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Weapons

Why I Like Smith & Wesson's M&P Pistol

May 07, 2007  |  by Rob Pincus - Also by this author


Last May, I had the opportunity to shoot the Smith & Wesson M&P pistol for the first time. The guns were brought to the Valhalla Training Center by Chuck Buis of Blackhawk Products Group to be used in a Serpa CQC Holster demonstration that he was giving to some visitors from the press.

As part of that event, I was able to spend some time getting to know the pistol. I liked it a lot. And ever since, we have had six M&Ps that have served as the primary range guns at Valhalla. They have performed very, very well.

I am so impressed by this gun and its performance that I decided to make it the first product that I would review here on PoliceMag.com’s new Firearms channel. If your department is looking for a new full-size duty pistol, you should consider the M&P.

I have gone on the record many times saying that a duty gun should be as simple as possible. Separately operated external safeties, de-cocking levers, and other “safety oriented” accouterments to pistols complicate training issues and slow down weapons handling. The simple fact is that if you don’t pull the trigger, a modern firearm that isn’t broken won’t go BANG. So if you load a duty pistol up with a lot of “safeties,” you can make it difficult for an officer to use it as efficiently as possible when he or she needs to, and that is more likely to endanger an officer than an unintentional discharge.

Another way that gun companies try to prevent unintentional discharges is through “Double-Action Only” trigger systems. Administrators love DAO guns, but this trigger system penalizes the officers on the street with long, heavy trigger pulls that increase the amount of deviation during shooting and decrease the number of shots per second most shooters can fire effectively. I’ve met few instructors and even fewer shooters who prefer DAO guns, yet they keep popping up in department inventories.

“Safe-Action” type guns have become widely accepted over the past 20 years as the most efficient duty pistols available. They are also safe and dependable and should be the first choice for almost any law enforcement pistol need.

Smith & Wesson’s first offering along these lines, The Sigma, was plagued with problems and never made a huge impact on the market, but the M&P is a much better duty gun.

The full size M&P holds 18 rounds of 9mm in a comfortable package that shoots incredibly smoothly. I’ve handed the gun to a number of shooters and many of us have felt that the perceived recoil is generally less than expected. Good ergonomics, a low bore-line, and a good beaver-tail all contribute to this perception of the M&P as an “easy shooting” pistol.

One of the advantages of testing a gun at Valhalla is the vast diversity of students, including many people who have never held a gun before. When we hand novice students a gun for the first time, we want the experience to be as positive as possible. There is a lot to be said for a comfortable gun.

The trigger on the M&P is as good as any I’ve ever seen on an out-of-the box duty gun: not too short, but smooth and crisp. This makes it very easy for a shooter to maintain a good trigger press.

We have run tens of thousands of rounds through our M&Ps over the past year and have had no significant failures in the operation of the firearms. However, the first set of magazines that we received did have some flaws in feeding. They were quickly replaced with new ones, and we’ve had no problems with this issue since. A few front sights also snapped off, but it should be noted that we are tough on the guns and these are also easy and inexpensive to replace.

The finish on the steel slides of the M&Ps has held up impressively, again noting that we have not babied them by any stretch. The range guns probably get cleaned once a month, certainly not after every session or a specified number of rounds, which is another testament to the reliability and durability of the design.

Our M&Ps are combat accurate, meaning that they will do in terms of precision what any reasonable shooter would expect of them in a realistic shooting scenario. If you want to know the difference in group size at 25 feet out of a rest between Ammo A and Ammo B, you’ll have to run that test yourself. I don’t see a lot of value in it.

Overall, the reliability, high capacity, durability, and ergonomics of the M&P make it a weapon that you should consider for your next personal or department purchase.

Tags: Duty Pistols, Smith & Wesson


Comments (4)

Displaying 1 - 4 of 4

CPD169 @ 10/21/2007 9:23 AM

I humbly disagree about an external frame mounted safety "slowing performance down" on a combat pistol, at lease for a trained, experienced shooter, and I would hope and pray that's what law enforcement officers are. I would agree that a slide mounted safety, if engaged, not only slows the pistol's performance down but also creates a risk for officers who find it almost impossible to disengage these type of "safeties." There are documented cases of law enforcement officers who've been shot and killed while trying to disengage the "safety" on S&W 39 and 59 series pistols before. As a result, our firearms instructors at the academy (in 1991) stressed to those armed with such pistols that they weren't "safeties" but de-cockers and would shout "De-cock re-enable!" after each course of fire.

I would also point out that the M&P in .45 ACP that I were looking at recently had ambidexterous frame mounted thumb safeties on them much like the 1911.

DLCluck @ 1/21/2008 10:03 AM

You can purchase the M&P .45 in different configurations. These include the frame mounted thumb safety or no frame safety.

deltaalpha @ 1/31/2008 1:53 PM

I like it too but thew .40 Calibur easy to control and fairly light. Mentally switching from a Monster after Ten shots to a standard calibur almost beckons one to want to shoot it....Like swimming in a pool after doing laps in a ragging ocean...Always fealt why The Military pushes the M16A4 so much...less recoil.

Kilroy @ 4/21/2008 7:55 AM

The trigger should be good on the M&P as it follows the Springfield XD in being a single action trigger. While I've heard others describe the M&P as a double action only, I can only surmise that those folks have not removed the slide to see inside the gun. Quite clearly the trigger bar is linked to the sear which releases the firing pin. No trigger cocking takes place. This may be the reason that Springfield and S&W don't make functional cutaway pistols available to customers.

I suspect such details only matter to those who must abide by their bid rules, although S&W's latest catalog now proclaims the M&P to be double action. This appears to be a recently discovered feature as it does not appear in previous S&W advertising/catalog/manuals.

Agencies might want to review their bid specs and/or talk with their risk management folks.

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