View Full Version : Budget Gun Review: Smith and Wesson 457

8/27/2011 12:13pm,
Budget Gun Review:
Smith and Wesson 457
Model: 457
Caliber: .45ACP
Capacity: 7+1 Rounds
Barrel Length: 33⁄4"
Front Sight: Dot Front Sight
Rear Sight: Fixed
Grip: Plastic Grip
Frame: Small
Finish: Blue / Black (or stainless for the 457S)
Overall Length: 71⁄4"
Material: Alloy
Weight Empty: 29 oz.
Average purchase price on GunBroker: $385.00
Scrapper’s price at local gun shop: $325.00

Smith and Wesson? Budget Gun? What? That’s not possible! Smiths cost more than a small house and can only be purchased by the wealthy elite! I have seen Smith and Wesson sell what amounts to a 5-shot snub nose revolver for $850.00; how the hell can a compact .45 cost less than a used car?

Well, this is a third-generation S&W automatic. It was imagined to be a “compact” .45 auto, but low sales plagued the design and S&W ultimately discontinued the model. I guess if you are going to market a “compact” .45; it should probably be smaller than a regular one. Whoops.

It’s a Smith and Wesson!
As much as I love to pick on S&W for making overpriced stuff, they have never made a bad gun. Hell, to be honest, they have never made a mediocre gun. They only make good guns, people. Fit and finish, design, and execution are top-notch. It doesn’t rattle, jam, or stick. The materials are all high-quality and you can expect this weapon to perform for many years and thousands of rounds to come. This weapon originally retailed for about seven-hundred bucks, and sometimes you really do get what you pay for.

Real Men Shoot .45ACP
The .45ACP round is a tried and true man-stopper. A good JHP will net you an easy 400-500 ft-lbs of energy at the muzzle (basically the same as a 9mm luger); with the added benefit of a very wide wound channel on impact. This is the classic high-weight/low speed projectile; which means you can expect large wounds with decent penetration at pistol-combat ranges. Accuracy and energy drop off quickly though, the main drawback of slower, heavier projectiles. For what is ostensibly a “compact” weapon, the only way to improve on this weapon’s “stopping power” is to get a snub-nosed .357 or .44 special.

Chuck says, "Get a real gun, you pansy!"

Accuracy Through Volume
As I just mentioned, of all the ‘compact’ weapons out there, this one manages better than most to maintain the ballistics of a larger weapon. The only way to get more whoop-ass out of a purpose-built carry piece is to go with a revolver. Well, revolvers have issues, man. Ever practice a combat re-load with a revolver? It sucks; I admit this even though I am a self-avowed ‘revolver guy.’ With the 457 you get 7+1 rounds, and you can reload with speedand confidence. Carrying two or even three extra mags is not a huge inconvenience, either. On the whole, you get a lot more lead downrange faster with an automatic; and the 457 will out-shoot any revolver out there not carried by Jerry Miculek.



“You keep using that word; I do not believe it means what you think it means…”

"Wait...we get to use GUNS now?"

Ahhhh… the irrepressible Inigo Montoya said it best. While the 457 may or may not be “inconceivable,” it certainly strains credibility to call it ‘compact.’ This weapon is 29 oz. empty and 36 oz. loaded. It is 40% heavier than most other high-end compact .45 pistols.
Why is it heavier? It’s bigger. It dwarf’s the Kimber Ultra Carry and others with its sheer bulk. Frankly, it is only MARGINALLY smaller than a regular 1911-style .45. Calling the 457 ‘compact’ is like calling a Ferrari ‘economical.’ You have to wonder by whose standard the object is being judged…

Subject to Availability
These guns have been discontinued for a while. You can’t just stroll into the gun shop and order one. Many shops won’t have one on display. There are a lot of them out there, but you will have to hunt them down. You can go through GunBroker, but then you will have shipping and FFL fees driving the price out of the completely arbitrary “budget gun” threshold of 400 bucks. While I believe they are worth some legwork, the truth is I stumbled upon mine without even looking for it. Quite frankly, I purchased it purely because it was the only S&W I have ever seen that met the criteria for a budget gun. See that, dear readers? I bought a gun JUST FOR YOU!

Buyer Beware
Here is another issue with a discontinued weapon. There are no new ones. You will almost certainly be acquiring a used weapon. You have no control over what the previous owner did or did not do to the gun. This means uncertainty. I have never in my life had a gun shop owner say to me “Careful, the previous owner was a moron who cleaned it with dish soap and lubed it with bacon grease! Maybe you should just not buy anything…” It seems bizarre, but if gun shop owners and salesman can be believed, every single used gun in the world only has “a couple hundred” rounds through it, and was lovingly cared for by a master gunsmith prior to being sold to the shop. Damndest coincidence ever, right?

Only one owner!

Premium Pricing
Once you attach the S&W name to something, all accessories, parts, and whatnot suddenly become twice as expensive as comparable items for more budget-friendly brands. If you have to have it repaired or modified, bring your wallet, and a friend’s wallet, and frankly, you might want to steal a stranger’s wallet too, just in case. For instance, extra mags for a 1911 can be had for 8-15 bucks. I have yet to find a 457 mag for less than 30 dollars. Ouch.

Lots of Options
You can find this is stainless, blue, or two-tone. It also has relatives in 9mm luger and .40SW. Accessories are plentiful, and it will fit most holsters sized for a colt commander-style .45. It is fully customizable, and gadgets and widgets are fairly modular with other dedicated carry pistols. This weapon was designed to be a serious competitor in the compact 45 market, and as such it retains all the modularity and functionality of more commercially successful versions.

Social Cache
Regular readers of my articles tend to do so because, quite frankly, guns are expensive. We ain’t rich and finding an acceptable weapon at a good price is our primary goal. Because of this, we often find ourselves the target of scorn and derision from our wealthier and/or more ignorant associates within our hobby. With this weapon on your hip, the gun snobs will have to go bother someone else, because Smith and Wesson only makes premium firearms, and typically these are expensive. You don’t have to let on that you got it at a great price; and most gun snobs aren’t knowledgeable enough to realize it’s a discontinued weapon that underperformed in sales.

What a great gun. It gets a lot of carry time with me these days. While not as compact as other compacts, it is thinner and lighter than my big .357, and that is something. This is not the greatest .45 ever invented, obviously, but it shoots straight as an arrow and will eat any round I feed it. I know from the brand that I will be able to expect years of service out of it and that is no small feat at any price. This is a classic example of smart buyers being able to take advantage of poor marketing. There is nothing wrong with this gun, other than the fact that it was not designed properly for its niche. As a pure evaluation of its merits a weapon, this is a superlative firearm. So it didn’t sell well. Big whoop. I, for one, am not too proud to capitalize on Smith and Wesson’s marketing woes!

8/27/2011 1:42pm,
Great review as usual.

8/27/2011 9:04pm,
Fantastic, I always look for the weapons you review at gun shows.

8/29/2011 8:02am,
Wow you can get a .45acp for slightly more than a 9mm sigma series good to know thanks.

9/02/2011 7:17am,
You gotta hunt them down, but they are a great bargain.

9/12/2011 1:12am,
So nice to have another article in this series. Although I'm fairly certain I'll never buy another pistol, your articles are a great read (you wouldn't believe how many times I've linked people to your article on terminal ballistics, and now your article about point shooting is getting similar treatment).

I still hope to see a Rock Island Armory 1911 mentioned in this series, but maybe I ought to just get off my ass and write an article about it.

11/03/2011 5:11pm,
I bought a 457 new is 1996. Great gun. Has given me many years of trouble free service

2/20/2012 5:16am,
If you don't mind the smaller caliber, 908 and 3913s are good also. I almost bought one before deciding on a PPS. PPS totally not a 'budget gun' though.