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Smith & Wesson M&P .40 Semi-Auto Pistol

Well designed and constructed for tough duty, the new M&P continues the legacy of fine S&W police pistols.

March 01, 2006  |  by Paul Scarlata - Also by this author

A major problem facing any department when it adopts a handgun is the variation in hand size among its officers. The M&P makes this problem moot as it features interchangeable palmswells that allow the individual officer to custom fit the pistol to his or her hand. The palmswells can be quickly changed by rotating a catch at the bottom of the grip frame and withdrawing a pin.

The M&P will be available chambered for the 9mm Parabellum, .357 SIG, and .40 S&W cartridges, and uses a steel, fifteen-round (17 rounds in 9mm) magazine.

Safety First
The M&P features a double-action-only (DAO) trigger pull. This type of trigger has become very popular with law enforcement agencies over the last few years. It provides both simplicity of operation and the enhanced safety of a long trigger stroke, approximately 0.3 inches.

Backing up the DAO trigger are three safeties: a trigger safety, a firing pin safety, and a magazine disconnect safety. The trigger safety prevents movement until the pivoting bottom section of the trigger is pulled. The firing pin safety consists of an internal, spring-loaded plunger that prevents firing pin movement until a full-length stroke of the trigger deactivates it. Removing the magazine causes the magazine disconnect safety to engage. The safety is a lever at the rear of the magazine well that pivots forward when the mag is removed, moving the trigger bar out of alignment with the sear. Reinserting the magazine realigns the two units, allowing the pistol to be fired.

As a safety precaution, the M&P's slide must be locked open and a sear deactivation lever rotated before it can be disassembled.

In addition to the three primary safeties, there are other precautions built into the M&P. As on most new S&W handguns, an Internal Safety System (ISS) (essentially a lock) is standard on the M&P. Inserting a key into a small hole on the left rear of the frame and rotating a shaft activates the magazine disconnect safety and prevents unauthorized firing of the pistol whether or not a magazine is in the pistol. (Law enforcement customers may order the M&P without the ISS.) Lastly, the M&P’s slide must be locked open, and a sear deactivation lever rotated, before it can be disassembled. This system requires that the person cleaning the weapon first verify there is not a round in the chamber. It is not necessary to pull the trigger before removing the slide from the frame.

On the Range
Once I had ascertained which size of palmswell best fit my hand, I found my evaluation M&P .40 to be a well-balanced, naturally pointing handgun. The trigger pull was smooth and consistent and broke at a measured 6.6 pounds. One minor complaint was that I had trouble feeling the reset “click” when letting the trigger forward slowly.

Recoil control was above average for a handgun, and every round Scarlata fired impacted in the USPSA targets' A, B, and C zones.

I ran the M&P through a series of offhand drills on combat targets set at ranges of seven and 10 yards, firing the pistol both supported and unsupported. Thanks to the beavertail and the tacky feeling palmswells, recoil control was above average for a handgun, weighing less than 28 ounces. The three-dot sight system allowed rapid sight alignment allowing fast follow-up shots to be performed with aplomb. Every round I fired impacted in the USPSA targets’ A, B, and C zones. I was impressed with its accuracy.

Over the next few weeks, I took the M&P to the range several more times, eventually running in excess of four hundred rounds through it without a single failure to feed, fire, extract, or eject.

If you or your agency are in the market for a polymer frame pistol that exhibits all of the characteristics required of a police service weapon, I’d advise you to check out Smith & Wesson’s new M&P. I feel confident in predicting that you will be suitably impressed.

Paul Scarlata has served as an auxiliary police officer and writes for several firearms publications.

Disassembling the M&P .40

1. Remove magazine, verify that the chamber is  empty, and lock open the slide.
2. Looking down through the ejection port into the magazine well, you will see the yellow, U-shaped sear deactivation lever. Using a small screwdriver or similar device, rotate the lever down and forward.
3. Rotate the take-down lever on the left side of the frame downward 90 degrees.
4. While holding the slide firmly, pull it to the rear slightly, and then allow it to run forward off the frame.
5. Holding the slide upside down, push the recoil spring/guide rod unit forward slightly and remove.
6. Pull the barrel down and out of the slide.
7. Reassemble in reverse. Note: inserting a  magazine will push the sear deactivation lever up.

Smith & Wesson M&P .40 Semi-Automatic Pistol
Caliber:      .40 S&W
Capacity:    15 rounds
Overall Length:      7.5 inches
Barrel Length:        4.25 inches
Height:        5.5 inches
Width:        1.2 inches
Weight (unloaded):    27.45 ounces
Frame:   Zytel polymer
Slide:     stainless steel with Melonite finish
Sights:   Front, steel ramp Rear, Novak Lo-Mount
Price:     $695

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