April 2010

Smith Lover’s Quandary: Is One Of These 9mms Right for You?

A reader-generated story idea intrigued us: In a line as vast as Smith & Wesson’s handguns, how does the shooter who likes the brand allocate his money? We look at three options.

In this test we have a diverse trio of pistols that offer a wide look at some of what’s available in the world of Smith & Wesson’s full-size 9mm handguns. We acquired a striker-fired M&P 9 Pro Series with fiber optic front sight (No. 178010, $830). Next up was a 9mm 1911-type pistol in the SW1911 Pro Series (No. 178017, $1683). Last, we assessed the Performance Center-built Model 952 (No. 170244, $2402), which is essentially a remake of the old 38-Special-only Model 52, but for 9mm ammunition.

All three of these guns felt considerably different in the hand, as though they were made on totally different planets. They were all set up to some extent for self defense. Even the 952 had a relieved magazine well for fast reloads. The M&P9 held 17+1 rounds, the SW1911 held 10+1, and the 952 held 9+1 rounds. The weights of these guns were also quite different, the heaviest being the 1911, which also had thick grip panels that we found to be a touch on the over-filling side.

We tested the trio with Fiocchi 115-grain JHP, Black Hills 147 FMJ, and with Winchester BEB 115-grain truncated-cone ammo. We evaluated the three guns for self-defensive use, and also for potential target shooting, particularly the 952. Here’s what we found.

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