Okay, I finally got around to trying out a Smith and Wesson M&P at Targetmaster. I brought along my Glock 17 for a side-by-side comparison.
The M&P was a 9mm with the 4” barrel, I’m not sure if the 5” model is available yet. I polished up the trigger bar of my G17, plastic guide rod replaced with stainless steel, and I put on a set of Heinie Straight Eight sights with the race cut from Custom Glock Racing.
I’ll start with what I though stood out the most, that being the trigger. I think, maybe, the M&P had a trigger that was a little lighter than the polished, but stock, trigger in my G17. Don’t get too excited yet though, I found the M&P trigger to be really vague. The M&P trigger pull is a little like a double action revolver trigger pull, but lighter. By comparison, the Glock triggers have two distinct stages; there’s the slack, and then the trigger bar hits the connector, and the pull weight increases noticeably. The second stage of a Glock trigger, even with the 3.5 pound connector is quite short. I couldn’t really make out any stages with the M&P, it was just one long mushy stage. To make things worse, the trigger reset on the M&P was very indistinct, which will wreak havoc with anyone used to “riding the reset.”
While messing with the trigger, I came to the realization that I shouldn’t buy any pistols with magazine disconnects, if only because you need to have a magazine inserted to dry-fire, which makes me nervous. It’s not so bad with a Glock and the yellow plastic dry-fire barrel from Blade-Tech, but without a plastic barrel, I’d be constantly checking the magazine and chamber.
I had a hard time shooting groups with the M&P, although, to be fair, I’m intimately firmiliar with the Glock trigger, and the M&P was a rental gun that has been rode hard and put away wet, and might have been really dirty when I started the test.
I have heard from some that the grip of the M&P feels far better than that of the Glocks. This was not my experience. Although I think that Glock would sell more pistols if they started making frame with interchangeable backstraps, the G17 fits me about perfectly. I did not feel that the M&P grip was better, it’s just different. The big beavertail at the back of the gripframe, by the way, seems to be mostly superfluous. I’ve seen a couple pictures of M&Ps with the beavertail trimmed, and that’s what I’d do too.
I have also heard that the M&P transmits less felt recoil than Glocks. Again, I have to disagree. I loaded up both pistols to full capacity, and fired 5 shot strings, switching back and forth until both pistols were empty. I couldn’t really detect any difference in felt recoil or muzzle flip between the two.
Looks a little less menacing than the ugly black Glocks. . . unless you’re looking down the end that the bullets come out.
It will probably fit more shooters due to interchangeable backstraps.
Less aftermarket parts, trigger kits, etc., which means there’s less chance of junk making your defense pistol not work properly.
The stock sight set has a better sight picture than Glock plastic sights, and the front sight is probably not gonna get knocked off as easy as the plastic Glock front sight. I’d probably be happy with a tritium front sight and the dots on the rear sight blacked out.
Stock recoil spring guide is metal, not plastic. Although it’s rare, the Glock plastic guide rods can break.
If your experimentation with grip stippling goes bad, you can just chuck the grip insert and order another.
Ambi controls are a good thing, usually.
The vague trigger pull.
The indistinct and slightly longer trigger reset.
Less aftermarket parts, trigger kits, etc.
The grip may be a little too slippery when shooting hot 40 caliber loads, although the same is true of the Glock frame.
The magazines aren’t real cheap.
Well, that’s my story. Comparing a rental gun to my sort-of-racy and clean pistol may not be totally fair, but it’s the best I can do. Ultimately, there’s no way I’m gonna buy one until I can try one that’s had a trigger job, and even then, I’d have to be getting a deal. I’d probably be more likely to buy a Springfield XD.
EDIT: I ended up buying a M&P 9 Pro. The trigger was a lot better, although still not quite up there with a Glock that's had a trigger job.