Smith & Wesson M&P M2.0 Compact

Smith & Wesson continues to innovate and refine its handgun product line to meet the demands of the shooting public. Case in point: the new Smith & Wesson M&P M2.0 Compact 9mm or .40-caliber semi-automatic pistol.

The M&P M2.0 Compact is, of course, based on the M&P 2.0 full-sized pistol, with some minor trimming of the “fat” here and there. What Smith & Wesson has done — although I don’t know if this was their intention — is to create a pistol that turns out to be an ideally balanced shooter rather than a pistol that is chopped way down for optimal concealment.

Before I go into a closer look at the M&P M2.0 Compact, let me say a bit about the M&P pistol series. Introduced in 2005, the M&P was designed to go head to head against Glock, which owned 71 percent or so of the law enforcement market, a place it had taken from Smith & Wesson. (Smith wanted to get its share of the market back, which it had totally owned in the revolver days.)

It wasn’t that Smith & Wesson wasn’t in the semi-automatic pistol market; their third-generation stainless-steel auto-loading pistols rode in many law enforcement officers’ holsters in the later 1980s. At the City of Reynoldsburg, we — like several other agencies in central Ohio — switched to the Smith & Wesson 4506 .45 ACP duty pistol. Large and heavy but totally reliable, the 4506 served well until agencies began transitioning to the much lighter and easier-to-shoot Glock 17 (or 22).

Smith & Wesson’s first entries into the polymer-framed gun field were the 9mm Sigma — manufactured by Smith & Wesson in-house — and the SW99, a Walther-licensed product. Neither was received well, and Glock continued to reel in more LE and commercial users. Smith eventually dropped the SW99 and improved the Sigma into the SD9 and SD40, which are still available. Smith went back to the drawing board to rethink its “Glock fighter” concept.

Smith used some of the basic concepts involved in the Sigmas — such as its articulating trigger safety and striker-fired operation — and added in ergonomic research to make a pistol that felt better than the Glock in the hand. They also made sure that the new pistol — the Military and Police or “M&P” — could be field-stripped without pulling the trigger first, as with the Glock. (This is still a major criticism of the Glock.) The trigger pull takedown requirement was one of the key factors that caused the City of Columbus, Ohio, to select the new M&P over the Glock.

The folks at Smith & Wesson truly did their homework on the M&P and included three interchangeable palm swells (S, M, L) in the first version to more perfectly accommodate the individual user. It took Glock quite a while to come up with their own interchangeable back strap system that performed a similar function. Smith also included a molded-in accessory rail as part of the grip assembly.

While I am not sure what share of the LE market the M&P has now, I saw firsthand how the M&Ps, particularly the smaller, single-stack Shield series, did in civilian sales while I worked retail sales at Vance Outdoors in Columbus for four months in 2016. Partially due to pricing and special offers, and partially due to feel in the hand, I probably sold civilians three times the amount of M&P Shields than similar-sized Glocks … and this was after Glock introduced the Models 42 and 43!

Allow me to give you the dimensional differences between the full-sized M&P 2.0 and the Compact 2.0. The full-sized weighs in at a still-easy-to-carry 28.8 ounces in the .40-caliber version, while the Compact’s weight is 25.3. Magazine capacity in the Compact falls from 15 to 13, which is still a significant combat load. The smaller magazine capacity means a shorter grip length, but I was still able to obtain a full grip with no pinkie overhang. Finally, the last difference seems to be the most insignificant (yet it is sometimes these minor adjustments that give a subjectively better feel). The length of the full-sized 2.0 barrel is 4.25 inches, while the Compact’s barrel measures 4 inches. It doesn’t seem like much, but it aids in pointability, giving the 2.0 Compact a much nimbler feel in the hand. Clearly, if I was choosing a 2.0 for duty carry, it would definitely be the Compact version!

But what changed with the 2.0 in general?  Here is part of the official Smith & Wesson list:

—An improved crisper trigger. I like the M&P trigger. It has about a half inch of slack (takeup) before the actual release of the striker begins.
—A more aggressive texturing on the grip for enhanced control. I don’t care much for the feel personally, but it certainly doesn’t interfere with shooting.
—A more accurate barrel. The M&P, no matter which size is chosen, is capable of better accuracy than most people can generate while firing it free-standing.
—Durable Armonite corrosion-resistant finish applied on the already rust-resistance stainless steel, which replaced the older Melonite finish.
—Basic fixed three-dot sights with low-profile rear sight. Tritium and Hi-Viz options are available.

Which M&P caliber is best for you if you decide to go with a 2.0 Compact? For the vast majority of users, 9mm is the best choice. The .40 Smith & Wesson is a hotter, higher-pressure round that is more powerful than the 9mm, despite what the FBI — an agency undergoing a crisis of confidence — said a couple of years ago. THEY developed the .40 as their duty round of choice since the 9mm wasn’t powerful enough to meet their requirements in the 1980s. The .40 was more powerful then; it’s still more powerful now. Most importantly, it generates more blast and recoil than the 9mm. If you don’t have experience with the .40, or don’t have a lot of time to work with it, get the 9mm version.

The M&P is probably at its peak development right now. The only thing I would like to see added to it is a bit of a ledge on the slide release to give better leverage to the thumb during reloads. Other than that, it is totally good to go.

MSRP of the plain M&P M2.0 Compact .40 is $569.00. Two magazines are included, along with four palm swells in S, M, ML and L.

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