By Mike Searson
USA – -(Ammoland.com)- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, Examiner.com and the US Concealed Carry Association as well as AmmoLand Shooting Sports News.