Everyone has their favorite Smith & Wesson pistols…or at least, people who have shot many of them do…and these three are mine.
Smith makes many, many pistols, including about a thousand iterations of pretty much every gun they make. Entire books have been written about their catalog over the years.
With that said, here are my picks:
Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield EZ
It’s not just because it’s new(ish). I genuinely think the S&W M&P9 Shield EZ is one of the best subcompact pistols to have hit the market in some time.
The slide is ridiculously easy to rack. Takedown is simple. The trigger, since the EZ series has an internal hammer-fired single-action system instead of a striker mechanism, is better than the standard Shield; smoother, with less wall at the end of the trigger stroke.
And hits are easy, too. I don’t pretend to be a great shooter, but I shot this group COLD when I reviewed the gun for my day job at Alien Gear Holsters . . .
Seriously. I picked up the gun, loaded it, and shot that from 7 yards. Granted, that’s not uber-impressive; anyone who slow-fires from 7 yards should get those kind of groups…or close to it. But I don’t remember a compact/subcompact pistol that didn’t make me work a lot harder for it.
I don’t remember a pistol that was as easy to operate, as pleasant and easy to shoot and shoot well with.
You can’t have a list of Smith & Wessons and not include a big wheel gun, and my favorite Smith & Wesson revolver is . . .
Smith & Wesson Model 586
While it may not have the storied lineage as the Model 19 (Bill Jordan and so on) a good number of people believe the Model 586 is actually better.
The 586 is built on the Smith L frame, which slightly larger and a little more substantial than the K frame architecture. It typically adds an ounce or two in the frame and an ounce or two in the full underlug ejector shroud.
Aside from that, the 586 has 6 cylinders for .357 Magnum/.38 Special, beautiful blued steel and walnut grips, and adjustable rear sights. Everything a classic Smith & Wesson revolver should have.
Last but not least, and certain to be the most controversial . . .
Smith & Wesson Model 915
This is my pick partially for sentimental reasons, because it’s the first 9mm pistol I ever shot. I’m just old enough to remember a time when S&W didn’t only make striker-fired pistols.
I’ve had occasion to handle and shoot some of Smith’s other DA/SA semi-autos subsequently and — while they aren’t perfect — there’s a lot to like about them.
For those who never had the pleasure, the Smith & Wesson Model 59 series (of which the 915 and later 910 are derivatives) had outstanding ergonomics, and a slide-mounted de-cocking safety, a la Walther and Beretta pistols.
The double-stack magazine held 15 rounds (the Clinton assault weapon ban years model held 10) and the pistol had a very decent trigger. It was a solid gun from the time before the Polymer Spring, and they were quite popular with both law enforcement and civilian shooters alike.
The 915 was the budget model (the flagship model of the day was the Model 5906) with left side-only controls and rather dinky sights. But it still has/had all the hallmarks of what made those guns great, in that they are rugged, reliable, accurate, and ergonomically excellent.
And it turns out they’re pretty cheap on the used market, too.
So those are my favorites. What are YOUR favorite Smith & Wesson guns? Sound off in the comments.