Smith & Wesson’s New M&P Compact .45 ACP


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

September 22nd, 2008




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Ever since I first laid hands upon the Smith & Wesson M&P auto pistol a couple of years ago, I have liked it. First offered in 9mm, then .40 S&W and .357 SIG, the .45 ACP version finally arrived, and it was an instant hit with shooters who wanted a forty-five caliber polymer pistol, but did not particularly like the bulky grip on the Glock 21. The M&P .45 has a grip that can accommodate three different sized grip insets, which are supplied with the pistol, resulting in a full-sized plastic-framed .45 ACP that is actually comfortable in a normal human hand. The Glock 21 is a fine auto pistol, perfectly reliable and plenty accurate, but most shooters find the grip to be a bit large for comfort, especially those with medium to small hands. The M&P can be adjusted to fit almost any hand comfortably, resulting in a pistol that is easier to shoot well. The M&P .45 has also proven to be a reliable performer, and can be purchased with or without a thumb safety, which is a big plus to some folks.

The M&P .45 was first introduced in a full-sized service pistol configuration to fill the demand from law enforcement agencies, and is also a good choice for the rest of us. However, S&W is now producing a scaled-down version that is better suited for concealed carry, and that is the subject of this review. Operation and function is identical to the other M&P pistols, and I will not get into detail on that here, as it has been covered before. The version shown here does not have a magazine safety, and is capable of being fired with the magazine removed. To me, this is no big deal either way, as I always carry my pistols with a magazine inserted, as I did not purchase them to be single-shot pistols, but to some, the magazine safety is a deal breaker, so S&W offers the M&P either way. The sights on this M&P are of the three-dot pattern. I prefer tritium inserts, and hopefully S&W will offer the compact version with those as an option like they do with the full-size M&P.

Since size is the primary difference between the full-size M&P and this smaller one, I will update the chart from the earlier review to include the new version.

  GLOCK 21 S&W M&P M&P Compact
Weight w/ empty mag 29.5 28.7 27.4
Trigger Reach 2.936 2.716 SAME
Grip Circumference 5.818 to 6.286 5.522 to 5.594 SAME
Grip Frame Thickness Maximum 1.284 1.190 to 1.321 SAME
Grip Frame Thickness Minimum 1.262 1.082 SAME
Slide Thickness 1.125 1.082 SAME
Height w/mag 5.556 5.4 5.085
Overall Length 7.59 7.75 7.25
Barrel Length 4.6 4.6 4.03
Trigger Travel 0.5 0.3 SAME
Trigger Pull 5 lbs. 10 oz. 6 lbs. 12 oz. 7 lbs. 3 oz.
Ammo Capacity 13+1 10+1 8+1

All dimensions are in inches. Weight is in ounces. The trigger reach was measured from the point on the frame where the web between thumb and forefinger rests to the center of the trigger. Grip frame thickness was measured at the thinnest and thickest points. On the M&P, the thickest part was at the palm swell on the grip insert. Grip circumference was measured at the top and bottom of grip frame. Height includes the sights and magazine floorplates. Where SAME is in the column indicates that the measurement is the same as the full-sized M&P.

Velocity loss was very small and inconsequential with the shorter barrel, losing only around twenty feet-per-second comparing the velocities using full power combat hollowpoint ammunition. The smaller M&P, like its big brother, functioned perfectly, feeding, firing, and ejecting without fault. Reliability is paramount in a fighting pistol, and the M&P, every one of them that I have ever fired, has performed flawlessly. Accuracy with the new pistol was also very good. From seven yards, standing upright without a rest, Cor-Bon 230 grain ball impacted the target right at point of aim, and clustered the shots together well. From a twenty-five yard rested position, groups hovered between the two and one-half to three and one-half inch size with combat ammo. I tested no target ammo in this pistol, as this weapon was built for fighting, not punching paper. In the role of a concealed carry gun, it should serve very well. The butt of a handgun is the part that is hardest to hide, and the shorter, reshaped butt of this M&P makes it a good choice for carry, while still offering a secure hold on the weapon. Nine shots of .45 ACP power should handily resolve most social conflicts, but carrying the spare mag in a pocket will give you another quick eight shots, if needed. As stated above, the M&P .45 is offered with or without a thumb safety. This version shown here has one, and I like it. It is located exactly where it should be, and is very easy to operate. If desired, it can be removed, and the weapon carried without external safety, as is done with the many thousands of auto pistols carried by police officers and other armed citizens in this country. However, I like the thumb safety, as I have used one for decades on 1911 style pistols.

The Smith & Wesson M&P .45 auto pistol is an excellent choice for either an armed citizen or a uniformed police officer, and now it is offered in a more compact, easier to conceal, reliable and accurate version as well. It comes with a hard plastic case, instruction manual, two eight-shot magazines, and three grip inserts. I highly recommend it.

For more information on this and other S&W products, go online to

For the location of a Smith & Wesson dealer near you, go to and click on the DEALER FINDER icon.

To order the M&P online, go to

Jeff Quinn


For a list of dealers where you can buy this gun, go to: To buy this gun online, go to:


Seven-yard offhand rapid-fire group.





The M&P strips quickly and easily without tools.





Three-dot sights are adjustable for windage.





M&P has a short trigger travel of only 3/10s of an inch.



Case head is well-supported.



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Click pictures for a larger version.


Gun with accessories.





M&P .45 Compact compared to full-sized M&P .45.



Compact's grip (top & center) compared to full-sized version (bottom).



Grip inserts allow the gun to be easily tailored to fit the shooter's hand.





Captured recoil spring & guide rod.



Thumb safety.



Ambidextrous slide release.



Visual loaded-chamber indicator.



Integral accessory rail.



Magazine release.