005. During some of the S&W armorer’s courses we got some history on the SW/Sigma series. I of course had a SW/Sigma 40, then the M&P40 for personal use as that’s what we were also issued. Then got the SD40VE in 2012 when it debuted, got it for $275. The new SD VE 2.0 looks good, the trigger is an improvement. Internals are basically indentical but modified for smoother trigger operation and of course the trigger itself is improved… if the SD VE 2.0 holds up like my SD40VE has over the last 12 years it’s well worth a look from someone wanting an inexpensive self defense handgun. Nice they dropped the price but c’mon, S&W… supplying only ONE magazine…? But, if you have any SW/Sigma mags lying around they’ll fit and function just fine. Only difference is the floorplates.

  3. Jamomatic is right. Sent back to S&W. They replaced the extractor and polished the chamber. Still wouldn’t go through a mag without an extaction failure.

  4. I bought Mt S&W SD9 2.0 in Feb ’24. Had issues “Out of Box” with Magazines falling out the gun when shooting.!
    That’s 2 days After I bought the gun. Called Up S&W for warranty. Lady Saud they are Sending out a New Mag Release Button. NEVER Received It. It’s April 6th 2024 now.
    Ended up Buying Used mag release button from Ebay. That fixed the issue there…
    As I was showing a freind of mine This SD9 2.0 9mm. He shined a light down the Barrel. Found out half the Riflings Wasnt There!!! Another Jacked Up Issue. Didn’t bother Calling S&W due to Shitty Service I had prior. Went online, bought a brand new SD9 9mm .
    $ 91. (Not SD9 2.0 Barrel).
    Received it in few days.
    Inspection proved it to be in Excellent Order.
    Installed it. Took it to range 2 days later.
    Now I’m happy with the way this gun shoots .
    I Will Not Buy Another S&W Anything. Quality Control Issues are Seriously Substandard!!

  5. Bought the SW9VE from a pawn shop in 2015. Payed too much for it but it was in pristine condition and looked unused entirely.
    Didn’t know anything about the Sigma pistol , only that I’m a Sigma male and liked the look.
    It’s a full-size handgun, good grip, good trigger and , for me, just as accurate at 20 yards as the Shield counterpart.
    I was stacking rounds the first outing with this pistol. Without thinking it put rounds in small holes with little grouping. Sub Moa is an understatement. It is identical to the old Glocks which is why SW was sued by Glock and every one of the SW9VE’s sold had to pay $8.00 to Glock.
    This is when SW began making the SD9VE’s.
    The trick with the old SW9’s was to enhance the trigger system by removing one of the springs , making it a much smoother pull , taking out the grit in travel. It still isn’t as audible a reset or as felt a wall but much more improved.
    Overall, it’s a solid, reliable and user friendly model that brings confidence , even to less experienced shooters.
    Beginners rejoice as there’s many pistols that are great out of the box and this one is one of them.
    Holds pretty big torches or lasers on it as well without overhang.
    Easy to shoot, easy to fix and easy to look at.
    As an edc? It’s a big gun so that’s a user preference but it’s not the lightest or the heaviest.
    It’s more suited for HD or a truck gun perhaps. But, if you can bed rounds on a whim with it, then by all means carry it.
    It’s all about the users ability and nothing more.

  6. This last sentence wraps up the story on this gun perfectly.
    “However, if you want just a basic 9mm, 16-round, three-dot sight, striker-fired handgun, and don’t want to pay over $400, the SD9 2.0.”
    This would have checked all my boxes when I was looking for my first carry gun. Call me a snob, but I always looked down on the SD9 models as being ugly and cheap but useful. Kinda the same way I view Glocks, now that I think about it. LOL. (Though Glocks are not really that cheap anymore.) Anyway, thanks to this article, I know now how to correctly categorize my thoughts on this S&W sleeper.

  7. Nice review, please discourage putting a carry gun in the glove box or center console
    In emergency need glove box is to far away from the driver. In the console ya have a chance but so does the assailant
    The biggest issue I have is folks leave them stored there when they aren’t in the vehicle thus arming the enemy with a stolen gun
    If one thinks it’s secure in a vehicle please add all of your other valuables with the gun

  8. The gun runs. Good job Dave

    I just done see why SW did not re-design the piece to take M&P magazines!!!!!!

    Good points

  9. The SD9 pistols look like a good deal, but they only come with one magazine and it is not interchangeable with the M&P series. I checked my distributors and none of them have 16 round magazines in stock, so the only option right now is to buy spare magazines online. The best deal I’ve found so far is from MidwayUSA, but you’ll have spend over a $100 (three mags for $110.97) if you want free shipping.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your discussions, feedback and comments are welcome here as long as they are relevant and insightful. Please be respectful of others. We reserve the right to edit as appropriate, delete profane, harassing, abusive and spam comments or posts, and block repeat offenders. All comments are held for moderation and will appear after approval.

Discover more from The Shooter's Log

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading