S&W CSX with James Reeves (TFB)

Today we continue to take a look at the newest compact pistol from Smith & Wesson. In case you were wondering, CSX stands for Chief’s Special X. Join us as James Reeves of TFB walks us through the ins and outs of the new S&W CSX in a torture test. 

James points out at the start of the video that the Smith and Wesson CSX is smaller than the S&W Shield but holds five more rounds than the Shield. The Shield holds eight rounds and the Shield Plus holds 11 rounds, all chambered for 9mm. Initially, he pointed out that he was disappointed with the CSX until he got it home and compared it to the Shield and the Shield Plus, at which time he recognized some distinct advantages of the CSX. The new pistol is smaller, slimmer, and lighter than either of the Shields. 

Smith & Wesson Shield Plus next to CSX
A comparison photo next to the Shield Plus.
The CSX is smaller and slimmer than the Shield.
The CSX is smaller and slimmer than the Shield.

Additionally, the CSX also sports a lower bore axis than either of the others, which goes a long way in reducing muzzle flip. You will see in the photos that there is brass in the air and the muzzle is fairly level with the target, there’s not much muzzle flip at all.

James Reeves from TFB reviewing the S&W CSX
With brass in the air, the muzzle is still steady on the target. Recoil is very tame due to the low bore axis.

The CSX weighs 19.82 ounces and is .9 inches thick. It comes with two interchangeable back straps that can be switched out by using a punch (included with the pistol) to push in a detent.

Smith & Wesson CSX weight
The little pistol comes in at 19.82 ounces…with magazine!

Reeves likes the 12-round S&W CSX magazines the best, as they are just long enough to allow a good grip, while the 10-round CSX mags leave your pinkie finger dangling. The CSX magazines and holsters are not compatible with the Shield series since it was built from the ground up as a different pistol. The fact that they managed to pack 12+1 rounds into such a tiny pistol is pretty remarkable.

Smith & Wesson CSX 12-round magazine
The 12-round magazine adds a tiny bit to the handle, which gives the pinkie a place to rest and gives the shooter 13 rounds of 9mm on tap.

Since the pistol is Single Action Only, it can be carried cocked and locked, a la the 1911. Reeves reports that the trigger is very good, being short and crisp, though a little heavier than he prefers. He said that after some use, the pull reduced down to between 5 and 5 ½ pounds. One small criticism is that the trigger has a “false reset”, in that there is a small click before the shooter actually reaches the reset. A “little click followed by a big click.” I believe that training and familiarity can overcome this.

Smith & Wesson CSX trigger pull
The trigger pull was 5 to 5 1/2 pounds after some use.

The thumb safety is also similar to those found on many 1911s. James would like to see a slightly larger safety. When the safety is manipulated, there is an audible click and it appears to be positive. The safety and slide release are both ambidextrous, which is a nice touch.

CSX trigger, slide release, and safety
The flat trigger can be seen, as well as the slide release and safety lever.

Although the three dot sights are nice and easy to see, James would like to see night sights come standard with the pistol. I will strongly concur with this! In fact, many of us in the shooting industry have been shrieking for night sights since around the time that the earth began to cool. Perhaps one day, gun manufacturers will get the hint.

Smith & Wesson CSX three-dot sights
The three-dot sights are made from steel and can be easily seen.

Currently, the S&W CSX lacks a rail for lights or lasers, as well as any way to mount optics. For me, that is not a big deal, but for those who enjoy technology and gadgetry, this might cause dismay, disdain, and gnashing of teeth.

Reeves noted that a larger beavertail might be helpful for some shooters, as his shooting partner used a very high grip and experienced some rubbing on the web of his hand
from the slide.

During the testing of the pistol, which amounted to over 500 rounds, there were zero malfunctions. To make it interesting, James threw the CSX into a bucket full of brackish bayou water, took it out, and immediately fired a magazine through it while it was still dripping. It ran like a champ!

500 round torture test of Smith & Wesson CSX
The test involved firing over 500 rounds from various positions.
bucket of dirty salt water used to torture test the Smith & Wesson CSX
The CSX was dropped into a bucket of filthy salt water before firing.
CSX torture test with water
Immediately after the dunking, the pistol was fired through a full magazine with 100% reliability.

Accuracy was reported to be excellent, and the low bore axis and great trigger undoubtedly contributed to that.

Smith & Wesson did something markedly different and positive with the CSX. They’ve beaten their Shield series of pistols in every way, including accuracy, size, weight, and capacity.

Overall, I enjoyed the video. James injects humor into his narrative, and includes a ton of footage of the pistol being shot, as well as it being dunked into the saltwater (and then shot some more). The video was clear, concise, and interesting, which made it a pleasure to watch.

The only bad side of the whole thing is now that I’ve seen the S&W CSX in action, I want one! As such, this video was not healthy for my wallet. And speaking of the wallet, the CSX retails for around $600, so it should be slightly less expensive in the gun stores. I plan on checking one out as soon as I get a chance because it’s very small, light, and will carry like a dream!

Jim Davis served in the PA Dept. of Corrections for 16 ½ years as a corrections officer in the State Correctional Institute at Graterford and later at SCI Phoenix. He served on the Corrections Emergency Response Team (CERT), several of those years as a sniper, and also the Fire Emergency Response Team (FERT). For 25 years, he was a professional instructor, teaching topics including Defensive Tactics, Riot Control and Tactical Operations, Immediate Responder, and cognitive programs as an adjunct instructor at the DOC Training Academy. He was then promoted to the title of corrections counselor, where he ran a caseload and facilitated cognitive therapy classes to inmates. His total service time was close to 29 years. He was involved in many violent encounters on duty, including incidents of fatalities. He is a dedicated Christian and attributes any skills that he has to the glory of God.

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