Smith & Wesson SD9 2.0 — The Best Bang! for Under $300

Some take the beaten path, while others follow rougher terrain. My experience in life, research, and education sometimes may be said to have a morose underpinning. Just the same, the subject of crime, criminals, and violence is fascinating.

One thing I have learned, is that it is best to be prepared — well prepared. This applies to medical kits and firearms, as well as vehicles. I am also aware that some of us are on a tight budget.

Smith & Wesson SD9 2.0 9mm semi-automatic double action only handgun, left profile
While affordable, the SD9 2.0 has good features.

It isn’t difficult to find a quality firearm. Good quality handguns are not uncommon. However, purchasing useful, reliable, and effective handguns for less than $300 is a challenge. Some work well, and others don’t.

The primary requirement for a defensive handgun is reliability. A handgun with good reliability is a start. The Smith & Wesson SD9 is less expensive than the Military & Police 9mm, so there are less features and corners have been cut. Just the same, this polymer-frame, striker-fired pistol has a decent grip texture, good sights, and a light rail.

The SD9 retails for about half the price of the M&P9. The SD9 and SD 9VE variants were worth the tariff, just difficult to use well — due to the heavy trigger action. It evokes visions of the unlamented SIGMA pistol.

An unfortunate assumption is that people purchasing an inexpensive handgun may be unsophisticated or willing accept poor quality, and that they may not be willing to master the handgun. Some shooters of modest means shoot as often as they may afford. Some will show us how to shoot. It is, after all, the Indian not the arrow.

Just the same, there is only so much that may be done with a heavy trigger. The S&W SD9 is something of a sleeper, in this worthy line of pistols. The pistol is reliable, and with its recent redesign, it has been made even better.

Field stripped Smith & Wesson SD9 2.0 9mm semi-automatic double action only pistol
The disassembly procedure for the SD9 is similar to the Glock. However, unlike a Glock, you do not need to pull the trigger.

The slide is upgraded. The serrations in the top of the slide, along with classic sights, provide an old school look similar to the S&W 5906. The big difference is a new flat-bladed trigger. It resembles the M&P 2.0.

The SD9 2.0 trigger breaks cleanly at 5.6 pounds. Reset is sharp. The trigger is a huge improvement in the SD9 series. A polymer-frame pistol, with a stainless slide, the SD9 is attractive. The sights are a white three-dot offering a good, fast sight picture.

SD9 2.0 Specifications

  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Capacity: 15+1rounds
  • Width: 1.29 inches
  • Length: 7.2 inches
  • Height: 5.5 inches
  • Weight: 22.7 ounces
  • Barrel length: 4 inches
  • Size: Compact
  • Number of magazines: 1
  • MSRP: $349 (Cheaper Than Dirt $295)

Firing Tests

Unless you have training, some concepts are not available. I didn’t just fire at targets, I elected to determine how the SD9 responds to fast shooting in a combat situation. I lubricated the bearing surfaces, and then loaded the magazine with American Eagle 9mm ball ammunition.

The pistol is delivered with one magazine — a minor gripe in a $299 pistol. I homed in on man-sized targets beginning at 5 and 7 yards. Combat accuracy was good, and the SD9 proved to be a light kicker. It wasn’t difficult to keep all shots in the X-ring of a man-sized target.

Smith & Wesson SD9 2.0 9mm semi-automatic pistol on a Birchwood Shoot-N-C target with nine shots in the 10 ring, and 1 in the 9 ring
It is one thing to test a firearm while shooting from the bench or with slow fire. The SD9 proved its excellent accuracy in fast combat shooting.

I fired as quickly as possible and enjoyed good results. Moving to 10 yards, a fist-sized group wasn’t difficult. The pistol’s sights are well regulated for 124-grain loads.

On a lark, I put a Shoot-N-C target at 25 yards. I fired Blazer 115-grain FMJ loads for a five-shot group, offhand. I was rewarded with a four-inch group… good for any striker-fired pistol. The SD9 fired high at this range. A six o’clock hold in the next string of fire had the groups landing in the center of the bull.

I also fired a quantity of Speer’s 124-grain Gold Dot. Feed reliability was no problem. The pistol fed, chambered, fired, and ejected normally. The pistol is well suited to defense use. Most shots will be close, very close. The pistol is fast handling and gets on target quickly.

No need to get into the sunken depths of the criminal world; they are dangerous, and we all need protection. Practice and maintain unconscious competence, so that delirium tremors do not cripple your conflict response. Concentrate on the basics, and the SD9 2.0 will see you through.

Further Testing

I was able to test the pistol with Federal HST 147-grain loads. Feed and accuracy were excellent. I deploy these loads in an outdoors use 9mm. The SD9 and HST combination seems a good all-around combination.

I also mounted a TruGlo sight line combat light. This neat little light is easily mounted and adjusted. I am increasingly happy to own lights with rechargeable batteries. This light offers that option. It is lightweight and offers good utility for home of field use.

Smith & Wesson SD9 2.0 9mm semi-automatic pistol in a Kydex Galco Stryker holster
Galco’s Stryker is a first class, all around holster with much to recommend.

Holstering the SD9 2.0

I have on hand several holsters for the Glock 19. Some of these holsters fit the SD9 2.0 and others do not. The Galco Sto-N-Go is a favorite leather IWB that worked well. For most of the firing tests, I used the Stryker OWB.

This rugged Kydex holster offers a sharp draw. The angle is ideal for a rapid presentation. The belt-to-holster interface is rigid. This is a good range holster, suitable to competition use and concealed carry with a covering garment.

At a retail price under $300, it is hard not to pick up a SD9 2.0. What role would the S&W SD9 fill for you — carry, home defense, training? Share your answers or review in the Comment section.

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