Somewhere within the halls of Smith and Wesson, I’m sure there’s a vault in which is stored an example of each and every M&P variation ever made. I don’t have to go to Springfield, Massachusetts, to view such a collection because I’m pretty close to having such a collection in my gun safe. My appreciation for the M&P began when I was attending my first NRA pistol instructor course.
I was just learning about pistols at the time and soaking up all the information I could. There was a couple attending the class together, and the wife was shooting an M&P during all the exercises. I asked her why she had picked that gun. She said it was because it had less felt recoil than the other 9mm pistols she had tried. I filed that away as good information — especially when anticipating that I would be helping other shooters find the gun that was just right for them.
At the time, Glock had a considerable portion of the law enforcement handgun market. Close on its heels was Smith and Wesson with its M&P. I came across a police trade-in from Colorado Springs that was a 9mm M&P. The price was attractive, so I bought it. Then I bought an M&P .22 so I would have something economical to practice with.
Not long after those acquisitions, I bought a Viking Tactical version of the M&P in 9mm thinking it would be my carry gun. However, I’ve done several mods to that gun including replacing the trigger and the barrel, so carrying it for self-defense is probably not a good idea. A prosecuting attorney could make those mods the basis of a case against me in the event I was forced to use the pistol for self-defense. That’s a discussion that needs to take place elsewhere — perhaps in the comments.
When police departments across the land started trading in their .40 caliber pistols for 9mms, I picked up a few of those trade-ins with stampings on the slides identifying them as being from Atlanta, Detroit, Vermont, and West Palm Beach. These are the guns that live in our truck consoles and bedside tables. Somewhere along the way, I bought a compact version of the M&P in .22.
A writing project netted me a Performance Center Ported C.O.R.E. 2.0. Are you getting the picture that I’m a fan? I knew Smith and Wesson’s latest M&P had a metal frame, flat-face trigger, and that it was optics-ready with a capacity of 17+1. What I didn’t expect was to open the box and immediately have a new favorite pistol because of how darn good-looking it is.
M&P 2.0 Metal Features
The specs call it two-tone. It’s actually a shiny gray color it calls Tungsten Gray accented with black trimmings and etchings. It came in a box with two magazines and a total of four interchangeable palm swell inserts. The grip inserts are black with a fairly aggressive texture that is matched on the frontstrap.
The M&P is a striker-fired pistol that (in this model) weighs 30 ounces. It is 7.4 inches long and 5.5 inches high. The barrel measures 4.25 inches. That barrel is constructed from stainless steel with an Armornite finish. It has a right-hand 1 in 10-inch twist. Armornite is a hardened nitride finish that provides enhanced corrosion resistance, greatly improved wear resistance, decreased surface roughness, reduced light reflection, and increased surface lubricity.
The frame is made from 7075-T6 aluminum, and the slide is made from stainless steel. Both are treated with a Tungsten Gray Cerakote finish that, as I mentioned before, is extremely attractive. There is no thumb safety, and I don’t believe S&W is offering a model with one at this time. The sights are steel with white dots — one in front and two in the rear. The slide is cut for optics, and the gun ships with adapters that should practically handle any red dot sight on the market. A loaded-chamber indicator exists in the form of a small window at the back of the ejection port.
The M&P has several features that contribute to its low-impact recoil. First, it has the familiar 18-degree grip angle that facilitates a natural point of aim. The textured front strap and palm swell help the shooter maintain a secure grip in a variety of conditions. A low bore axis reduces muzzle rise allowing for faster aim recovery. The M2.0 flat-face trigger is designed for consistent finger placement that allows for more accurate and repetitive shooting. The trigger has the now almost universal blade safety. The trigger on my gun breaks crisp and easy at 6 pounds after a .5-inch take-up. Reset is about .25 inch.
Cocking serrations on the slide (front and rear), are in a pattern unique to Smith and Wesson and provide a secure thumb-and-forefinger grip for manipulating the slide. All the controls on the gun are black as part of the two-tone color scheme. The controls are designed to enhance the shooter’s experience by being easy to manipulate. The slide-stop is ambidextrous and wedge-shaped, making it easy for your thumb to operate. The mag release has the same texture as the grip and is reversible.
The trigger guard is undercut to allow the shooter to position their hand as high on the grip as possible. A three-slot Picatinny rail in front of the trigger guard will accommodate your choice of light, laser, or a combo. M&P’s takedown lever and sear deactivation system allow for disassembly without pulling the trigger.
To fieldstrip the gun, there is a frame tool that serves a dual purpose inserted from the bottom in the back part of the grip. With the magazine removed, the frame tool can be removed by turning it 90 degrees and pulling it out. Since it serves to hold the removable back panel in place, the panel can be removed, if desired, for cleaning. With the slide locked back, the tool is used to push down a lever that is directly beneath the ejector. This will allow the slide to be removed without pulling the trigger.
How Does It Shoot?
Since I anticipate using the Metal M&P as a carry gun, I put together a mix of both range and defense ammo to put the gun through its paces. I enjoyed loading five rounds at a time of the different types of ammo and shooting at targets 7–10 yards out. Next, I loaded full magazines of each of the various types of ammo in my bag and just had fun putting as many rounds as I could within the 6-inch circles on my hanging target.
All my shooting was seated with elbows on the bench but no other bracing. In this position, I found it very easy to keep the highly visible sights aligned while pressing the trigger. During a couple hundred rounds of shooting, I had one failure-to-feed and that was it. That was probably due to limp wristing, as I was trying different amounts of pressure on the grip to see what worked best for me with the gun.
I determined early on that no matter which type of ammo I was using, if I kept my sights aligned and managed a smooth trigger pull, the gun did its part. It is very accurate. The semi-rough texture of the grip panels became uncomfortable after about an hour of shooting. For normal use that would not be an issue, but if I was to shoot the gun over an extended period, I would don a pair of shooting gloves.
I had all three popular grains of 9mm ammo — 115, 124, and 147-grain in my mix, and there wasn’t any one of those weights in which the gun performed better than the others. However, there was a weight that resulted in very tight groups each time it was deployed, and it’s an unusual weight for a 9mm cartridge. Federal American Eagle 70-Grain Flat Nose Lead-Free was the ammo the gun liked best. I liked that one best, too, due to the reduced recoil. Too bad it’s not a defensive ammo or that would be the ammo I’d carry in the gun all the time.
Speaking of carry, Galco’s KingTuk IWB Holster Model KT472B is ideal for carrying the M&P inside the waistband. With a quality gun belt, the 30-ounce gun is hardly noticeable — especially when you know you’re carrying such a capable firearm.
Will the metal outlast the polymer? Who knows. I figure a good gun made using either one of these materials is going to outlast me and probably all my heirs. As a bonus, you might want to get you one because it will make you the coolest guy/gal at the BBQ, as well as a well-equipped defender should the occasion arise.