Smith & Wesson SW99OL .40 S&W Auto


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

May 5, 2005




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.

Ammunition Velocity
Cor-Bon 140-grain DPX 1162
Cor-Bon 135-grain PowRBall 1283
Cor-Bon 135-grain jacketed hollowpoint 1249
Cor-Bon 150-grain jacketed hollowpoint 1132

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 good choice.

For more information on the extensive line of Smith & Wesson products, go to

To order the excellent High Noon Tail Gunner holster online, go to:

Jeff Quinn


Got something to say about this article? Want to agree (or disagree) with it? Click the following link to go to the GUNBlast Feedback Page.

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 manual.





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 holster.





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!