Smith & Wesson Sigma Gets an Upgrade: SD9 2.0

In 1994, Smith & Wesson introduced the Sigma, a polymer-framed semi-automatic as its answer to the ever-increasing competition from the Glock pistol. Sigma pistols do not have external safeties and are double action only. They do have an internal firing pin block safety.

The trigger consists of two parts, the lower half which connects to the upper half via a hinge. The lower half must be partially depressed before the trigger can be pulled. Glock sued S&W for patent infringement, claiming the Sigma trigger was a direct copy of the Glock trigger. The two companies settled the lawsuit, S&W paid Glock some money, and made small changes to the trigger mechanism and kept right on making Sigmas.

S&W SD9 2.0 9mm semi-auto handgun, left profile
Changes to the SD include a straight trigger, deeper slide serrations, and internal mods to the trigger and sear assembly.

Sigma History

There have been several configurations as far as color and barrel length over the years. The Sigma model name was changed in 2000 to SDVE 9 or SDVE 40. According to marketing materials from the day, the SD stands for Self-Defense and the VE stands for Value Enhanced. From 2000 on, the gun has been issued with a black frame and stainless-steel slide, or a gray or FDE frame with a black slide.

In 2007, S&W introduced its first M&P semi-automatic, which has become its predominant polymer-framed semi-automatic. The SDVE remained in the lineup. Because it is priced under the M&P, it has been considered by most people as a bargain or introductory pistol. Where the M&Ps have been typically $650 and up, the SDVE price has remained in the $350 to $400 range. The newest model, which is the subject of this review, is priced around $300.

Since day one, the series has featured good ergonomics. It has an easy, but secure, grip texture on the sides with front and back strap checkering. The initial models were released in both 9mm and .40 S&W with 4-inch stainless-steel barrels, steel slide, and polymer frame. The 9mm uses a 16-round magazine, and the .40 S&W uses a 14-round magazine.

The guns weigh 23.1 ounces empty, are 7.2 inches long, 5.5 inches high, and 1.29 inches wide. These are approximately the same measurements as the Glock 19 and M&P 9mm. S&W released a green NATO look in 2001 in an attempt to increase military sales. The advantage to this finish is that it reflects absolutely no light.

The NATO model is when the accessory rail for mounting optics first appeared under the frame forward of the trigger guard. That same year, a ported model was issued to allow the gas pressure generated by the cartridge to be released just before the bullet left the barrel. The sides of the stainless-steel slide were polished, and the top was matte.

S&W SD9 2.0 9mm semi-auto handgun atop a SDVE pistol
The top of the 2.0 slide has full-length anti-glare grooves (top) which is another feature that sets it apart from the earlier models (bottom).

In my early experience as an instructor, I observed that the Sigmas brought to class by students often suffered feed issues. In my mind it was a jam-o-matic. Consequently, I didn’t want one — even though I always thought it was a good-looking gun. As I gained more experience teaching live classes, I came to learn that many of the problems that were blamed on the gun were the result of inexperienced shooters limp-wristing their pistols. Quite simply, the shooters were not providing the guns with a proper platform necessary for smooth operation.

It wasn’t just the Sigma/SDVEs that were experiencing this, but other guns as well, including some pretty pricey Kimber models. Both companies quietly made improvements, so the problems became a thing of the past. If you study the inner workings of the SDVE compared to the inner workings of an M&P, you’ll see there’s not that much difference.

SD9 2.0 Features

In December 2023, S&W released version 2.0 of the SD9 and dropped the VE from the name for the 9mm version. The product we have now is simply labeled the SD9 2.0. I asked S&W to send me one for evaluation. After its arrival, I learned from one of my regular shooting companions that he had an SD9 VE. He brought his; I brought mine, and we had a great time shooting and comparing the two guns.

S7W SDVE 9mm handgun's curved trigger over the flat trigger of the SD9
One of the main differences between the earlier versions and the 2.0 version is the trigger. The curved trigger (top) has been replaced by a straight, flat-face trigger (bottom).

Externally, the SD 9 2.0 has an almost identical frame to that of the SD9 VE, but it has a different trigger. The 2.0 trigger is straight — not hinged — with a flat-faced trigger safety that must be depressed before the trigger can be moved to the rear. My trigger pull gauge registers an average of 3.2 pounds for the 2.0 and 3.6 pounds for the older gun. Not much difference. The slide on the 2.0 has deeper serrations (front and rear), and full-length, anti-glare lines on the top. Both guns have white, three-dot sights that are drift-adjustable and may be replaced with Tritium sights if desired.

The inner workings of the 2.0 have some minor changes that are apparently there to facilitate smoother operation. There is no major technical difference in how the two guns operate. The top of the striker safety plunger is flat on the earlier models and tapered on the 2.0. The back end of the trigger bar assembly and striker housing assembly are reworked on the 2.0 gun.

The part where the trigger bar engages the sear is flat on the new gun and edged on the older guns. They don’t work differently. They’re just shaped differently as far as I can see. I’m sure a mechanical engineer could tell us why the change was made, but it is beyond me.

field stripped S&W SD9 2.0 9mm semi-auto pistol
The SD pistols utilize pull-down tabs for takedown that are similar to the Glock method. Takedown does not require a trigger pull.

Range Testing

My friend and I shot his gun and the new 2.0 gun side-by-side for this review. We swapped guns several times during our shooting session. It’s interesting, but shooting at seven and 10 yards, both of us got slightly tighter groups with the older gun. Not so much that it would make a difference in a defensive encounter, but several times we shot one ragged hole-type groups with the SD9 VE. However, the SD9 2.0 never gave us that type of performance. It got close, but not right on the money.

I couldn’t help but compare the guns to any of the several M&Ps I have. There is no question the M&Ps have better triggers, but are they more accurate? Some are, some aren’t, but in distances up to 15 yards there’s not enough difference to stake your life on. We ran Winchester White Box, Winchester Defend, PMC FMJ, Hornady Handgun Hunter, and CCI Blazer FMJ rounds through the guns. There were no malfunctions in two different range sessions.

Final Thoughts

I came away from the two range sessions with a new appreciation for both the SD9 VE and the SD 9 2.0. These are guns that sell in the $300–$350 range. Yet either one of them would perform when needed as an SD (Self-Defense) pistol carried in a holster or stored in a vehicle glove box or console. In making the changes to the 2.0 model, S&W may have succeeded in bringing new life to the model.

However, I can’t help but notice that as of this writing, the S&W website still lists the SD and SDVE models along with the SD 2.0. The older models include guns chambered in .40 S&W, 10-round magazine guns, and variations in sight types. However, if you want just a basic 9mm, 16-round, three-dot sight, striker-fired handgun, and don’t want to pay over $400, the SD9 2.0

S&W SD9 2.0 9mm semi-auto pistol with a paper test target and a box of CCI Blazer ammunition
The author found both the SD VE and SD 2.0 to be accurate. This target is just one example of many produced during testing. It was shot at five yards using CCI Blazer ammo.

Glock style trigger and takedown without having to pull the trigger, plenty of accuracy, and an a price tag that’s hard to beat… What else could you ask for? Share your S&W SD9 2.0 review in the Comment section.

  • S&W SD9 2.0 9mm semi-auto handgun with boxes of Winchester, CCI, and Speer ammunition
  • S&W SD9 2.0 9mm semi-auto handgun in a De Santis Vanquisher IWB holster
  • S&W SD9 2.0 9mm semi-auto pistol with a paper test target and a box of CCI Blazer ammunition
  • field stripped S&W SD9 2.0 9mm semi-auto pistol
  • S&W SD9 2.0 9mm semi-auto handgun atop a SDVE pistol
  • S7W SDVE 9mm handgun's curved trigger over the flat trigger of the SD9
  • S&W SD9 2.0 9mm semi-auto handgun, left profile
  • S&W SD9 2.0 9mm semi-auto pistol, right profile

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