While many other manufactures were going head-to-head, developing micro-compact, striker-fired pistols, Smith & Wesson was busy engineering a new carry gun that serves two large and often underserved segments of the micro-compact carry market. Customers that prefer single action pistols and the left-handed shooter are both well served with the brand-new Smith & Wesson CSX™. The CSX is best described as a micro-compact single-action pistol with ambidextrous controls and magazine capacity to rival modern carry guns.
Brett Curry, one of the head Engineers of the CSX said they originally set out to “design a single stack pistol to compete with other single stack compact and micro-compact pistols in the market. After several evolutionary design iterations, including a larger framed single stack and double stack configurations, the concept was redesigned into a double stack micro that became the CSX pistol.” The result is a single-action design combined with modern micro-compact pistol features. What really sets this firearm apart from the rest though is that it’s almost entirely ambidextrous. The manual thumb safety and slide lock are operable on both sides and the magazine release can be swapped to the right-hand side, making this an ideal option for left-hand shooters who struggle to find a good match for concealed carry.
The CSX aluminum frame comes equipped with the renowned Smith & Wesson interchangeable backstraps, including small and extra small for more discretion. The polymer backstraps and front strap are textured to give the user a strong grip however, the side of the frame is smooth, cerakoted in a matte black finish. The grip on this firearm is confusingly comfortable, as there aren’t many pistols on the market that are half aluminum alloy and polymer. When asked Corey Beaudreau, the Media Relations Manager of Smith & Wesson, he said the grip was done this way intentionally to be more comfortable when carried appendix style. The combination of the smooth and coarse surface also makes for a more comfortable experience on the range when practicing for longer periods of time, which is a rarity for most micro-compact guns.
When compared to the Smith & Wesson Shield™ Plus, the aluminum frame is only 0.2 ounces heavier. Shooting it side by side however, some might feel a substantial difference in recoil. According to Mr. Curry, the recoil should be similar, but might feel less because of a lower bore axis on the CSX compared to the Shield Plus. The slide and barrel on the Shield Plus sit slightly higher relative to your hand causing a perceived higher recoil. As you shoot the CSX, fast target acquisition is an easy task between each shot due to the engineering of this pistol.
The trigger on the CSX is anything but traditional. You can think of it like a hybrid of a 1911 and striker fired trigger. A 1911 trigger is curved like a bow and pulls straight back where a striker-fired trigger has a pivot point and a trigger safety. The CSX has a pivot point similar to a striker fired and a single bar that releases the hammer, similar to a 1911. Unlike many single actions, a grip safety is not necessary with the addition of the trigger safety. To the more refined trigger snobs out there, the trigger reset is a bit odd. If you ride the reset, the firing pin safety has a step on it that pushes the trigger forward and feels like a reset, but it isn’t. Releasing the trigger further will reset the trigger to allow it to shoot another round. This may take a bit of getting used to if you like to ride the reset.
Like the new Shield Plus, Smith & Wesson has designed modern magazines for the CSX that optimize grip size with round capacity. With a grip size very close to other micro-compact pistols, the CSX packs 10 rounds in the flush mag and 12 rounds in the slightly extended mag. Unfortunately, the Shield Plus 9mm magazines are not compatible with the CSX mags, although that would have been a convenient feature.
The CSX includes standard three dot sights without optic cuts. Night sights and aftermarket sights are not available right now, which is always the downside of purchasing the latest model, however I expect it won’t be long before these options are available. The sights have a flat face which can give the user an edge on racking the slide with one hand against a hard surface to clear malfunctions if you’re into that kind of operator stuff. The slide also includes front and rear serrations and unique tabs on the rear of the slide which come in handy for those who may struggle to get a firm grip on a smaller slide. The recoil spring is relatively light and when the hammer is cocked, it becomes an even easier gun to manipulate, which makes this gun a good contender for those who have weak hand strength. Lastly, Smith & Wesson added a loaded chamber indicator, which seems to be an important feature for many.
In designing a single action pistol, Smith & Wesson built the CSX more similar to a race gun than a standard carry gun. The rails that the slide moves on run three quarters of the length for better slide to frame lockup. Many will argue that this provides a more precise and tighter lockup between the slide, barrel, and frame to increase accuracy. One thing you may notice about the frame about is the lack of an accessory rail; Mr. Beaudreau stated this was a deliberate choice to ensure the CSX had the smallest most comfortable footprint possible. Many companies build light/lasers that attach to the trigger guard though and those are likely already in development.
Takedown of the CSX isn’t difficult, but not as easy as one would hope for a carry gun. There’s a pin associated with the take town lever that goes through the barrel lug. To disassemble, you’ll need a punch to remove the pin. Which seems painless until you’re at the range and realize you need to oil your firearm and don’t have a punch available, so be sure to keep one on hand. The slide needs to be pulled back to where it meets the take down lever pivot point where the first notch lines up. On the right side take down lever, the punch is used to pop out the take down lever on the left-hand side.
To sum up the CSX, if you’re a fan of single-action pistols, the CSX gives you a refreshing new carry option. It’s especially desirable to left-hand shooters with full ambidextrous controls and a swappable mag release. Unlike many smaller pistols, it’s mild on recoil and easy to shoot for extended periods on the range. It’s also currently, the only single-action double-stack micro pistol on the market with a metal frame. In other words, it shoots like a larger competition gun, but gives you that capability in a compact carry gun.