Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Smith & Wesson M&P Semi-auto pistols

I shoot and review guns. But the reality is, there are some reviewers out there that have more gun knowledge in their little finger than I have in my whole body. Ronnie Dodd is one of those people. He is the “real deal” and has taught me a lot about fire arms. I’m thrilled to have a firearm review from him on my site. And if you like what you read, visit to learn more.

Ronnie: "I don’t like writing reviews because I know there is so much BS out there and I know some of the folks writing the BS. But, I have been asked by Kennard to do a review on the Smith and Wesson M&P series of pistols so, here goes.
First off I am old enough that I owned and carried one of the original line of M&P – Military and Police – revolvers back when the dinosaurs roamed the earth and the caveman police officer carried a revolver. Smith is doing a great homage to that day of yesteryear with the new line of weapons –both pistol and AR based rifles.
Prior to the M&P my favorite weapon was the single stack 1911 design pistol. Not being able to carry that my second choice was the Sig P220. When I took over as Chief of Police for the City of Red Bank the Sig is what we purchased for duty guns.
Since I started shooting the M&P, first the 9MM, then the 45ACP -well, my 1911s’ and Sigs get shot about once a year now and they are delegated to the gun vault! These pistols shoot great. I have shot every one of the weapons and have fallen in love with each one. The M&P initial offering was in 40 since it is such a popular round with Law Enforcement (LE). After tooling up for those, then they offered the 9mm. Unlike Glock which started out as a 9mm and then upped to a 40 without doing a lot of modification to account for the higher pressure 40 cal round. This led to a sometimes hard to control weapon, while the M&P is like shooting a 9mm+ round, VERY easy to control and not near as sharp felt recoil as the Glock.
The weapon are chambered for 9MM, 40, and 45ACP (my favorite of course).
Lets’ start with the negatives on the M&P.
The standard model comes with the three-dot Novak sights. I immediately black out the rear two dots where the sight picture is not “too busy”. If it going to be a gun I carry as soon as possible I replace the sights with a Scott Warren rear, Tactical site, and a High Viz front sight. Now this is just me! The Novaks’ are great sights and excellent shooting can be accomplished with them but at 57yoa my eyes just work better with the Warren and High Viz combo.
Magazines, not clips, are constructed like a true work horse vehicle. All metal body and good followers and springs. The down side is they are pricey. Last I checked they were around $35 a pop. And if you don’t take care of them they will rust. After every training session wipe them down good. I have had all mine coated because I am lazy and don’t keep my practice magazines as clean as I should.
In the Pro Series there have been some failure to extract which has been traced back to some of the finish on the barrels that has gotten into the chamber making the tolerances’ tighter that the standard. This is easy fix should you end up with one of those pistols. Smith has since corrected the issue
Ok, that is it for bad in my opinion, now to the good.
Price very comparable with other guns of this type, holsters easy to find, with mag poches.
One of the first things you will notice when you open the box is there are two extra back straps, a small, and a large – guns comes with a medium on it. What does this mean! If you have a big meaty grip like me you install the large back strap, if like my daughter’s 9mmC then you put on the small. This allows you to tailor the gun to your hand. This will allow you the best grip alignment and trigger pull which should be in a straight back manner.
The guns do NOT have to have the trigger pulled prior to taking the gun down for cleaning. Pulling the trigger unless I am on a target has always made me nervous. Mr. Murphy has a way of doing strange things with guns! Bullets can magically appear in a chamber when it is supposedly empty.
The guns have great “point ability”. Imagine taking your hand and on demand point at something with your finger. The ergonomics of this pistol is such that it is an extension of your hand. Also it has a less perceived recoil because of the ergonomics, especially with the 40 and 45ACP.
The gun has a polymer frame which makes a lighter weight so that in transitions from target to target it is really fast and solid. The slide is a blackened stainless steel and very durable.
Another great plus it the pistol has ambidextrous controls. Slide stops on both sides, magazine release can be reversed in about 2 minutes using the small takedown tool that holds the backstrap in place.
Overall this, in my opinion, is the best SAP that Smith has ever made. I predict that if the durability of this gun holds up it will be the weapon of choice for LE in the future. On the gun that I use when teaching I did a un-official torture test and decided to shoot the gun until I started having problems. The only thing I would do to the gun after shooting it was to wipe it down and a little lube. I was somewhere in the 5K round count when I started having some failure to extracts. I performed a good cleaning on it and we are back and running again. Not something I recommend doing to your gun, but like the guy in the original “Dirty Harry” said, I just “had to know “how good it is. Talon Tactical holster- - Mike Benedict told me several months ago that he was making M&P holsters 3 to 1 over any other holster.
If you are thinking about getting into IDPA or USPSA shooting I recommend the Pro series of the gun, 9mm. This is a gun that is put out by the Smith folks Performance Center. This is a 5 inch gun – overall length little over eight inches - with some tricks to it above the normal pistols. It comes with a green fiber optic for a front sight and a Novak-designed, reduced glare rear sight. The increased sight radius allows for a more precise sight alignment necessary in competitive shooting scenarios. The trigger pull is usually around 4-5lb range and very smooth and very little over travel. Need one gun for the competition game, this is it.
As of this writing I have just taken possession of one of the new 45ACP compacts’. I may have found my ultimate carry gun.
Good shooting and watch the front sight!"