It seems to be a popular time for updating flagship pistols. A couple months ago Ruger announced that it was thoroughly updating its famed .22LR Mark pistol series with the Mark IV. Now, at the top of the new year, Smith & Wesson has announced an update to its extremely popular full-sized M&P pistol line with the M&P M2.0.
The Smith & Wesson M&P was introduced in 2005 as the company’s push into the blossoming world of polymer handguns. It’s a short, recoil-operated, semi-auto using a Browning-type locking system. It features a unique take-down method that doesn’t require a dry-fire pull of the trigger, for added safety.
The gun’s target demographic was law enforcement, but plenty of shooters in all walks of life have embraced the M&P for target shooting, home- and self-defense, competition, and as duty weapons. Many variants and sizes have been introduced over the years, along with a couple of spin-off pistols designed for concealed carry and bearing the M&P name, such as the M&P Shield and M&P Bodyguard.
So how different could the M&P M2.0 be without changing what shooters like so much about the now-ubiquitous polymer pistol? As it turns out, the new gun is just different enough to make shooters happy. The changes are subtle, but they were made with input from law enforcement officers, professional competitors, and every-day concealed carriers who rely on the M&P. Here’s a look at the changes.
The M2.0 retains the proven 18-degree grip angle of the original, which allows shooters to point the gun more naturally. But Smith & Wesson engineers also looked at and made changes to the part of the pistol that contacts the hand the most, adding a more aggressive texture to the somewhat chubby M&P grip. They also paid attention to the gun’s customizability options, adding a fourth interchangeable palm swell insert. It falls between medium and large on the size scale and is dubbed medium-large. While it may seem trivial, when you shoot the M&P with the different sized inserts in rapid succession, you can really feel the difference in stability and comfort. (Go here for more information on the importance of good gun fit from pro shooter Julie Golob.)
The factory trigger was always the big gripe about M&Ps. Many shooters found them to be mushy and replaced them quickly. S&W listened, and the M2.0’s redesigned trigger is crisp, with a lighter pull and a positive, audible reset. All that, combined with the gun’s signature high grip-to-barrel bore axis, makes for a fast-shooting, accurate pistol with very little muzzle flip, right out of the box.
Controls and Accessories
The controls on the M2.0 are nearly identical to the original, with an ambidextrous slide stop, reversible steel magazine release button, and an optional thumb safety lever, along with the familiar and simple M&P takedown lever. Some new serrations have been cut into the front of the frame for a better grip to make for easier manipulation of the slide in various situations.
If you’re already an M&P owner, you’ll find the new gun uses M&P magazines and sights, so you don’t have to buy new accessories in order to upgrade.
The M&P M2.0 comes in either 9mm or .40 S&W and will be at gun shops early this month with one of three barrel lengths: 5″, 4.25″, and 4.6″. A .45 ACP version will be released in February. All versions will have an MSRP of $599.
The current M&P is available in seven barrel lengths and five chamberings (including a .22LR rimfire model), so it’s likely we’ll soon see the M2.0 in different sizes and in more calibers to fill out the line. Each chambering is available with or without a manual thumb safety.
At The Range
I was fortunate enough to be invited up to the Smith & Wesson headquarters in Springfield, Massachusetts last month to get an early look at the new M&P M2.0, and more importantly, take a couple to the range for a test drive.
I put four magazines through both the long-slide 9mm version and the standard-length .40 S&W model. The 5-inch barrel on the 9mm seemed to add a little weight to the front and had very little muzzle flip. The new trigger allowed for consistent shooting and fast follow-up shots with easy sight acquisition. The 4.25-inch .40-caliber version handled just as well, though the recoil felt just a bit snappier than the longer, 9mm, as it should.
The 9mm featured a super-matte Flat Dark Earth Cerakote finish that is actually applied over the M&P-standard Armornite finish (a corrosion-resistant nitride). It keeps the entire gun utterly non-reflective and looks great with the M2.0’s new slide cuts and serrations.
If you aren’t used to shooting an M&P, the first thing you notice is how the high grip makes you feel like you’re choking up on the gun, but in a comfortable way. On the M2.0, this feeling is even more noticeable because the extended beavertail of the original M&P has been reduced considerably. I suppose that the beavertail didn’t need to be that big, since the M2.0 felt extremely stable and comfortable without it, regardless of how fast I shot.
That stability and comfort is enhanced by the new grip texture, which I like, though some may not. Shooters who use an inside-the-waistband holster, especially those who carry in hotter climates, might find the rough texture uncomfortable and would want to add a layer between gun and skin. But when it comes to hanging on to the pistol, it’s wonderful and reminiscent of the grips on the Heckler & Koch VP9 or the Walther CCP.
At the range, the M2.0 was extremely controllable and comfortable in both calibers and ran like a champ in the hands of various shooters at the S&W range who were all picking it up for the first time. And, more importantly, it was solidly on target using plain ol’ American Eagle 115-grain 9mm and 180-grain .40 S&W loads, with no malfunctions. I attribute a lot of that accuracy to the excellent trigger, which really is vast improvement over previous factory triggers and exceptional for a striker-fired pistol.
Some extensive range testing is in order, but from a first look and a few mags, the M&P M2.0 series looks to be a worthy successor to the first series of M&P pistols that offers shooters just enough tweaks to make an upgrade desirable. (MSRP: $599)
|S&W M&P9 M2.0|
|Front Sight:||Steel – white dot|
|Rear Sight:||Steel – white two dot|
|Barrel/Slide:||Stainless steel with Armornite finish|