It has been about six months since I reviewed
the Smith & Wesson M&P pistol
chambered for the .40 S&W cartridge. I stated then
that I was anxious to try one chambered for the 9mm Luger
cartridge, and a few weeks ago, it finally arrived.
I was favorably impressed with the first M&P
that I reviewed, at least as impressed as one can be with a
polymer-framed pistol. There are different levels of impression,
I suppose. I like to hold a Hamilton Bowen custom
revolver and admire its beauty and craftsmanship. That is
different from the way that the M&P impresses me. I do not
hold the M&P and stare at its lines, or behold the depth of
the finish. I am impressed by the performance of the M&P. I
am impressed by its reliability. I am impressed by its
ergonomics, and I am even impressed by its accuracy.
I pretty much covered the details of the M&P
in the previous article, so will just hit the high points here.
The M&P obviously has a lightweight polymer frame. The slide
and barrel are made from heat-treated stainless steel with a
Melonite hard coating for durability. The trigger guard has a
generous amount of room for even a gloved finger. The magazines
for the M&P, of which two are supplied with each pistol, are
made of genuine steel. The 9mm is available with either ten or
seventeen round magazines. The M&P controls are largely
ambidextrous, having a slide release on the right side of the
weapon to accommodate left-handed shooters, as well as the
release on the left side for the majority of shooters. The
magazine release can be switched to operate from either side,
but I prefer to operate the release with the index finger of my
left hand, so I leave it in its normal position.
The M&P has an accessory rail on the front
of the frame underneath the slide for those who like to adorn
their pistol with flashlights and such. I personally do not, but
it is there if one chooses to use it. The sights on the M&P
are also, thankfully, made of steel. The sample weapon wears the
optional Novak Lo-Mount tritium night sights, and I
highly recommend this option.
The barrel on the M&P is four and
one-quarter inches long. As detailed in the earlier
article, the M&P is supplied with three different sized grip
inserts, or backstraps. Smith & Wesson understands that
everyone does not have the same size hand, and provides a gun
that will adjust to fit the shooter, instead of having the
shooter adjust to fit the gun. What a concept!
Shooting the M&P 9mm proved to be a real
pleasure. Like most 9mm Luger pistols, the recoil is pretty
light already. However, the M&P sits low in the hand. That,
combined with the comfortable grip, makes shooting the pistol a
delight. Accuracy was found to be very good with the 9mm
M&P. Most reviews of modern fighting pistols make mention of
"combat accuracy", which is usually an excuse for an
inaccurate pistol. A gun which will group into three inches at
twenty-five yards is acceptable for most social situations, but
I like a weapon that does better. The M&P does better. Using
Cor-Bon full metal jacket flat-point ammo, the M&P
would cluster its shots at twenty-five yards very tightly, when
I did my part. The M&P also exhibited excellent accuracy
with Cor-Bon DPX hollowpoint ammunition, which is my preferred
carry load in a 9mm pistol. I had no M&P insert for my Ransom
rest, as none are produced yet, but holding the weapon
hand-supported over a rest enabled me to shoot some pretty
impressive groups. It is good to know that a combat pistol will
keep its shots on a human torso at common fighting distances,
but it is also reassuring to know that if a head shot need be
made, the pistol is up to the challenge. The M&P is plenty
accurate to make the shot.
Concealing the M&P is pretty easy, as the
gun weighs but twenty-four ounces unloaded, and just a few
ounces more with a full payload of eighteen rounds. A good
holster is a necessity, however, and several good ones are
available. I have been carrying the M&P in a holster called
the Urban Companion made by Barranti Leather. This is a
very well crafted belt holster that keeps the gun tucked in
tightly for concealability, but still presents the grip at a
good angle for quick access when needed. It is also a very
comfortable holster to wear, which makes a world of difference
for carrying a gun all day, everyday. The Urban Companion
has a reinforced top edge for easy re-holstering of the weapon,
and is heavily stitched for durability. I like it.
I also fitted the M&P with a drop-in
recoil reducing guide rod from DPM Systems. The
M&P did not need it to improve function, as it ran one
hundred percent reliably throughout the tests. The DPM rod just
makes any auto pistol run smoother. I never knew I needed one
until I tried one, but now I want one in all of my centerfire
As for dislikes of the M&P, I have but one.
The M&P has a magazine disconnect safety. I prefer a weapon
without this feature. I do understand that it can be a
life-saving safety feature. Some folks drop the magazine, and
think that the gun is safe without checking the chamber. This is
using a mechanical device to correct a training issue. There are
also some who like a magazine safety for police work, in the
theory that if an officer is about to lose his weapon in a
struggle, he can drop the magazine, buying a bit of time to
reach for his backup gun. Maybe. Anyway, the magazine
safety is a feature that I can live with, as it is mostly just a
psychological thing with me. It is a minor feature, and in
practice will likely never make a difference.
Again borrowing from the text of my previous
article, the M&P will be compared to the Glock, and
other plastic-framed auto pistols. That is just as it should be.
Shooters should compare the various options available before
making a decision. I have owned a Glock
Model 19 9mm pistol for many years. It is a good weapon.
I cannot fault it in any way. However, the M&P just plain
feels better in my hand. It feels as if it were built to
actually fit the human hand, and is adaptable to different sized
ones at that. I like the steel magazines better than the
plastic ones of my Glock. I like the magazine release better. I
like the shorter trigger reach. I like the slide release better.
I like the sights better, and I like the feel of the weapon in
the hand much better. I find it to be more accurate, just
as reliable, better-handling, and American made. I like it. If
anyone is interested, I have a good used Glock 19 for sale.
Nothing wrong with it at all. It is a good weapon, but from now
on, when I strap on a holstered 9mm, it will be the Smith &
For a closer look at the entire line of Smith
& Wesson products, go to: www.smith-wesson.com.
To order the Urban Companion or other Barranti
Leather Company products, click on this link: Barranti
For a look at the entire line of high
performance ammunition from Cor-Bon, go to: www.cor-bon.com.
To look at the DPM recoil-reducing guide rods,
go to: www.dpmsystems.com.
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