I have had S&W handguns with easily removeable sideplates, and also a few with sideplates that were quite difficult to remove. A couple of the easy ones would literally fall off with the first light tap of my hand on the grip frame area. Other have taken much patient tapping with a rubber mallet. Someone not knowing better might try prying, which can quickly "spring" a sideplate, or damage internal parts if the tool gets against them. FWIW, a local S&W armorer showed me how to remove a sideplate; there may be videos that show it nowadays.