By Dan Kidder
My first thought on this gun was, “this trigger and I are going to have some issues.” The trigger on the SD40 is not a true double action, and it isn’t typical for a striker fired pistol either, but something else altogether. Smith and Wesson calls it the SDT for Self Defense Trigger. It incorporates a distinct two-stage trigger into a pull that seems to go on for a week.
As a shooter of guns, most of which have the word “Match” somewhere in their designation, this new trigger design took me a little while to get used to. I am not sure that I will ever master it by any means, but as the rounds went down range, the groups started to tighten up. My first target was dismal by my standards of performance, with about a 10-inch group at 25 feet. As I cranked off more and more shots, really focusing in on the trigger press, I shrunk the next target down to about eight inches, then six, then three, until I felt I was starting to get the hang of it before zinging an odd flyer off to the left or almost off of the paper.
It is always interesting to have an audience during these tests, especially when they know that you do this stuff for a living and are supposed to be pretty good at it. But in this case, a little taste of humble pie wasn’t a bad thing. See, the SD40 is not a match gun. It is designed for the relatively new discipline of Combat Focused Shooting. I teach CFS, and I should have realized the practical implications a little faster. The basic concept of CFS is to tie speed and accuracy together. Looking at my targets, it is easy to see that every shot is in the kill zone for personal defense. That is what this gun is designed for. If my shots were too spread out, I would need to slow down my shooting; too close together, I need to speed up. The goal of CFS is to deliver maximum firepower to the threat with enough accuracy to take them down.
For home defense, this gun is a great entry-level package that has everything you need to protect your castle from roving hordes of bad guys intent on making your stuff theirs and hurting or killing you or any of your family that may be in their way.
The kit comes complete with two 14 round stainless steel magazines, a PowerTech Micro90 LED weapon mounted light, a Gun Vault NanoVault gun safe, a locking cable, and the gun.
The SD40 is built on the Smith and Wesson Sigma platform with a few little extras. Two indents on the sides of the gun show proper thumb and index finger placement on the frame to ensure a proper grip when shooting. Remember, grip is 90 percent of accuracy and consistency. Additionally, a tritium front sight helps acquire sight alignment in the dark, the time when most attacks are likely to occur. A visual loaded chamber indicator lets you see that your gun is ready quickly.
My favorite feature of this gun is the angle of the grip, which reduces muzzle flip and gets your sights quickly back on target. It also manages recoil nicely, taking a rather snappy .40 caliber round and keeping it manageable for a wide variety of shooters.
This gun will be never be a “Match” pistol, and it wasn’t designed to be. It is a tool designed to keep you and your loved ones safe in your home. It is created with Combat Focused Shooting in mind and has real world defensive applications built right in. In the world of perfect vs. possible, I would much rather have a defensive arm in hand in a gunfight than a “Match” gun. The reason is that a gunfight is about a lot more than just delivering shots accurately to a threat. The main objective of a gun fight is to survive the fight without harming anyone who didn’t deserve to be harmed, and not necessarily about killing the bad guy. If a gun with a really light match trigger is used with this goal in mind, it falls short because that light trigger becomes a liability. In a dynamic critical incident, judgment, and the ability to NOT shoot are more important than drilling a 2-inch group on a paper target from 25 feet.
If you have too light of a trigger, you are more likely to deliver a shot to the first thing that moves; the flinch factor. By placing a harder and longer trigger pull on the gun, it is less likely that you or a loved one will be hurt by accident, and any shots to the bad guy will require a deliberate trigger pull through the entire range of trigger motion. This is a philosophy that is becoming more predominant in personal defense, and even being adopted by law enforcement.
All in all, the Smith and Wesson SD40 is a great addition to your home defense plan and even has applications for concealed carry. The inclusion of a NanoVault adds an additional layer of safety in making the gun easily accessible when needed but also keeping it out of the wrong hands when not in use. The feel of the gun is great, making it a weapon you will more readily practice with. It is fun to shoot and once you get used to the trigger, is pretty darn accurate. I think I need to check out about another thousands rounds of ammo so I can get that trigger mastered. See you at the range.
About the author: In addition to his job as managing editor of Sportsman’s News, Dan Kidder is an NRA Certified Firearms Instructor, chief instructor of On Target Defensive Training, a former range safety officer for the National Rifle Association Headquarters Range in Fairfax, VA, and a former Marine. He has worked with thousands of students, including members of local and federal law enforcement, as well as civilians.
Sportsman’s News in no way endorses the use of violence and is not advocating for or encouraging anyone to carry a weapon or use a weapon upon another person. The information provided in this article is general in nature and does not cover any and all circumstances or situations. Sportsman’s News encourages anyone choosing to carry a weapon for personal protection to seek out the services of a qualified professional instructor and to comply with all local and federal laws.