There are today available a great number of fine
choices for a semiautomatic pistol suitable for concealed carry.
Since most states passed legislation over the past several years
allowing the citizens of these United States to actually
exercise their God-given right to self protection without fear
of legal prosecution, the gun makers have provided a vast
selection of excellent pistols purpose-built for concealed
carry. One of the better ones that I have tested is the subject
of this article; the Smith & Wesson SW99OL. The piece
sent to me is chambered for the .40 S&W cartridge, which is
a very good choice for a concealed carry pistol, allowing a
larger caliber bullet in a 9mm-sized pistol.
It has been over two years since I first tested
a S&W 99. It was a full-sized
pistol chambered for the .45 ACP cartridge. This new SW99OL is a
very compact pistol with a three and one-half inch barrel. The
sample gun weighed in at just 22.8 ounces, including the empty
magazine. The magazine capacity of the .40 caliber SW99OL is
eight rounds, giving a total capacity of nine cartridges. As can
be seen in the picture, the SW99OL is not much bigger than my S&W
342PD five-shot .38 Special, although it is heavier.
The SW99OL is a collaboration between Smith
& Wesson and Walther, and together they have
produced a pistol that combines good ergonomics, compact size,
and ample power into an affordable package.
The SW99OL has two interchangeable backstraps
that allow a bit of adjustment to fit the shooter’s hand. The
grip is integral with the polymer frame on this striker-fired
pistol. The trigger pull on the test gun measured a smooth seven
pounds and two ounces, but felt even lighter due to the wide
trigger and the smoothness of the action. The rear of the
striker is painted red and serves as a cocking indicator. The
heavy duty extractor pivots to expose a red loaded-chamber
indicator when a cartridge is in the pistol’s chamber. The
slide locks open on an empty magazine, and the slide release is
located on the left side at the top of the frame. The SW99OL
strips easily for cleaning. The trigger guard is large enough to
accommodate a gloved finger, and the trigger shape is
comfortable, as is the finger-grooved and textured grip surface.
The magazine extension serves as a comfortable rest for the
little finger, and makes controlling the pistol easier. One of
the better features of the SW99OL is the ambidextrous magazine
release located on either side of the trigger guard at the rear.
The magazine drops freely when the lever is depressed by the
shooter’s trigger finger. The rear sight is adjustable for
windage, and the front sight is easily interchangeable for
elevation adjustment. The sights are of the three-dot pattern.
Shooting the SW99OL, I tried the pistol using
four different factory loads that are all suitable for self
defense, as that is the purpose of this weapon. All of the loads
tested are produced by Cor-Bon, and the pistol functioned
perfectly with each. Accuracy was pretty good for such a compact
auto pistol, particularly one chambered for the .40 S&W.
Five-shot groups at twenty yards varied from just under one inch
to just over two and one-half inches, with me resting my wrists
over the rung of a stepladder. Testing was done on an
overcast day with temperatures around forty degrees Fahrenheit.
Velocities for the loads tested are listed in the chart below,
with the readings listed in feet-per-second.
|Cor-Bon 140-grain DPX
|Cor-Bon 135-grain PowRBall
|Cor-Bon 135-grain jacketed hollowpoint
|Cor-Bon 150-grain jacketed hollowpoint
Velocity readings were pretty good from the
weapon’s three and one-half inch barrel, and should prove
perfectly adequate for social work. Recoil from the compact gun
was quick, but not at all uncomfortable. I also carried the
SW99OL around concealed in a High Noon
Tail Gunner inside-the-waistband holster, where it rode
securely and comfortably. I find this holster to be one of the
best designs available to carry a medium to large handgun
concealed, yet readily available.
The SW99OL comes supplied with a cable lock,
extra backstrap, extra front sights, instruction manual, two
magazines, and a lockable hard case.
In the SW99OL, Smith & Wesson has produced a
very useful, concealable, reliable, and powerful handgun that is
very well suited for carrying concealed. A weapon carried for
defense of one’s life is the most serious piece of survival
equipment that a shooter will ever choose. The SW99OL is a very
For more information on the extensive line of
Smith & Wesson products, go to www.smith-wesson.com.
To order the excellent High Noon Tail Gunner
holster online, go to: www.highnoonholsters.com.
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Click pictures for a larger version.
Smith & Wesson SW990L .40 S&W.
The SW990L comes with extra backstrap, extra magazine,
extra front sights, cable lock, hard case and instruction
Rear sight (top) is adjustable for windage. Front sight
(center) is easily replaceable with any of the three included
extra sights of varying height (bottom).
The SW990 (bottom) compares favorably in size with
Jeff's S&W 342PD .38 Special revolver (top).
The SW990L features a nicely-designed ambidextrous
magazine release (top), cocking indicator (center), and loaded
chamber indicator (bottom).
The SW990L is easy to carry and conceal in the proper
leather, such as High Noon's "Tailgunner" IWB
Ammo tested included four factory loads from Cor-Bon
(left to right): Cor-Bon 135-grain JHP, 135-grain PowRBall,
Cor-Bon 150-grain JHP, and Cor-Bon 140-grain DPX. The SW990L
proved to be both accurate and reliable, just the ticket for
things that go bump in the night!