Handgun Review: Smith & Wesson M&P9 M2.0 3.6” Compact
A smaller package with the same impressive firepower of previous M&P9 models.
Smith & Wesson has built yet another very accurate, extremely functional and quite concealable pistol with their new M&P9 M2.0 3.6” Compact semi-automatic in 9mm. Like the first version of S&W’s Compact Series, the striker-fired M&P9 M2.0 3.6” Compact holds 15+1 rounds (13+1 in .40 S&W) compared to the full size M&P 2.0’s 17-round capacity in 9mm. However, the Compact can also accept the full size 17-round magazines. The gun even ships with two magazine spacer sleeves to make those high-cap mags work better—so you could carry it concealed with the flush 15-rounder loaded and one or two spare 17-round magazines with the spacer sleeves in place. That’s a total of 50 rounds for a potential EDC setup. There are also products on the market like the X-Grip Magazine Adapter that serve the same function as the spacers, but with better ergonomics and looks.
The big difference from the first M2.0 Compact is the new version’s shorter barrel. S&W took the original 4-inch barrel and trimmed it down to 3.6-inches. That’s not a huge alteration, but it did trim more than an ounce of weight from the gun and made it a half-inch shorter overall, which can make a difference for some carry methods.
S&W sent me a new production M&P9 M2.0 3.6” Compact to test. I spent several range sessions with the pistol and went through over 300 rounds of various brands of ammunition. The pistol was every bit as accurate as other Smith & Wesson semi-automatics—which means, very accurate—and it didn’t experience a single failure to feed or to eject.
Carry Testing and Range Test
For a week, I also used the new gun as my EDC. It packed light and comfortable, especially for a pistol with 16 rounds on board.
For accuracy testing, I shot the 3.6″Compact at what I consider mid-range concealed carry distances of five to seven yards. All my shooting was done while standing, shooting off-hand, and outside.
I used three brands of ammunition: SIG Sauer’s V-Crown self-defense loads with a 115-grain jacketed hollow-point bullets; my range-and-practice loads were from Aguila Ammunition and loaded with 124-grain full-metal-jacket (FMJ) bullets; and I also used ammo from Precision Delta with 147-grain FMJ projectiles.
At five and seven yards, all brands of ammunition consistently pegged five-shot groups of 1.5-inches or less. My best grouping was actually six shots of the Aguila that scored 1.01-inches, with four of those shots clustered in at a very impressive .388-inches.
Remanufactured ammunition often gets panned, but the Precision Delta, using once-fired brass, put five shots at seven yards into a 1.37-inch group, and four of those shots measured just .74-inches.
My best group with the self-defense V-Crown was 1.18-inches at seven yards, with four of those rounds coming in at just .68-inches. I also used the V-Crown on one of my favorite self-defense practice targets, Champion’s Defensive Series Hostage silhouette.
At seven yards, eight of my ten shots of the V-Crown scored immediate stopping hits on the bad guy, while two of the shots were a bit too far left (thought still within the head outline).
No hostages were injured in the testing!
The 3.6″ Compact’s tactical, white 3-dot steel sights lined up on targets quickly and cleanly. The pistol is offered with or without a manual, ambidextrous thumb safety. I had the model with the safety; the safety snapped into and out of the “SAFE” position very positively, with an audible click. A light or laser can be attached on the rail under the front on the barrel.
The aggressive texturing along the grip, the backstrap and front strap provided a very firm hold on the pistol. The M&P9 3.6” Compact comes standard with four interchangeable palm swell inserts for optimal hand-fit. The palm swell insert already in place fit my hand very well, so I didn’t need to change out to another palm swell.
But just to make sure this feature worked, I did the change-over myself a few times. It was easily done. First, I removed the magazine and made sure the pistol was unloaded. Then, I gave the half-moon shaped frame tool at the bottom and very rear of the mag well a ¼ turn, and pulled it straight out. At this point, the existing palm swell was easily removed and a new one popped into place. The frame tool was reinserted, and I was ready to shoot.
However, the trigger on the M&P9 3.6″ Compact requires a learning curve. As noted, the pistol is striker-fired, using an internal, spring-loaded system to strike the bullet’s primer. Striker-fired pistols tend to have a spongy trigger. They can and usually do work quite well, but it does take some practice to get used to that longer pull and the “sprong!” vibration when the striker is released.
The trigger in the M&P9 3.6″ Compact has a very long pull. And once the trigger was back far enough to make contact with the striker-fire assembly, there’s a tightness I haven’t found in most other striker-fires.
For comparison, my EDC is a Smith and Wesson M&P45 Shield. The two triggers are quite different. The trigger on the Shield engages much sooner during pull back than the M&P9 3.6″ Compact’s trigger. The Shield trigger also has a cleaner pull, and resets quicker.
Now, given the accuracy results I registered with the 3.6” Compact, the trigger isn’t exactly a problem. But it does take getting used to. That noticeably longer pull requires a much more precise finger pad placement on the front of the trigger blade than my 45 Shield and a steadier pull back on the trigger. If your finger pad is a bit off to one side, the longer engagement will pull your shot off target much more than it would with my Shield.
That said, with a little more practice and concentration, you will be on target.
I carried the M&P9 3.6″ Compact for a week, using a Sticky Holster MD 4G model. In the summer, I prefer to carry in the small of my back while wearing a looser fitting shirt. The pistol fit nicely in this position and was easy to draw.
Accurate. Easy to carry. And a functional workhorse. That’s the M&P9 M2.0 3.6” Compact, and you can’t ask for much more from a self- or home-defense pistol. It’s also available with or without a manual thumb safety, to your preference.
S&W M&P9 M2.0 3.6″ Compact SPECS:
|Model:||M&P®9 M2.0™ 3.6″ Compact Manual Thumb Safety|
|Front Sight:||Steel – White Dot|
|Rear Sight:||Steel – White Two Dot|
|Barrel Material:||Stainless Steel with Armornite® Finish|
|Slide Material:||Stainless Steel with Armornite® Finish|
|Included:||Two 15-round magazines, four palm swell backstraps, two magazine sleeve extenders, gun lock, owner’s manual.|