Smith & Wesson Sigma
|Smith & Wesson SIGMA|
|Place of origin||United States|
|Designer||Smith & Wesson|
|Manufacturer||Smith & Wesson|
|Variants||SW40F, SW9F, SW40C, SW9C, SW40V, SW9V, SW40E, SW9E, SW40VE, SW9VE, SW9P, SW9G, SW380M, SW9M|
|Weight||26 ounces (740 g) (SW40F, SW9F)
24 ounces (690 g) (SW40C, SW40V, SW40VE, SW40E)
24 1/2 ounces (700 g) (SW9C, SW9V, SW9VE, SW9E, SW9G, SW9P)
|Length||7 3/4 inches (197 mm) (SW40F, SW9F)
7 1/4 inches (184 mm) (SW40C, SW40V, SW40VE, SW40E, SW9C, SW9V, SW9VE, SW9E, SW9G, SW9P)
|Barrel length||4 1/2 inches (114 mm) (SW40F, SW9F)
4 inches (102 mm) (SW40C, SW40V, SW40VE, SW40E, SW9C, SW9V, SW9VE, SW9E, SW9G, SW9P)
|Width||1 1/3 inches (33 mm)|
|Height||5 1/2 inches (142 mm) (SW40F, SW9F)|
.380 ACP (SW380M)
|Feed system||16-round box magazine
17-round box magazine (SW9F)
15-round box magazine (SW40F)
14-round box magazine
|Sights||Fixed 3-dot notch sights|
The Sigma was Smith & Wesson's first venture into using synthetic materials in pistol construction, using high-strength polymer material for the frame. The pistol is similar to a Glock safe-action pistol in both its design and operation, leading to some controversy and speculation as to the legality of the pistol's patents.
Created in 1994, the Sigma incorporates pre-set striker firing mechanism. It is available in both .40 S&W cartridge and 9×19mm Parabellum being one of the first pistols purpose-designed to handle the .40 S&W. Similar styled sub-compact designs in .380 ACP and 9×19mm were also manufactured. A limited number of these pistols were also chambered for the .357 SIG cartridge.
The Sigma series pistols are so similar to the competing Glock pistols that Glock sued Smith & Wesson for patent infringement. The case was settled out of court in 1997, with S&W agreeing to make alterations to the Sigma design and pay an undisclosed amount to Glock.
History and Design Improvements
In 1994 S&W rolled out the original Sigmas, the SW40F and SW9F chambered in .40 S&W and 9mm Luger respectively. Both were full sized models denoted by the F. Both had black polymer frame and a dark blued slide. Both had 'double stack' magazines with a capacity of 15 and 17 rounds respectively. The pistol was designed to compete with the Glock 17. It had the same grip angle as the Colt 1911A1, and was priced slightly above the Glock 17.
Shortly after S&W introduced a pair of very small concealed carry-style variants, the SW380M and the SW9M, chambered in .380 ACP and 9mm Luger respectively. Both had a black polymer frame and a dark blued slide. Both had rudimentary sights. Both utilized a 'single stack' magazine and had a large thumb cut-out to make removal of the magazine easier. The SW9M had a magazine capacity of 7 rounds. The significantly smaller SW380M had a magazine capacity of 6 rounds.
The next incarnation of the Sigma were models limited to 10 rounds due to the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban. Smith & Wesson significantly dropped the price and changed the polymer frame color to light grey with matching slide. The model designation of these pistols were SW40V and SW9V, with V being equated with Value. Later, V models were introduced with black polymer frame and stainless steel slides.
At this same time Smith & Wesson introduced the SW40C and SW9C. This version of Sigma retained the black polymer frame and black slide of the original SW40F and SW9F. These models had the Double Action Only trigger. This was a feature marketed heavily to police departments especially those transitioning from revolver to semi-automatic pistol as the trigger pull was the same for each shot. Also the trigger pull was long and heavy similar to a double-action revolver which was believed to reduce the chance of inadvertently firing the pistol. This model was almost exclusively marketed to police departments. Used models can be found with standard capacity magazines even though most pistols produced during this period were restricted to 10 rounds. This is because police departments were exempt from the 10-round limit and after the provision had sunset, departments could legally sell both pistol and standard capacity magazine on the secondary market.
In 1999 Smith & Wesson introduced the VE series. These models were billed as 'enhanced' and featured an improved grip, improved trigger, and enlarged ejection port. This model returned to the black coloration of the polymer frame mated with a stainless steel or black melonite slide.
At this time Smith & Wesson retired the 4.5 inch barrel and switched all Sigmas to the 4.0 inch barrel. Sigmas from this era onward are considered '2nd generation' Sigmas. Shortly after the introduction of the VE series, Smith & Wesson further improved it by adding an accessory rail but did not change the model number to reflect this update.
Sometime post 1999 Smith & Wesson introduced the SW40P and SW9P. These models were identical to the SW40VE an SW9VE but added porting to the barrel and slide, the purpose of which was to vent gases upwards to fight the muzzle flip associated with recoil.
In 2004 Smith & Wesson introduced the SW40GVE and SW9GVE. These models had a green polymer frame.
In 2011 Smith & Wesson reworked the Sigma design, dropped the Sigma name, and introduced a pistol as the SD series. This pistol has a redesigned trigger action and also has a front "night" sight. Magazines are interchangeable between the Sigma and SD series, although the baseplates are slightly different. This pistol was priced and marketed to sit between the traditional Sigma VE series and the Smith & Wesson M&P design.
- Boorman, Dean K. (1 December 2002). The History of Smith & Wesson Firearms. Globe Pequot Press. p. 75. ISBN 978-1-58574-721-4.
- Judge dismisses lawsuit against gunmaker, S&W and Glock settle suit | Shooting Industry | Find Articles at BNET[dead link]