August 14, 2008

Smith & Wesson M&P 45 .45 ACP

The M&P45s feature a 4.6-inch barrel with an overall length of 8.0 inches. The M&P45 comes standard with three interchangeable grips, a steel dovetail mount front sight and a steel Novak Lo-Mount carry rear sight. Tritium sights are also available. A universal Picatinny-style equipment rail has been incorporated for tactical lights and lasers. Our polymer pistol had an empty weight of 25.1 ounces.

The new frame-mounted ambidextrous thumb safety acts as a passive safety device, allowing the slide to be pulled toward the rear, clearing the firearm without disengaging the safety. Another feature is the lanyard attachment. All M&P45 pistols feature a Zytel polymer frame reinforced with a stainless-steel chassis and a hardened black Melonite-finished stainless-steel barrel and slide and a Dark Earth Brown grip. This is a silly name for a color—Sand would have been fine—but we overlooked it.

A passive trigger safety prevents the pistol from firing if dropped, and a sear-release lever eliminates the need to press the trigger in order to disassemble the firearm. A loaded chamber indicator is located on top of the slide. The firearm also features an ambidextrous slide stop and a reversible magazine release, as well as an enlarged trigger guard designed to accommodate gloves. The Smith & Wesson lifetime service policy is standard with each pistol.

The barrel measured 4.6 inches in length, with a sight radius of 6.8 inches and an overall height of 5.5 inches. The frontstrap and backstrap heights were 2.5 inches and 3.8 inches, respectively. Across the ambi safety paddles, the gun’s maximum width taped out to be 1.6 inches, with the grip measuring 1.4 inches thick and 5.9 inches in circumference. Our test sample weighed 25.1 ounces with an unloaded magazine. The trigger pull weight single action was 8.0 pounds, and the trigger span of the gun cocked in single-action mode was 2.7 inches. Trigger travel rest to fire was 0.3 inches, and the trigger reset distance was 0.140 inch.

We liked a lot of things on the M&P45. Of course, to start it was slightly cheaper than the Glock and $600 cheaper than the H&K. It had impressive fit, finish, and cosmetics. For instance, we could see only the faintest line at the bottom of the grip where the pieces could be switched. The brown frame color offsets the black slide nicely, though the black pins in the brown frame didn’t look good to our eyes.

We liked a lot of things on the M&P45. Of course, to start it was slightly cheaper than the Glock and $600 cheaper than the H&K. It had impressive fit, finish, and cosmetics. The gun is ambidextrous. Where the M&P gained an edge was in its 1911-style ambi safety paddles. The gun can be made safe loading, unloading, or working the slide.

The gun is ambidextrous. Lefties had no trouble working the slide release or the safety, and the magazine release is reversible. The magazine release was a push-button design that could be changed to operate from the right side if desired—a boon for lefties, but the Glock and H&K guns had full-time ambi buttons, the H&K behind the trigger guard and the Glock in roughly the same place, but back into the frame, for good or ill.

Where the M&P gained an edge was in its 1911-style ambi safety paddles. Our test team loved that feature. 1911 shooters will welcome these levers, for they broaden the shooter’s choice of which condition to leave the gun in. Also, because the levers work all the time, the gun can be made safe loading, unloading, or working the slide. The Glock, of course, lacked this feature altogether, and the H&K had it on just the left-hand side. However, the H&K’s lever could be reversed.

One of the most important aspects of any pistol is the way it feels in the shooter’s hands, and the M&P feels good. We found the M&P’s grip angle to be to our liking. One of our testers called the M&P “a natural pointer” the first time he handled it, commenting that the grip angle reminded him of the 1911. The hand slips under the M&P’s beavertail better, and the thinner grip allowed the shooter’s hand to close around it better than the blockier Glock, we thought. Additionally, the optional backstraps allow shooters with different hand sizes to customize the grip for best fit. Unlike on the M&P40 we recently tested, we were able to extract the 45’s grip tool from its storage space and change grips. The Glock and H&K lacked this feature.

In more detail, the trigger face was hinged, and when the bottom of the trigger was pulled, it deactivated the striker block safety. The initial take-up disengaged the safety, then there was some creep and additional weight, then a bit of travel before a clean break at 8 pounds. Once pulled, a trigger stop hit a ridge on the inside of the trigger guard, which shortened the reset distance.

The M&P45 comes standard with a steel Novak Lo-Mount carry rear sight. Tritium sights are also available. The new frame-mounted ambidextrous thumb safety (arrow) acts as a passive safety device, allowing the slide to be pulled toward the rear, clearing the firearm without disengaging the safety. The firearm also features an ambidextrous slide stop and a reversible magazine release.

Elsewhere, the Novak sights were clear and easy to see; the frame included an accessory rail, and the wavy slide serrations provide a great grasping surface for working the slide without discomfort. The double-stack, 10-round magazine doesn’t cause the grip to be bulky. Also, with a 10-round count, it’s easy to calculate and count the total rounds you’re carrying and what you have shot, and what you have left. Under stress, it’s amazing how difficult it is to multiply times 7, 8, or 13.

From the bench, the M&P45 printed its best five-shot groups with Aguila’s 117-grain hollowpoints (1.4 inches), followed by the Sellier & Bellot 230-grain FMJs (1.5 inches) and Hornady’s 230-grain JHP/XTPs (1.8 inches). That was better than the Glock and H&K using the high-speed Aguila ammo and the S&B ball round, but behind the H&K with Hornady load.

Elsewhere, the M&P’s external extractor helped the gun function without flaw. The rear Novak low mount sight with two white dots was adjustable for windage only. The barrel hood offered a hole at the rear that extended into the breech face for visual inspection of the chamber. The ejection port in the slide was large. The well-built blued magazines were numbered 3 to 10 on the back side of the magazine, with the only weird thing being that the 9 hole was lower than the 10-hole.

But the gun’s not perfect. We found very sharp points on the front of the frame under the guide rod. This is a ticky-tacky point, because the other guns had the same problem, and that part of the frame isn’t exposed. And the M&P45 was the most difficult of the test guns to field-strip.

Also, we had trouble loading the ninth and tenth rounds into one magazine, and we couldn’t load the tenth round into the second magazine. We also noticed that when releasing the slide, it’s possible to engage the safety inadvertently. If you train with it, snapping the safety back down after a reload won’t be a problem, but if you’re not aware of it and you’ve shot a full magazine, reloaded, and snapped the slide home expecting the gun to go bang when you pull the trigger, then the safety lever being up could be a problem.

Comments (8)

Yes I am. Sorry for my mistake.
Walter

Posted by: Aktarus | December 15, 2009 5:58 AM    Report this comment

My hand is small and the GLOCK 21 SF for me is too big. The H & K 45 in Italy is not yet approved for sale and if it would cost almost double the other two. IMHO the M & P, the sure-handed is just a nuisance "operational". because the system Shutter striker launched the M & P is already a very good guarantee for the security. Finally, excluding the shot S & W M & P that is too hard and rough, and the lack of availability of aftermaker for the rest, I see no other defects. is a weapon to buy ;-)

Posted by: Aktarus | December 15, 2009 5:31 AM    Report this comment

My hand is small and the GLOCK 21 SF for me is too big. The H & K 45 in Italy is not yet approved for sale and if it would cost almost double the other two. IMHO the M & P, the sure-handed is just a nuisance "operational". because the system Shutter striker launched the M & P is already a very good guarantee for the security. Finally, excluding the shot S & W M & P that is too hard and rough, and the lack of availability of aftermaker for the rest, I see no other defects. is a weapon to buy ;-)

Posted by: Aktarus | December 15, 2009 5:30 AM    Report this comment

Hi guys I just recently bought my M&P.45 so good to hear about your thoughts on holsters and mags I was looking at the 14 round but didn't know how much it would stick out past the grip ? and can't find any pictures online ? So far I really like the way my M&P .45 handles and feels in my hand very comfortable grip helps where change to fit your hand and my pistol has the Tritium night sights and no thumb safety.

Posted by: Boxerdogk9 | March 12, 2009 6:46 PM    Report this comment

I love the balance and feel with a loaded magazine. It seems to point and come up naturally to sight picture from the draw. The only gun I've ever had that pointed so naturally was a Randal Raider which I should never have let go. Oh well. This is a nice substitute and it helps that it doesn't need a bailout to finance.

Posted by: oneinchgroup | November 26, 2008 7:08 PM    Report this comment

I carry my M&P45 daily in a CrossBreed Super Tuck IWB holster. Excellent combination.

Posted by: NORMAN N | August 14, 2008 7:37 PM    Report this comment

I am an entrenched Glock fan. I am not fond of the quality of their sights, however, and I certainly am not alone. Americans really like Novak-style Lo-mount sights, and S&W recognizes this fact.

It seems to me that as S&W, SA, and other manufacturers bring some very competitive quality pistols to the market, Glock is going to have to bend a bit to market forces and do better on their factory sights or else lose market share.

Posted by: JonSE | August 14, 2008 7:31 PM    Report this comment

A good solution for the 9th and 10th round is an upLULA. I never leave home without one.

The M&P 45fs is my EDC. Since I carry in a SmartCarry holster, I am able to conveniently carry the 14-round magazine as my spare magazine

Posted by: HowardCohodas | August 14, 2008 5:32 PM    Report this comment

Add your comments ...

New to Gun Tests? Register for Free!

Already Registered? Log In