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Reviews : Arsenal

Smith & Wesson M&P Compact Pistol

The small M&P offers all of the features of its big brother in a compact package.

June 01, 2007  |  by Nick Jacobellis - Also by this author

During my law enforcement career I never had a malfunction or a problem with any of the Smith & Wesson pistols that I owned or was issued. Needless to say, I like Smith & Wesson pistols.

So when S&W announced that their new Military & Police handgun would be a semi-auto, all I cared about was whether or not it would be as rugged and reliable as my old M&P revolver. Believe me, it is.

Contemporary Design

The new M&P line has really excellent aesthetics, including a Melonite blackened stainless steel barrel and slide assembly, and a rugged polymer frame. It also has excellent design and engineering. Both the M&P and the M&P Compact are striker-fired, double-action-only pistols with high-cap mags, ambidextrous mag release buttons, ambidextrous slide releases, internal locking mechanisms, three-dot Novak Lo Mount steel sights, a loaded chamber indicator, and a 1913 Picatinny accessory rail. Both M&P pistols are also available with a magazine disconnect and Trijicon three-dot night sights.

When chambered in 9mm, the M&P Pistol holds 17 rounds in the magazine. The M&P 40 and the M&P 357 SIG have 15-round magazines. The soon to be released .45 ACP variant has a 10-round magazine capacity. The M&P Compact magazine holds 12 rounds in 9mm and 10 rounds in .40 S&W and .357 SIG.

The full-size M&P magazines are easy to load, but it took some extra muscle to plug the last round in two of the five M&P Compact magazines that I used in my test and evaluation. Hopefully, these magazines will become easier to fully load after some additional use.

By far, the most interesting design feature of the full-size M&P pistol and the M&P Compact is the grip design, which incorporates three interchangeable grip inserts. This feature lets any user quickly install a small, medium, or large grip insert to accommodate his or her hand size.

I fired my full-size M&P Pistol with all three grip inserts and found that I am most comfortable using the medium or the small grip. The small insert makes the full-size M&P feel more like a 1911. The medium grip insert works best for me on the M&P Compact.

In order to change grip inserts, just remove the security pin/disassembly tool that holds the grip assembly together. This pin must be rotated before you remove it from the frame. However, when the pistol is brand new, you may have to use a thin screwdriver as leverage to remove the combination security pin/disassembly tool from the frame. Once this pin is removed you can change grip inserts until you find one that works best for you. But remember to reinsert this pin into the frame before you fire the pistol.

Concealed Carry Model

The M&P Compact Pistol is lighter and smaller in overall dimensions than the full-size M&P and is specifically designed for concealed carry. It has a 3.5-inch barrel length, as opposed to the 4.25-inch barrel found on the standard M&P.

One of the best things about the M&P compact is that it makes an excellent complement to the standard M&P. Magazines of the same caliber are fully compatible between the two pistols. This means that you can use full-size M&P high-capacity magazines in your M&P Compact backup gun should your primary service pistol become lost, stolen, disabled, or damaged during any life-threatening emergency. Off-duty and plainclothes officers can also carry full-size M&P magazines as spare magazines when they carry an M&P Compact Pistol.

I'd suggest that you carry your spare magazines in a DeSantis Style N81 Double Magazine Ankle Holster. Even though this is not the fastest reload available, it allows you to comfortably carry two standard capacity or high-capacity magazines on your ankle instead of in your pocket or on your belt.

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