At a recent gun show I looked at a lot of firearms as usual, but only one really stood out in appearance, feel and price; the Smith & Wesson SDVE semi-auto pistol. Both the look and the price were the primary attractants. When I finally picked one up I liked the ergonomic design of the grips and the fit in my hand. The balance seemed just right for me. The weight in these pistols is minimized by the polymer material used in the construction of the frame. The pricing seemed very competitive  compared to other similar pistols made by well-known gun makers. I looked at the pistols in both the .40 caliber and the 9mm versions. (In the photo above the .40cal round is third from the left in the ammo group on the bottom right.) The price range was varied by $20.00 at three different dealer’s booths. I liked them, but I didn’t buy one although I left the show with some good priced ammo. I was glad to see Georgia Arms back at the show again. I was able to buy a fair amount of .38 specials from them at good prices. If you attend a show in the Southeast US look for their booth.

On the way back home I kept thinking about the Smith. I needed to stop in our local big box sporting goods store to look for a pair of shoes and while there I thought I wander over to the firearms section just to see if they had the SDVE pistols there. I couldn’t see one until I got down on my hands and knees, looked on the bottom shelf all the way to the rear in the back left hand corner. There, hiding in the shadows was what looked like two SDVE pistols with the prices hidden. I asked about them. The clerk said they were Smiths. I asked to look at one, but he acted like he really didn’t want to help. Later I found out why. They were on sale, there were only three and some of the employees wanted them. "Too bad, I’m buying one now guys", was what I was thinking.

And I did. Before I settled on one I went back and forth between the 9mm and the .40cal. The 9mm holds 16 rounds in the magazine + 1 in the chamber. The .40cal holds 14 + 1. I liked the extra rounds in the 9, but I wanted a larger caliber pistol. The unloaded weight of 22.7 ounces was the same for both calibers so there was no consideration there. It all came down to capacity and the 14 + 1 in the .40cal sounded good to me.

I don’t think anyone will run out and buy an S&W SD40VE just because I bought one. The reality of it is I wouldn’t recommend this firearm for just anyone. In fact, I never recommend any firearm to anyone. If someone asks me what might be a good gun for them to buy I ask, "Why do you need one", and then I recommend they go out and shoot a good variety of weapons. They can then answer their own question.

Why won’t I recommend the SDVE series to just anyone? This pistol does not have a safety. I’m very well aware of the reasoning behind this, but anyone who is not experienced with firearms and in particular with pistols, needs to be aware of this factor. The "no safety" controversy is confused even more if the discussion turns to leaving the chamber empty. If needed quickly can you chamber a round and fire accurately fast enough to stop a bad guy? This component, or lack thereof, actually makes the weapon more dangerous in the hands of an inexperienced shooter. I know there are a lot of opinions and we all know the best safety is between our ears, but the SDVE series may not be a good first pistol for the newbie or for someone who’s only familiarity with firearms is short term and with revolvers.      

For an experienced shooter who’s looking to purchase a budget-priced firearm the Smith & Wesson SD9VE or the SD40VE may be just the right pistol. I think, with the right expectations, anyone would enjoy owning and shooting this handgun. The recoil is manageable and I think the design contributes a lot in that direction. It comes with two magazines which is a good thing, because they are not on the cheap side. It's fun to shoot, but then again I like anything the goes boom, issues flame, smoke, the aromas of burnt gun powder and causes some sort of projectile to end up down range a ways.

I’ve taken this gun to the range and put about 80 rounds through it so far. Shot number 5 failed to battery, but after that it cycled flawlessly. That included firing a mag full as fast as I could pull the trigger. My primary first visit to the range was to test reliability and the ease of shooting. I’ll be going again soon to focus on accuracy at different distances. I let you know how that goes. By the way, I paid $319.99 for it.   

Thanks for reading. Join the NRA.

Jack McSwain for



09/19/2013 5:51pm

No safety means a big "NO" for any new gun owners. Kind of ironic since this gun would be ideal for inexperienced if it did due to the price point. It would be better to get something with a safety IMO.


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