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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


    Smith & Wesson CSX Pros & Cons


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


    • 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.

    Smith & Wesson CSX Specs & Features


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


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

    Source: Smith & Wesson

    at Brownells

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons


    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.

    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

    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.

    at Hidden Hybrid Holsters

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    Field Strip & Reassembly

    We mentioned that the CSX is slightly harder to takedown…so we made a quick video:

    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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    27 Leave a Reply

    • Commenter Avatar
      Stephen Bender

      I had a P365. Cannot believe how much more fun this Csx is to shoot. Zero slide bite. Great control. So confident with this pistol that is now my edc.

      September 20, 2023 6:00 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      Thanks for this review. One point few mention is the ease of racking the slide vs other micro 9’s. I have arthritis in my hands and I cannot rack a Shield Plus or a P365 without pain in my left hand. I can manipulate the CSX just fine. This is my new EDC.

      May 15, 2023 11:55 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      CSX is my new daily carry replacing my P365. I’ve been alternating between great guns that share similar grip angles, but when they get small enough to easily conceal in work settings, it’s hard to find “the one.” CSX is just right. All metal feels more solid. Size of my PPKs but with 12+1 of 9mm! Grip angle is perfect. Sights line right up on a draw, like my 1911 or 92f or PDP. I feel more secure with hammer fired and 1911 style thumb safety, and heavy enough trigger I don’t fear accidental discharge. This gun fits ALL my situations, where my other great guns only fit certain situations. Heavy enough. Powerful enough. Capacity enough. Ideally concealable and unbelievably “carry-comfortable.” Plus, it has a super-grippy texture that effectively sticks to my fingers for a successful draw (even when my belt is cinched up tight). It’s as if the gun grabs onto me as I grab onto it. I’ve n ever experienced that positive draw confidence with a small gun before. So with a bunch of great guns to choose from, this is the most practically ideal yet. New daily carry.

      April 23, 2023 10:55 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Eric M

      Just recently picked up the CSX to replace my H&K P30SK as an EDC. I chose the H&K over the P365 which had just been released at the time. Though it is less concealable, I'm lefty with fairly good sized hands, and the H&K was really the only good fully ambi carry I could find at the time. I put the CSX in a 1791 Ultra-custom IWB holster, and it just disappears in my waistband in any carry position, even with a thin golf shirt tucked in.
      Everything in this review is spot-on with my experience so far (about 300 rounds through it) except the grip size seems perfect for me. That might have more to do with grip geometry than size. I could never get comfortable with the 365 or even the XL version, where the CSX just fits great. The CSX is a little more oval shaped compared to the more blocky 365. Not a knock, just preference.
      Would love if you have some advice on how to grip with my off hand though. After the first 10 rounds at 7 yards yesterday, my buddy leaned over and asked which circle I was shooting at. Loaded another mag and proceeded to make a ragged 2" hole with 8 rounds and two holes just half an inch outside. Finding the right grip and being consistent with it is going to be the key.

      October 21, 2022 1:16 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Bill T

      As I'm getting older and my body is changing shape I'm gravitating towards pocket carry for my EDC, even though I have plenty of good concealment options for colder weather clothing. I'm also shying away from adding to my already excessive collection of "tactical plastic" handguns as I am thinking about passing my collection to children, grandchildren (great-grandchildren?) and wondering how many of those will be still functional in 100+ years.
      Given all that, this one might give me a reason to stuff another 9mm into the safe. Local Cabela's has one for under $500. I might just stop by and see if it drops into the pocket of my 501s as good as my Kahr PM9 or my S&W Airweight. Also, I don't have big hands - but I have heard it's not how big your hands are, it's how you use them. :-)

      July 18, 2022 7:50 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      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


        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


        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
        Old Airborne Dog

        There is no such thing as a 100% reliable handgun, shovel, internal combustion engine, rifle, etc. I'm 70, 40 years between infantry paratrooper and cop. Started carrying S&W Model 10 revolvers, end of my paid triggerpuller days it's pretty much all striker fired double action pistols.

        I have competed in PPC for just over four decades. Still compete a bit for the social side, but a bit too shaky and inflexible to be competitive any more. I have had revolver firing pins break, recoil springs break, etc. Rarely - because I maintain those S&W revolvers. But TENS of thousands of rounds will eventually result in a failure somewhere. S&W remains my only choice for revolvers; nothing with a double action trigger pull like them.

        The most commonly fired pistol I have is a C series Browning High Power I've owned since purchased new in 1972. Not quite as many rounds as as the K frames I use in PPC, but round count is still in the ten thousands. The very few jams I have had were user/reloader error. Internal springs don't fail because I get really crazy and replace them about every 5,000 rounds - they are properly considered to be a wear item. Magazine springs? Waiting for them to start failing... the two original magazines are still going strong, although for carry the new magazine with the ejection spring and 15 round Mec-Gar magazines replaced them for carry.

        What works for the INDIVIDUAL is far, FAR more important than any bias towards a belief that generic revolvers versus generic pistols have a hierarchy where one type is more prone to failure than the other. The greatest factor in reliability is the care and maintenance done (or more accurately, probably not done) by the owner/user. Just one of the reasons why weapons maintenance in the military is obsessively mandatory, versus civilian optional.

        I'm happy with the usability/reliability of this pistol straight out of the box. But I'm always interested in optional customization features: different sights, offers of trigger customization, lights 'n lasers, etc. Probably wouldn't end up buying them... but you never know... there might be that perfect custom touch...

        Especially the older I get and the more help the ol' bod and eyeballs need. Don't plan on stopping trips to the range and carrying any time in the future. Hate to go to the other side of the grass and leave unused primers, powder, bullets, etc behind for somebody else to use.

        July 6, 2023 9:14 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


        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

      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

      19oz is RIDICULOUS for concealment...

      May 18, 2022 3:10 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      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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