Features and history vary substantially from one gun to the next. That can make it difficult to choose which firearm is best, or even if one firearm is better than another. The answer to which gun is best is subjective, of course. While pros and cons of pistol models can be easily listed on paper, a shooter will always have to decide for himself or herself which feels better and fits his or her lifestyle. Keeping that in mind, I’m going to compare the 9mm Gen5 MOS Glock 19 and Smith & Wesson M&P M.20 Compact.
Before I get to the comparisons, it is important to first list the foundational features these firearms share before discussing the advantages of each.
Glock 19 vs. S&W M&P Similarities:
- Polymer frames
- Barrel length: 4 inches
- Average unloaded weight: 25 ounces
- Magazine capacity: 15 rounds
- Have integral trigger safety systems
- Are capable of mounting a red-dot optic
- Have reversible magazine catches
- Have a Picatinny frame rail for lights or lasers
Gen5 Glock 19 MOS
I begin with the Gen5 (or 4) Glock 19 MOS (Glock 19) because it was introduced long before the 9mm Smith & Wesson M&P M2.0 Compact (M&P). Introduced in 1988, the Glock 19 was a reduced-sized version of the original, full-sized Glock 17 having both a shorter barrel and grip. The Glock 19 was the first Glock I ever owned. And I carried it as an off-duty gun for years.
Lightweight and with a 15-round magazine capacity, the Glock 19 was not only easy to conceal but was still large enough to serve in police duty holsters. When it came time to select a new training handgun for our college police academy in the 1990s, the Glock 19 was my preferred choice. With the Glock 19, my cadets would gain experience with a gun that could be used on or off duty. That is an important consideration for young officers who may start at an agency that requires them to purchase their own sidearms. The Glock 19 Gen2 and Gen4 have served as our academy training handgun for almost 30 years. While I no longer own a Glock 19, I do have a Glock 17 and 27.
Glock 19 Advantages
- The Glock 19 has the advantage over the M&P in terms of longevity, having been on the market for 34 years. Glock currently catalogs six models. Not to mention, there are plenty of upgraded versions manufactured by many other companies such as Faxon Arms in Cincinnati.
- There is no end of Glock 19 aftermarket parts, such as improved triggers, and a myriad of holsters and accessories too numerous to list here.
- The Glock 19 has proven to be reliable, accurate and about as indestructible as something made largely out of polymer can get.
- Because the Glock 19 has been so heavily used by law enforcement for so many years, you can often find very nice used ones at a low price.
- The basic Glock sights are the best around. These durable polymer sights consist of a square U white outline rear sight, combined with the white dot front sight. These aren’t glow-in-the-dark sights, but they are vivid in most light conditions and easy to align. The adjustable version is no longer available. The Basic M&P sights are traditional white three-dot fixed sights.
Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0
Smith & Wesson’s M&P semi-automatic pistol lineup was first introduced in 9mm and .40 caliber (when .40 was becoming all the rage) as a head-to-head competitor with the Glock series. At that time, approximately 72 percent of all pistols riding in the holsters of American police officers were Glocks. S&W had not only lost the vast majority share of police duty revolvers that had previously been the police standard but was also seeing their line of all-stainless-steel semi-automatic duty pistols replaced by Glocks as well.
When the M&P was first introduced in 2005, the city of Columbus was looking for a new duty pistol to replace the aging 4506s, and the M&P was one of the contenders, eventually beating out Glock and SIG. Since that time, the M&P has evolved gradually to the newest M&P version, the M2.0 Compact, which I own in 9mm.
- S&W designed the M&P to provide ergonomics superior to Glock, and they were successful. They introduced the concept of the interchangeable backstrap/palmswells to fine-tune the M&P’s pistols grip to the individual hand. (Glock eventually added their own system of interchangeable backstraps to the Model 19 and other guns. That helped improve the traditional “blocky” feel of the Glock.)
- The M&P offers 1911-style ambidextrous thumb safeties that can be applied during the loading and clearing process. These thumb safeties can help protect the user should an attacker attempt to grab his or her gun.
- The M&P comes with easily accessible ambidextrous slide releases. I have always replaced the single, flat Glock slide release with the extended version.
- The M&P’s trigger is crisper than the Glock’s. Unfortunately, Smith & Wesson decided to move away from their original articulating M&P trigger and replace it with a Glock-style trigger safety lever with less curvature.
- The M&P’s takedown lever disassembly system is easy to master, and it does not require the trigger to be pulled to field-strip the M&P. This was the deciding factor in the Columbus police department’s choice of the .40 M&P over the .40 Glock.
- The M&P uses black-coated steel magazines that load and drop free more easily than the polymer-bodied Glock magazines.
- The M&P features a stainless-steel barrel and slide with Armonite finish. I could not find details on the Glock website of the exact coating process they now use or the type of metal used on the slides and barrels. Current Glocks no longer use the Tenifer process of metal treatment.
While both pistols have certain advantages over the other (7 to 5 for the M&P versus the Glock 19), in pure shootability, I feel the M&P M2.0 Compact with 4-inch barrel beats the Glock 19 … which is why I own and carry one.