The legendary Smith & Wesson Performance Center gives shooters the opportunity to own a gun with a number of semi-custom touches without breaking the bank — and the shooting world is a better place because of it! I have worked with quite a few Performance Center guns over my writing career and have liked every one of them. The new M&P9 M2.0 Ported C.O.R.E. with 4.25-inch barrel is no exception.

Performance Center M&P9 M2.0 Ported C.O.R.E.

The basic full-sized S&W M&P9 is a great pistol used by a large number of law enforcement agencies as well as individual officers for their duty sidearms. In Central Ohio, it runs a close second to the Glock as the most commonly encountered handgun in police duty holsters. (In fact, the Columbus, Ohio, Police Department was one of the first agencies in the nation to make the .40-caliber M&P its official duty sidearm.) The basic M&P is a great starting point for the S&W Performance Center to build on.

As soon as I removed the Performance Center M&P9 C.O.R.E. from the box, I noted that its handling characteristics were simply superb. The 4.25-inch barrel makes for snappy handling and pointability and is the ideal length for a full-sized self-defense pistol. It lends itself well to home defense, trail use or concealed carry in an inside-the-waistband holster.

Smith & Wesson Performance Center M&P9 M2.0 C.O.R.E. Specifications and Features

Weight: 26.9 ounces
Overall length: 7.5 inches
Magazine capacity: 17+1
Barrel length: 4.25 inches
Frame: Polymer with stippled grip surfaces
Barrel: Stainless steel
Slide: Stainless steel/Armornite-coated

Here are the important features that the Performance Center adds, pushing the basic M&P9 to the next level:

  • Ported barrel and slide for reduced muzzle flip
  • Competition Optics Ready Equipment (C.O.R.E) slide with included electronic optics mounting kit
  • Extended-height three-dot white sights for co-witnessing through optic
  • New, larger slide stop (which I really favor for increased reloading speed)
  • Trigger stop adjustable for overtravel
  • Performance-Center-tuned action

Performance Center M&P9 M2.0 at the Range

The M&P9 M2.0 Ported C.O.R.E. naturally feels great in the hand, I found out during testing. The factory-installed palm swell was perfectly sized for my hands, but three other sizes are included to refine the feel even more. The grip texturing adds to the solid feel of controllability.

For testing, I used SIG Sauer’s 124-grain Elite V-Crown JHP ammunition, which has a muzzle velocity of 1,165 feet per second. I did not mount an optic for testing. I am still not convinced of the advantages of an optical sight on a defensive pistol. Sure, it might work great in the predictable arena of competition. But I personally prefer not to complicate my life in the unpredictable arena of armed self-defense. I also know, however, that red-dot pistol sights are extremely popular among younger shooters these days. And the C.O.R.E. system makes it very easy to add the optic of your choosing — so go for it!

Shooting the Performance Center M&P9 M2.0 C.O.R.E. pistol was a treat. The porting worked as advertised, and there was no noticeable muzzle flip from the Elite V-Crown ammo. There was also no noticeable blowback of unburnt powder flakes from the SIG Sauer ammo. If you ever get tagged with powder flakes when shooting a ported pistol, try switching ammunition. Different gun powders combust at different rates.

It was a cinch to keep groups in the 2-inch range at 25 feet while firing from a two-handed standing position. The trigger pull was very smooth for a striker-fired pistol and had a very crisp let-off. The tall sights were easy to pick up, although I would prefer a set of XS Sight’s F8 on this gun (unless I was going to mount an electronic optic).


The Smith & Wesson Performance Center M&P9 M2.0 Ported 4.25-inch C.O.R.E. is a great example of the work that the S&W Performance Center does in taking its guns to the next level. MSRP of this model is $714, approximately $145 more than a basic M&P 9mm. That’s a lot of extra bang for the buck.


Smith & Wesson:
SIG Sauer:
XS Sights:

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.