Sunday, September 9, 2007

Smith & Wesson M&P Review

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.

M&P Pros:
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.


Anonymous said...

Hey, I liked your review. I do think you are a little Glock Bias, but rightfully so. I own an M&P 9mm and as I read your comments about the trigger, I think your analysis of it being worn out may be right. My M&P has the same stages as you described with your Glock right out of the box.

zebulonsmith said...

Either there is something different between an M&P in 9mm and .40, or you got a lemon. My .40 has a trigger that feels almost like an SA pull once the safety disengages.

Anonymous said...

My experiences have been somewhat different than yours. I purchased a Smith and Wesson M&P .45 ACP. Though the caliber is different than the model that you tested, they are essentially the same type handgun. When I purchased my pistol, one of the first things that I did was to polish metal contact components of the trigger mechanism. This afforded a much more clean and smooth trigger pull than what first came from the factory. The original factory trigger pull tended to be grainy in the initial first stage. Once the graininess had been slicked-up with my dreamel polishing tool, I then noticed easier two distinct stages.

The initial take-up being somewhat lenghthy, was followed by a VERY heavy 6.5 lbs. let off on the second stage. My shooting was still very accurate, keeping my shots in the k-zone at 25 yards off-hand. Out of personal preference however, I would have prefered a trigger pull at around 4.0 lbs. to 4.5 lbs.

If you really take time to study the feel of the M&P and get to know the piece, there is a distinct reset as well, though less noticable than the Glocks. One can get used to this reset from practice.

The ergonomics of the Smith and Wesson pisols, such as the M&Ps and the 3rd Generation models are outstanding. I realize that each person's hands are different, and that each person's feel preferences again vary. If one tends to like a thicker, more square feel of the Glocks, then there is a model for you. The Glock models 21sf in .45 ACP and the other models in .40 S&W are decent for me. However, since I have short fingers, I like the slim and rounded ergonomic profile of the Smith and Wesson pistols, to which I feel is more comfortable.

Another issue that I found very interesting is that the railings on the Smith and Wesson pistols are a tad bit longer than that on the Glocks, the feel of the slide to frame fit is a bit more snug on the Smith and Wesson M&P than on the Glocks, and the frame chasis block appears to be more substantial than what is on the Glocks. The DEA does a frisbie type throw test on all pistols that they consider to use for their agents. On the initial tests, Glock pistols experienced frame to slide seperations, with accidental STRIKER DISCHARGES directly resulting from the seperations. This was one of the main reasons that prompted Glock to make a six-part product "upgrade," and also to lengthen the frame rails so as to prevent further frame to slide seperations. Subsequent tests proved that Glocks passed the DEAs tests with flying colors. Therefore, if Smith and Wesson appears to be beefed up in those areas even more, that gives me even more warm fuzzies. I also happen to like the workmanship of the Smith and Wesson pistols.

As far as controlability, I was shooting .45 ACP Hornady 200 grain +Ps (factory velocity 950fps from 5 inch barrel), and the pistol was quite controlable. Though the bark was a bit louder, the jump wasn't nearly as stiff as one might have expected. In contrast, I used to own a Glock 22, 19 and model 20. On the model 22 for example, I fired the .40 S&W 165 grain Golden Saber rounds though my Glock pistol. The factory velocity on those rounds were 1,150 fps. from a 4 inch barrel. The model 22 has a polygonal 4.5 inch barrel. Therefore, I estimated the velocity to be near the 1,200 fps. mark. The recoil energy on the .45 ACP should be greater than that of the .40 S&W of the two loads mentioned. However, I noticed a greater sharp felt recoil impulse from the .40 S&W then I did with the .45 ACP. With the .40 S&W, I was shooting the Glock 22, and with the .45 ACP I was shooting the Smith and Wesson M&P 45. Go figure.

As far as the trigger pull goes, as soon as I get a chance, I'm sending my pistol to Burwell to have a trigger job done to lighten the trigger stroke a tad. I might also have it bob-tailed (I agree it looks better)!!! :)

Both the Glocks and the M&Ps are great guns. I've owned both and I like both. In the end, go with what works with you and be happy. :)

Suburban said...

Good post.

.40S&W rounds generate higher pressures than .45ACP rounds. Subsequently, the .40s often seem to generate more recoil than .45s.

Anonymous said...

I love how people who own different caliber pistols think that their .40 or .45 gives them a solid argument when we are talking about a 9mm. Good review. Having owned both I agree with the original review. The S&W stock trigger sucks. Send it to Bowie Tactical for a trigger job and then you will be good to go.

Zaakir Abdullah said...

I prefer the M&P, check my review on my blog.

Anonymous said...

Hello -

I rented the G17 from targetmaster and liked it a lot, however, I read great reviews about the late-gen M&P's.

I went with the M&P. I found that the trigger changed over time. I'd put about 2.5K rounds through it and about 1K dryfires. It did feel "gritty" @ first, but I got used to it. I worked on trigger control and it seems smoother, but I am also so much better on the trigger.

I dunno if the rented gun's trigger accurately represents the M&P. However, it should be that different unless there was a problem, right?

I stand by the M&P in 2008. Solid. No probs, here. Great value. Great gun.

Anonymous said...

Dennis, Irvign, TX

I own goth the M&P 9mm and 40 cal. Both ae edxcellenyt guns. Great ergonomics, accurate both feed and eject flawlessly. They feel good in my hand, I prefer the largest back strap. Quality gun at a medium price. I also have the M&P 40c compact which I love also. Smith & wesson did their homework on this gun and have come up whth a winner in my book.

Anonymous said...

Contrary to your evaluation my M&P45 trigger breaks well and immediately like single action once you reach the end of the slack; unlike my G you can really feel the double action work from slack to rearward pull of striker until it breaks or is released by the sear. It has to do with the way the sear is designed. M&P pivots on a pin in the sear block assy while the Glock's sear is intergrated with the trigger bar. In terms of simplicity of design, I vote for the Glock.


Anonymous said...

I got issued my new M&P yesterday. Brand new, out of the box, I HATE IT. I agree with your observations of the trigger pull. Super creepy, long and indistinct reset, and just plain horrid. We just switched from the H&K USP, and I have a Springfield Armory XDM, I've fired a lot of Glocks, Sigs, 1911's, etc., and I would take ANY of them over the M&P. I will say that it seems to offer slightly quicker target acquisition. I'm not sure if it is because of the wider gap in the rear sight, but I did like that. That being said, I wasn't able to obtain a good grouping because I just couldn't get used to the trigger. I would say that if you haven't ever owned a handgun before, or haven't become intimitely familiar with a higher quality pistol, the M&P would be just fine. It seems to be reliable, and it does get the rounds downrange. BUT, if you like consistancy and quality, DON'T GET ONE. Period. Just my opinion.

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