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Smith & Wesson CSX Review: Hammer-Fired Micro 9mm

In this hands-on review, we take the Smith & Wesson CSX micro compact to the range to see if it's a worthy CCW option.

In January of 2022, Smith & Wesson released the CSX, a hammer-fired, single-action, 9mm in the micro compact category.

With a 12+1 capacity in such a small platform, the gun caused a bit of a stir.

CSX lefty
Smith & Wesson CSX

We can agree concealment is much easier the smaller a pistol is. But at what point do you start to lose functionality in favor of concealability?

We’ll answer that question and give you all our findings after a couple of trips to the range, testing the CSX out. So read on!

Table of Contents

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Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Highly concealable
  • Reliable
  • Ambidextrous controls (safety, slide release, reversible mag release)
  • Lots of extra details

Cons

  • Difficult takedown
  • No included takedown tool
  • Challenging for big hands

The Bottom Line

The CSX is a great little shooter that hits the bottom range of what is a good blend between concealability and functionality. Shooters with average to smaller hands will love this gun.

CSX two hand
Small gun with big value

It performed admirably during testing though notably, people with larger meat hooks may experience some challenges obtaining that performance based on the gun’s size.

Specs & Features

Specs

  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Width: 1.12″
  • Length: 6.1″
  • Barrel Length: 3.1″
  • Height: 4.6″
  • Weight: 19.5 oz
  • Capacity: 12+1

Features

  • Aluminum alloy frame
  • 12-round capacity
  • Front and rear slide serrations

Source: Smith & Wesson

579
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Background

S&W has continued to offer a widening array of options for its semi-auto handgun customers and the CSX is an interesting offering in the micro-compact market.

Those familiar with the Chief’s Special model revolvers from the legendary gun maker may recognize the nod in the acronym “CSX.”

CSX jf
Smaller hands and perfect fit

The size alone creates a lot of opportunities for all walks of life to carry this pistol. It takes up roughly the same space as an iPhone but is thicker.

Fit & Feel

This gun is mostly metal but features polymer inserts on the front strap and back strap. The polymer has a pretty aggressive texture to help maintain grip.

The top of the slide includes glare-reducing serrations. I’m not sure this is a problem I’ve encountered but upon testing, they definitely work and are a nice touch.

CSX right
Ambidextrous for everyone

The beavertail is a good size but was not big enough to completely save my 2X hand from slide bite. However, most shooters should be fine with it.

How Does It Shoot?

Likely one of the most interesting aspects of this gun is the trigger. As a single action, hammer-fired gun, the trigger is short.

This was measured at just over 5 pounds consistently on my Lyman digital gauge. Reset was audible and tactile, though there was an intermediate stage during the return trip.

This too could be felt and initially lured me into thinking reset was complete. However, pressing the trigger from here will not fire the gun.

With practice, I got used to the trigger needing to come further out for reset to occur. Because the trigger was so short, my accuracy was decent for such a small gun.

Shooting from 7 yards I was able to create 3-shot groups averaging around 1.5 inches. The best group was roughly 1 inch.

CSX accuracy
My best group from 7 yards was around an inch

While the weight and grip texture help with recoil, management was much easier for me with the 12-round magazine. The 10-round magazine provided a smaller profile but was a little tougher to hold onto since my pinky was left floating.

I also noted having to move my grip during reloads in order to get the magazines to drop. Again, this is a hand size issue and most shooters would not have this problem.

While not related strictly to shooting, the field strip of the CSX was tough, particularly at first. Additionally, Smith does not include a takedown tool with the gun.

Shooters will have to pull back the slide a bit and hold it lined up while drifting out a pin from the other side. This does appear to get easier with time and rounds downrange.

What Sets it Apart?

Smith & Wesson went all-in on the CSX, adding refinements not usually seen in such a small pistol. At 12+1 capacity, the CSX is competitive in this category though the standout has to be the overall approach.

CSX HHH
The CSX disappears with this Hidden Hybrid Holster

As a mostly metal, hammer-fired, single-action, gun, it makes quite a departure from a world otherwise filled with striker-fired, polymer options.

By The Numbers

Reliability: 5/5

Over a course of 500 rounds, the CSX had zero malfunctions. I mostly used Remington UMC 115-grain but also used some 147-grain defensive rounds as well.

Ergonomics: 4/5

Most shooters are going to find the CSX a great fit with an ambidextrous safety, slide release, and reversible magazine release. The beavertail does a good job in most instances. Smith included a left-handed mag release as well as a smaller backstrap for those with smaller hands.

Accuracy: 4/5

The short trigger allowed me to eventually work out some pretty respectable accuracy after I got used to it. The sights, as tested, were a simple 3-dot white setup.

Customization: 2/5

As of this review, there are not too many options on the market for customizing the CSX. There are a plethora of holster makers and you can definitely upgrade your sights to something better, but that’s about it. The CSX does not include an accessory rail but that doesn’t mean a light can’t be added later as we’ve seen with various iterations of the Streamlight TLR-6.

Value: 4/5

MSRP for the CSX is $609 and prices seem to be hovering in that range or are even higher depending on availability. The appeal of this gun is its capacity and reliability in such a concealable package.

Overall: 4/5

579
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Upgrades for the CSX

As mentioned, there currently is not a lot of aftermarket support for the CSX though I suspect that will change with time.

Right now, you can upgrade your sights but it’s likely more options for accessories will develop.

That said, holsters are starting to appear, like the Hidden Hybrid Appendix Carry setup.

84
at Hidden Hybrid Holsters

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Final Verdict

The size, weight, reliability, capacity, and feel of the CSX make it a really good option for concealed carry.

And while the trigger takes a bit of getting used to, the accuracy it provides is a juice worth the squeeze.

CSX close
CSX close

The ergonomics are great, particularly for left-handed shooters, though those with Sasquatchian-sized hands will find a better fit with Smith & Wesson’s 9 Shield Plus.

What do you think of the Smith & Wesson CSX? Let us know in the comments below! Also, be sure to check out our 12 Best Concealed Carry Guns for even more options.

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21 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    Seth

    Having had a wrist injury repaired with surgery, I tend to be recoil sensitive with smaller handguns. I bought this model anyway, and was pleasantly surprised with the felt recoil. To me, the recoil feels less sharp than my Glock 19, my usual carry pistol. The trigger is smoothing out after a few hundred rounds, and the accuracy is quite good for such a short barrel.

    June 29, 2022 5:02 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Peter Mullin

    Best upgraded sight options?

    May 23, 2022 4:54 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Sean Curtis

      Peter,

      Sights have everything in the world to do with personal preference. Unfortunately, the CSX is still new enough that there isn't a lot of aftermarket support. However, in checking some forums, I'm seeing the front sight on the CSX should be compatible with any M&P model. The rear, according to the S&W forums, are proprietary.

      May 24, 2022 6:54 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Steven Sarasky

    After years of experience with pistols and Revolvers. Pistols Jam, magazine spring wears recoil Springs wear . Not dependable! It's happened to me to many times, that's why I carry a Ruger Sp101 3inch 357 or 38spl put over 5,000 rounds never had a problem! Got rid of all my pistols I know with my Ruger I will never have to worry about being attacked I'm 63 and will always depend on a Revolvers

    May 19, 2022 4:31 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Sean Curtis

      Steven,

      Thanks for sharing. I love the SP101, it's a great shooter. Keep an eye out toward the end of this month, we'll have a video you may be very interested in!

      May 20, 2022 9:11 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Gregory Whitacre

    I recommend for the Bigger Hands folks, the S & W M & P Shield Plus, bigger pistol grip 13 rd cap.

    May 19, 2022 4:25 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Sean Curtis

      Gregory,

      This is a great point and I totally agree! When I recently reviewed that gun I had a much better fit. https://www.pewpewtactical.com/smith-wesson-mp-9-shield-plus-review/

      May 20, 2022 9:12 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Gregory Whitacre

    Might be a great purse firearm for young female shooters for urban protection.

    May 19, 2022 4:16 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Graham Robb

    I was really excited about this pistol when they started hyping it up. Once they were finally available I snapped one up. I think the review is pretty much on the money. It's a little small in my bigger than average hands, and I suffered from slide bite until I adjusted my grip. Great shooter, and I really like the weight compared to my Shield 2.0. Add 4 extra rounds and it's a no brainer.
    I did find that my front sight is a little off center which feels like a good excuse for my first grouping to have been in a straight vertical line about 3/4" left of center on the target at 10 yards. At least that's the story I'm going with.
    Great little shooter, and really comfortable to carry.

    May 19, 2022 3:52 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Sean Curtis

      Good deal Graham, glad it's working for you. Thanks for the read!

      May 20, 2022 9:13 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Richard Larence

    I have one and it’s a great shooter and natural fit in my hand. Perfect concealed carry size and fits my P365 custom Wright pocket holster. Best platform and capacity. Yes it’s a pain in the ass to use a punch for takedown but something I can live with to own this fine weapon

    May 19, 2022 3:23 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Sean Curtis

      Great perspective Richard, and thanks for the tip on the holster.

      May 19, 2022 3:42 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Matt

    I really wanted to like the csx, I am a huge fan of the Kimber micro 9 and sig 938. S&W completely screwed the trigger up. Drop a sig trigger in this thing it would be amazing, today I'll pass

    May 18, 2022 8:43 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Sean Curtis

      I hear you Matt, I'm hoping to check out the newer offerings from Kimber soon.

      May 19, 2022 3:43 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Guy Clue

    Author sucks at shooting for only getting that kind of group at 7yds.

    May 18, 2022 7:54 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Sean Curtis

      "We're sorry the author's shooting did not meet with your satisfaction. Please provide a receipt for a full refund."

      May 19, 2022 3:44 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    B. Backer

    I’ve been to the range once with my new CSX. Shoots great. Nice grouping at 10 yards. I didn’t have any trouble with the trigger reset.

    Only draw back is the aggressive surface on the grip. However it does make it easy to hold onto when shooting. I quickly obtained more 12 round mags as that extra grip area is a must.
    Great size for IWB carry.

    May 18, 2022 6:05 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Sean Curtis

      Thanks for your thoughts B, I agree. It's a tough balance between hanging on to a somewhat snappier gun vs, ease of draw from concealment. Glad the CSX is working for you!

      May 19, 2022 3:45 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Jesus

    19oz is RIDICULOUS for concealment...

    May 18, 2022 3:10 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    tirod3

    Twp items in the style department - scallops on the slide are part of the overall weight reduction but the pro minded buyer wants slabs with no wild printing on them. P365 made that very notable compared to their 938.

    The grip zone look is another - not duty or pro. Knowledgeable buyers gravitate to pro looks over time and the excessively detailed poly grips aren't. SW did ok with restraint but that grip has a squeeze bulb look to it - is this a "masculine prosthetic inflator" or what?

    Take down has to be no tools and that is another area where the 365 had it better than the 938 - no dingus sticking up to damage on reassembly.

    At this rate the pricing isn't competitive, $499 for a hammer should be doable. And a separate FCU can be done.

    May 18, 2022 3:33 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Sean Curtis

      Ha! I like your writing style Tirod.

      May 19, 2022 3:46 pm
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