The Smith and Wesson M&P M2.0

This new updated version is improved for even better shootability.

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The Smith and Wesson M&P name has a long and storied history that many of you may not be aware of. First applied around to the previously named .38 Hand Ejector double action revolver, the Smith and Wesson Model 1899 Military and Police really ushered in the era of the modern .38 Smith and Wesson Special medium frame revolver, who pattern has remained relatively unchanged until this day. The new name was much catchier than "Hand Ejector" and signified who the target consumer group was for this handgun. The original M&P revolver in 38 Special caliber became an instant hit with American (and Canadian) law enforcement due to its reasonable weight and the excellent characteristics of the .38 Special cartridge.

Colt was in direct competition with the M&P revolver with models like the Police Positive and the Official Police through the 1960's, until their revolvers became too expensive to compete against Smith and Wesson. This put Smith and Wesson in nearly totally domination of the law enforcement duty handgun market for 30 years. By the time I entered my second police academy class in 1984, 48 of 50 officers in my class used some iteration of the original .38 Special M&P revolver (whose name had been converted to model numbers by that time) while one used a Smith and Wesson Model 58 .41 Magnum, and the other a Beretta 92 semi-auto.

In 2005 Smith and Wesson resurrected the M&P name with the introduction of a new full sized polymer framed semi-automatic service pistol that could run head to head with Glock. By this time Glock owned around 72% of the law enforcement market and a large chunk of the civilian market as well. Smith and Wesson wanted their share back.

The M&P line was very successful, and 9mm and .357 Models (and eventually the .45 ACP) were added to the lineup. Civilians also found a lot to like in the M&P and purchased the full size models for concealed carry as they are relatively trim and light for a full size, high capacity handgun. The articulating trigger safety was preferred by many over the Glock's trigger safety lever. The M&P (and M&P M2.0) is one of those few handguns that has an almost magical feel to it. I count it right up there with the Colt Single Action Army, the German Luger, the 1911, and a personal favorite of mine, the old Smith and Wesson Model 39. Due to the success of the full size gun, a true compact model was also added the lineup. Smith and Wesson began making inroads into the share of the market that was Glock's.

After 11 successful years on the market, Smith and Wesson felt the M&P lineup could use a bit of tweaking, so this year they introduced the M&P M2.0 at the SHOT show. I requested and received one of the M2.0 9mm's equipped with the additional manual safety for testing-and found that the changes were decent improvements, and not just cosmetic enhancements.

Although the M2.0 looks similar to the original and is the same size, Smith and Wesson states that it is an entirely new platform "designed for personal, sporting, and professional use." Despite that statement, the new M2.0 fits in all current M&P holsters.

According the Smith and Wesson website, the M&P M2.0 pistol features an extended stainless steel chassis in the polymer frame to improve stability, an improved, fine-tuned crisper trigger with a lighter pull and a tactile and audible reset. Available calibers are 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP. All models have a built in rail.

The biggest change that I noticed besides a reduction of the front slide cocking serrations is a more aggressively-textured grip surface that has the feel of skateboard tape. Also included are four, rather than three interchangeable palm swell inserts to allow for variations in hand fit and trigger reach. If you can't find a grip setup to fit you out of a total of five choices, well, I don't know what to tell you. Current color choices are matte black or Flat Dark Earth. Two blued steel magazines are included. I appreciate the use of steel magazines over polymer bodied mags-they insert in polymer framed pistols much more slickly.

Initially, I was a bit concerned about the new grip texture. Not being one for adding aftermarket "skateboard" tape to my guns, I wasn't sure how the new texture would feel during firing.

I went to the range with two loads from Sig Sauer-their Elite Performance 9mm FMJ rated at 1185 FPS and their 124 grain V-Crown load rated at 1165 FPS.

Even with the rough texture, the M&P M2.0 melts right into your hand. As it turned out, I needn't have been concerned about the rough finish either.

I began firing six shot groups at 30 feet, two hand standing using a B27E silhouette target at the Vance Alum Creek indoor range. I took the gun right from the box with no preparation. Starting with the Elite Performance FMJ ammo, I was instantly able to nail 2.5 inch groups that were centered to the point of aim. I never noticed the grip finish during the entire test. The 124 grain V-Crown loads produced a bit more muzzle flash and recoil, but the group size remained 2.5 inches. The three dot fixed sights were easy to pick up.

I moved the target in to 21 feet for rapid fire using the 115 grain loads. I was rewarded with a centered group of 3.75 inches. There were no failures or malfunctions with either load and I really liked the curved trigger. The articulating design is comfortable and has improved as promised. It is close to 1911 crisp at letoff, with about 1/2 inch of takeup. I don't pay attention to "reset", which is a relatively new concern in the shooting world. I started shooting with double action revolvers, and have carried them in some fashion for 37 years. Shooting revolvers teaches you to ride the trigger forward during firing and not worry about it. In any event I think those familiar with the original M&P will notice an overall improvement and may like the new reset.

The thumb safety "snicked" solidly off and on in a manner similar to that of a 1911 auto, except that it does not lock the slide in place. Because of this, the pistol can be charged with the safety on, which is a beneficial safety feature. If you don't like additional manual safety, simply purchase one without it. With proper handling (keeping your finger on the frame until ready to fire), the trigger safety will more than suffice by itself.

The M&P M2.0 is an excellent handgun that even in its full size guise carries comfortably concealed.