Concealed-carry handguns are always something of a trade-off: The smaller and more concealable the gun, the less ammunition it tends to have, and the more difficult it tends to be to shoot. Smith & Wesson is tackling this conundrum with its new CSX hammer-fired semi-automatic pistol, which aims for the "just right" size and level of comfort within the microcompact category.
At just a hair over an inch wide, the CSX is a bit beefier than traditional CCW micropistols, but that narrow margin of width is there to give users interchangeable backstraps, an ambidextrous slide-stop lever and an adjustable magazine release button ... which means that left-handed shooters and folks with small hands have more options than ever before. It's also just a tiny bit heavier than the 1-pound "gold standard" at 19.5 ounces unloaded. However, that slight extra heft comes from robust steel construction and helps mitigate felt recoil.
The place where the CSX really shines is its ammo capacity; this microcompact 9mm fields 12+1 with its 12-round detachable box magazine (a 10-round version is also included). Our testers at American Rifleman were impressed with this handgun's creature comforts as well, noting "M&P-style stippling is found on the interchangeable backstraps and front strap, and EZ-tabs are at the rear of the stainless steel slide to provide added surface area for easier purchase and manipulation ...[We] enjoyed the generous beavertail and trigger guard undercut, considering the shortened frame height and 9mm chambering."