A great new pistolA pistol is generally a handgun that operates semi-automatically and utilizes a detachable box magazine to hold cartridges, usually but not always, inside the grip. has already come out of 2021 in Smith & Wesson’s latest take on the original full-sized M&P: the M&P 9 M2.0 Optics Ready Compact pistol with 4-inch barrel. This latest M&P isn’t new, by any means, but a fine tuning of an already existing model. Sometimes — as in this case — all it takes is minor tweaks to turn a really good pistol into a superb one. And this one has something for almost every shooter.

S&W M&P 9mm M2.0 Compact 4 Inch Features

For testing, I requested an M&P 9mm M2.0 Optics Ready Compact 4 inch equipped with optional ambidextrous manual thumb safetiesa manual safety safety is a button or lever that is designed to immobilize the firing mechanism of the gun, preventing it from firing.. While these additional safeties are not a requirement for safe operation, I have requested them on most of the M&P pistols I’ve tested. I’ve felt more comfortable with the additional manual safeties as an extra precaution ever since our son was born. In addition, my current crop of favorite pistols — including four 1911s and my SIG M17 — all have manual thumb safeties. I wanted to test the M&P version that was most operationally similar to these pistols.

The great advantage of the M&P and SIG M17 thumb safeties is that, unlike the 1911s, the slides can be racked for chargingCharge is a term meaning to ““load” a cartridge into the chamber of a semi-automatic gun. or clearing the pistol with the safety engaged. This adds another layer of accidental discharge prevention to the operation. In addition, there is a magazine disconnect safety, preventing the M&P from firing with the magazine removed. This feature allows you to keep a round in the chamber with the magazine removed and kept separate for safety if needed. To ready the M&P for firing, simply insert the magazine.


Caliber: 9mm
Capacity: 15+1
7.25 inches
Barrel length:
4 inches
Height: 5 inches
25.8 ounces

This Optics Ready M&P has all the features that most 21st-century defensive pistol users desire … with the exception of a threaded barrel. Included in the box are seven different optics mounting plates that accommodate a wide variety of red-dot pistol optics. The fixed sights are S&W’s “tall” white dot front and rear sights that allow co-witnessing with any optic.

The M2.0 Compact’s size is perfect for a multi-mission defensive pistol. The full advantage of the 9mm’s ballistic and magazine capacity potential is realized using a 4-inch barrel instead of the shorter 3.6 inch or longer 4.625 inch. That advantage is combined with a shorter 15-round capacity grip. The size is perfectly balanced in the hand and readily concealable. At 25.8 ounces, the weight is light enough for EDC without undue notice or fatigue.

Standard features of the M&P M2.0 Compact include easily reached ambidextrous slide release levers, distinctive front and rear slide cocking scallops, molded-in Picatinny railing, reversible magazine release, and an improved and remarkably crisp trigger pull. The stainless-steel slide and barrel are finished in black Armornite for additional corrosion resistance.

The M&P M2.0 at the Range

I took the M&P M2.0 Compact 9 to the range for a brief preliminary test using SIG Sauer’s 115-grain 365 Elite Ball practice ammo. Designed for use with micro 9mm pistols, its 1,050 feet per second muzzle velocity tames the bite of deep concealment pistols. In the M&P M2.0 Compact, it felt a bit like firing a full size .380.

Shooting slow fire at 30 feet, I was easily able to keep seven-shot groups in the 2-inch range, with the very first group dropping five of the seven rounds in a single hole despite the cold and snowy conditions.

I attribute the tight grouping to several factors. First, the ergonomics of the M&P M2.0 grip frame are exceptionally good. The stippling on the frame provides a non-slip surface despite weather conditions.

While there are four palmswells included in the pistol, the sample pistol fit my medium-sized hands perfectly, right out of the box. Without a doubt, the excellent trigger pull and comfortably curved S&W trigger also played a major part. The tall factory sights are prominent and easy to pick up in daylight. Cycling, feed and function were flawless, even with the lower-powered SIG Sauer 365 loads. I much prefer the slick operation of the Smith & Wesson steel magazines in the M&P’s polymer frames to the polymer magazines used by Glock, which don’t glide in and out as smoothly as the Smith magazines.

Wrap Up

If I were still working as a uniformed police officer, the Smith & Wesson 9mm M&P M2.0 Compact 4-inch would be a great on-duty and off-duty pistol. For CCW permit holders, it makes an outstanding carry, home-defense or trail pistol. Holsters for M&P’s abound. If you are looking for another (or your first) defensive pistol, this may be the one for you. And it might just be readily available. MSRP is currently $634

By the Way

As you may know, I have not yet become comfortable with the use of red-dot optics on combat pistols. However, I liked this M&P enough to try one out on it. Watch for a future post for my thoughts.


Smith & Wesson: Smith-Wesson.com
SIG Sauer: SIGSauer.com

About Scott W. Wagner

After working undercover in narcotics and liquor investigations, Scott W. Wagner settled down to be a criminal justice professor and police academy commander. He was also a SWAT team member, sniper and assistant team leader before his current position as patrol sergeant with the Village of Baltimore, Ohio, Police Department. Scott is a police firearms instructor certified to train revolver, semi-automatic pistol, shotgun, semi- and fully automatic patrol rifle, and submachine gun.