One of the oldest names in American Firearm companies, Smith & Wesson has so many models from which to choose, it could take a book to cover them. I’m just going to cover the ones I currently own. I would say currently and formerly own, but I still have every Smith & Wesson I have acquired. That should tell you something.
The first was as 6-shot .38 Special revolver, a Model 10-9. This was my father’s gun and I started carrying it on camping, hunting and fishing trips from the time I could drive. When I got to Vietnam I was somewhat surprised to find they assigned this very same revolver, or one very similar to it, as part of every flight crewmember’s equipment. It’s funny, we consider this not enough gun for self-defense these days, but back then it was considered enough protection for us if we were stranded in the jungle waiting for help to arrive.
While we’re discussing revolvers I want to familiarize you with the Model 686 Combat Magnum, which is my favorite .357 Magnum. It’s a heavy gun, so it shouldn’t be surprising that it actually holds 7 rounds of either .357 Magnum or .38 Special. I have a nice Crossbreed IWB holster that fits it, so on occasion, just because the mood hits me, this one becomes my carry gun. I’m most comfortable carrying it in the Appendix position on the left side, which makes it a cross-draw situation. Why? Because it works.
There’s no question that .357 Magnum is a caliber that will stop a bad guy or girl if you hit them practically anywhere except maybe an extremity. Seven rounds on tap is almost, but not quite like having 9 rounds in one of my 1911 .45s BUT, the 1911 can be reloaded in a snap and the .357 would take a couple of minutes.
Okay, enough said about revolvers – Smith & Wesson makes them as good as they come. People in the know call them K-Frames, L-Frames, N-Frames and probably some more, which honestly confuses the heck out of me. I can’t ever remember which is which, so I just call them by the model number.
In the semi-automatic world, the currently most popular Smith’s are the ones in the Military & Police, or M&P line. These were designed with law enforcement in mind, but they’re a great choice for men or women as a concealed carry or home defense gun. If a Glock is like a Toyota, an M&P is a Honda, or maybe a Nissan. It just gets down to a matter of preference and my preference has always been for an M&P over a Glock, primarily because of the way it fits my hand and the difference in recoil. Many people say the grip angle and the bore axis make the M&P shoot a little softer in the various calibers than other guns in the same category. It has certainly been my experience and I’ve asked various shooters their impressions and they seem to back me up on that.
My first M&P was a .40, then got a 9mm, then a .45. I like them all, but I’d rather shoot the 9mm or .45 than the .40. That doesn’t mean shooting the .40 is bad, it’s just a little snappier then the other two calibers. I’ve carried the .45 as a daily carry gun on numerous occasions. There’s a .40 with light and laser in the drawer beside my bed. I’ve got a tricked out 9mm with Viking day/night sights, an Apex trigger and a Flat Dark Earth/FDE finish. That’s probably my favorite.
Notice something about the guns in the pictures above? They’re all essentially the same size. If I were to add a .45 ACP to the picture, it would be the same size, too! That’s a great thing about these guns. Shoot the .22 to have fun and to practice. Much of what you will do will transfer over nicely to the guns that that are more expensive to shoot. You can get a compact in each of these calibers, as well. The compact .22 is one fun gun to shoot! In fact, it’s advertisements proclaim, “.22 pistols are fun to shoot. Ours is funner!
All of the M&Ps have compact versions. And there is the slim version in 9mm and .40 called the Shield. I don’t own a Shield, but we’ve sold a ton of them and I’ve watched people shoot them during our License to Carry Qualification. I’ve watched people group their shots so that they make a big hole in the center of the target and not much beyond, which is very impressive. Recoil doesn’t seem to be an issue with the Shields either, so for a thin, single-stack carry gun, this has to be one of the better choices.
My compact is a .22 and I really enjoy shooting it. As far as a plinker goes, or for target practice on paper, it’s hard to beat. Something about this little gun and the Ruger SR-22 make me wish I was a boy again, out rambling through the woods and ready to run up on a snake or a pile of cans and bottles just begging to be shot full of holes. I don’t do that anymore, but I have grandsons and granddaughters and these are perfect little plinking guns for them to use to put into practice their gun safety and marksmanship training.
If you’ve read very much of my blog you know I’m a 1911 fan. Not just a 1911 fan, but in particular a 1911 Commander fan. “Commander” is the term the industry, starting with Colt, uses to describe a 1911 with a 4.2 or 4.25 inch barrel. One of the guns in my concealed carry rotation is a very fine lightweight Smith & Wesson SC-E-1911 Commander. The SC indicates it has a scandium frame, which makes it lightweight. The E stands for Enhanced and simply means they’ve added pretty much any feature you might want on the gun. Scandium is a very expensive metal, so there’s not a lot of scandium in the frame. It’s mostly is aluminum. But the gun is lightweight and it has other features I appreciate and some that are above and beyond. Night sights and ambidextrous safety are a given for me, but this gun also includes front and rear grip checkering for a better grip. The top of the slide has lines that help cut down on glare. The cocking serrations are fish scale shaped and front and rear. They work quite well. An added feature is the rounded butt, which helps in keeping the gun concealed. I call this one my “Sunday go to meeting gun.” It’s so darn pretty and it’s practical, too!
Smith & Wesson has been around a long time and has many models I’ve not discussed or even experienced, but suffice it to say you will not be disappointed with the brand should you decide to buy one or several.