Smith & Wessonģ M&Pģ 9mm Folding Pistol Carbine

by Steve Tracy

September 6th, 2023

Click pictures for a larger version.

 

 

The S&W M&P Folding Pistol Carbine is sleek and balanced, whether shouldered for firing, or standing upright for a photograph. 

 

 

The FPC mounted readily in the authorís Polaris Ranger in case it is needed out and about. 

 

 

S&W FPC folds for compact storage (even more without silencer attached). 

 

 

The FPC folds to the left with simple thumb pressure on the locking lever. 

 

 

Direct blowback action functioned flawlessly with all kinds of 9mm ammunition. 

 

 

M&P Compact pistol grip uses 15, 17, 23 round factory S&W magazines and aftermarket magazines. 

 

 

Two 23-round magazines store neatly in the FPCís buttstock. 

 

 

Release lever for extra magazines in the buttstock are pressed opposite the magazine to be released. 

 

 

Sig Sauer Romeo5 electronic red dot optic mounted on a quick release riser. 

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 beavers.

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 FPC.

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 storage receptacles.

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 ease.

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 adjusted.

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 finger.

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 times.

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 button. 

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 adjust it. 

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 yards out. 

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 carcass. 

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 choice. 

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.

SilencerCo: www.silencerco.com.

Sig Sauer: www.sigsauer.com.

ToughSoul 1360 Lumen LED Weapon Light

Steve Tracy

 

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 movie Shooter), he keeps busy shooting cottonmouths, armadillos, and beavers that invade his property.

 

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Click pictures for a larger version.

 

 

147-grain Remington flat point ammo is quiet with SilencerCo Hybrid 46 silencer attached.

 

 

Accuracy off a rest at 50 yards resulted in 1 1/2-inch ten shot group with Sig Sauer Romeo5 red dot sight.

 

 

75 yard accuracy resulted in 2-inch ten shot group with Sig Sauer Romeo5 red dot sight.

 

 

9mm 147-grain flat point accomplished its job on this armadillo.

 

 

Beaver retrieved the next morning after being shot with the S&W FPC. Note the beaver is much bigger than the carbine with silencer attached (overall length of 37" for the firearm).

 

 

Making one shot count from a rocking chair while hunting beavers.

 

 

Rob Leahy of Simply Rugged holsters turned authorís first beaver killís tail into a holster for S&W snub nose .38 that is used for dispatching venomous snakes when necessary.

 

 

ToughSoul 1350 lumen LED with easy on/off push button activation.

 

 

ToughSoul LED throws a broad and useful light to illuminate the dark.