Range Report: SW9GVE (Modified)

#1

As we all aware, the Smith & Wesson Sigma/SD series has a long and storied history within the halls of handguns. Moreover, some of it isn’t deserved. The Sigma/SD is noted for being kind of a workhorse, even with its trigger being among one of the most commented-on features of the lineup. They are extremely reliable firearms; when a person pulls the trigger on a Sigma or an SD, they are going to go bang, pretty much every time.

I bought a Sigma for my first gun ever, a private purchase about four years ago from another member of my church that I trusted, for about $400. They even threw in about 250 rds of range ammo to sweeten the deal, plus 25 rounds of personal defense JHP rds. Given the going rate for these guns, I would say it was a fair deal. I noticed right off the bat that the trigger was just one of the most difficult I’d ever worked with. Smith & Wesson wanted to make sure you REALLY wanted whatever was in front of you to have a hole in it.

So, I began reading up on trigger kits and noticed that Galloway Precision and Apex Tactical had trigger kits available. The Galloway Precision product got mediocre reviews where Apex Tactical users reported the trigger being…well, usable for once. So, I ordered the kit from Apex, including the new polycarbonate trigger that was supposed to improve reset distance and Apex claimed it would work with the Sigma and the SD series.

Turns out I ordered the wrong spring kit, I ordered the full SD kit, when I should have read closer. The trigger would work, but the springs were unsuitable. So, I ordered the proper springs on a second order and installed it all after carefully watching and rewatching Scott Wolf do it on YouTube. I got to the range yesterday and tried using it. The new trigger wouldn’t reset all the way, turning a semi-auto pistol into a breechloader.

So, back went the factory trigger, with its terrible travel and reset, but at least it worked. Apex suggests filing down the polycarbonate replacement trigger to get it to reset properly and as soon as I feel brave enough to screw one up, I’ll do it. Now, I replaced the sear spring with the MCARBO part. I replaced the striker spring, striker block spring, and trigger reset spring with the kit from Apex. I replaced the recoil spring and factory plastic guide rod with a stainless steel one from Stainless Steel Springs. Essentially, I replaced everything that was ‘budget’ about a budget firearm, and the minute someone makes a steel striker guide sleeve to replace the flimsy plastic one, I’ll replace that, too.

And you know what I have for all that? A gun that shoots about as well as a factory-stock Ruger American Pistol in the same caliber. Actually, not even that well. So, take a gun that retails for about $350 at Cabela’s, throw in about $100 in parts, and you get the same results as you would if you’d spent another $50 at the outset. I cannot recommend the Sigma/SD series pistols for anything more than a last-resort truck gun. Though I’m sure the gun has its fans, I just simply don’t care for it. It will be my son’s range gun for the next few years, and he may even have it gifted to him when he turns 21.

Spend a little more. Get a better gun. Your life may depend on this thing, so don’t be afraid to spend a few bucks more and get better quality.

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#2

It sounds like you have had a long and frustrating journey. My first semi was a S&W SD9VE. It was a dream to carry, and never failed to go bang. But you are right the trigger system is not great. But for an entry pistol it at least is prettier than a Hi-Point. Your ending conclusion is the mantra of firearm purchasing. Just go ahead and spend 50-100 more than you wanted to and get the better gun up front, rather than gunsmith your way into a better gun with parts and smarts. I still think the SD9VE is a great starter gun, but once you realize a good trigger on a good platform leads to consistent accuracy there is no turning back.

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#3

Couldn’t agree more. And don’t get me wrong, it is not a terrible gun. Not only that, you are absolutely correct in that it is head and shoulders above a Hi-Point. I won’t sell it. I won’t trade it in. Why? Because it is a reliable gun, with the right parts and TLC.

I’m glad you were able to figure out a way to carry it concealed. I’m too little (5’ 6.5", 165 lbs.) to make a handgun of this size disappear. The Sigma isn’t a beast, but it’s not small, either. I’m angling for either a Walther PPS, PPS M2, or a RAP-C as a carry firearm. I have the license, what I don’t have yet is a gun I can make go away in public.

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#4

I am a big dude 6’2" about 280 on a good day. So carrying the SD9 IWB was easy. IF you are still looking for a good , inexpensive carry pistol. I suggest the oft overlooked Ruger SR9C. Read my review here: https://www.taurusarmed.net/forums/other-handguns/400811-short-review-my-new-ruger-sr9c.html

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#5

just about everything gun related with parts, is by generation. and a few manufactures, to make it simpler for them, make a one trigger fits all models. then in small print, you get the lil blurb’ use a competent gunsmith, some fitting may be required"

rifles are easy. Timney or Geissele . hands down. never had a issue dropping in either one.
1911s, I go with Wilson combat triggers. easy peasy. from Springfield, colt, and even RI, never had a issue. H&K? USP got the factory Match trigger. smoothe as butter.
Ruger MK I &II Volquartsen trigger job. dead on a crisp 2.5 lb. lil buit of a PITA to install, but everything on a MKII is…
we all end up with at least 1 Gun that mods leave that nasty taste in our mouth.
mine was a Ruger P85 first generation. firearm fit well, no mechanical issues, trigger was just a tad heavy but not bad. then i Got the letter about 2 years later.
telling me to send it back to the factory for trigger upgrade ( I was thinking tad lighter, smoother), no charge.
2 months later I got it back.
took 2 men and a boy to ear that trigger back. nastiest trigger pull ive had on any firearm i owned. (they added a dis-connector modification) sent it back twice, and the trigger remained the same. second time i got the letter stating that they could do nothing to change the pull on the modified pistols, and if i require smoother, buy the 3rd (new generation) P-89 DAO.
I was so disgusted with the P-85 at that point, I swapped it at a pawn shop for a beatup XMR3 framed Redhawk. (which my DIL carries to this day).

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#6

You’re about the 10th person I’ve talked to that said the SR9 compact was one of the best carry guns no one’s ever used.

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#7

Volq makes some really good stuff.

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#8

@LCUChaparral

Volquartsen seems to be the KING of ‘aftermarket’ set-ups when it comes to Ruger MKII=4, 22/45 and 10/22 rifle trigger assemblies. One ends up spending a pretty penny for it, and rightfully so! They take the ‘guesswork’ out of machining and matching parts to maximum tolerances. The very same results can be had by replacing M*CARBO Trigger Spring Kits and tediously polishing the trigger and sear! If you are NOT mechanically inept, you pay dearly for a ‘name plate’ or have a local gunsmith/friend help you out. I enjoy a challenge and have learned from my mistakes and will probably make more but the rewards do justify the means… I do look at my personal carry arms a little different. I shoot, clean and inspect and replace with stock components. Competitive shooting world is very different and the ‘best’ combinations seem to WIN? There is always another contest and a different combination to try. Is it worth putting a gun in your hand that won’t go BANG when you or a loved one is threatened? I am a small man myself. I am 5’7 and 162lbs. (wet.) Big smiles! I cannot rely on my martial arts training (other than my thought process.) How does one put their ‘adrenalin’ to the test for a SHTF ‘fight/flight’ mode??? That is the only ‘true test’ that can perhaps save you or a loved one’s life!!!

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#9

Dude. I think we’re separated at birth. I think the exact same way about personal carry/home defense pieces. Range brags are one thing. Living through a confrontation is a horse of an entirely different hue.

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#10

@LCUChaparral

Laughing madly at my ‘brother from another mother…’ I knew if I had ‘put it out there,’ that one would think alike (or at least admit to ‘an oddity?’) Big smiles! Thanks for your support!

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#11

@LCUChaparral

S&W Shield and Walther PPS M2 are both good carry guns (the Walther, I believe, is the better of the two).

And now Glock has the G43X. It holds 10 shots (in 9 mm), and appears to be just small enough to consider for concealed carry - all for mid $500’s.

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