JD Defense Product Reviews
Welcome to our product review page where we will share our thoughts on select products as well as recommendations from customers. If you would like to submit a review - please let us know!
Smith and Wesson Airweight Revolvers- Models 637 (left) and 642 (right)
JD Defense carries and sells a lot of Airweight J-frame Smith and Wesson revolvers for concealed carry use. I asked John (JD) what he recommended in an Airweight model and he gave two 38 +P models; one with an exposed and the other with an internal (shrouded) hammer. I asked why he didn't suggest the .357 models and he stated that using .38 +P rounds provides almost the same stopping power as a .357 round with the .38 +P revolvers being smaller and lighter.
I confirmed the ballistics through several self-defense web pages; they are relatively close in stopping power. One thing should be noted with that statement- choosing the right ammunition makes the difference. Where self-defense is concerned, cheap is not the route to go. Save the bargain hunting for items such as paper towels. Why do I re-confirm information that John gives me? The answer is simple - although I have learned that John is an authority to be listened to and trust, I also believe in verifying from multiple sources before providing information of this nature to others.
In the past, I have owned and shot several types of revolvers, but they have been larger framed and heavier such as a Smith and Wesson .38 model 10 and Ruger .357 GP-100 with 4" barrels. Shooting a very small, lightweight revolver would be a new experience for me.
I purchased the Smith and Wesson .38 +P shrouded model (642). Although a little more expensive, I chose that model for two personal reasons - first, an exposed hammer could snag on clothing when drawing, and second, the double-action only (DAO) design is a good adrenaline check to prevent accidentally discharging the pistol under the stressful conditions of self-defense. There are also many who prefer an exposed hammer, so if you are interested in purchasing one, choose the one that you are most comfortable with.
My first impression was that it was very light and small which would make it a good pistol for concealed carry. The Uncle Mike's boot grip that came with it made it comfortable to hold. I purchased a Galco Deep Undercover (tuckable) inside-the-waistband holster for it. When in the holster, I didn't feel like I was carrying a pistol. That level of comfort is important for a self-defense pistol; many people purchase the wrong holster or pistol and eventually leave it at home because it is not comfortable to wear.
On the range, I initially used standard .38 full metal jacketed rounds to get used to the feel of the gun and aiming it. While it is very manageable, firing an Airweight pistol packs more punch to the hand because there isn't much weight to reduce the recoil. Initially it took a little practice to get accurate with it (about 20 rounds), but once I got used to it, it was a sweet little revolver to shoot. The additional impact that your hand receives can be reduced with a tighter grip and since this is designed as a concealed pistol and not necessarily for target practice, it does the job quite well. It certainly is better than a larger and heaver pistol that you leave back home because it isn't comfortable to carry.
Next, I loaded 125 grain .38 +P jacketed hollow point rounds to see how they would be to fire. I was able to place all 5 rounds within a 3" radius from 12 yards- definitely enough to stop an attacker. All in all, I was impressed with it and will not worry about its ability to stop an attack if, heaven forbid, that time should ever come. Its small size has another advantage. While my primary carry pistol is a .45 caliber, the larger pistol isn't practical when you are dressed in light clothing. The Airweight pistols fill that need.
Smith and Wesson Chief's Special Model CS45
During my service in the military 20 years ago, I spent a lot of time on the pistol range, both for practice and for recreation. I found while I was on the range I became so concentrated on what I was doing that life's problems seemed to blur and become distant, and I walked away refreshed.
I recently began shooting again to bring that relaxation back into my life. I had my older pistols, but wanted something newer and since my ultimate goal was to get a Carrying Concealed Deadly Weapon (CCDW) permit, something I could carry and, if necessary, defend myself or my family. (I hope I never have to)I tried several pistols and calibers from different manufactures, but was never fully satisfied. I would take each one to the range and shoot over 500 rounds to determine if it was easy to use, accurate, reliable, and one I could carry. Many of the pistols passed some of the criteria, but I couldn't find one that passed them all.
I spoke with John (JD) about my search. After determining my shooting ability, calibers I could effectively handle, and my preference for semi-automatics, he suggested the Chiefs Special model CS45. While it comes in other calibers, I was always fond of 45 calibers and liked the stopping power they had. I purchased a Chiefs Special model CS45 (JD Defense carries them in stock) and went to the range.
There are several things that I noticed:
- Recoil seemed less than other pistols. This is important for any firearm that might be used for defensive purposes - it allows you to re-establish aim faster after each shot. The slide action and general operation of the pistol during firing is very smooth.
- It is more comfortable on the hand for target shooting. This is due in part to the reduced recoil and slightly wider grip than most semi-automatic pistols have. The widened grip spreads the energy over a greater part of your hand, reducing overall pressure felt. This was the first pistol that I could go to the range, shoot large numbers of rounds, and walk away with no effect on my hand. Some pistols left my hand or wrist sore; this one didn't.
- It is extremely accurate. My groupings became instantly smaller, even at greater distances. While I am not an expert marksman, I saw immediate improvement in my accuracy. This was the first pistol I was able to shoot at multiple targets with speed and keep my accuracy intact. This was tested on an advanced pistol range exercise where I was moving while shooting at multiple targets and all rounds found their mark. I walked away from that feeling better than I ever have about my shooting.
- It is easy to use. There were models that I had tried previously where I had to physically shift the pistol in my hand or use my free hand to flip the safety or release the magazine.
- It is compact. Although the grip is wider, the overall size of the pistol is small enough to easily and comfortably conceal while holding enough firepower to stop an attacker with one hit.
- The price was right. This pistol was as accurate as other pistols costing at least $100.00 more.
I was pleased beyond my wildest expectations and several others who I have allowed to shoot it have purchased their own. It is truly and outstanding pistol worth taking a look at.
Smith and Wesson Model SW1911
During my adventures through boot camp twenty-five years ago, the pistol we used for training was a 45 caliber 1911. It was a fun firearm to shoot and I liked it from the onset. While I have owned several pistols since boot camp, I never had the opportunity to purchase a 1911.
A year ago, I re-kindled my range shooting to reduce stress. I mentioned to John (JD) that I eventually wanted to purchase a 1911, and having received nothing less than perfect advice on previous pistol purchase from him, listened to what he had to say. Money was not an issue, so the choices were left to whatever he wanted to suggest.
John didn't think long at all- he suggested the Smith and Wesson model SW1911. I raised an eyebrow knowing that there were more expensive pistols out there, but John explained why:
- Although not advertised as a Smith and Wesson Performance Center firearm, the SW1911 is hand assembled in the Performance Center. Interesting...
- It carries many customized features straight out of the box. They include:
- throated and polished feed ramp
- skeletonized hammer
- Hogue rubber grips
- Novak combat Lo Mount Carry 2-Dot rear site
- dovetailed front sight
- lightweight trigger with overtravel stop
- nicely fitted high-ride beavertail grip safety
- There are other things not mentioned or advertised that I found when I actually received the pistol such as it comes with Wilson Combat magazines, etc. This pistol is definitely a sleeper.
- The SW1911 is a tack-driver. (very accurate) It can be used for competition shooting straight out of the box.
- It is a fairly customized 1911 without excessive cost. This is one of the things I appreciate most about John's advice- he matches a firearm to the individual and doesn't try to maximize profit by suggesting more than the individual needs.
- Beyond John's recommendations, I also looked at reviews on the Internet. All reviews indicated that this was a top-quality pistol that would feed any type of ammunition without issue. One author even indicated that he was able to feed an empty cartridge casing. I found that nothing less than impressive.
Well, I was convinced and purchase one. When I first picked it up, I instantly noticed how well it looked and balanced it was. Moving the slide revealed that it was fitted very well to the frame (from assembly in the Performance Center) and it was one of the smoothest slide actions I had ever felt. The trigger was smooth; only 5 ½ pound pull out of the box and without much travel.
My first shot from 12 yards (36 feet) hit a 2" target just a hair off center. The remaining shots were just as accurate (even overcoming my excitement of finally owning and shooting my own 1911). Even from 25 yards in a Weaver stance I was able to easily hit the target and maintain accuracy through 100 rounds.
A week later, John invited me to join a Carrying Concealed Deadly Weapon certification shoot with the 1911 to let me see how it faired while moving and shooting in different stances. By the end of the second clip, the two-inch center mark of the target was gone. I worked on enlarging the existing hole and, after 100 rounds, one of the people certifying looked over and noted that you could practically stick your head through my target. I left the range smiling.
To conclude, I will use a statement from one of the other authors because I could not say it better myself - "For a serious 1911 .45 auto that is built like a custom gun right out of the box, I highly recommend the SW1911."
Smith and Wesson Sigma 380
I guess you are wondering why I would take the time to write a review on a pistol that hasn't been manufactured since 2000. The answer is easy - I believe the Sigma .380 to be a VERY underrated pistol.
The "baby" Sigma was the bottom line of the Sigma series, offering the only .380 pistol from Smith and Wesson in history. Rumors fly as to why Smith and Wesson discontinued its manufacture, but the rumors are based on very inaccurate information (as most rumors are). Contrary to the rumors, Smith and Wesson stopped manufacturing it because of their partnership with Walther. Both companies dropped manufacturing or exporting of certain models to avoid unnecessary competition between the two and the Sigma .380 was a victim of the agreement.
That being said…
I have a CS45 as my normal carry weapon and was looking for a good, reliable "summer" gun for when clothing didn't allow the easy concealment of the CS45. As usual, I asked John from JD Defense what he suggested. He showed me several reliable pistols in different price ranges and the Sigma .380 was among the group. He personally owned one and suggested I give it a try.
If you are looking for a "flashy" firearm, stop here- the Sigma 380 isn't.
The Sigma .380 is inexpensive, small, lightweight, very concealable, and very accurate. It fits comfortably in both small and large hands and is a pleasure to shoot. It is a double-action only pistol- it removes the chance of an accidental "adrenaline" trigger pull should I ever need to draw it for self-defense. After shooting John's, I asked him to locate one for me. He found one and, within a week, I had it.
During firing tests on the range, I was able to consistently put 5 consecutive rounds within a 3 inch circle from 12 yards. This accuracy is due in part to its fixed barrel and sights. Since most (95%+) self-defense use of firearms are within that distance, it passed my test with flying colors. Being smaller than the CS45, I can put it in a pocket if I don't want to wear a holster. I have since shot several hundred rounds through it without issue.
Now I know you diehard 9mm fans out there are mumbling to yourselves about me giving praise to a .380 caliber weapon for self-defense, but with the right .380 self-defense ammunition, 5 accurate shots will be enough in any situation.
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