September 14, 2013

Smith & Wesson M&P #209001 9mm - Gun Tests Pistol of the Year

Our first impression of the $679 S&W M&P 9mm was that it felt extremely comfortable in the hand. It was well balanced, not too heavy—at least without a magazine full of 17 heavy-bullet loads—and was pleasantly devoid of extraneous controls and levers. We note S&W also sells a version with a thumb safety, along with a host of variants in 9mm, 40 S&W, and 45 ACP, and with longer or shorter barrels or grips, and in a variety of colors. One even has a pink grip insert.

Our test gun came in a large case with two different grip inserts to make the handle larger or smaller. We liked it as it was, so we left it alone. The sights were fixed, and excellent in all respects. There will be no cut hands here from stovepipe drills. The sights had white dots and again no tritium inserts. The rear could be drifted for windage (unnecessary for us) and was locked with an Allen screw. The front was dovetailed, but without the lock pin which we’d like it to have. A nice touch (there were many) was the wavy cut of the slide to form the serrations for slide retraction. The matte-black slide was stainless, and the polymer grip was hefty enough that the gun didn’t have a top-heavy feel even when empty. The frame had a light rail beneath the muzzle. The controls were very simple. The trigger action was the prime safety on the gun. Don’t touch the trigger and the gun can’t fire. Pressing on the trigger first unlocks it so it can travel rearward, and then it releases the striker to fire the gun. It won’t shoot with the magazine removed, at least on our version. After the last shot is fired the slide stop locks the slide back. The slide lock is ambidextrous, another nice touch rarely seen on pistols.

Gun Tests May 2009

Courtesy, Gun Tests

Complete with light rail under the muzzle, the $679 S&W M&P 9 was a modern design that captured our hearts. It was simplicity in operation, with nothing there you don't need. It had a decent trigger, clever design, perfect function, and interchangeable grip inserts that all added to the package. The gun had ambi slide releases, not often seen. We thought its accuracy was also pretty good.

There was a small hole at the junction of the chamber and slide on top that was supposed to serve as a loaded-chamber indicator. We could not see a loaded cartridge well enough to suit us, but it was easy to pull back the slide slightly to see the chambered round.

Forward of the small slide stop, on the left side, is the takedown lever. Field stripping was slightly tricky. After clearing the gun and locking the slide back, you first had to stick a tool into the open port and flip down a tiny, thin, and extremely fragile-looking part before you could remove the slide from the frame. However, that fragile-looking part has only the simple function of levering the sear down for taking the gun apart, and is thus adequate for its purpose. There was a tool provided in the heel of the gun for pushing down the lever, but we found it impossible to remove the tool with our fingers. We used a small screwdriver. Then, with the takedown lever turned 90 degrees down, off came the slide.

Inside we found some extremely clever use of multi-bent sheet metal, bent for strength and various dual purposes here and there. The slide spring was captive, so no tiny parts went flying as you took it out, another nice touch. We saw some items inside that were not as stout as we thought they should be. S&W recently published the results of a 50,000-round test of one version of this handgun, and noted that several small parts had to be replaced. We expect the failed parts will get beefed up as time shows the need.

Gun Tests March 2005

Courtesy, Gun Tests

The arrow points to a tiny lever, which has the sole function of moving the sear so the slide can be removed.

Another item we questioned was the spring-loaded magazine disconnection system, which relies on a spring to move the trigger arm into contact with the sear as the magazine is inserted. As it was, it was a passive device and we’d prefer a mechanical link to move the levers instead of hoping no dirt gets in the way and defeats the spring. But we’re being picky. Obviously the gun works, and works well. In fact, we felt we were looking at the future of all auto-pistol design and production as we looked inside this very clever Smith & Wesson handgun. It was mighty impressive design, to our eyes. Reassembly was straightforward.

The trigger was pleasant, not too heavy, and worked well in fast shooting. The pull was identical for all shots, but if a round had happened to misfire you would have to eject it, rather than drop the striker again, which was an option you did have with the CZ.

Our Team Said: On the range we found the M&P to be just as comfortable to shoot as it was in the hand. Felt recoil with the heaviest loads was insignificant. That’s what a comfortable grip can do for you, and the M&P had a great grip. There were exactly no problems with the gun.

Comments (10)

7200 rounds through my M&P9 and not a single hiccup. Runs perfect!. I did install some parts of the Apex Tactical trigger group.

Posted by: Jack Zeller | February 16, 2017 11:29 AM    Report this comment

My new M&P took a few file strokes and a diamond hone to make it wonderful. Burwell is right.

Posted by: EPWrangler | March 7, 2011 1:37 PM    Report this comment

Thank you very much. Although I already knew this site, thanks again for your kindness. A good make.
hello W

Posted by: Aktarus | March 25, 2010 12:12 PM    Report this comment


Sorry to hear a rough trigger is all that it takes to turn you of of the M&P.

I too was disappointed in the pull and grity" feel. Being adept at fine metal work, I was able to download some clear instructions on how to solve the problem and in about 45 minutes had the trigger "match" perfect for me.

Yes, the 1911 models will feel better than most out of the box handguns, but even these get their share of trigger work by anyone interested in maximum accuracy.

Actually, the closest comparison handgun to the M&P is the Springfield XP. Almost the same weapon except the sear release lever. I have performed trigger work on two of these for friends wanting their "look a like" to feel like my M&P.

Don't toss the baby with the bathwater. Give that trigger some attention and I'm sure you will re-evaluate your preference.

Posted by: dbrawner | March 25, 2010 9:14 AM    Report this comment

Decent gun with great ergonomics for just about anyone. Stainless slide in black for long term durability and great looks. As blogged on many gun web pages the biggest catch holding this gun back is the trigger. Out of the box it is dismal at best, we all know the key to accurate shooting is a smooth steady pull. That is what still makes the 1911 design so iconic the crisp accurate break of the trigger. I have spoken with S&W customer service and was told "sorry to hear about that issue many people really like the gun, it is very popular" "If you would like to send it in it is $104.00 for a trigger service plus $14.00 shipping" wow I said another $120 to make the gun shootable with no guarantee it would fix it. No thanks I'll buy another Glock. Not to slam this gun because I like the feel and fit in my hand. I am amazed that this trigger made it to production without smoothing the rough pull and grity feeling. I understand no gun is "perfect" but this is typical "good enough" American mentality of production. Just look at GM and other American car makers, but I digress. Thanks Obama for the great reason for buying more guns.

Posted by: tcr advanced | March 24, 2010 11:42 PM    Report this comment

There is no gun is perfect! Small defects of the rough and trigger the system disconnection magazine. The version with the thumb safety is not needed for this gun, because he has the shot "Safety Action" standard GLOCK. IMHO is a nice gun ... better than the Glock, but even better if in cal. 45 ACP ;-) ;-)


Posted by: Aktarus | December 18, 2009 6:10 AM    Report this comment

I hate it when you do reviews with no prices! I have a hipoint automatic & matching carbine, both cost under $200 NEW & shoot reliably, Why should a good automatic cost $1,000.00 or even $2,000.00?

Posted by: longarm45 | December 17, 2009 8:43 PM    Report this comment

Moving the sear lever down is optional, you can just pull the trigger instead....

Posted by: Desertfox00 | December 17, 2009 3:24 PM    Report this comment

First off, I own the M&P compact model with a 4" barrel in .45ACP and love it.

Mine came with the dual sided thumb safety which actually just blocks the trigger from being pulled rearward.

A WORD OF CAUTION: While your version may have prevented firing with the magazine removed, not all M&Ps are manufactured that way. Mine is clearly labeled on the slide under the ejection port and I confirmed that at the range.

As for disassembly, the sear lock lever for take downs can be easily manipulated by the trimmed nail of my little finger and I have large hands. A person with smaller hands could most likely catch the lever with any finger. I too found the "tool" of little use other than locking the grip of choice onto the frame.

Out of the box I found the trigger pull a bit rough and heavy. This was easily rectified by a little stone work on the sear, sear lever, and trigger bar to take off the rough edges of manufacturing. Not that I am recommending just anyone mess with their trigger mechanisms, but a competent gunsmith can do the job in a hour or so. It makes all the difference in the world on the range.

I own a Smith 1911 and a Colt New Ranger both also in .45 cal and the M&P is preferred by my wife for keeping handy around the house.

I have a personal bias towards the 1911 designs due to the external hammer and thus being able to clearly know the safety condition at any time even before handling the weapon. i.e. cocked and locked is a lot more visible than the position of a thumb safety on a hammerless model.

But that being said however, the M&P rides better than the larger 1911 (though not as well as the smaller Colt New Ranger) in concealed carry situations.

I've seen ankle holsters for the M&P but I can't imagine that much weight on my ankle every day.

All in all, I'd get another one or recommend the M&P any day for feel, accuracy, and reliability. What else would you expect from S&W...

Posted by: dbrawner | December 17, 2009 12:22 PM    Report this comment

I purchased the pro model last spring. Very comfortable to shoot.

Posted by: donnie_19 | December 17, 2009 8:25 AM    Report this comment

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