Smith & Wesson recently updated the SD line of pistols with the new SD9 VE and SD40 VE handguns. I previously reviewed the original SD40 and found that gun to be an exceptional value. I still believe the SD40 is a great value, but it has been discontinued and replaced by the VE series of SD pistols.
“VE” stands for “value enhanced,” which seems to be accurate as the gun remains largely unchanged, but the MSRP has dropped significantly. The original SD pistols retailed for $459, while the new VE series guns carry a suggested retail price of $379.
Checking at a few online retailers, it looks like the VE can be picked up for $50-or-so under MSRP. That would seem to be a really attractive price point. Throw in the S&W lifetime service policy, and the value really adds up.
The SD pistols can be had in two calibers. The SD9 is chambered for the 9mm and the SD40 is for the .40 S&W cartridge. Both calibers share nearly identical features including a polymer frame, 4” barrel and striker-fired action with an 8-pound trigger pull. The guns have a Picatinny-style rail for adding a laser or white light.
The weight on the SD-VE pistols is a moderate 22.7 ounces (unloaded.) The guns measure slightly less than 1.3” wide.
Aside from the price differences, there are two other changes to the VE guns when compared to the prior models in the SD line. First, the front tritium sight has been replaced with a plain white dot sight. The original SD9/SD40 used a front night sight with a plain white, two-dot rear sight. The VE line uses a standard, non-night sight, three dot configuration. The sights are dovetailed, allowing for an easy swap to something custom.
The second change to the VE line is the two-tone finish. The SD9 VE and SD40 VE both use a black frame with a silver-toned, stainless steel slide. The older guns used a black Melonite finish on the slides. While I prefer a black finish, the silver color will not affect how the gun operates. Besides, there are a lot of people who prefer the two-tone look.
S&W offers each of the pistols in three configurations: normal capacity, low capacity and Massachusetts-compliant. Normal magazine capacity is 16+1 rounds for the 9mm and 14+1 rounds for the .40 S&W. Low capacity restricts the magazine size to ten rounds.
The MA-compliant versions of the gun maintain the low capacity magazines (only ten rounds), but also increases the weight of the trigger pull to a constant 10.5 pounds. The special Massachusetts guns will ship this fall.
When I shot the original SD40, I was impressed by how well it fit my hand and its bullet-proof reliability. It ran with every kind of .40 caliber ammo I had around the house, including some cheap, imported stuff.
The magazine release was very easy to reach, yet there was no danger in accidentally activating it while I shot the gun. The slide serrations were easy to grasp and provided very good purchase for the hand. The balance of the gun was slightly forward, which may help with felt recoil and did not interfere with presentation or accuracy.
My sole concern with the original gun was the trigger. It was a touch long and was definitely gritty. It improved with dry fire and range time, but it never got as good as the M&P series of pistols. I had no problems adjusting to the trigger and shooting well, but it clearly isn’t a shining example of Smith & Wesson quality.
In the VE line, Smith calls the trigger “SDT,” or Self Defense Trigger. The company claims the trigger provides “…a smooth, consistent trigger pull…[that] help to enhance accuracy…” I hope this means the SDT is a new, improved version of the old trigger.
Overall, I think the VE models of the Smith & Wesson SD pistols are an excellent value. To get the price this inexpensive, yet maintain great reliability, certain sacrifices have to be made, which includes the deletion of the original night sight. The SD VE pistols offer a fantastic opportunity for anyone on a budget needing a home defense or concealed carry gun that is reliable and packs a lot of firepower.