July 9, 2008

Smith & Wesson M457 No. 104804 .45 ACP

The Model 457 is one of the oldest remaining products in the Smith & Wesson catalog. Also available with a matte stainless finish (model number 457S), this design is closely related to the “Second Generation” pistols that were popular with law enforcement when semi-automatics first replaced the revolver. What we liked best about the 457 was the way it lined up in our hands.

The distance between the face of the trigger and the rear of the grip was just right, even when the trigger was in its rearward position for single-action fire. The plastic grip looked and felt like it was part of the aluminum frame. The seven round magazines included a basepad with a pinky rest, so even those shooters with the largest hands were satisfied.

The stealth black finish turned out to be very durable, and it remained unmarred throughout our tests. The right side of the gun was devoid of graphics and levers. We did however spy an externally mounted extractor flush fit with the slide, which also featured cocking serrations to the rear only. The left side showed silver-colored lettering, a slide stop, and a decocker/safety lever mounted on the slide. The decocking lever was used to drop the hammer safely over a chambered round. After pressing the decocker, the lever would remain in its downward position deactivating the trigger. To return to safe-off, first shot double action required that the shooter manually push the lever upwards. The hammer on the 457 was without a tang or spur, and after decocking remained nearly flush with the back of the slide. An additional safety was the magazine release. With the magazine removed or simply ajar, the trigger was once again disconnected.

The controls of this gun may be unnecessarily complicated, but so much is right with the way it fits the hand.

Sights were a low-mount snag-free design mounted via dovetail cuts in the slide at both the front and rear. Sight acquisition was aided by white dots on the front blade and the rear notch. Firing single action only from support, we established two benchmarks of note. The measurement of our five-shot groups averaged 1.7 inches firing both the Hornady and Winchester WinClean ammunition and 2.0 inches across shooting the Winchester Silvertips. The length of the 457’s barrel was measured to be slightly less than 3.75 inches and the Glock’s barrel measured slightly more than 3.75 inches. Overall average velocities for both pistols were about the same. But in terms of recoil control, we felt that the Smith & Wesson far outstripped the Glock. Naturally, the metallic frame of the 457 furnished more weight than either of our polymer pistols, but we think the larger contributing factor was the superior grip of the Smith & Wesson that we felt provided a more natural angle than the Glock.

In our 557 test, the Smith & Wesson was the top performer, even though our shooters were challenged with a transition from double to single action after the first shot of every group. Group size averaged about 3.75 inches across. What distinguished these groups from those fired by its competitors was that they were centered on the point of aim. The consensus of our staff was that of the three test guns, the Smith & Wesson offered the least variation in feel from the moment the trigger was acquired to the point of dissipation of recoil, and that the transition from double to single action forced only minimal adjustment upon the shooter. What we did argue about was the additional step presented by the combination decocker/safety lever. For example, during a training exercise, once the gun is taken off target, the command is, “Finger off the trigger, outside the trigger guard. Safety on if you have one; decock if you have decocker.” The 457 design offered two choices here. They were to decock and raise the lever manually for next shot double action, or to press the decocker and leave the safety on.

After pressing the decocker, the lever remained in its down position, deactivating the trigger. The lever had to be pushed upward to its 9 o’clock position to re-engage the trigger for first-shot double-action fire.

For members of our staff favoring today’s double-action-only pistols, the extra step seemed unnecessary. The intention of this design was to add an extra layer of safety. So was the magazine release, which disconnected the trigger. This feature has been used to foil gun grabs. Rather than prolong a fight for the weapon, the gun could be rendered useless by hitting the magazine release while the officer goes on to acquire an alternate weapon. Operators that would rather have the ability to fire an emergency shot in the middle of a reload should, however, be comforted by the fact that we thought the Smith & Wesson 457 was the most controllable of our test guns when fired offhand.

Comments (10)

I just purchased a used S&W 457 for $350.00. It did not come with a manual. I fired it for the first time 2 days ago. I felt that it shot well, but low. I even adjusted my aim so that the front sight post covered the bulls eye. I intially had trouble finding additional magazines, but did manage to buy a few more off eBay. (Two of the mags were $36.00 each, plus postage, one went for $45.00 + S&H). Anyway, I want to clean the weapon, but it did not come with a manual. I search for a video showing disassembly, but have yet to find one. I am quite familiar with the 1911 series, as I was an Armorer for a few years in the US Army. I also own a Colt Gold Cup since 1987. The S&W 457 looks similar to a 1911, just thought I'd ask before trying to break it down by merely aligning the pin with the notch on the slide.

Posted by: Irish-7 | June 29, 2014 11:12 PM    Report this comment

I too purchased or traded for my S&W model 457. I got laid off and in a financial fix sold it and six months later after connecting with a good job got it back. This is my favorite handgun of all times. I have owned over 400. I was a career cop. I taught firearmes for years. This little compact was in my opinion designed by someone at Smoth and Wesson that really put their heart into its design and manufacture. It is very comfortable inside the pants and very concealable. It is an excellent shooter and 45acp is my all time favorite because it out performe the 9mm and the 40cal. I live in Washington state and we've just lost 6 officers in shooting deaths in the past two months and I am perplexed at the stopping power of the 40. Is anyone keeping accurate records of its capability and success or lack of success in actual shootings?

Posted by: Beanswitchbottom | January 7, 2010 10:06 PM    Report this comment

As the date notations on the reader comments indicate, this report is an old one dating from July 2008. Nonetheless, the M457 continues to be a practical piece for concealed carry. I often have a difficult time deciding whether to carry my 457 or my SIG M245. Often the S&W wins out, since the SIG has a 6 round magazine, while the S&W has a 7 round magazine. In most cases, though, it is a coin toss that decides the issue, since both guns are fine carry pieces.

Posted by: canovack | January 22, 2009 6:50 PM    Report this comment

what do used guns sell for??

Posted by: n.a. | January 22, 2009 5:10 PM    Report this comment

This gun looks a lot like the S&W Model 908, which is in 9 mm. I have used one for several years as a carry weapon and to qualify and requalify for my CHL. It is a very narrow gun, which facilitates concealment.

One thing to keep in mind with the type of decocker is that the gun must be carried decocked and with the decocking lever returned to the "fire" position. Otherwise, it requires two hands to draw the gun, move the decocker up to the fire position, and be ready to bring the weapon into action.

Also note that it has a "spurless" hammer, so that the pistol cannot be "thumbed" into a single action first shot. I believe S&W offers a modification to a spurred hammer, for those who want that capability.

Posted by: James H | July 11, 2008 2:47 PM    Report this comment

As the headliner of the article states, the S&W M457 is a .45ACP pistol.

Posted by: canovack | July 11, 2008 10:31 AM    Report this comment

I have had similar experiences with my 457. I had Novaks add tritium sights and have hard chromed the entire gun. Hogue kingwood grips finish it off. It's a great gun and entirely reliable. However, I have one problem. With 230 gr. HydraShoks it shoots 4" low at seven yards. It did the same with the factory sights. I've heard many comments through the years of shooters with the same problem. I tried to find an adjustable rear sight, but no one makes one. I tried Trijicon to get a lower front sight but they don't make them any more. Novaks could not help either. Since this is my primary self-defense gun, I don't want to have to think "shoot high" in a high stress situation. If anyone has an answer, I'd love to hear it. Thx! Steve

Posted by: General Sherman | July 10, 2008 10:02 PM    Report this comment

OK. SO WHAT CALIBER IS THIS WEAPON?

Posted by: JOHN P | July 10, 2008 8:53 PM    Report this comment

I think I would like to have or two of those 457 by S&W.

Posted by: HARRY L. H | July 10, 2008 4:46 PM    Report this comment

I have owned a Model 457 for several years, having purchased it used at a local gun show. I replaced the stocks with Hogue soft rubber grips and replaced the sights with 3-dot + dash tritium night sights. This pistol is a very handy, good feeling, good shooting piece that fits very nicely into a DeSantis holster that was originally made for a Sig Sauer P228. It conceals very nicely in this rig which I carry accompanied by two extra 7-round magazines on my off side.

Posted by: canovack | July 10, 2008 3:55 PM    Report this comment

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