Review of Smith & Wesson M&P9 9mm

S&W M&P 9 compact

by Steven

If you are in the market for a new handgun, you will notice that there are many polymer guns on the market. With the success of the Glock, most major manufacturers now offer a polymer frame gun, and most offer them in full size and compact frames. While all have their advantage, some are better than others. In this article, we are going to review Smith & Wesson’s M&P 9mm.

My EDC weapon is the Smith and Wesson M&P 2.0 9C (9mm Compact), model # 11688. I carry it in a Don Hume leather IWB holster and loaded with Federal Premium 9mm Hydra-Shok 124g ammo. I have carried this setup (initially with the 1.0, then the 2.0 after it was released January 2017) for the last 12 years. I love this gun, and I have shot nearly every “common” handgun on the US market.

Stats and Numbers

The S&W M&P 9mm is available in three frame sizes, full size, compact, and a specific variant named “Shield.” Here are the numbers on each.

Full Size

SKU: 11758

Model: M&P®9 M2.0™ 15 Rds

Caliber: 9mm

Capacity: 15+1

Barrel Length: 4.25″ / 10.8 cm

Overall Length: 7.4″

Front Sight: Steel – White Dot

Rear Sight: Steel – White Two Dot

Action: Striker Fire

Grip: Polymer

Weight: 28.0 oz / 793.8g

Barrel Material: Stainless Steel – Armornite® Finish

Slide Material: Stainless Steel – Armornite® Finish

Frame Material: Polymer

Purpose: Home Protection, Personal Protection

S&W M&P 9mm compact

Compact

SKU: 11688

Model: M&P®9 M2.0™ 3.6″ Compact

Caliber: 9mm

Capacity: 15+1

Barrel Length: 3.6″ / 9.1 cm

Overall Length: 6.8″

Front Sight: Steel – White Dot

Rear Sight: Steel – White Two Dot

Action: Striker Fire

Grip: Polymer

Weight: 25.9 oz / 734.3g

Barrel Material: Stainless Steel – Armornite® Finish

Slide Material: Stainless Steel – Armornite® Finish

Frame Material: Polymer

Purpose: Enthusiast, Home Protection, Personal Protection, Recreational Shooting

Shield

SKU: 11808

Model: M&P®9 SHIELD M2.0™

Caliber: 9mm

Capacity: 7+1, 8+1

Barrel Length: 3.1” (7.9 cm)

Overall Length: 6.1″

Front Sight: Steel – White Dot

Rear Sight: Steel – White Two-Dot

Action: Striker Fire

Grip: Polymer

Weight: 18.3 oz / 518.8g

Barrel Material: Stainless Steel – Armornite® Finish

Slide Material: Stainless Steel – Armornite® Finish

Frame Material: Polymer

Purpose: Concealed Carry, Personal Protection

2.0 vs 1.0

Smith and Wesson released the M&P 2.0 series in January of 2017. So often we see manufacturers go in and mess with a gun that is loved by its shooters, and usually cause more problems than good. Well, S&W did their homework on this upgrade.

The 2.0 improves on just about every aspect of the weapon, but they maintained the same exact frame and feel so that professionals already using the M&P could transition without issue. Here is what Smith and Wesson have to say about the 2.0, taken from their website:

“The M&P M2.0 pistol, the newest innovation to the respected M&P polymer pistol line.  Designed for personal, sporting, and professional use, the M&P M2.0 delivers an entirely new platform, introducing innovative features in nearly every aspect of the pistol, including trigger, grip, frame, and finish. Highlights of the M&P M2.0 pistol include an extended stainless-steel chassis and a low barrel bore axis for reduced muzzle rise and faster aim recovery.

The M&P M2.0 pistol further improves performance with a fine-tuned, crisper trigger, lighter pull and a tactile and audible reset. The pistol, available in three calibers, includes an aggressively-textured grip and four interchangeable palmswell inserts for optimal hand-fit and trigger reach. The striker-fire, semi-automatic polymer pistol is available in matte black or FDE – Flat Dark Earth – finishes, and includes two magazines, a limited lifetime warranty and a lifetime service policy.” (source)

Having owned and shot both guns extensively, I am willing to say without a doubt that the 2.0 is a better firearm, and would recommend it over the 1.0. It should be noted however that the 1.0 is still a fantastic weapon platform, and is nothing to sneeze at. My review here is based on the 2.0 version.

Configurations

Full Frame

The full frame M&P 9mm is a full sized gun similar to the Glock G17 or others on the market, featuring a 4.25″ barrel. It is marketed as a good choice for law enforcement or security work but is available on the civilian market in whole. There are multiple different configurations available from the factory, most having different combinations of external safeties that can be added. The base model does not feature an external safety.

S&W M&P 9c

Compact

The compact M&P 9mm, designated the 9c, is a smaller frame than the full size, but still large enough to be utilized as a primary weapon. It is similar in size to the compact Glock model G19. It features a 3.6″ barrel. This gun is promoted as being ideal for concealed carry or as a backup/secondary weapon for law enforcement.

Shield

The shield is a variant of the standard compact size. It was designed to be lighter, slimmer, and easier to carry as a concealed weapon. To do this, Smith and Wesson took the frame down from a double stack to a single stack magazine and they shortened the barrel from 3.6 inches to 3.1 inches. The result is a gun that is 0.7 inches shorter, slimmer, and 7.6 ounces lighter.

S&W M&P 9 compact

Pros & Cons

Pros

There are many things to love about this gun, but I will try to highlight a few individually.

Grip– The first thing you will notice when you pick up an M&P is the grip profile. The grip is designed with an 18-degree grip angle which provides a very natural feeling point of aim. A natural point of aim is not only is comfortable but is a significant benefit for self-defense.

When you draw the weapon under stress, you could either not have time to aim with your sights or be too scared/upset to aim. If you have that natural point of aim, you hit what you point at. The grip is also customizable with four different sized palm grip inserts to help you get the feel you want.

Finish– The M&P’s come from the factory with a proprietary durable corrosion resistant finish called Armornite®. I have owned many guns that have special finishes that are supposed to protect the metal, and most work just fine.

This Armornite® is a different beast. My first M&P 9c, the 1.0 version, I carried daily for ten years and almost never cleaned the thing, and shot it at least monthly. It had no corrosion, no rust, and no holster wear when I retired it to the safe. Impressive to say the least.

Trigger– With the 1.0 I always felt that the trigger needed some work. I had cleaned it up some, but it still just wasn’t that great. Well, Smith and Wesson felt the same way. The 2.0 trigger is a smooth as you could ask for, has a nice light trigger pull, a very clean and sharp break, and has an audible and tactile reset. The trigger alone is what makes me gravitate to the M&P for teaching new shooters.

Accuracy– I have heard thousands of times that accuracy in a handgun is in the shooter, not the gun. While I agree with this on most occasions, I do feel like some pistols, even “tactical” guns, are more accurate than others.

Smith and Wesson claim that their 1 in 10” twist stainless steel barrel is what improves the accuracy. I do not know what it is, but I can get far better groups with the M&P at almost any range than I can with my Glock G19, Springfield XD, or my Kahr CW9.

Reliability– I have shot thousands of rounds through my two M&P’s and never had a misfeed. I have also used M&P’s to teach on the range, and have only had one misfeed, which truthfully was probably caused by “limp wristing.”

The guns seem to eat anything you put through them. Reliability is another factor that is just huge in self-defense. If I can’t trust that the gun is going to go bang when I pull the trigger, how can I trust my life to it?

Aftermarket Accessories– Some people see a stock gun as a clean canvas to work on. The aftermarket selection for the M&P is large and is only bested by Glock. There are numerous upgrades to the internals that can be purchased, as well as a host of attachments and accessories. Holsters can easily be found for just about any set-up you could want.

Cons

Sights– One of the worst things I can find about a factory new M&P is the sights. They are a basic steel bladed sight with one white dot in front and two white dots on the rear. They are rugged and simple to use, but leave a lot to be desired for me. I use Ameriglo Hackathon sights and feel they were a significant improvement over the stock sights.

Serviceability– This one won’t affect everyone, but beyond basic field stripping, the M&P’s are somewhat difficult to disassemble and service. Nothing is so hard that you can’t do it at home, but requires a lot more skill to do than a Glock would. See this article for a full comparison between the two. A good example is that you have to drift out the rear sight to access and clean the firing pin block.

S&W M&P 9 mags

9mm for Self-Defense

When it comes to using a 9mm for self-defense in favor of other handguns, I am comfortable carrying it for a few reasons. You will hear people tell about crazy meth heads that were fighting with cops and they shot them ten times, and he just ran away. There is no doubt this is a possibility, and similar situations happen all the time. The difference is that those kinds of people are not who you generally need to be worried about hurting you.

Most people who will break into your house or try to rob you on the street are not looking to fight. They are looking for a quick buck and getting out of there.  The moment you raise your gun, the situation has significantly changed. If that doesn’t send them running, the sound of a shot and a bullet tearing through them almost certainly will.

People who stand up to cops are looking for a fight. Every person in the US knows that if you disregard police orders and attempt to resist that they have guns and may very well use them. These people are full of adrenaline, usually dealing with severe problems, and are looking for a fight. These factors will increase a person’s stamina, strength, and ability to keep fighting.

With all of that being said, good ammo is still essential. Since the 9mm is a lower powered self-defense round, you want to make sure you get the most energy you can out of it. I use Federal Premium 9mm 124g Hydra-Shok ammo.

I have had good experience with it being accurate, reliable, and consistent. I have also done penetration and expansion tests and was impressed with the results. Many other brands offer good self-defense ammo, Gold Dot and Hornady being two, that will perform as good as the Hydra-Shok. Whichever you choose, make sure you are carrying self-defense ammo that is designed to expand and deliver all of that energy.

Conclusion

In my opinion the M&P 9mm, actually the entire M&P series, is an excellent gun for range, concealed carry, or home defense. I would feel comfortable recommending it to anyone.

With a natural point of aim, the gun is hitting where you are pointing which can be a great asset under stress, especially for self-defense situations. It also helps shooters who are unfamiliar with handguns be able to pick it up and within a few rounds at least be on paper. Having taught many shooters over the years, this is a nice boost.

The reliability of the weapon also helps to make it an excellent self-defense gun. Knowing that when you pull the trigger, the gun is going to function correctly is vital. In my experience, the M&P can handle switching between different kinds of ammunition, which could save your life under the right circumstances. Today we find so many weapons that will only feed properly or cycle properly with a particular load or brand, that knowing you can feed it anything makes you feel better about the gun.

In conclusion, I recommend the M&P 9mm and if you are looking for a new pistol, make sure you check one out.

smith wesson 9mm review pin


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