Up for review today is the esteemed S&W 945 out of the illustrious Performance Center. I have been on the search for one for multiple years, it has been the Sasquatch of my dreams, very elusive. I have been frustrated while on this hunt yet also enjoyed the camaraderie one often receives when visiting gun shops. This one had less than 200 rounds fired through it and I knew I could trust this round count as it was another Marine (integrity of the highest caliber) whom I was acquiring this masterpiece from it was also in like new condition as the pictures will show. The S&W 945 is a single action semi-automatic pistol chambered in 45ACP, it comes with two eight round magazines with Performance Center markings. This comes in the bead blasted stainless finish, there is another version which comes in the polished blackened finish. Ambidextrous frame-mounted thumb safety and beavertail grip safety are also part of the standard offering.
Smith and Wesson also produced a 4inch and 3 1/4 inch barrel versions, the one being reviewed today came with a 5inch stainless match barrel, with a hand polished barrel ramp and hand fitted titanium-coated spherical barrel bushing. This spherical bushing has gained a lot of negative press on the internet due to difficulty caused by it during reassembly. This bushing has probably been the cause of many 945 owners to make claims of inaccuracy as well. The bushing plays a very vital role in the accuracy of this weapon and if bent will cause accuracy problems. During initial examination I did disassemble the 945, during reassembly I found if I used good old hoppes oil on the bushing and used my pinky finger to align the bushing and the barrel things went together without issue.
The slightly beveled magazine well ensures quick and easy reloads of the 8 round magazines. Though the S&W 945 looks extremely close to a 1911 it is not, 1911 magazines can’t be used with the S&W945 and neither will the S&W 945 magazines work with a 1911. The extended magazine release makes for easy engagement but has a firm spring to ensure a slight bump would not release the magazine. Only a positive firm engagement with the magazine release is going to cause the magazine to drop out.
The Smith and Wesson Performance Center has made a legendary name for itself with the quality workmanship it produces and the 945 is no different. The slide to frame fit is remarkably tight, racking the slide to the rear gave a feel as if it were on ball bearings. The front strap and rear magazine housing are checkered. The front strap is checkered at 30 lines per inch. The slide serrations are very functional and adds character, some refer to this as fish or snake scales.
The Fit&Finish deserves an “Excellent Rating”
Handling/Feel in The Shooters Hand
Though the looks are very close to a 1911, when you handle this masterpiece it will not even take the novice long to figure out this has a totally different feel than the 1911. The grip angle is different and follows the line of it’s siblings the 45xx series. The two piece laminate wood grips with checkering feels very comfortable which I believe to be accomodating for all hand sizes.
Handling/Feel in The Shooters Hand deserves an “Excellent Rating”
The trigger on the S&W945 has absolutely no over travel which I found to be absolutely amazing. This trigger is skeletonized and has no lateral movement as it should, just straight front to back movement. This trigger weighed in at a crisp 2 3/4 to 3 pounds. My father has always stated you can tell when you have a good trigger. If your focus and concentration is where it should be a good trigger will just about startle you when it goes off and I honestly had that experience while doing this review at the range.
Trigger deserves a “Excellent Rating”
The eight round magazines it came with works flawlessly. Trying to ensure I keep my credibility of writing honest reviews, I tried desperately to find something wrong. Having looked at my notes during the initial handling quickly reminded me this review was starting to look like a perfect review. A phenomenon which rarely happens here at dayattherange.com. So before writing anymore I went back to the safe to retrieve this specimen and disassembled it again. I couldn’t even find a slight bur in the frame or slide and realized the performance center hand lapped the slide and frame which gave it the ball bearing like feel and tight fit. I decided when going out to the range I was going to take hardball 230gr ammo as well as 200gr SWC ammo. This was in attempt to find the flaw which has eluded me to this point for this review. Most 1911’s struggle with SWC loads unless tuning has been done by a competent gunsmith. Not on the 945, it performed flawlessly with both brands of ammo which were my own hand loads, again a nice compliment to the Performance Center of Smith and Wesson for hand polishing the feed ramp before sending this out the door.
As you can see in this picture the SWC’s are seated shallow to ensure reliable feeding in my 1911’s and having tuned this ammo specifically for 1911’s I would have made a bet this would cause issues, yet the S&W945 seemed not to care it fed and ejected without failure.
Accuracy was tested at 7, 15 and 25 yards with a two handed unassisted hold. I have often been frustrated with my 25 yard accuracy with semi_auto’s but was pleasantly surprised on this day. This gave me hope that maybe I am not as bad a shooter as I think I am, but I also realize no other semi-auto in my collection has given me this sort of confidence. I was so excited to be at the range I loaded one magazine with eight rounds of 200gr SWC and began to shoot at 7 yards. The first shot going off startled me due to the light trigger pull — I knew this shot would be a bad shot. To my surprise it was dead center of the 10 ring and 7 other shots followed all touching.
My good friend and shooting partner Darrell was impressed and I knew then I had a very nice shooter he has a very keen eye for quality. Darrell having brought along a S&W Model 17 for us to review for the sight decided to take some 2 inch shoot-n-see’s to test it with. We decided to paste one in the center of the target to try the S&W 945 with.
2inch targets posted
After 8 rounds of 45ACP SWC the 2inch target was gone.
I then loaded 8 rounds of the 230gr hardball and gave it a try at 15 yards. It looks as if two of the Rainer bullets may have impacted the target sideways and tore the target, I believe if we had card board backing on the target it would have been a lot cleaner.
After shooting 22LR through a S&W model 17 which I am very anxious to review along with 357magnum we decided it was time to try the 945 at 25 yards.
Darrell started with two full magazines to try and deliver 16 rounds down range as quick as possible while allowing him to remain on target.
For as quick as he was pulling the trigger I was impressed with his capabilities as well as the 945, to see just about all 16 shots were on the 5inch target. I am sure if we shot from rest we could deliver under 2inch accuracy at 25 yards.
Now it is my turn at 25 yards. Having a little anxiety knowing I typically don’t do well at 25 yards with a semi-auto I decided to only load 12 rounds of SWC. I would have been happy to have 3 rounds on the 5inch target. All my years of training has been defensive style training firing at silhouette targets at this distance though I have become very comfortable with my revolvers at this distance on 5 inch targets.
To my amazement I had more than I expected on target and you could imagine the smile on my face and joy in my heart.
Reliability&Accuracy deserves an “Excellent Rating”
For it’s technical specs the S&W Performance Center 945 has earned a perfect excellent rating, the only other to accomplish this is the 45 Colt performance Center reviewed here(625 45 Colt Performance Center Review), to top it off this has a serial number below 20. Though when I got home I did notice a non technical flaw and that was it’s looks. I found myself after cleaning it, with it just sitting in my lap drooling all over it marveling at its looks and features which may lead to a little rust the next time I pull it out of the safe :).
So if you admire real American craftsmanship and beauty look no further than the S&W 945 and ensure you keep a rig rag handy to wipe off any drool you or your buddies may leave behind.