The Smith & Wesson M&P Pistol Review

By Mike Searson

Smith & Wesson M&P ~ Carbon Fiber Finish
Smith & Wesson M&P 9c – Carbon Fiber Finish
Mike Searson
Mike Searson

USA – -( The Smith & Wesson M&P (Military & Police) handgun is the company’s latest offering in the way of a semiautomatic pistol.

The series represents 20+ years of research and development beginning with their original Sigma line of striker-fired, polymer-framed handguns.

The name hearkens back to the company’s early 20th Century offering known as the M&P revolver and is making tremendous headway through numerous police agencies as well as with the American civilian shooting public.

The Good

Holding a Smith & Wesson M&P in the hand reveals its superb ergonomics. The M&P pistol uses a system of interchangeable back straps based on the earlier S&W 99 that Smith developed as a joint venture with European gun maker, Walther, based in large part on Smith & Wesson’s comprehensive and elaborate research on the human hand when it developed its earlier Sigma series.

As mentioned previous, the Smith & Wesson M&P is a striker fired pistol and is constructed of a polymer frame with an internal chassis, slide and barrel constructed from stainless steel with a black Melonite coating. This makes for a pistol that is virtually impervious to the elements or perspiration when carried close to the body.

An optional magazine safety is available on most models, as is a frame mounted thumb safety which prevents the trigger from moving rearward. This unique feature allows racking of the slide while the safety is engaged.

The frame incorporates a rail with four slots to allow the mounting of lights, lasers and other accessories.

The three dot sights are big and distinct and mounted via front and rear dovetails. Removal of the rear sight involves the loosening of a set screw.

The M&P is offered in 9mm, 40 S&W, 357 SIG and 45 ACP; enough calibers to please just about every shooter. A version is offered in 22 lr but this pistol only shares the name and outward look of the M&P series.

Smith & Wesson m&p
Smith &Wesson M&P 22 Compact Pistol

Internally this rim fire version, known as the M&P 22, is closer in operation to the Walther P22 pistol.

In 2013, Smith & Wesson released the CORE (Competition Optic Ready Equipment) series that allows the end-user to install a slide mountable reflex sight such as the Trijicon RMR or Burris Fast fire by removing a plate on the top end of the slide.

The entire series has been so successful that the M&P designation has cascaded to the compact single stack S&W M&P Shield series of pistols (which look outwardly the same as the compact but are substantially thinner for concealed carry) and the even smaller Bodyguard model chambered in 380 ACP. The Bodyguard 380 model, however, just has the external cocking serrations similar to the M&P series.

The Bad

As well made as the Smith & Wesson M&P is, the factory trigger is severely lacking as it breaks at close to 7 pounds. To compound that weakness, most M&P’s do not have a crisp break and feel somewhat mushy in this regard. This can be rectified by a replacement trigger or a trigger job conducted by a certified M&P armorer, but in this day and age a company such as Smith & Wesson should install a proper trigger without the need for an aftermarket solution. The company made it right on the M&P Shield, it would be nice to see it on the double stack lines of pistols as well.

The other bad news is that Smith & Wesson has discontinued support for their older lines of metal framed semiautomatic pistols. In many ways, those pistols were some of Smith’s finest offerings. It is a shame to see them fade into obscurity.

The Reality

On the range the Smith & Wesson M&P is an excellent shooter, once a proper trigger is installed. Installation may not require “gunsmith fitting”, but if you wear a glove size larger than “Medium” it can be tricky to get the trigger spring into its proper place.

In shooting thousands of rounds from the author’s M&P 9mm in all weather conditions and numerous ammunition types, we have never had a failure or stoppage of any sort. The M&P is easy to maintain and has proven its reliability over the course of the past year.

While there may be lamentations and the gnashing of teeth over the disappearance of Smith & Wesson’s classic line of Third Generation Semiautomatic pistols, the company seems to have a winner with this new design that takes its name from the glory days of S&W.

The Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm Handgun with Accessories
The Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm Handgun with Accessories

About Mike Searson

Mike Searson’s career as a shooter began as a Marine Rifleman at age 17. He has worked in the firearms industry his entire adult life as a Gunsmith, Ballistician, Consultant, Salesman, Author and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1989.

Mike has written over 2000 articles for a number of magazines, websites and newsletters including Blade, RECOIL, OFF-GRID, Tactical Officer, SWAT, Tactical World, Gun Digest, and the US Concealed Carry Association as well as AmmoLand Shooting Sports News.

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You need to be able to understand that all ammunition for the 9 mm from Brand to brand and grain to grain and design in whether it’s a hollow point or whatnot or Full Metal Jacket it’s going to shoot differently each particular brand or hand load you have to adjust your sights and get familiar with the brand that shoots the best I have been firing Smith & Wesson’s for almost 40 years from revolvers to their autos and they make some of the best well made and Accurate Firearms I have ever encountered and reliability it’s been excellent… Read more »


I’ve owned an M&P Pro 9 before but I’m more of a Glock guy when it comes to striker fired pistols. That being said, what better value exists for a rock solid combat pistol than a used PD trade-in M&P40?! Regularly as low as $280 or so with 2-3 mags with a relatively low round count. Yeah it may have a bit of wear and tear but then it looks like you actually shoot:) Win win!

Can’t think of a better truck gun, HD gun or 1st timer recommendation.

Chris allen

Does anyone know anything about the M&P Shield Performance Center. It’s supposed to be an upgraded M&P Shield with a better trigger among other upgrades from Factory.


I am considering this gun as well. Any insight would be appreciated.


I bought a 40 cal. And it a GOOD 12″ low. And 8″ to the left. And it dose not have a SAFTY are you kidding the sailmen at OUTDOOR WORLD. was not VERRY informative about the gun knowing I was a first time hand gun buyer NOT HAPPY now the store will not tack this pice of shit back but S&W SEAD THAY WILL TRAY OR FIX IT BUT WILL NOT and can not put a SAFTY on it but will not replace it with one that dose. I wanted a American gun I have been I own business… Read more »

George Lee

I have a M&P9 that I have been happy with and have been lucky enough to have a good or better than most trigger in mine. Mine was manufactured in April of 2017, is yours a newer model? You can look up the serial number and another way to tell of the newer manufactured models prior to the 2.0 models is the inclusion of a UID label/mark at the end of the serial number. I am surprised to hear the way you have been treated by S&W but not surprised by the way Outdoor World treated you. If I were… Read more »


Wayne, I bought an older M&P 45 full size used after owning about 15 other pistols. I modified quite a few Glocks, but long story short I love my 7lb-trigger M&P. I find the trigger that everyone hates to be one of my favorite feeling on the range. It feels smooth to me and the gun is stock. Out of all of my pistols, I find this to be certainly one of the most accurate, one of my favorite to look at with front/rear snake serrations, and out-of-the-box best pistols I own. Ergonomics must be as advertised, it seems to… Read more »

jamie fordham

I own an 9mm m&p bought it for starting out in 3 gun shooting trigger was as most people say on here “pretty bad” so replaced it my self which was easy with a timney trigger now it pulls at 3lb which is great ive had no problems with it and I think its awesome

Paul Seibert

The M & P is a good shooter. But, when I cleaned the gun I could not get the barrel clean due to manufacturing scratches. I looked at my son’s same model and the barrel has a number of small lines running perpendicular too the barrel. Both barrels appear poorly manufactured. I contact S & W and they told me to send the guns in (only owned for four days), they would take a look and get back to me in four weeks or so. Realy!?! I am concerned that if these issues pasted inspection, what else was missed or… Read more »

Barry Schlenz

I just posted a review and it sead it good and it should say. it shoots 12″Iowa and 8″ to the left

Edwin Hernandez

There’s always something within a gun review that gets your attention. The list includes: appearance, weight, capacity, accuracy, reliability, craftsmanship, etc. Of all the characteristics, with this gun, in particular, it invariably leads to concerns about the trigger; mushy, gritty, pull, break, etc. The argument is similar to critique on the SD9VE trigger. Doubtless, there are others to be added to the list. I agree that the MP9C, for some, may need a trigger tweak. After all, the demand does keep the post market business flourishing. Even for those careful enough to read the reviews or those fortunate enough to… Read more »


I just purchased the 9mm M&P and find the trigger pull fine. I need it for home protection and not how nice the trigger pull is. I want to to shoot when I pull the trigger and it does. When the adrenaline is flowing smoothness of trigger pull is the least of my worries. I just want it to work.


Well said Dennis that’s the bottom line you are correct man

Ronnie Gallion

I’ve owned an M&P 40 full sized for years. I purchased about 9 years ago. Paid about $500 for it new at a gun show. I have never had a misfire and the trigger pull is predictable and consistent right out of the box. Of course, I’m not a gun expert by any means but I have owned several hand guns over the years and I know a little bit about comfort and value.

Bob Vallier

Well, I’m about a year and a half late in read the review of the M&P C.O.R.E. Read the article in A. R’man, had to have one. What a BIG mistake, long take up (3/4 inch), gritty break, long reset, thought something was wrong, sent to S&W for repairs. A couple of days after they received got a call and they told me everthing was in spec’s. “Oh, by the way APEX has a fix for the long pull and gritty sear,” So much for service and warranty. Well S&W doesn’t care they sold the crap gun, CEO doesn’t care,… Read more »

John Barnhart

I have the m&p 9 and 9c with Carbon Fiber finish, and the Bodyguard. I’ve put only a few hundred rounds thru each of the 9 and 9c, and only 100 rounds thru the Bodyguard. Perhaps my taste is less discriminating, however, I find each of the three triggers comfortable and predictable. I realize my relationships with these guns have only recently begun, but I find them to be reliable and enjoyable. For you few naysayers, I suggest if you insist on taking a Prom Queen to the dance, spend thousands of dollars on a pre 1990 Les Baer. For… Read more »


I’d rather have one decent gun for $1200 than two tackle box guns for $600 each. There seems to be a plethora of people out there that would trade quality for quantity. I’m not one of those people. There is a lot of very good guns available in the $1100-$1200 price range that you don’t have to stoop that low. You can have your M&Ps. I’ll save up a little longer.


I have the 40c and a 9mm conversion barrel which is more fun to shoot. For a smaller pistol its very accurate and handles recoil well. I have to cover the target with the front sight to hit center versus placing the target on top of the front sight. Fits my larger hands very well with a medium back strap. Trigger was not good so I swapped it out with an Apex kit. Works better but still has a longer take up and heavier break than I prefer. Doesn’t affect my accuracy much when I practice. Came with night sights… Read more »


I have found that the rough edges on the trigger mechanism just need to be sanded and smoothed out just to get rid of the rough edges. As well as the slide release too needs to be smoothed out. After this is done it smooths things out so trigger isnt so gritty. The are videos on you tube about this.
Did this on m&p and it works fine.


Do u have a link for the videos?


I bought a used 45 and never noticed the “gritty, or mushy” trigger. I wonder if mine had this done, it feels pretty smooth and although still “heavy” at 7lbs, it seems totally predictable and is one of my top 3 pistols in terms of accuracy. Always been amazing out-of-box to me, and why I like to buy quality guns out-of-box, rather than mod them to death like my Glocks. Of course my G21 is also in the top 3, another full-sized 45. Go figure, and 3.5lb trigger by comparison. Shoots similar to the M&P for me, so dollar-fo-dollar or… Read more »


Smith and wesson customer service
Well it ” Sucks”

Its like a bunch of rude ladies which
Don’t know anything about handguns


Couldn’t agree more!


I own a 40 full size my trigger is perfect bought brand new I recommend the pistola..!!!

John Dohm

In my opinion it’s a great pistol! Bought mine used . The trigger isn’t too bad. I shoot good groups with it. To each there own
With the mp9.

Jeff Foss

very insightful article, which is par for the course and what I have grown to expect from Mr. Searson. I will not be amongst the buyers of this “flavor of the month club” pistola. My safe is filled with sigs, rugers, colts, berettas, etc. i must vonfront my buying habits with ghe question: “how much is too much?” And I am at that point. There is an old saw in the gun world that says beware of the man who owns one gun more than the man that owns many. The single gun owner knows how to use his better… Read more »

Mark Hanson

I purchased the M&P9 and am so disgusted with the trigger I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. I purchased the apex trigger mod for $160 and the “upgrade” was just as bad as the factory. Even with the apex mod the trigger pull never improved to less then 5.5lbs and the trigger would hang if my finger was not in a perfect position. It felt gritty and I could feel a “click” just before the trigger engaged the sear. I had the apex mod removed and the gunsmith polished the sear and reinstalled the original trigger. This gun is more… Read more »

Gary Foster

I have abandoned any idea of buying an M&P due to the trigger. Why buy a gun you have to immediately fix? My next gun will be a Sig/Walther/FN/HK. Maybe Ruger


The trigger on my M&P45 was so bad I almost decided to replace the gun. It would be hard to design a worse trigger. I was afraid I’d made an expensive mistake. I bought an action kit from Apex before selling the gun and it completely changed things. It was now good enough to keep and (later) expand upon. When I bought an M&P9c and installed an Apex kit before even trying the new pistol. I’ll never know if it would have been okay factory stock.


I have two a 40 and a 9c both triggers break at 4.5 and 4lb respectively. I find them both very predictable and two other owned by family members are very close to mine, all w factory triggers. I guess you got a bad one.


I haev a bad 40 cal compact it dose not have a SAFTY and can not have a SAFTY put on sead S&W I FEEL I WAS RIPED OFF AT OUTDOOR WORLD IN SAN ANTONIO. And it shoots. 12″ LOW & 8″ TO THE LEFT I CALLED THE COMPANY two weeks a of and have not received a FED X wet NOT HAPPY