April 22, 2012

S&W Model SW1911 No. 178017 9mm

Gun Tests Magazine recently tested a 9mm 1911-type pistol in the SW1911 Pro Series (No. 178017, $1683).

Here's what they said:

The SW1911 held 10+1 rounds. We tested the gun with Fiocchi 115-grain JHP, Black Hills 147 FMJ, and with Winchester BEB 115-grain truncated-cone ammo. We evaluated the gun for self-defensive use, and also for potential target shooting. Here’s what we found.

S&W Model SW1911 No. 178017 9mm, $1683

This mostly stainless steel pistol was very well turned out. We all thought it looked just great. The workmanship was outstanding, including the very nice 30-line-per-inch checkering on the front strap. The stippled wood grips were a touch on the fat side, we thought, but offered a good grip. The mainspring housing was also checkered, about 20 LPI. The dovetailed, fixed sights gave an excellent picture, and the rear could be drifted for windage by first loosening an Allen screw. The sights featured three white dots, and we found them to be right on the money. The ambi safety levers had sharp serrations on top, and function was perfect. The sights, safety levers, grip safety, extractor, mainspring housing, hammer, and magazine extension were all finished in well-done matte bluing. The gun was well set up for self-defense shooting, and had a nearly perfect smooth top to its slide that wouldn’t cut the weak hand in clearance drills. We used a scraper to eliminate a knife edge on the rear opening of the ejection port, and then it was just fine for any kind of drill. Two ten-round stainless magazines came with the gun. The mags had plastic bases and followers, the only non-steel items we found.

Gun Tests April 2010


The only way to tell this is not a 45 is to look at the muzzle, or read the bold stamping on the chamber. We thought this was a handsome example of a 1911, with enough contrasting colors to set it off from the crowd.

This was a heavy gun. How heavy? The SW1911 empty weighed nearly as much as a fully loaded, full-size 45-caliber 1911. We measured it at 41 ounces. While this might pull down your belt, the good news is that felt recoil was essentially non-existent, no matter how stout the ammunition. We realize many shooters of 9mm handguns like the large ammo capacity of most of them, but this gun holds only 11 rounds.

Some of our crew would have liked to see less gun weight and more ammo, but the only way to get more ammo would be to make the grip fatter, or extend the magazine. Can you make do with 11 shots before reloading? It’s your choice. If you’re familiar with the 1911 genre you won’t have anything new to learn here. We realize there are many good reasons to shoot 9mm handguns over 45s, including less recoil and easier or cheaper ammo sources. The 1911 package is well proved in gunfighting circles, so the various 9mm versions make a lot of sense.

Gun Tests April 2010


On the range we were quite stunned by the excellent trigger. It broke cleanly at 3.4 pounds and stopped dead. It was one of the finest trigger pulls we’ve seen on any handgun in a long time. The sights were right on the money, and the gun was capable of very decent accuracy. Several times we had four of the five shots of a group fall into an inch or less, with one of them flying a bit out of the cluster. We believe more shooting and careful ammo selection would pay dividends here, but even the worst accuracy was more than acceptable. There were no failures of any kind with this attractive handgun. It lent itself to fast and accurate shooting as well as any pistol ever made. Our only complaint was that it probably didn’t need to be quite so heavy, but if you prefer the 9mm cartridge over the 45 in your handgun, you probably won’t mind the extra recoil-damping weight. This pistol also would serve the NRA Centerfire target shooter quite well, we thought. It had sufficient accuracy and that superb trigger would make things easier at 50 yards, offhand.

Gun Tests April 2010


Takedown was typical 1911, with the addition of a non-fussy extended rod for the slide spring. All the parts inside and out showed very fine finish and excellent workmanship.

Our Team Said: This pistol is twice the price of the M&P9. Is it twice the gun? Maybe, if you must have an all-steel handgun and must have the 1911 style. And that fabulous trigger counts a lot in the right direction, making this gun a viable compromise for both self defense and serious target work. We gave it a grade of B+.