The M&P is the definitive answer from Smith & Wesson that evolution does exist in the handgun market, especially when it is executed properly.
The Smith & Wesson M&P series of pistols was first introduced way back in 2005. As far as I can tell it is the offspring of S&W’s offerings of both the Sigma series and the S&W99 which came from some sort of weird collaboration with Walther and their P99.
Now, onto why we are here. I needed a 9mm, I needed to make a choice between two of the most popular Polymers on the market. In a last minute decision I switched from my original choice, over to the full-size M&P without the external safety. I am beyond satisfied with my quick change of heart and am glad my gut spoke up. After firing this pistol, wearing this pistol, cleaning and assembling this pistol I can assure you I am sold on it even more than I was when I swiped the card to get it.
The M&P chambered in 9mm is a polymer framed handgun with a 4.5” barrel. The model purchased has no external safety, 2, 17+1 round magazines, white dot rear and front sites and a Melonite coated stainless steel slide. This is a striker fire action weapon with a very short re-cock (is that a word?). There is also a picatinny rail system on the frame for accessories like lasers or weapon lights as well as interchangeable backstraps for the palm swell. I am still debating between another TLR-1s or the new shenanigans from Inforce, but that decision is for another day. The trigger feels better to me than most other polymers I have tried but is a little “gritty” on the reset. Nothing noticeable with gloves on, but nonetheless is worth mentioning.
The ergonomics of this weapon are fantastic in my opinion. Let’s start with the grip itself. One of the things I am not a fan of in other polymer framed pistols is the pre-made decision of where finger grooves and ridges should be. Commonly overcome with Dremels and soldering irons to get the fit you want, I have no taste for that. The M&P is devoid of generic finger grooves and simply offers a very subtle curve to the front of the grip which is not just comfortable, but can be comfortable to both my hand, or the wife’s.
The interchangeable backstraps for the palm swell are also a nice feature. 3 sizes are still “generic” but there is a distinct difference between all three. Lou runs his .40 with the large grip because 1.) he is an ogre and 2.) he has super large hands. While I like the shape of the large, it felt like there was a racquet ball between my palm and the grip. This was cool to see because instead of just going more rearward in one dimension like most interchangeable backstraps do, the M&P options go rearward as well as left and right in a smooth round shape to really attempt to fill your palm. I chose the small for two reasons. First and foremost, because I can get on this thing quick. The smaller grip helps me get under the trigger guard, in the trigger guard and my thumb in the perfect position from the holster a lot easier with no fidgeting. Second reason (mostly just a secondary benefit) is the fact that Misses whitey feels very comfortable handling this weapon as well and the small grip is just right size for her too. Two birds, one stone thrower and everybody wins.
I also want to point out that the way this pistol “points” feels very natural. This has been one of only a few pistols I have owned that very much felt like a “point and shoot” pistol. I found I can come out of the holster, present to the target and shoot very quickly by comparison to other pistols I have had a lot of practice with. It is almost to the point where when you go to acquire the front sight, there is a pause only to realize it is already where it should be and you paused because you are used to searching for the front sight. This explains more to me the recent popularity among competition shooters of switching to M&Ps since shaving seconds even tenths of seconds matters. But you don’t have to be a competitive shooter to appreciate that either.
The MSRP on this pistol is about $570 but I was able to pick mine up for a shade over $500. Not a huge savings but definitely competitive to similarly classed pistols. The fun doesn’t stop there though. This all american made pistol already has a large assortment of aftermarket parts and upgrades available for it too so you can customize yours for individuality or performance or both. Smith & Wesson has MA and CA compliant models available so no one is excluded from the fun (sort of).
Overall, I am not just satisfied with this pistol I am an advocate for this pistol. Not a kool-aid drinking fan boy zealot type, but I would definitely recommend this pistol to friends in the market. This is a far cry from the Sigma and the SW99 and I think Smith & Wesson really got it right with this pistol. In years to come, I think the M&P will become as much a staple of their product line and as synonymous with their brand as their reputation with revolvers is.