Smith & Wesson’s 9mm M&P Semi-Auto Pistol

 

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

October 29th, 2006

 

 

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It has been about six months since I reviewed the Smith & Wesson M&P pistol chambered for the .40 S&W cartridge. I stated then that I was anxious to try one chambered for the 9mm Luger cartridge, and a few weeks ago, it finally arrived.

I was favorably impressed with the first M&P that I reviewed, at least as impressed as one can be with a polymer-framed pistol. There are different levels of impression, I suppose. I like to hold a Hamilton Bowen custom revolver and admire its beauty and craftsmanship. That is different from the way that the M&P impresses me. I do not hold the M&P and stare at its lines, or behold the depth of the finish. I am impressed by the performance of the M&P. I am impressed by its reliability. I am impressed by its ergonomics, and I am even impressed by its accuracy.

I pretty much covered the details of the M&P in the previous article, so will just hit the high points here. The M&P obviously has a lightweight polymer frame. The slide and barrel are made from heat-treated stainless steel with a Melonite hard coating for durability. The trigger guard has a generous amount of room for even a gloved finger. The magazines for the M&P, of which two are supplied with each pistol, are made of genuine steel. The 9mm is available with either ten or seventeen round magazines. The M&P controls are largely ambidextrous, having a slide release on the right side of the weapon to accommodate left-handed shooters, as well as the release on the left side for the majority of shooters.  The magazine release can be switched to operate from either side, but I prefer to operate the release with the index finger of my left hand, so I leave it in its normal position.

The M&P has an accessory rail on the front of the frame underneath the slide for those who like to adorn their pistol with flashlights and such. I personally do not, but it is there if one chooses to use it. The sights on the M&P are also, thankfully, made of steel. The sample weapon wears the optional Novak Lo-Mount tritium night sights, and I highly recommend this option.

The barrel on the M&P is four and one-quarter inches long.  As detailed in the earlier article, the M&P is supplied with three different sized grip inserts, or backstraps. Smith & Wesson understands that everyone does not have the same size hand, and provides a gun that will adjust to fit the shooter, instead of having the shooter adjust to fit the gun. What a concept!

Shooting the M&P 9mm proved to be a real pleasure. Like most 9mm Luger pistols, the recoil is pretty light already. However, the M&P sits low in the hand. That, combined with the comfortable grip, makes shooting the pistol a delight. Accuracy was found to be very good with the 9mm M&P. Most reviews of modern fighting pistols make mention of "combat accuracy", which is usually an excuse for an inaccurate pistol. A gun which will group into three inches at twenty-five yards is acceptable for most social situations, but I like a weapon that does better. The M&P does better. Using Cor-Bon full metal jacket flat-point ammo, the M&P would cluster its shots at twenty-five yards very tightly, when I did my part. The M&P also exhibited excellent accuracy with Cor-Bon DPX hollowpoint ammunition, which is my preferred carry load in a 9mm pistol. I had no M&P insert for my Ransom rest, as none are produced yet, but holding the weapon hand-supported over a rest enabled me to shoot some pretty impressive groups. It is good to know that a combat pistol will keep its shots on a human torso at common fighting distances, but it is also reassuring to know that if a head shot need be made, the pistol is up to the challenge. The M&P is plenty accurate to make the shot.

Concealing the M&P is pretty easy, as the gun weighs but twenty-four ounces unloaded, and just a few ounces more with a full payload of eighteen rounds. A good holster is a necessity, however, and several good ones are available. I have been carrying the M&P in a holster called the Urban Companion made by Barranti Leather. This is a very well crafted belt holster that keeps the gun tucked in tightly for concealability, but still presents the grip at a good angle for quick access when needed. It is also a very comfortable holster to wear, which makes a world of difference for carrying a gun all day, everyday.  The Urban Companion has a reinforced top edge for easy re-holstering of the weapon, and is heavily stitched for durability. I like it.

I also fitted the M&P with a drop-in recoil reducing guide rod from DPM Systems.  The M&P did not need it to improve function, as it ran one hundred percent reliably throughout the tests. The DPM rod just makes any auto pistol run smoother. I never knew I needed one until I tried one, but now I want one in all of my centerfire auto pistols.

As for dislikes of the M&P, I have but one. The M&P has a magazine disconnect safety. I prefer a weapon without this feature. I do understand that it can be a life-saving safety feature. Some folks drop the magazine, and think that the gun is safe without checking the chamber. This is using a mechanical device to correct a training issue. There are also some who like a magazine safety for police work, in the theory that if an officer is about to lose his weapon in a struggle, he can drop the magazine, buying a bit of time to reach for his backup gun.  Maybe. Anyway, the magazine safety is a feature that I can live with, as it is mostly just a psychological thing with me. It is a minor feature, and in practice will likely never make a difference. 

Again borrowing from the text of my previous article, the M&P will be compared to the Glock, and other plastic-framed auto pistols. That is just as it should be. Shooters should compare the various options available before making a decision.  I have owned a Glock Model 19 9mm pistol for many years. It is a good weapon. I cannot fault it in any way. However, the M&P just plain feels better in my hand. It feels as if it were built to actually fit the human hand, and is adaptable to different sized ones at that.  I like the steel magazines better than the plastic ones of my Glock. I like the magazine release better. I like the shorter trigger reach. I like the slide release better. I like the sights better, and I like the feel of the weapon in the hand much better.  I find it to be more accurate, just as reliable, better-handling, and American made. I like it. If anyone is interested, I have a good used Glock 19 for sale. Nothing wrong with it at all. It is a good weapon, but from now on, when I strap on a holstered 9mm, it will be the Smith & Wesson.

For a closer look at the entire line of Smith & Wesson products, go to:  www.smith-wesson.com.

To order the Urban Companion or other Barranti Leather Company products,  click on this link: Barranti Leather Products.

For a look at the entire line of high performance ammunition from Cor-Bon, go to:  www.cor-bon.com.

To look at the DPM recoil-reducing guide rods, go to:  www.dpmsystems.com.

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.

 

Smith & Wesson’s 9mm M&P Semi-Auto Pistol.

 

 

S&W's 9mm M&P comes with three easily interchangeable grip backstraps.

 

 

 

 

Optional Novak Lo-Mount Tritium night sights are highly recommended.

 

 

Left-handed shooters, such as the author, will appreciate the left-hand slide release.

 

 

 

 

Like many modern pistols, the M&P features an accessory rail.

 

 

Steel magazine holds 17 rounds.

 

 

 

 

The M&P can be quickly and easily taken apart for cleaning.

 

 

 

 

Author added this DPM Systems recoil reducing guide rod, a recommended upgrade to any centerfire auto pistol.

 

 

 

 

Front of the slide is contoured for easy holstering.

 

 

Barranti Leather Co.'s "Urban Companion" holster is well-made, comfortable and easy to conceal.

 

 

Cor-Bon's DPX (top) and FMJ ammo (bottom).

 

 

Cor-Bon's 147-grain FMJ loads turned in some fine three-shot (top) and five-shot groups (bottom).