Smith & Wesson announced a unique
addition to their Military & Police lineup in February 2023.
The Springfield, Massachusetts firearms manufacturerís 9mm
Folding Pistol Carbine is aimed at the home and self defense
market, but I found the little carbine useful for a particular
kind of practical hunting.
My nocturnal nemeses are armadillos and
My wife and I retired to West Tennessee,
having previously living in Northern Illinois during our working
lives. We have taken to country living in our rural log cabin
home and I have embraced the peace I find astride my zero turn
mower during the three hours it takes me to cut the grass and
trails. However, the armored armadillos dig up our yard under
the cover of darkness, causing divots deep enough to make my
back scream, "Time out!" while riding the Toro over
hundreds of newly dug up craters.
The sharp clawed creatures can carry rabies
and leprosy, and they can also transfer salmonella to dogs. If
thereís a 1% chance of our dog Charlotte getting sick or
injured by one, the armadillos are on the losing end of the deal
in my mind. The Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency recommends
the termination on sight of the invasive species known as the
nine banded armadillo. They can be legally hunted every day and
night of the year.
The beavers are my other adversary. The
gigantic rodents dam up the culvert drainage pipes that relieve
our 7 1/2 acre lake when it overflows during the spring and fall
rains. When the water rises too high due to the blockage, the
dock and small boathouse go underwater and it damages the
(expensive) wood. Itís laborious and back breaking work to
tear apart the beaversí overnight dams that seal the outflow
of water that keeps the lake at its proper level. The flat
tailed monsters also gnaw down our beautiful trees. The TWRA
allows hunting and trapping of the buck toothed terrors 24/7.
The question I came to ask myself was,
"What firearm would be the best for eliminating the dillos
and the gnawers?" Trapping is an option for both active
nighttime havoc creators, but difficult for various landscape
and venomous snake reasons when it comes to the beavers. The
armadillos just have to be shot after trapping anyway.
Iíve taken both of the land and water based
creatures with a Ruger 10/22 and a Ruger 22/45 Lite. The Ruger
Silent SR silencer screwed onto the end of either firearm quiets
the rounds so I donít have to worry about donning hearing
protection. Winchester 40-grain PowerPoint ammo is still sonic
and cracks loudly when it breaks the sound barrier when it gets
its job done. I donít have close neighbors to complain, but
both of my problem creatures are mostly nocturnal and I realize
that the sound travels and, even far away, people enjoying their
front porches might wonder who is shooting at what out there in
the dark. Iíd rather be quiet and discreet.
Through experience, Iíve come to find the
slower subsonic and quieter .22ís donít have the power Iím
looking for to kill my animal foes. A properly placed, high
velocity .22 long rifle hit on either animal is deadly. However,
nine banded armadillos have rather small heads, making that
instant kill hit rather difficult. A standing, unsupported shot
at 50 or more yards on a dilloís kill zone while itís
scurrying around in the dark isnít the easiest shot to make.
The beavers are even harder to hunt because
they only come out at night and swim with only their two or
three inch dome above water. They swim fast too with that
powerfully flat tail of theirs. Beavers have to be lead,
especially 80 yards away out on the lake. They duck under
quickly when a shot misses and they can hold their breath for up
to fifteen minutes, never to be seen again. It also doesnít
help that there is usually fog on the water, making the use of
illumination tools difficult.
I had an armadillo jump straight up in the
air about two feet after shooting it in the side with a .22
bullet. It ran off much quicker than I thought it was capable
of, especially wounded. Headshots are a must with a .22 on
either animal. One particular beaver on our lake weighed 55
pounds and I donít think a .22 in its side would penetrate
very far into its fat. I bet that big-un wouldnít even know it
was hit with a 40-grain slug.
What to use to solve my problems besides a
.22? Various cartridges and delivery systems (.38 Specials in a
lever action rifle, 5.56 AR-15, 12 gauge shotgun, .300 Blackout,
6.5 Creedmoor?) came up in conversations with other
shooters/hunters. They were discarded for numerous reasons. The
.300 Blackout, with a subsonic heavy bullet in a silenced AR-15,
was an option, but a large obstacle was that subsonic ammo is
hard to find (even online) and very expensive.
Smith & Wesson FPC is my Answer
The Folding Pistol Carbine (FPC) was
introduced by Smith & Wesson earlier this year under their
Military & Police moniker and struck me as the perfect
solution to my particular pest problems. The 9mm cartridge
offers plenty of power to terminate either an armadillo or a
beaver with body shots and head shots would spell instant doom
for the critters.
I bought one at my local small gun shop for a
little under the MSRP.
The 9mm cartridge offers an important
advantage over other capable rounds due to its availability and
relatively inexpensive subsonic 147-grain copper jacketed flat
point ammunition. Remington ammo was available online for the
same price as 115- and 124-grain full metal jacket
practice/target ammo and I bought a case just to use in my new
The FPC is a relatively lightweight carbine
weighing a touch over 80 ounces (around twice the weight of a
steel Government 1911 .45 pistol). The Smith and Wessonís
polymer and aluminum construction helps keep its weight down.
The FPC comes with one 17-round magazine and two 23-round
magazines that store in the butt of the stock. The gunís
weight increases quite a bit when all three loaded mags are in
the stock and grip, especially with the heavier 147-grain
cartridges. Leaving the 23-rounders on the dining room table
lightened the carbine for my intended purpose. I shouldnít
need more than 17 rounds for armadillos and beavers, unless
thereís an invasion of an apocalyptic level, and then I can
grab up the extra mags and click them back into the stockís
Folding the FPC in half is practical for
storage and the unadorned and zippered carry bag that comes with
it is stealthy and works very well for truck use or
transportation. The folded gun allows the FPC to hide in places
a full size carbine/rifle wouldnít otherwise fit (like in a
kitchen cabinet). It should be noted that the FPC cannot be
folded with a round in its chamber. The carbine also cannot be
folded if a left side M-Lok slot is used to mount anything on itís
forearm because the 4140 steel barrel folds to the left. The
black oxide coated barrel measures 16.25-inches and comes with a
1/2-28 threaded muzzle and a screw-on thread protector. My
SilencerCo Hybrid 46 silencer twisted directly onto the FPC with
Two other 9mm carbines off similar concepts
to the FPC. The Kel-Tec SUB2000ís design that does not allow
the easy use of a red dot electronic sight because it folds in
half upward, causing top rail mounted sights to interfere with
the folding system. The Ruger PC Carbine is the second option,
but it takes down into two separate pieces instead of folding.
AR-15s chambered in 9mm with collapsible stocks still donít
reduce their size as much as the FPC.
The FPC does not come with any sights, but I
had a Sig Sauer Romeo5 red dot already mounted on a quick
detachable riser. It took all of five seconds to attach it to
the FPCís top picatinny rail and I was in business to sight it
in. The Sig sight takes common, flat 2032 batteries and shuts
itself off when not in use. It wakes itself up when jostled to
save power. The red dotís brightness is quickly and easily
adjustable with two, top mounted, brightness buttons, one marked
+ and the other -. The Romeo5ís intuitive adjustability worked
well when waiting to see a beaver pop up while the sun set,
requiring the red dotís brightness to be dialed down and
Flip up backup sights would work well, but
for my needs, backup sights arenít required, so I mounted the
red dot as far to the rear on the FPCís rail as I could. The
electronic sight is still mounted on the barrel and not the
frame so it stays sighted in when the gun is unfolded.
The stockís 14.5-inch length of pull is
non-adjustable and rather long, but lucky for me it works well
with my 6í 4" frame. My wife is 5í 4", but she
didnít have a problem. She didnít even notice or comment on
the FPCís length for her when she shouldered and shot it. The
grip is the same as the M&P pistol and comes with four
(small, medium, large and extra large) swappable palm swell
inserts. For some reason the smallest one fits my large hands
the best. Magazines are the same as the M&P pistol series
and work in either pistol or carbine.
During the last six years of my thirty year
law enforcement career, I carried a S&W M&P Professional
in .40 caliber in my duty holster. After I retired, I changed
out the barrel for a Lone Wolf 9mm conversion along with 9mm
magazines. Now I have both a pistol and a carbine that share the
same magazines. I like that.
Ejecting an empty magazine by pressing the
magazine release button on the left side is impeded slightly by
the stock. This is the nature of most magazine releases
originally designed for a pistol, but being used with a shoulder
stock. It makes the button difficult to hit. It can still be
done by taking the butt off your shoulder and twisting your
grip. Itís not a big deal, but if fast magazine changes are
important to you, the button can be swapped over to the right
side for activation by a right handed shooterís trigger
The storage of the two extra 23-round
magazines in the stock changes the balance of the FPC, but keeps
them out of the way and secure. Releasing the extra mags takes
some getting used to. The left side spare magazine is released
by pressing the right side of the seesaw type release lever
located on the underside of the stock. Vice versa releases the
right side magazine. I found myself keeping the magazines in the
FPC when it was stored and then removing them when I was
actually shooting (to lessen the carbineís weight). I wasnít
swapping magazines while shooting, but I got a lot of practice
taking them out and putting them back in. I found I got used to
the system and it actually worked better than I initially
thought it would.
A cross-bolt safety is located in front of
the trigger guard within normal reach of your trigger finger to
push it off. Inserting fresh magazines is standard procedure,
except that all three come with a plastic collar near the base
to fill in the area under the grip. The collar is used because
the FPCís grip is taken from the compact M&P grip instead
of the full size pistolís grip. The collars wonít
accidentally come off, but when shooter with meaty palms seats a
fresh magazine, it can pinch your skin painfully if youíre not
careful. A 15-round magazine from an M&P 2.0 compact pistol
will fit flush without the need of the collar, but interestingly
the FPC does not come with one of those. S&W designed the
FPC to take all double stack M&P 9mm box magazines, but
provided higher capacity versions with the carbine.
Folding the FPC is a simple procedure. With
the carbine held by its forearm in your left hand and supported
in the crook of your right elbow, take your right hand off the
grip and use your thumb to push the large polymer latch forward.
The barrel folds to the left and will lock into an M-Lok slot on
the forearm using its closed charging handle. This is the
procedure for right handers. I tried folding the barrel left
handed and one must change up the procedure. Itís not
impossible, but the folding part is definitely oriented for
right hand dominate shooters.
The charging handle is non-reciprocating and
functions similarly to an AR-15ís with an "over the
top" two finger charging handle. It takes a little gusto to
work it to chamber a round, but itís not a problem in any way.
The charging handle can be manually locked back by
simultaneously pushing up on the bolt hold open lever on either
side of the ejection port. But try as I might, pressing down on
the bolt hold open lever will not allow the bolt to go forward
and chamber a round, this must be done using the charging
handle. The bolt does hold open when the last round in the
magazine is fired.
The FPCís action is a direct blow back
design, so behind the bolt (moving back in forth under recoil
within the cylindrical stock) is a large piece of stainless
steel used to slow down the action with its extra weight. There
isnít much recoil to this 9mm carbine and no recoil pad is
included or needed on the FPCís butt. Recoil is a little more
than one would find with a delayed blowback or gas impingement
recoil system, since there is no slowing of the bolt due to any
gas retarding system. An AR-15 firing 5.56 rifle ammunition has
very little felt recoil and muzzle rise due to the gas
impingement system used to cycle its action. The FPC is firing
handgun ammunition in a shoulder fired weapon system, so the
resulting recoil is minimal, but still noticeable. The physics
of that big hunk of metal moving back and forth inside the FPCís
stock isnít objectionableÖeven to recoil sensitive shooters.
Field disassembly for cleaning is easy, but
different than any other firearm Iíve owned. I actually had to
read S&Wís manual because takedown was not obvious to my
non-engineering brain. But as I read along, the procedure was
straightforward and I even remembered it after the first few
Whatever sight system you top the FPC off
with will be located only on the barrelís forearm and
therefore it stays with the barrel when folded and locks back
into place when open. This means nothing changes to misalign
your sight system back and forth between compact folded storage
and locked open shooting. Firing the FPC at 50 yards off a
Caldwell Lead Sled, ten shot groups were tight at 1 1/2-inches
with the Remington 147-grain 9mm rounds. They opened up just a
little to 2-inches at 75 yards. Most of my beaver shots are at
80 yards or a less so I was happy with my 75 yard sight in.
There is a mechanical offset when using a red
dot mounted on a riser, positioning it high on the rail so that
it can be seen with a proper cheek weld on the stock. If the
sight system is. any lower, your cheek will hurt from hunching
down too hard to get a proper sight picture. This means that
shooting at targets closer than your sighted in range must
account for the added height of the sight. You must aim a little
higher depending on just how close your target is. Anyone
familiar with the use of an AR-15ís iron sights or the use of
a red dot on an AR-15 at close distances will get the concept.
The trigger pull on the FPC was measured at 5
pounds, 2.5 ounces with a Lyman digital trigger pull gauge. This
is a good weight for the intended purpose of this carbine. Itís
not a target gun with a 2 pound trigger meant to be unloaded
from a case at the target range. Itís also not a defensive
pistol meant to be carried holstered with a 4 pound trigger. Itís
a defensive/offensive carbine, which means it is intended to be
used while being held, carried, and while moving. The triggerís
center skeletonized safety must be depressed before the trigger
can move rearward, and then it has some initial slack, then some
take up as itís pressed, then when pressure meets the wall the
trigger break is crisp. Overtravel is negated by a molded over
travel stop inside the rear of the trigger guard. During actual
firing, the trigger works fine for all intended purposes,
including shooting paper targets for accuracy. But the trigger
safety and the pull weight means this FPC can be safely toted
around while maintaining proper trigger finger discipline.
Since both of my intended four legged vermin
targets go about their destructive nature under the cover of
darkness, illumination would be a key to my success. I had a
spare tactical pistol light kicking around, but attaching it to
the top of the FPC seemed cumbersome. Iíve never been
enthusiastic for remote switches on weapon lights. They seem to
get in my way and they offer a secondary possibility for failure
in addition to the light itself. I just donít care for them.
I searched around on Amazon and came across a
matte black, aluminum, 1450 lumen LED weapon light that attaches
via picatinny rail or M-Lok. It looked low profile and
streamlined and was cheap at only $39. It featured magnetic
charging, so there would be no batteries to replace and the
light wouldnít have to be removed to charge. Iím not sure
what its "ToughSoul" name is supposed to mean, but it
is well made and tough and mounted directly on top of the FPC,
in the most forward section of the Picatinny rail. It is
incredibly bright and throws its light wide over the top of the
silencer without a problem.
My left thumb easily activates the push-on,
push-off rectangular button at the rear that is at an angle. The
angle means itís not quite like pushing down and not quite
like pushing in. Itís ergonomic and has a strobe button as
well that is triangular in shape, just in front of the
rectangular button. The power and performance is amazing for the
price. It also looks sleek mounted on the FPC, as if it was
intended just for this carbine.
FPC Real World Test - Armadillo
My wife and I were enjoying time together,
sitting under our covered pavilion in our favorite chairs. Our
dog, Charlotte, was lying on the patio furniture couch that she
claims as her own, sniffing the air and looking in the distance
and listening to every sound as she likes to do. Then she slowly
got off the couch and sniffed the air more carefully as she
trotted out into the front yard.
This drew my attention because Charlotte has
proven in the past that she only alerts like this when something
is going on. I got up and scanned the front yard for deer or
other animals. Charlotte started to speed up and move faster
down the grassy yard and she looked to her left. Her eyes saw
what she had smelled and she took off at a run.
I spotted the armadillo digging up the
ground, far down in the corner of the yard, and I called out
Charlotteís name with a firm, "NO! Stay here!"
Good dog that she is, she stopped and
listened to me. I went inside and retrieved the FPC, with
Charlotte following me. Sheís not a fan of when Iím
shooting, so she was happy to stay in the cabin. I came back
outside, retracting the charging handle slightly to unlock where
the latch secures itself to the M-Lok rail and opening the
carbine to its full length (37-inches with the silencer already
mounted). I pulled back on the charging handle and let it fly
shut, chambering a Remington 9mm flat point. I pushed the safety
off with my trigger finger and indexed it on the textured safety
It was late afternoon so I didnít need a
light (and actually I had not received the ToughSoul when this
armadillo appeared). The Sig Sauer Romeo5 red dot had turned
itself on the moment I had picked up the FPC and it was plenty
bright enough, without being too bright, so there was no need to
I closed the distance on the armadillo, which
didnít pay me much attention. At around 50 yards, the big
clawed digger presented a broadside shot and I took it. The flat
point, subsonic 9mm round thwacked him in the side and he was
dead five seconds later. Upon closer inspection, I found the
bullet had gone in one side and out the other. Both sides looked
similar with ballistic action and pressure causing an entrance
wound that expelled innards and an exit wound that did the same.
In laymanís terms, the 147-grain 9mm bullet did its job well.
FPC Real World Test - Beaver
A couple weeks later, I was sitting in a
rocking chair with the FPC standing next to me. Its balance
allows its flat butt to stand up on the concrete patio area with
its muzzle pointing at the sky. Dusk had arrived and this was
the time when the beavers came out from their dens to begin
their eveningís destruction.
Oftentimes there is too much fog on our 7.5
acre lakeís surface for a light to do any good. Itís as bad
as turning on your vehicleís bright lights while driving in
foggy weather conditions because it just obscures your vision
even more. But this evening the fog was minimal. I sat rocking
back and forth while scanning the waterís calm surface,
searching for the telltale v-shaped wake of a beaverís head
swimming along. At the bewitching hour, just before total
darkness, I saw a beaverís head surface and make the
distinctive wake as it swam from my right to the left, about 70
In the past, wind has caused the lakeís
surface to become turbulent enough that I couldnít see a
beaver or its wake, but this evening the beaver stood out on the
calm surface as the only thing moving. But move it didÖand
fast. Fast enough that the small target of its head required
that I lead it a little bit, keeping the red dot to the left of
its nose. Iíve fired these flat point 9mm rounds in the past
and they make a "ploop" sound when they miss and
strike the water. Then the beaver ducks under, slapping the
surface with its powerful and large, flat tail that sounds like
return gun fire.
But this time I pressed the S&W FPCís
trigger and the bullet connected with a "thwack."
Sometimes beavers will sink when hit and sometimes they will
float. It depends on how much air is in their lungs when they
die. On this evening, the beaver sank. But, the next morning it
was floating again and the turtles were just getting started
with nibbles before being ready to feast. I used our two seat,
trolling motor fishing boat to retrieve the beaver
The overall length of the FPC with the
SilencerCo Hybrid 46 attached is an inch longer than a full
yard. This beaver was quite a bit longer than the FPC and its
silencer. It was a big one indeed.
As a defensive round, the 9mm has come a long
way since I first started in law enforcement in 1988. Back then
officers had a choice in my department between the 9mm and the
.45 acp. I chose to carry the larger caliber on my duty belt.
But as time progressed and technology advanced, the 9mm
cartridge has been coerced into better terminal performance via
powder burn rates and engineered hollow point expansion.
Todayís 9mm rounds are capable of much
better results than they were 35 years ago. Specific cartridges
are designed for short barreled, concealed carry pistols and
others for standard size duty pistols. There are also high
speed, lead free bullets too.
Firing revolver cartridges, such as the .357
Magnum and .44 Magnum, in lever action rifles usually results in
higher velocities due to the longer barrel length of the rifles.
Powder burn rates and cartridge case volume cause faster bullet
speeds in rifles, compared to revolvers, and terminal
performance is improved.
However, the 9mm round does not always
translate to higher speeds when fired in longer barrels and can
instead result in slower speeds. I have previously tested
various 9mm rounds in the Ruger PC Carbine which resulted in
many excellent 9mm handgun cartridges to chronograph at slower
speeds exiting the muzzle of the PC. Rifling twist rates also
affect velocity when the powder burn rates are specifically
designed for shorter barrels.
Shooters should keep in mind that
semi-automatic pistol cartridges may not always result in higher
velocities in rifle length barrels and that can mean lower
performance when those bullets strike their intended targets.
Lighter weight bullets in 9mm, especially lead free or solid
copper projectiles, seem to generally provide higher velocities
in longer barrels, while heavier weight bullets in 9mm may
actually lose some of their performance.
The conclusion I reached is that the
inexpensive factory Remington 147-grain flat point works very
well on the two varmints I needed it to work on. The subsonic
rounds were gentle on my ears with the silencer attached to the
Smith & Wesson FPC. Would I choose to use this round for
defense against a human attacker to save my life or the lives of
those I want to protect? Maybe not and perhaps another shoulder
fired cartridge intended for rifle use would be a better
But if this carbine was close at hand when
needed, I wouldnít hesitate to grab it up to protect myself. I
sure wouldnít want to be shot with this FPC and the 9mm bullet
that can quickly dispatch an armadillo and a beaver.
With high performance, lightweight, hollow
point 9mm ammunition, the S&W Folding Pistol Carbine is an
excellent self defense carbine for home use that I would not
hesitate to recommend.
Smith & Wesson: www.smith-wesson.com.
To Find a Smith & Wesson Dealer Near You,
Click on the DEALER FINDER at Lipsey's Distributors: www.lipseys.com/dealerfinder.
Simply Rugged Holsters: www.simplyrugged.com.
Sig Sauer: www.sigsauer.com.
1360 Lumen LED Weapon Light
Steve Tracy is a Shootist
and a retired police officer, having served his former
department for 30 years, and he was a certified firearms
instructor for his department for 28 years. His father and
grandfather were shooters and collectors before him, so itís
pretty much in his DNA and he's been a firearms enthusiast since
birth. Steveís interests in guns lean toward blued steel and
walnut, while nickel-plating, ivory handles, and tasteful
engraving please him even more. From old guns (he has fired the
300+ year-old Blunderbuss that hangs on his wall) to the latest
wondergun Ė handguns, rifles, and shotguns Ė he likes them
all. He retired with his wife Robin to a log cabin in the
Volunteer state of Tennessee ("Patron state of shooting
stuff," as the character Bob Lee Swagger stated, in the
he keeps busy shooting cottonmouths, armadillos, and beavers
that invade his property.
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