Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Sunday Smith #57: Model 457, 1999

By the time the Third Generation Smith autopistols hit the market in the early Nineties, pistols like the Glock and Ruger's P-89 were putting relentless downward pressure on prices. Smith & Wesson replied with the Value Series versions of their Third Gen pistols, distinguished with three-digit model designations (that, confusingly, hewed to yet a different numbering convention than either the Second or Third Generation used.)

Initially, the Value Series guns were largely distinguished by a cheaper matte-blue finish and a single-sided thumb safety but by the time of the turn-of-the-millennium Model 457 shown above there were bunches more cost saving corners cut. For instance, both the sights and the mag release are plastic, and the top of the slide features flat bevels instead of being radiused.

The pistol itself is a traditional double-action .45ACP with a 3.75" barrel and a seven-shot single-stack magazine. It's somewhat smaller than a Colt Commander and, interestingly, was the only way to get an alloy-framed subcompact Third Gen .45 Smith other than the 4513TSW variant or the Chiefs Special CS45. The main line Third Gen 4516 was only offered with a stainless steel frame and was thus brick-heavy for its size.

MSRP of the gun in the 2001 catalog was $591, which meant a street price around five bills. This slightly undercut the Glock 30, still the new and fresh darling of the market at the time, but the latter held ten shots to the Smith's seven and wasn't marketed as a "Value" gun. For not too much more, you could get the American-made Sig P245, which was one of Sig's first value-priced offerings, yet which benefitted from that Sig brand halo.

Introduced in 1996, production of the 457 ended in 2006, like most of the rest of the Value Series guns. The above, well-worn example was purchased at a local gun store in 2017 for $275.