By: Seth Rodgers
Click here to read the original article: https://www.guns.com/news/reviews/first-100-rounds-initial-review-of-the-s-and-w-csx
I’ll be the first to admit, when I first saw that Smith & Wesson was releasing the CSX – a metal-framed, hammer-fired, semi-auto pistol designed for concealed carry – at SHOT Show this year, I was scratching my head a bit. It’s not that S&W hasn’t made an all-metal gun before, certainly the storied firearms brand has made numerous all-metal guns with great success in the past.
What threw me for a loop was that it seemed to be a total departure from the direction that S&W has been going in the past 10 years or so, which has been mainly focused on polymer-framed, striker-fired pistols. I wasn’t sure what I would think of it, but when I got to the range at SHOT Show and actually shot the gun, I could see the appeal. There is certainly plenty to like about the gun, as well as a couple minor things that gave me grief. Let’s dive in.
GETTING TO KNOW THE CSX
The thing I thought when I picked up the gun for the first time was, “Wow, this thing is light for an all-metal gun.” Thanks to the aluminum-alloy frame, this gun does weigh in at a petite 19.5 ounces. That’s actually 0.7 ounces lighter than the polymer-framed Shield Plus while still maintaining a 12+1 capacity. That’s pretty impressive for a small all-metal gun.
In fact, the CSX shares many similar specs with the Shield Plus. They both have the same overall length and barrel length, as well as the same height. The only real difference in terms of pure measurements is the small difference in weight and the fact that the CSX is just slightly wider than the Shield Plus. Otherwise, they match up quite nicely.
The gun ships with two magazines, one flush-fitting 10-round magazine and one 12-round magazine with a pinky extension. The 10-round mag does leave my pinky hanging out with nowhere to go, but this isn’t an uncommon phenomenon among micro-compact carry pistols. That said, if I decided to carry this gun, I would always have the 12-round mag inserted, so it’s not really a dealbreaker.
Check out all the specs of the CSX below:
SMITH & WESSON CSX 9MM
- Caliber: 9mm
- Action: Single Action Only
- Max Capacity: 12+1
- Barrel Length: 3.1 inches
- Overall Length: 6.1 inches
- Weight: 19.5 ounces
THE BIG WINS FOR THE CSX
The next big thing I noticed upon picking up the pistol was that S&W added some really comfortable and aggressive polymer grip panels. You’ll find these both on the backstrap and on the frontstrap. They also include an additional backstrap for those looking to change the size of grip slightly. The texture is quite aggressive and nice, akin to the same grip texture you’ll find on the M&P 2.0 or Shield Plus. That same grip texture is also added to the mag-release button, which is easy to find and actuate without changing the grip, a big bonus for me.
Another big win for the CSX is that it’s sure to be a southpaw favorite given the controls are ambidextrous. I could easily actuate the slide release from either side with both my thumb and trigger finger. While I’m not typically a fan of 1911-style external safeties, the CSX has its safety located in just the right place, and it’s not too stiff either. The safety also has a bit of texture to prevent the thumb from slipping. Finally, while the mag release isn’t truly ambi, it can be easily swapped for the lefties.
This is a single-action-only pistol, so the trigger pull is short and sweet with almost no mush to speak of at the front of the pull. It has a clean break, albeit one that is a little heavier than I was expecting for an SAO pistol. Either way, there is little to the front of the pull, and the recoil is surprisingly soft and sweet when it does break. There is a small issue I have with the trigger reset, but more on that in a minute.
The last big win for this pistol is its slide serrations. If you’ve been following my reviews, then you’ll know from my review of the Shield Plus that one of my biggest gripes about the M&P lineup is the slide serrations, or lack thereof. S&W got it right with the CSX though. These slide serrations are deep and tactile. I wish they would take these serrations and put them on the Shield Plus, that would make it the ultimate micro-compact pistol for me.
The gun also features serrations on the top of the slide to counter glare while shooting in the field. I shot all my first 100 rounds at an indoor range, so I can’t tell you how effective or not these are at reducing glare, but it’s a nice touch – not to mention stylistically cool.
Like I said, this little pistol is a surprisingly soft-recoiling shooter. I put a mixture of Federal, Winchester, and some Speer Gold Dot through this gun, and I’m happy to report zero malfunctions in the first 100 rounds. That’s not really a surprise though, given S&W’s sterling reputation for making guns that are reliable.
I was decently accurate with the CSX, and I think with more trigger time my accuracy can improve with this gun. Again, I should stress here that I am no professional shooter, and there are many out there with better aim and more precise shooting abilities. My groups were better with the Shield Plus, but I was able to hold groups that were plenty good for concealed carry work at 25 feet.
The grip texture worked very nicely even with the 10-round magazine to keep the gun in my hand. I never felt like the gun was “jumping” out of the hand as I have with other similar-sized guns, such as the Ruger LCP or Sig P938. Overall, the handgun was soft recoiling and pleasant to shoot for the first few magazines.
Now, this is about the time I should tell you about some of the potential downfalls of the CSX.
There are two main gripes I have with the CSX – one that I could work through, and one I’m not sure I would be able to solve for me.
Let’s talk about the trigger issue first. The trigger has what I would call a “false reset,” which inevitably led to me short stroking the trigger several times in the first 100 rounds. When you let go of the trigger to reset there is point where you feel a click. Normally, this would be where the trigger resets and is ready for another shot. But for some reason, that isn't the case with the CSX. It’s something that I should be able to train through if I owned the pistol, but it’s worth noting. My hope is that they somehow remove this “false reset” feel in future iterations of the gun.
The second possible downside is that the gun gave me some pretty bad slide bite in the first 100 rounds. I have some fat hands, particularly in the web of my hand. While I can already hear the groans of the macho men telling me to “be a man” and get over it, the truth is I feel like it would hinder my desire to train at length with the gun. By the end of the first 100 rounds, I felt like I had enough, and there was a small gash on the web of my hand to confirm that it was time to move on to another gun.
I’m not really sure what S&W can do about the slide bite issue. Perhaps they could extend the beavertail, but that could have adverse effects for concealed carry with it getting hung up on clothing. Perhaps it’s just my hands, but if you have meatier hands, it’s something that you might want to take note of.
The last possible stone I could see someone throwing at the CSX is that you need a tool for disassembly. While this certainly isn’t the end of the world, it’s worth pointing out for those who prefer to have a gun that doesn’t need a tool for field stripping.
Besides those two issues, I really liked taking this to the range. It shot surprisingly smooth, and I certainly like it more than I thought I would when I first read the product announcement. We’re going to continue to put the CSX through its paces and will provide an update at about the 500-round mark.