Fresh in the minds of millions of Americans are the summer riots of 2020 with images of people being pulled from their cars and assaulted. Combined with the Defund the Police movement, many Americans have come to the realization that they alone are responsible for their own personal safety. The feeling of helplessness imposed by COVID mandates and associated loss of earnings added unnecessary stress to an already volatile landscape. And a whole new generation of Soros-funded city attorneys, who seek to eliminate bail and refuse to prosecute even the most violent and virulent crimes, has resulted in a total urban chaos. Many have fled to friendlier surroundings, but not everybody has that option. For those who refuse to become a victim or witness a family member fall to a predator there is only one option. Be armed, trained and ready to defend 24/7. Enter the Smith & Wesson CSX.
Smith & Wesson CSX: A New Route
Smith & Wesson’s bread and butter is sales to the concealed carry market. Their M&P 9 Shield, Shield 2.0, the Shield Plus and new Shield Plus Optics Ready pistols, as well as the popular Shield EZ line, are their mainstay. Small and easy to shoot, these 9mm pistols are economically priced, rugged and accurate. Over the years, S&W has updated their line of polymer-framed, striker-fired guns, and they are tremendous sellers. S&W has discovered a remarkably successful formula.
But just recently Smith & Wesson has introduced the CSX, and this micro-compact pistol has none of the elements in common with the Shield, other than the fact that it is a 9mm semi-automatic gun. In a bold departure from their established formula, S&W is now offering an aluminum-framed, single-action pistol with an exposed hammer, whose trim dimensions bely its 12+1 magazine capacity. It’s a small gun yet it is comfortable for those with large hands and comes with two different backstraps to better accommodate shooters. S&W even includes an extra mag release designed for lefties.
Additionally, the pistol possesses bi-lateral thumb safeties as well as slide locks, making the gun southpaw friendly. The entire gun with an empty 12-round magazine locked in place weighs in at a feathery 19.5 ounces. At its widest point, the grip frame is just 1.12 inches with the slide measuring only .92 inches wide, and the gun is 4.6 inches tall. Despite these trim dimensions, I can get all of my fingers on the gun’s frontstrap, even with the 10-round mag in place, for an uncompromised shooting grip.
Built to Last
S&W machines the CSX frame from aircraft grade 7075 T6 aluminum, and the frontstrap is heavily undercut where it meets the triggerguard. Combined with the gun’s integral beavertail tang, the shooter can get a remarkably high hold on the gun, close to the bore’s axis, which is instrumental in minimizing muzzle flip. As I mentioned the CSX comes with two different backstraps that are easy to change. If I were going to use the CSX for deep-concealment I’d replace the backstrap with the small insert and also use the 10-round, flush-fit magazine. Rather than checkering the front strap, S&W uses a textured polymer insert to provide a secure firing grip.
The slide comes machined from stainless steel, and S&W blackens it with the Armornite nitride finish. It also provides corrosion resistance and surface lubricity. Internally, S&W also finishes components with Armornite. Cocking serrations receive cuts at the front and rear of the slide. Meanwhile, the back end of the slide measures slightly wider for those employing the “slingshot” technique to rack the slide. The CSX slide top is flat and S&W machines glare-reducing serrations on its center. The design breaks down ever edge of the slide for painless deep-cover carry. S&W dovetails metal sights into the slide, and they possess the common three-dot pattern and sit very low on the gun, again for deep concealment use. A S&W insider informed me that they are working on tritium night sights for the gun.
A Modern Single-Action for Defense
S&W also machines the barrel from stainless steel, blacked with the Armornite nitride finish. It measures just over 3 inches long, using a 1-in-10 right-hand twist. An integral feed ramp comes polished bright for flawless feeding. The CSX uses a single, flat-wire recoil spring, captured on a full-length stainless steel guide rod, and this makes the slide incredibly easy to manually rack.
In the era of striker-fired guns, S&W made a daring move to introduce the CSX single-action pistol. Its condition of readiness is “cocked and locked.” the chamber is loaded, hammer cocked and manual safety engaged, like a 1911 pistol. The difference with the CSX though is that the gun can be charged and unloaded with the manual safeties engaged. The safety levers are trim and unobtrusive yet easy to reach and disengage or reengage. There is also an integrated trigger safety on the trigger’s face to prevent the gun from firing unless it is meaningfully pressed. My test sample’s trigger has a little bit of creep and take-up before it breaks crisply at 5 pounds. Its pull weight makes perfect sense for a gun designed for defense work.
On The Range
I set up my DOA Tactical bench and set my targets out at 15 yards. Then I fired all of my groups from a seated rest and rested the CSX’s dust cover on a Millett BenchMaster to obtain a rock-solid sight picture while adding pressure to the trigger. I fired three, five-shot groups with each ammunition. The groups reflected in the accuracy chart comprised the best groups fired.
Velocities are measured in feet per second, energy at foot pounds of energy and groups measured in inches.
Black Hills’ 115-grain JHP rounds produced the best five-shot group, measuring just under three-quarters of an inch. DoubleTap’s 77-grain solid copper hollowpoints generated the most power producing an impressive 348-foot pounds of energy. I included Federal’s 147-grain Syntech Training Match loads as well as Winchester’s new USA Ready 115-grain Flat Nose FMJ as they would make a great selection for range and target work.
I set out my MGM BC C-Zone steel target at 15 yards and fired double-taps at it to see just how fast I could fire the little CSX. After several magazines my best split, or time between shots, was just .27 seconds while my average was .32 seconds. I thought this was surprisingly good given the gun’s small size and lightweight. Throughout my 300-round evaluation, there were no stoppages with the CSX. I fired bullets with different overall lengths and nose profiles, from 77-grains to 147-grains the little gun just perked along.
Disassembly of the CSX is simple and straightforward. After removing its magazine and clearing the chamber, align the front of the slide stop with the take-down notch on the slide. From the opposite side use a small drift or punch to press the takedown pin (slide stop) out of the gun on the left side. Once removed, the slide, barrel and recoil spring assembly will run forward off the frame. Now the recoil spring/ guide rod assembly can be removed and then the barrel. Reassembly is in the reverse order.
C&G Holsters (candgholsters.com) was one of the first companies to receive the new CSX, and before I had even received my test gun from Smith & Wesson, C&G provided me with a sample of an IWB and OWB Covert Kydex holsters. C&G offer a number of different options, and I opted for the IWB Covert with the custom C&G belt clip, which is adjustable for ride height and accommodates a 1.5-inch belt. It also features two screws for retention along with wicking channels on the back of the holster to help wick away moisture, but more importantly, they function as a wedge to push the gun’s butt into the wearer’s body for undetectable carry. It also features a tall sight channel.
One of the features I like about the Covert is that both safety levers are covered so it is impossible for the user to accidentally knock the safeties off while in the holster. The OWB holster is adjustable for ride height and is designed the pull the gun into the body for maximum concealment and there is also an adjustable retention screw that regulates how tightly the holster grips the CSX’s trigger guard. I found them both to be incredibly comfortable to wear but prefer the IWB holster for its simplicity and easy-on/easy-off convenience.
Nod To The Chief
It was no accident that Smith & Wesson named their new gun the CSX. It is a tip of the hat to the old Chief’s Special originally introduced in 1950. The five-shot .38 Special revolver provided its user with an extremely compact and effective means of self-defense. It was a gun so popular that it continues to be made today as the Model 36! Time will tell whether the new CSX will enjoy the same popularity, but the lightweight and compact gun possesses all of the accuracy and reliability needed to be a really great concealed carry pistol! For more information, visit smith-wesson.com.
PERFORMANCE: Smith & Wesson CSX
|Black Hills 115-gr. JHP||1,103||310||0.72|
|DoubleTap 77-gr. Solid Copper HP||1,428||348||0.96|
|Federal Syntech Training Match 147-gr. TSJ||943||290||1.10|
|Hornady +P 124-gr. XTP||1.058||308||0.84|
|Winchester USA Ready 115-gr. Flat Nose FMJ||1,111||315||1.20|
SPECIFICATIONS: Smith & Wesson CSX
- Caliber: 9mm
- Barrel: 3.1 inches
- OA Length: 6.1 inches
- Weight: 19.5 ounces (with empty 12-round mag)
- Grips: Polymer
- Sights: white dot front, two-dot rear
- Action: single-action semi-auto
- Finish: Matte black
- Capacity: 10+1, 12+1
- MSRP: $609
This article originally appeared in the February-March 2022 issue of Ballistic Magazine. Get your copy today at OutdoorGroupStore.com.