October 2014

S&W and H&K 9mm Compact Concealment Pistols Square Off

Earlier iterations of the Military & Police model have been plagued with malfunctions in our tests, but here, the M&P9c shines. The H&K does well too, but at a much higher price.

S&W and H&K 9mm Compact Concealment Pistols Square Off

Each pistol was fired with a variety of ammunition. Neither experienced any type of malfunction. It wasn’t a toss up, the S&W had a clear advantage, we thought. The pistols are similar in size and shape, with important differences in the operation.

For more than one hundred years folks have been trying to make a service pistol fit on the hip under a covering garment. The Colt Sheriff’s Model was one of the first such downsized handguns, and today practically every service pistol has a compact version. Many shooters with LE histories prefer this because they feel that a downsized service pistol still has a service-grade action and its operating principles are maintained in the more-compact form; that is, a shorter barrel and slide.

Nowadays, compacts and subcompacts for concealed carry save weight over old-generation handguns because new guns from full-size to subcompact use the same material — polymer — regardless of size. To save weight, older downsized frames had to change materials — aluminum rather than steel. Moreover, the subcompact handgun goes one further and also shortens the grip frame, so at least two dimensions shrink substantially. This is great for comfort and concealment.

The drawbacks for downsized handguns are their reliability and power, which reveals why so many popular compacts and subcompacts are chambered in the 9x19mm round. For many shooters, the 9mm is a realistic minimum for personal-defense use, and it’s very handy because a shooter can buy just the one caliber and have it run in full-size handguns, subcompact handguns, and carbines by pretty much anyone in the household. The 380 ACP below the 9mm is too little power for many shooters, and the 40 S&W and 45 ACP above it can prove to be a handful for smaller shooters in small guns. With proper load selection and marksmanship, the 9mm represents a reasonable level of power for a practiced shooter.

Toward that end, we selected two popular concealable handguns chambered in 9mm for this test: The Smith & Wesson Military & Police M&P9c #209004 and the H&K P2000SK #709302-A5, the first time we’ve tested any gun in that line. In the April 2007 issue, we shot and didn’t like the M&P9c #209004. Unfortunately, that M&P Compact suffered repeated malfunctions wherein the slide would lock back with one round remaining in the magazine. Failure rate was nearly 70 percent.

In the February 2009 issue, we tried the Smith & Wesson M&P Compact 9mm No. 209304. That gun shot way high and right and not very accurately at 15 yards -— groups were around 4 inches.

However, hope springs eternal at the Gun Tests offices, so we cheerily prepped another M&P Compact 9mm and took it to the range.

To evaluate the handguns, they were fired from a solid benchrest-firing position, as we test all handguns. However, in this case the pistols were fired for groups at 15 yards rather than the 25 yards assigned for service pistols. The short sight radius and double-action trigger simply doesn’t lend itself well to pinpoint accuracy.

A portion of the test that is more important to personal defense shooters is the combat firing test. This test began with man-sized silhouette targets placed at 5, 7, and 10 yards. Each pistol was drawn from concealed carry.

The Smith & Wesson was carried in a Discreet Defense Solutions inside-the-waistband holster (DiscreetDefenseSolutions.com). This holster has a good fit and comfort, and something we really needed in 98-degree heat — a sweat guard. From Mernickle Holsters

(MernickleHolsters.com) came an all-leather IWB with a strong spring-steel belt clip and a generous sweat guard. This holster was actually ordered for a Baby Eagle pistol, but it fit the H&K 2000 just fine. The pistols were belted on under a lighter covering garment, most often a sport shirt, during testing. During the combat-shooting stage, we used primarily HPR’s 115-grain full metal jackets, a few 115-grain jacketed hollowpoint loads from the same maker, and Federal American Eagle 115-grain FMJs. We also were able to fire a magazine with the Winchester 127-grain SXT +P+ loads. Like many of you, we have mixed boxes left over from previous projects and this was the time to use it. The results were interesting.

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