June 10, 2013

Smith & Wesson M&P Compact No. 109003 40 S&W, $569

We recently tested compact 40 S&W handguns in the March 2013 issue. Here’s an excerpt of that report.

Gun Test’s Idaho test team has spent a lot of time looking at relatively tiny 9mm handguns over the past year. We’ve found there are a few good designs that permit the use of some relatively hot ammo in the small 9mm packages. But some people want still more power, so we’ve decided to sample a few of the forties out there. For this test we looked at a S&W M&P Compact 40 ($569) and a Kahr CW40 ($485). They are a bit larger than the tiny nines we’ve been trying, and there are good reasons for that. The 40 S&W is a lot more cartridge than the 9mm Parabellum, and when forties get smaller than these two test guns, recoil is entirely unfriendly. However, Kahr and a few other makers do offer smaller guns in this caliber if you must have one. We tested these two compact forties with three types of ammo, Remington 155-grain JHP, Black Hills 165-grain JHP, and American Eagle 180-grain FMC. Here’s what we found.

Smith & Wesson M&P 40 Compact

No. 109003 40 S&W, $569

Our first impression of the M&P Compact was that, yes, it can fit in a big pocket, but we wouldn’t be completely happy with it there. The grip extension made it hard to get out of the pocket. A suitable concealed-carry holster would be far better, we thought, for packing this amount of powerful handgun. A magazine with a smaller bottom plate came with the gun, as well as some different-size inserts for bigger or smaller hands, but with the smaller magazine in place, we thought the M&P 40 Compact was still a big enough gun that most of us would have preferred to pack it in a holster, especially if we were in a hurry to get the gun out. The same held true for the Kahr CW40. Also, the smaller grip resulting from the flat-bottom mag was not as secure feeling as the larger grip, which permitted getting all our fingers onto the gun.

A bit large for the pocket, the S&W M&P 40 compact was a well-made and interesting handgun. We’d have liked to see tritium sights, but would not like to add a C-note to the cost. We preferred this extended magazine, which gave 11 shots.

The fit and finish were excellent, we thought. The pebbly leather feel of the grip was pleasant, but it did not provide enough traction during our shooting. The three-white-dot sights were excellent, giving good visibility and a good sight picture.

The wavy pattern on the rear of the slide provided plenty of grip to control the slide, which required a strong pull to get all the way back. There was a rail under the chin for a light or laser sight. The sights and trigger were typical Smith & Wesson, which is to say outstanding. The fixed sights had three white dots and gave a good sight picture. We noted the rear sight is a cantilever, made of steel, but when viewed from the side, it has a relatively thin section across its overhang. Can it break if dropped? Most likely it’ll bend, and we’re really picking nits here.

The overall design of the M&P permits easy takedown for maintenance. With the extended magazine, we liked the feel of the gun in the hand very much. With the flat-bottom mag in place, we didn’t like it so much. We test-fired it with the extension magazine, and when we tried it with the other, we didn’t like the control nearly as well.

Takedown for cleaning and maintenance with this design is extremely easy. Clear the gun, lock the slide back and turn that lever on the left side downward 90 degrees. Release the slide, press the trigger, and pull the slide off the frame. The captive spring comes easily out and so does the barrel. Reassembly was just as easy. Inside the gun, the use of stampings and clever engineering were obvious. As always, we were impressed with the construction and engineering of the M&P that results in simple, easily made parts inside that might look on the small side, but are more than strong enough for anything asked of them. We liked this gun’s design as much as we liked its feel and operation.

Takedown for cleaning and maintenance with this design is extremely easy. Clear the gun, lock the slide back and turn that lever on the left side downward 90 degrees. Release the slide, press the trigger, and pull the slide off the frame. The captive spring comes easily out and so does the barrel.

The M&P’s trigger was relatively predictable and controllable. However, the M&P 40 Compact kicked quite hard. The recoil was, we thought, unlike the push of the average 45 ACP round, but more of a vicious snap. The gun twisted badly in our hands, and we concluded some additional traction on the front and rear straps was needed. Grooves, checkering, or stippling there would greatly help the control. The leather-like covering of the polymer frame did not lend itself to being sticky, which was not a good thing. On firing the hotter rounds for accuracy, the gun twisted badly in our hands no matter how hard we held it, and we had to reposition our grip every time for the next shot. During rapid-fire testing it was less of a problem because we were not concerned with extreme accuracy. But be advised, there’s significant kick to these 40-caliber guns. The two hot light-bullet loads were also quite loud.

Accuracy was adequate, but there was no tack driving. The gun seemed to like the heavier bullets more, and so did we, because they were not as brutal as the lighter JHP loads. The full-metal-jacket bullets in several brands we’ve seen in 40 S&W caliber are truncated cones, flat noses with full metal covering. That design has been lauded by several sources as being excellent for self defense. Such a design would seem to be lots better than just a round nose, as found on most other hardball ammunition in other calibers.

Our Team Said: This was an excellent handgun if you need a compact 40-caliber semiauto. Our one complaint was that the grips needed more traction on the forward and rearmost parts. If you need a compact but perhaps not quite pocket-size 40, we thought this was an excellent choice. It’s an A-minus in our book.

GT

Comments (25)

S&W was at one time top of the pile , but with the RECALLS IT HAS SLIPPED get a RUGER FOOD FOR THOUGHT .>>> you should pick the pistol that fits you . recoil [flinch] is a reality you may need to deal with . i think it is important for a buyer , first timer or not to be able to handle the recoil . if you don't know someone that has different calibers go to a range that you can rent them . money spent here can save MANY PROBLEMS ! you will find the more you practice the less you will flinch . BOTTOM LINE PRACTICE , PRACTICE AND PRACTICE SOME MORE

Posted by: bigbarry | September 12, 2013 5:39 AM    Report this comment

lot of familiar names there. put boots on all of them. i was set for flight school but infantry orders came first so off i went. first action they shot down three helicopters and no grunts lost on ground. got to thinking maybe a bayonet and m-16 not a bad way to travel.

Posted by: cacti | June 30, 2013 11:34 PM    Report this comment

Yeah.....put in some blade time with choppers from Camp Hollaway and Camp Schmidt. Hunter-killer blade time was with 4th Avn Bn, but I often flew with guys from Holloway and Schmidt doing preps and directing artillery and air strikes with UH1s. Also ran bomb runs out of CH47s dropping 55 gal drums of CS-2 in the Plei Trap Valley to restrict traffic on the Ho Chi Min Trail. At the time, I was a 28 year old captain in the 4ID Chemical Section. It was a hell of a staff job, since I flew combat assault missions every day, and had a couple of hard landings out aroung Plei Djereng, Dak To, and the Punch Bowl, where we fought our way out of some trouble. First week in country, was shot down by enemy mortar fire on FB Swinger (1/22 Inf Bn) and figured this was going to be an interesting tour.....

Posted by: canovack | June 20, 2013 8:02 PM    Report this comment

worked alot with the choppers out of camp hollaway-ambushed some sappers trying to sneak in one day-the ones i worked with mostly had 4 aces on the nose-i enlisted as private then up thru the ranks to captain by the time i retired in 70. i was d,b,hhc co's 1/35th3bde. 35th regt has big reunion every year-this year sept 26 thru 29th in virgina bch, va at cavalier hotel. check our website for 35th inf regt for details. welcome to come if in area. we get hugh turn out active and retired. cacti green always

Posted by: cacti | June 20, 2013 3:35 PM    Report this comment

My time in Vietnam was with 4ID, flying hunter-killer missions with two OH6 Scouts and two AH1 Cobras. Also spent lots of blade time in UH1-H doing the business of spotting and directing artillery and air strikes. Retired in 1984 at rank Lt Col, and began second career teaching science in 7th grade. Did that for 22 years.....Fully retired in 2006.

Posted by: canovack | June 20, 2013 3:26 PM    Report this comment

i am big sig fan as they fit my hand well and the models i use always go bang. i have 226, 228, 229 all 9m. i have m-1c, m-1d snipers + 5 in 06 and one in .308. also o3-a4 sniper 2 03's and 2 03a plus 3 1917 in 06 and a pattern 14 in .303. sounds like our army days similar. i enlisted in 59, med retired in 70. i leaked in too many places after nam. 4thid, 25th and op con to 5th sf( where i got most of my leaks)probably start shooting cmp matches soon as i retire. i am dod contractor.

Posted by: cacti | June 20, 2013 12:09 PM    Report this comment

OK, cacti, got ya loud and clear..... My military career spanned from 1963 to 1984. I, too, am very much enamored of the M1 Garand, since I did basic training and arms qualification with it. I also regularly had a 1911 throughout the years of my active duty before I retired in 1984. Since most of my active combat in Vietnam was from helicopters, I usually kept an M79 grenade launcher with me in the aircraft, but from time to time, when I really wanted to reach out and touch somebody, the M14 was the best tool for the task.....and it still had many features to remind me of the old M1. For most of my concealed carry, I rely on SIG Sauer DA/SA or DAK models. I concede that the M1911 is a damned fine pistol, and I own several, but for daily carry, I preferr the SIGs.

Posted by: canovack | June 20, 2013 11:49 AM    Report this comment

no mystery, my cousin spilled a coke into my dell and sometimes the button sticks so it is hard to do both uc/lc so i just stick it on one or the other for no particular reason. did all my yelling when i was training troops. i just enjoy the conversation. personally i don't care if people carry cap and ball, sling shots or lousville sluggers. what ever suits them. i like most all guns period but m-1 garand my favorite had i but one choice for long and 1911 for pistol.

Posted by: cacti | June 19, 2013 9:01 PM    Report this comment

Cacti.....No offense intended, but when one posts comments in all capital letters, it is tantamount to yelling at us. I don't think that's what you intended to do, but in most online forums and chat sites, anything written in all capital letters is viewed as very emphatic. While you may wish to be emphatic with us, it is not necessary to yell at us. Just sayin.....

Posted by: canovack | June 19, 2013 8:49 PM    Report this comment

GUNS BEING A VERY PERSONAL CHOICE I ALWAYS FEEL EACH PERSON SHOULD PICK WHAT FITS THEIR HAND, THEY SHOOT WELL AND GIVES THEM CONFIDENCE. MY MODEL 60 IS PRETTY OLD, NOT SURE EXACTLY WHEN I GOT IT BUT MAYBE IN THE 70'S OR VERY EARLY 80'S. IT HAS GOTTEN ALOT OF USE AGAINST REAL FOLKS THRU THE YEARS AND NEVER LET ME DOWN. OLD BUT SUCCESSFUL TECHNOLOGY THAT STILL WORKS. WERE I JUST STARTING OUT MIGHT PICK SOMETHING DIFFERENT AND FEEL SAME ABOUT IT AS I DO THE 60. IT IS LIKE AN OLD FRIEND AND I FEEL CONFIDENT WITH IN TUCKED IN IT'S ANKLE HOLSTER. IT IS STURDY, ALL METAL( NO OFFENSE, OWN SOME GLOCKS, LIKE THEM)AND VERY DURABLE. IT HAS SEEN ARMED ROBBERS, BANK ROBBERS, STUMP MOCS, ALLIGATORS, CAR JACKERS, STICK UP MEN AND FOLK JUST PLAIN INTENT ON MURDER. NOT YET BEEN ATTACKED BY A BOWLING PIN BUT SURE IT WILL DO JUST FINE ON THEM ALSO.

Posted by: cacti | June 19, 2013 2:03 PM    Report this comment

Your points about the PM9 are well taken, ordnance outsellers. The characteristics that you elaborated are all the reasons why I routinely carry my PM9 in a Galco pocket holster as a back-up to any larger belt carried principal pieces.

Posted by: canovack | June 19, 2013 12:21 PM    Report this comment

carnovack, glad you appreciated my input! If you're ever in a position to have to "scrounge" ammo, even during current shortage, having capability to shoot 9mm, most popular autoloader out there, would be good idea!

Cacti, That Ruger 1911 is a great value in 1911 and certainly 60 has been proven over many years. While your 60 may well have very smooth, well broken in trigger, you probably know trigger on new guns are horrible? If anyone is having to struggle with hard, gritty trigger of ANY light weight gun, they will not hit much, except at virtual contact distance. Just physics, if there is no weight to steady gun in hands (fulcrum), the trigger (lever) will struggle with a bad trigger giving the previous indicted unacceptable results. Kahr PM9 has a pretty light, smooth stock trigger and you will not have above issue. When I first got mine I was knocking bowling pins off top of 55 gallon fiberglass drum at 20 yds at a Sigforum shoot in Atlanta in 2006. Plenty of witnesses to this and sold a number of guns because of it! Advantages over 60 IMHO, 14/5 oz. weight, if you add width of cylinder to frame, much narrower, more concealable than 60, better sights, including night sights on PM, if you want them, and 40% more firepower with 7 available rounds, even with short mag, and tactical reload much more manageable; plus a 3" barrel for increased muzzle velocity and accuracy over 1 7/8 of 60!

Posted by: ordnance outsellers | June 19, 2013 11:34 AM    Report this comment

I DON'T GET TO FANCY WITH MY CARRY GUN. I LIKE FULL SIZE, PROVEN DESIGN PISTOLS. MY CARRY IS SR 1911 SS BY RUGER, ALWAYS WORKS. MY BACK UP IS S&W, MODEL 60 SS CHIEF OF POLICE, ALWAYS WORKS. SMALLEST AUTO I TOTE IS SIG 228 IN 9MIL, ALWAYS WORKS. NOT TO KEEN ON THE SMALLER STUFF. JUST PERSONAL EXPERIENCE.

Posted by: cacti | June 19, 2013 9:53 AM    Report this comment

'Some interesting points and good advice, ordnance outsellers. While I have quite a few 9mm pistols, I haven't felt the need to acquire a 9mm capability in my .357 and .40 caliber pistols, and I've been satisfied to switch between .357 and .40. Your point, however, is well taken, and increasing the capabilities of any firearms to function in multiple calibers is likely a desirable capability. If, Heaven forbid, the SHTF, multiple caliber capable firearms.....especially those of military calibers.....would likely be a positive asset.

Posted by: canovack | June 17, 2013 12:07 PM    Report this comment

Carnovak, the dedicated 40 mag for 239 is due to being single stack, lower capacity mag, than other brands double stack! As you know the Sig 226 or 229 49 mags work fine with either 30 or 357. You and others are missing a bet, by not having a Barsto or KKM 9 mm conversion barrel to use with a 40 or 357 gun, requiring only barrel change and use of OEM 9mm mag. All my personal Sigs are set up this way! My G4 Glock 23 is also set up this way! As a dedicated Sig shooter for years, did have some trouble adjusting to grip on Glock, needing to remember to push wrist over and lock it! Now I shoot Glock as well as Sigs!

Kahr PM9 is my favorite deep concealment, light clothing carry gun, by far. I much prefer the better made PM to cheaper CM versions! Trigger on PM is best I've ever experienced on a "stock" deep concealment gun. I'm an FFL and sold a lot of PM9's; but found that few users ever read manual and follow instructions, regarding, cleaning, maintain, and use of smaller 115 gr ammo until broken in! Kahr did have problems prior to late 2005 manufactured guns. My gun is Spring 2006 and no problems at all, except when someone "limp wrists" it!

Posted by: ordnance outsellers | June 17, 2013 9:23 AM    Report this comment

My P290 RS did not fire on at least a half dozen or more rounds in the first 3 magazines I fired. Some rounds took more than two strikes. This is using Federal American red box ammo. Sigs are the only weapons I have ever had firing problems with centerfire ammo. Last time I went out, it didn't fire on a couple rounds the first time. Needless to say, I don't take it out much; it's too irritating.

Posted by: Smithkowitz | June 16, 2013 11:03 PM    Report this comment

I have not experienced any firing difficulties with my SIG P290, and I figure that if there might be issues of that sort, they'd show up early on. The P290 I have is the P290RS, that allows constant hammer strikes with each pull of the trigger, but so far it has gone "bang" every time.....even with Tulamo Russian 9x19mm stuff that I use for practice and breaking in my pieces. As for magazine capacity both the six and eight round mags hold what they say.

Posted by: canovack | June 16, 2013 8:52 PM    Report this comment

Bought a P290 right after Thanksgiving, I know why it was on sale; another Sig that needs re-strike because like my P232, it fails to fire all the time. Mine also had a 6 round magazine that would not accept 6 rounds. Sig sent me a replacement that works under warranty. Still like the Shield 40 better than the P290. S&W also has better customer service when and if it is needed.

Posted by: Smithkowitz | June 16, 2013 1:10 PM    Report this comment

I have not heard of anybody experiencing a negligent discharge of a Kahr pistol while it is being properly carried in a pocket holster in a pocket. The PM9 is striker-fired, and it has a heavy enough trigger that in order to actually fire the pistol, the carrier would have to have his/her finger in the trigger well. As we all know, the finger does not go on the trigger until we are ready to fire at an appropriate target. Also, if properly carried in a pocket holster, there is little to no chance of any trigger manipulation due to unauthorized items being in the pocket with the pistol. In common practice, nothing.....NOTHING.....should be in the pocket with a properly hostered pistol.

Hey, Gaviota.....It's nice to hear from you. We haven't heard much from you in quite awhile.....'Hope everything is OK. Now, as to your comment..... I don't consider my hands to be small, or overly large, but Glock pistols have never felt comfortable in my hands. Smith & Wesson Sigma and M&P pistols feel pretty good, whether full sized or compact.....but the Shield just doesn't feel good to me. I seems too small to get a proper grip. To overcome that problem, I recently purchased a SIG Sauer P290, and it felt so good when I picked it up at the gun show, I just had to have it. The P290 came with a six and an eight round magazine and a kydex holster just for the P290. SIG also markets a really nice laser specifically for the P290 that attaches to the dust cover in a very unique and secure manner. The kydex holster that comes with the pistol also provides for the laser, when the P290 (with laser attached) is holstered. I am wearing my laser equipped P290 in the kydex holster as I write this comment, and it is such a natural feeling and carrying pistol that I marvel that I haven't had one before last month's gun show.

Posted by: canovack | June 14, 2013 6:52 PM    Report this comment

People, do not carry a striker fired pistol that does not have a manual safety in your pocket! That is an excellent way to accidentally shoot yourself in the leg, or worse. As far has the Kahr line of pistols: I had a Kahr P9 that I bought new. It continually miss functioned, even after careful break in. I sent it back to Kahr and they did a bunch of polishing and replaced the recoil spring and sent it back to me. Thereafter, it refused to go into full battery when fired. I sent it back and Kahr sent me a new pistol. This ment I had to go through a dealer to get it registered in conformance with California law. When I got it in my hands I immediately sold it. Bottom line: Kahr has great customer service and crappy guns.

Posted by: STEPHEN A | June 14, 2013 12:47 PM    Report this comment

I settled on a G36 .45 ACP in a Crossbreed holster, with CorBon DPX hollowpoints. I have large enough hands that the Glock fits me just fine. My Sig 225 9mm was "appropriated" by my wife, which is just fine with me.

Gaviota

Posted by: Lee W | June 14, 2013 12:04 PM    Report this comment

I have both 40 & 9 M&P Compact and prefer the 40 caliber version. I have Crimson Trace laser grips which will interchange between the models since they are identical in size. Haven't had any issues with either of them since day one (over 3 years now). I initially thought the 40 would be a bit much, but my preferred caliber is actually 40. I also have a Kahr MK40 and S&W Shield 40. The M&P Compacts are a little large for me to conceal without a light over garment (vest, jacket) but the M&P Shield is fine with just a loose shirt. Glocks never fit my hand well, the M&P series does quite nicely and they are Made in The USA : )

Posted by: Smithkowitz | June 14, 2013 11:55 AM    Report this comment

Like you, Mark, I have owned a few Glocks, and they just never felt comfortable in my hand. Like you, I also carry a Kahr PM9 in a Galco pocket holster as a back-up to whatever I carry on my strong side belt. As I indicated above, I often carry the S&W M&P357, but my real preference lies with my SIG Sauer P229DAK .357SIG/.40S&W. Periodically I switch off with my SIG SP2340 and SIG P250.....both in .357SIG/.40S&W.

Posted by: canovack | June 14, 2013 10:42 AM    Report this comment

I transitioned from a G27 to the S&W M&P 40c over a year ago. The G27 had feeding issues and didn't fit my hand well. The M&P was noticeably nicer to shoot, but there is no mistaking you are shooting a .40 S&W cartridge. The M&P is only slightly bigger on paper, but in the hand and holster, you can tell the difference. Still small enough to carry concealed in the right rig and clothes.

The holster I chose was a Minotaur Spartan Holster. Wouldn't buy another. Never could get the gun to slide out the holster like I could with a Crossbreed SuperTuck.

I'd recommend the M&P Compact pistols if you don't mind a thicker pistol than a Glock if tenths of a inch don't matter. Would be nice if S&W installed the Shield trigger in it.

I carried it for 5 months, but in the end put the M&P in the safe. My two EDCs are a Kahr PM9 and a chopped grip G19 G3. The Kahr is thin, light,reliable so far and conceals better. The G19, named Stumpy, is what I carry if I want a little longer sight picture and more ammo in a slightly bigger package.

Posted by: Mark A S | June 14, 2013 10:01 AM    Report this comment

I have owned, and been carrying concealed, a Smith & Wesson M&P357 for a few years. Mine is the full sized model that carries 15 rounds of .357 SIG in the magazine and one in the chamber. It is comparatively light, conceals well, and is a joy to shoot. Since the pistol provides for changing calibers to .40 S&W by merely changing from a .357 barrel to a .40 barrel, I purchased an extra barrel, thus increasing the utility of the pistol.

Fact is, I have dual caliber capabilities between .357 SIG and .40 S&W in my SIG Sauer P229, SP2340, and P250. I have yet to gain that capability with my SIG Sauer P239, because unlike the other pistols noted, the P239.....for some reason.....required dedicated .40 S&W magazines, while the other pistols use .357SIG/.40S&W ammunition without the need for different magazines.

I have queried Beretta as to the availability of .357SIG barrels for my PX4 .40S&W pistol, but they haven't yet responed.

Posted by: canovack | June 12, 2013 10:44 AM    Report this comment

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