Over the years the Smith & Wesson Sigma series has gotten a bad rap. From poor quality to a lawsuit from Glock over patent infringement, word got around. Despite the poor reputation, I decided to buy this gun and give it a go.
I bought my S&W Sigma 9mm (SW9VE) brand new at a gun show for $315 (plus tax). I was looking at Springfield XDMs and Glocks, but the Sigma fit my budget best.
Overall, the Sigma 9mm feels like a quality gun in my hand. It's a bit top heavy, but the grip is just right for my hand. With an overall length of 7.25", it's not the easiest gun to carry concealed, but it's entirely possible. My Sigma came with 2 10 round magazines which should be plenty of ammunition if the gun is needed for self defense. As a friend of mine (with a revolver) said, "If it takes more than 6 shots, I shouldn't have been there in the first place." I'd like to upgrade to 2 16 round magazines for a little extra assurance that I'll always have plenty of ammunition and it would also be nice to have more rounds ready to go at the range.
At The Range
My first time shooting this gun was a very pleasant experience. There was less recoil that I expected so lining up each following shot didn't take long. When firing rapidly the recoil seemed a little worse, but nothing intolerable.
One of the biggest complaints with the Sigma 9mm is the long and heavy trigger pull. I will admit, this gun definitely had that. But the more I shoot the gun, the looser the trigger gets. The Sigma 9mm has no safety so I can only assume the heavy trigger was added for user safety. The springs in the trigger mechanism can be changed to lighten the trigger pull, but I don't feel it's necessary for myself (mind you, I'm not a big guy but I have no problems shooting this gun).
Another complaint with this gun is rounds jamming. I've put hundreds of rounds through this gun without a hitch. It goes bang every single time. No rounds jamming, no casings getting stuck in the ejection port.
I really prefer shooting Federal Ammunition Champion 115gr FMJ rounds at the range. At $20 per box of 100 rounds, it's not too expensive to shoot. And this gun seems to love the ammo. It's a little dirty but never gives me any problems.
At home I keep my Sigma loaded with Hornady Custom 147gr JHP rounds. They're $20 for a box of 25 rounds so they're too pricey for me to shoot them at the range all the time, but I have shot them before and they cycle well in the Sigma. Even with a higher grain content than the Federal FMJs I like, the recoil seems no worse with them.
The Sigma series are incredibly easy guns to clean. Field stripping the gun takes a matter of seconds.
- Unload the gun
- Pull the slide back ~1/2"
- Pull down both sides of the lever near the front of the slide
- Let the slide come forward while holding the levers down
- Release the levers
- Pull the trigger and the slide will come forward until it is completely off the frame
- Remove the spring from the slide
- Remove the barrel from the slide
Like all guns, keeping the Sigma clean ensures good performance.
After all the bad things I've heard about the old Smith & Wesson Sigmas, I have to say they don't seem to be true with the SW9VE. I absolutely love this gun and would trust my life with it, which is why I'm going to make it my carry gun. The price is great since it's labeled as an entry level gun, it's not expensive to shoot, and it's very reliable. Great gun for sure.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
jerry holden on August 11, 2020:
can I shoot +P+ 90Ggr in my sw9ve
Roddo on April 01, 2020:
To jimmy. No he did not forget to mention it regarding takedown. It is listed as an “after action” rather than the more typical “before action” of pulling down the tabs and moving slide forward. I can only assume he listed it so to remove the need to caution users about “recocking” the gun after dry firing when pulling the tabs down as the slide is moved back slightly. But it is in there.
Jimmy on May 10, 2019:
You have to "dry fire" this striker fired Pistol just like a Glock in order to field strip. You forgot that step in take down.
Kenpoppy on October 26, 2018:
I have had my Smith & Wesson SW9VE for only a month , but love the gun. I did a lot of research online and checked out this pistol and other brands at my local gun shop. I was surprised at the accuracy of this pistol. I have changed out the release to field strip the gun, the original one was hard to get my fingers on . As for the trigger some many do not like , I see no problem .
mikey0357 on August 12, 2018:
An SW9VE was my first handgun purchase about a decade ago. Didn’t know much about pistols, so everything I learned for the next few years was on the S&W. Like many, didn’t like the trigger, so learned to do a trigger job myself a few years in. The gun is very reliable, accurate, and looks better than a lot more expensive guns. Although my S&W is a backup gun to my Steyr M9A1 or Steyr S9A1, it is still a great gun to shoot. Every bit as accurate as it was from day one, and my trigger job dropped it from 10 1/2lb pull to a smooth 6lbs. I can put a lighter spring and reduce the pull further, but after a decade, I’m good. If I want to shoot hair triggers, my Steyr’s are a broken in 4lb - 4 1/2lbs each. Surprisingly, laying the S&W side by side my Steyr M9, they are almost identical size, width, grip angle, etc. S&W SW9VE, solid built, quality shooter, at a bargain price.
Mike deftances on July 17, 2018:
I have a sw9ve I cleaned it the other night and now I can move the slide side to side only where the end of the barrel is can anyone please tell me why
Jack on February 20, 2018:
I have many handguns glocks digs tiger s&w anyway there something I like about the smith and Wesson which I will personally will carry 85 percent of the time. All said it shoots and handles just as well if not any better than some of my 800.00 handguns.Anyway keep shooting and stay safe.
Luis on October 20, 2017:
I bought my Sigma SW9VE about 11 years, I'm running it on different competitions like 3Guns, IDPA, IPSC and such... I really like the gun the grip has great ergonomics and feels just great... trigger pull is something, but hey, if you learn how to manage it, you can swap or upgrade to almost any other pistol without major issues...
Now regarding making it part of my EDC as my primary carry gun, I think there are better options there, obviously there is a significant price difference, but they are worth checking out....
Dave311 on October 13, 2017:
I bought the Sigma in .40S&W back in 2009. Hadn't heard too much about it at the time, I just saw a Smith and Wesson auto pistol for $300. At the time it had a $50 rebate or 2 free magazines. I chose the extra 2 mags. I have to say, I've been nothing but impressed with my Sigma. Yes it has a stiffer trigger but with no external safety it's just fine with me. This pistol shoots any ammo and has no malfunctions in thousands of rounds. The other thing I love is the fact that it has the best ergonomics of most pistols that I own. And, I do own a lot of handguns, about 20. I think the Sigma is the least expensive auto I own and it's one of my go to pistols in the house. It hold 14+1 in .40. I enjoy shooting my Sigma much more than any of the Glocks I have (19 and 23). Glock has a horrible feel to the grip, fantastic guns but bad ergonomics. Keep telling myself I'm going to go buy one of the newer S&W SDVE pistols but haven't done it yet. I hate to hear the bad press on the Sigma pistol when mine works so well. I think most who 'hate' on the Sigma don't even own one and are just Glock fans jumping on the bandwagon to bash the S&W. I think the earlier versions of the Sigma from back in the '90's is where the bad reputation came. The ones made in the later 2000's are great guns and an even better price.
Leon on May 01, 2017:
Love the Smith SW9VE. Had mine for almost 10 years now and have put easily 20,000 rounds thru it no problems. you can buy SW or SD series magazines for this they will both work with either SW or SD series guns. Galloway Precision makes accessories for these as well like a +3 mag extension for the 16rd 9mm mags
Cobrafan (author) from Nowhere on August 24, 2014:
If you're looking for standard replacement parts check out gunpartscorp.com. S&W may have replacement parts as well but you'll probably have to call them. If you've got a broken part that wasn't broken due to abuse, call up S&W and see if they'll do anything about it. A lot of gun manufacturers are more than willing to take the gun back, fix it, and send it back at no charge (aside from maybe shipping to them). Midwayusa.com carries magazines for a decent price. If you want some customization like a flashlight or laser sight then you can hit up ebay for a picatinny rail adapter (it will clamp to the frame in front of the trigger guard). They sell them for around $6-12 (try to find aluminum). Then you can really just pick up a flashlight or laser sight from any retailer your trust as long as it uses a picatinny rail.
Greg Hopkins on June 02, 2014:
Smith and Wesson SW9VE. I have nothing but praise for this gun . I've owned it for three years and put thousands of rounds thru it . Never once has it jammed up on me . It will shoot any round that you put in it .
This is a gun that I would trust my life to in any situation , and is the pistol I carry every day . I own more expensive pistols in my collection , but as far as reliability and trustworthy , the SWV9E is my favorite .
If your looking for a great personnel protection sidearm this is what you want . Plenty of power , and never fails to fire . Of all my pistols this is my favorite . I have a 1911 45 and my SWV9E Shoots better than it does. If your looking for a great affordable pistol the SWV9E Smith and Wesson is what you want .
dwings on October 04, 2013:
I also own a 9mm SW9VE and I can tell you that for an entry level weapon you can't go wrong for the money. I have fired several rounds through mine and have had no problems with the feeding system with standard ball ammo or the hollow point ammo.I have also felt that the accuracy is better than I expected ,I sure would not want to be own the wrong end of this weapon,in the hands of an average shooter.
wiliam on November 29, 2012:
I like your article. I have the same weapon, use it everyday as a armed security officer---trust my life to it! Just wanted to say that this weapon does have a 16 round clip and of course room in chamber for one more--17. Oh I DIDN'T see mention to the fact that a safety feature on this weapon is a small hole purposely put on top chamber so that you can see the brass of a round if in chamber.
Gene on September 02, 2012:
How can I reduce the pressure to pull back the slide
Cobrafan (author) from Nowhere on March 15, 2012:
The Springfield XDMs were my first choice of guns, but budget became a problem. More than likely my next gun will be an XDM 40 (or 9mm if the Police Academy decides to not allow my to use my Sigma due to the lack of a safety).
Longhunter on March 15, 2012:
Interesting article, Cobra.
I understand where you're coming from on the cost. I carry a Springfield XD 9mm I got for $589.
As for concealed carrying, take a look at the Blackhawk holsters. I use one and really like it.
I like what your friend said about the number of rounds but I do carry a few more. I carry 3-16 round mags, one in the gun, two in a holder. The holder stays in my truck. He is right though and I avoid places I think I might have problems.
Again, interesting article.