Smith & Wesson M&P Compact  9mm Semi-Auto Pistol

 

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

January 21st, 2007

 

 

 

Smith & Wesson has been producing 9mm semi-auto pistols for over fifty years now. I have always liked their earliest effort, the Model 39, which was in production in various forms for a long time. I never liked the feel of the grip on their double-stack high capacity 59 series of pistols, but they were (and still are) pretty popular with other shooters.

With the introduction of plastic-framed auto pistols about twenty-five years ago, the conventional auto pistols have fallen aside in favor of these newer types, and the market certainly has no shortage of the popular plastic framed, high capacity pistols from which to choose.

I never really warmed up to Smithís Sigma series of pistols, although they evolved into some excellent, reliable, and affordable weapons. They just never felt right in my hand, leaving me more often than not reaching for my Glock when I needed that type of pistol.

I have been, and continue to be, impressed with S&Wís M&P series of auto pistols.  So much so, in fact, that I recently sold my Glock Model 19 to a friend, as I now prefer the M&P to all others of the type.  To my hand, nothing else currently made feels as good and points as naturally for me as does the M&P.  S&W is fully committed to producing a full and varied line of M&P pistols to suit just about any shooter. I recently shot a couple of pre-production .45 ACP models, and they  should be a great success with shooters who love the big forty-five, and want a full sized high capacity plastic-framed auto pistol that actually fits a human hand.

The subject of this review, however, is not a bigger M&P, but a smaller one. It is the new Compact Model, and is chambered for the 9mm Luger cartridge. The operating methods of the little pistol are the same as for the full sized models, so I wonít try to re-plow the same ground here as covered in my previous reviews of the M&P full-sized 9mm and M&P .40 caliber version. Instead, I will focus on the compact size of the weapon, and its accuracy and reliability as it applies to a handy, concealable personal defense weapon, as that is the function of such a pistol. The Compact M&P is made for those who need a small, reliable pistol with enough power and accuracy to resolve the gravest of social encounters. In other words, it is a weapon whose purpose is to save your hide from the worst in our society who would choose to do you harm.

No pistol is the ideal in a fight. If I know that a fight is coming, and it canít be avoided, I want a rifle in my hands. In some situations, a shotgun would be better, but a compact rifle comes closest to serving in all situations. The handgun is a compromise when it comes to defense. Its user must balance such features as power, reliability, weight, and size, to select the best compromise to meet his particular needs. Some folks can hide a full-sized pistol with no problem, while others need a more compact package. Many years ago in Miami, I carried a Smith & Wesson Model 469 9mm pistol daily. It served me pretty well, but this new M&P Compact has the 469 beat by a long shot. It is smaller, lighter, and smoother than the old 469, and most importantly, more reliable also.

The M&P Compact is smaller than I ever expected it to be, but still holds thirteen rounds of 9mm ammo. The M&P Compact is heavier, but about the same size as my lightweight J-frame five shot S&W 342PD .38 Special, yet carries eight more cartridges. The gun comes supplied with two magazines, one with and one without a finger extension on the bottom. It also functions with the magazines from the full sized 9mm M&P pistols.  The M&P magazines are made of steel, and drop freely from the pistol when released, whether full or empty. The Compact, like its big brother, has an ambidextrous slide release, and the magazine release is reversible, to accommodate both right and left-handed shooters equally. At the rear of the chamber atop the pistol is a chamber-loaded witness hole. The gun comes supplied with three grip backstraps of different sizes to fit most any hand very well.

The M&P strips easily for cleaning. Smith offers the M&P Compact in several variations, with the one reviewed here having no magazine safety. It can be had either with or without that safety, and also with or without a key lock safety.  The one reviewed here has no key lock safety.  The trigger pull measured a smooth  6 pounds five ounces, and the trigger travel is just under one-third of an inch. The pistolís weight with an empty magazine is 24.6 ounces.  The little Smith carried on the hip well in a Barranti Urban Companion holster that is made for the full sized M&P, and also concealed very well in a front jeans pocket. However, with a pistol of this type that has no manual safety, I do not like pocket carry without a holster that covers the trigger guard.  The pistol has a short section of Picatinny accessory rail underneath at the muzzle, for those who like to attach things to the pistol such as flashlights, lasers, particle beam annihilators, and such.

The M&P Compact has a very good set of Novak style three-dot sights. I would prefer tritium night sights, like the ones available on the larger M&P, and they will be offered as an option later.  The sights on the M&P are, thankfully, made of genuine steel. I despise plastic sights on a pistol, and am glad that S&W fits good steel sights to the M&P. The slide and barrel of the M&P, along with some other parts, are made of stainless steel that receives a black Melonite finish.

Shooting the M&P Compact brought no surprises. I expected it to function perfectly, and it did. There were no failures to feed, fire, or eject with any ammunition tested.  I tested the pistol with several types of good high performance ammunition from Cor-Bon and International Cartridge Corporation.  The Cor-Bon ammo consisted of all Plus P loadings of their jacketed hollowpoint (JHP), DPX hollowpoint, full metal jacket (FMJ), PowRBall, and Glaser Safety Slug pre-fragmented ammo. The International loading was their hollowpoint frangible ammo that is made to penetrate and come apart in flesh, but break up into small pieces if it hits sometime hard like concrete or steel, preventing ricochets.  The velocities from each load is listed below. The ammo was fired over the eyes of my PACT chronograph, at a distance of twelve feet, with an air temperature of forty-three degrees Fahrenheit.  Velocities are listed in feet-per-second (fps). Bullet weight is listed in grains.

Ammunition Bullet Weight Velocity (fps)
Cor-Bon FMJ 147 grains 952.1
Cor-Bon PowRBall  100 grains 1573
Cor-Bon JHP 115 grains 1363
Cor-Bon DPX  115 grains 1230
Cor-Bon Glaser 80 grains 1706
International  100 grains 1179

All ammo tested exhibited good accuracy. I did no bench testing for groups, as this Compact M&P is not made for nor marketed as a target gun, but for social work. I fired the pistol offhand, standing on my hind legs as a primate should, at distances from as close as seven yards out to twenty-five yards. It was extremely easy to keep all shots upon a full-sized human silhouette target torso at twenty-five yards, shooting rapid fire as quickly as I could align the sights between shots. At seven yards, keeping the shots on the silhouette head was no task, again shooting as quickly as I could align the sights between shots, emptying the magazine in under six seconds.  As can be seen in the picture, the M&P shot slightly to the right for me, but that is easily remedied, as the sights are adjustable for windage.

As with any double stack magazine, thumbing the cartridges into the magazine can wear a sore spot on the shooterís thumb pretty quickly. However, a couple of weeks ago at the 2007 SHOT Show, I picked up a dandy little magazine loader marketed in the USA by Butler Creek. It is called the UpLULA and is made in Israel by the same folks that make the superb LULA magazine loaders for rifles. The UpLULA works with any single or double stack centerfire magazine, of any length, for any pistol or submachine gun. It is very simple to use, and saves wear on the feed lips and cartridge brass.  I have tried it with 9mm and .45 ACP so far, but it should work as well with .40 S&W, 10mm, .45 GAP, .357 SIG, etc. Once I have used it, I hope to never be without one again.

The S&W M&P Compact comes with a hard case, instruction manual, and two twelve round or ten round magazines.

The S&W M&P Compact is another fine member of the newest line of Smith & Wesson auto loading pistols. It is light, compact, reliable, and accurate. I highly recommend it.

Look at the extensive line of Smith & Wesson products online at:  www.smith-wesson.com.

For prices and specs on the ammunition used here, go to:  www.cor-bon.com and www.internationalcartridge.com.

To look at the line of gun leather from Barranti, click on this link: http://hometown.aol.com/mb111263/BARRANTILEATHERCo.html.

To order the excellent UpLULA magazine loader, go to:  www.maglula.com for a list of retailers of their products.

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.

 

Smith & Wesson's M&P Compact comes with extra grip inserts, hard case, and two magazines.

 

 

One magazine has an extension for supporting the little finger (top), while the other (bottom) does not.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laid atop the full-sized M&P, the smaller size of the M&P Compact is readily apparent.

 

 

 

 

Like the full-sized pistol, the M&P Compact quickly and easily disassembles for cleaning.

 

 

 

 

Witness hole in the top of the barrel/slide serves as a loaded chamber indicator.

 

 

 

 

The M&P Compact is comparable in size to Jeff's trusty companion, a Smith & Wesson .38 Special Model 342PD, but features much greater capacity.

 

 

Size comparison (top to bottom): full-sized S&W M&P, M&P Compact, Model 342PD .38.

 

 

The M&P Compact is small enough to hide in the front pocket...

 

 

...or it carries very well in quality leather such as this Barranti Urban Companion holster.

 

 

Ammo tested included (left to right): Cor-Bon FMJ, PowRBall, JHP, DPX, and Glaser and International Pre-Fragmented HP.

 

 

A valuable accessory for any magazine-fed pistol is the UpLULA magazine loader.

 

 

Seven-yard rapid-fire group shows that the M&P can put 'em where you aim 'em!