Smith & Wesson M&P 9c

Smith & Wesson’s M&P pistol line has earned a reputation over the last few years as a reliable, simple and comfortable handgun for any duty, sport or self-defense need. The M&P9 Compact model further specializes in the defensive role, making it one of the best buys on the market today.

The S&W M&P9c is a compact, semiautomatic 9mm pistol. It weighs less than 22 ounces and carries 12 rounds per magazine. It is striker-fired and includes a variety of standard and optional safeties. At only 4.3 inches tall, and with a 3.5-inch barrel it is a breeze to conceal.

Ergonomics and Controls

The M&P9 Compact’s greatest strength is its simplicity and comfort. With its smooth lines and corners, there are no sharp edges and it does not feel blocky. The grip angle is what most shooters consider normal, and the backstrap shape is a smooth curve.

The M&P9c’s grip straps are replaceable and each pistol includes three size options. The small size is very thin and merely follows the contours of the grip. The large size adds a nice amount of palm swell and a bit of depth and texture for the web of your hand. The medium splits the difference in size without the extra web portion at the top. I like the medium grip strap best. The size is right for my palm, and it provides just enough contact for the heel of my support hand.

Each of the safeties on the basic model are passive, meaning that pulling the trigger to the rear disengages each one before firing the pistol. You are free to focus on getting the pistol up and making good hits, since no other external controls are necessary to fire the gun. The trigger on the M&P line is not mushy like many other striker-fired pistols and it is easy to shoot well. For those who are interested, there are drop-in aftermarket parts that will make the M&P trigger the best in its class of striker-fired guns.

The magazine release is a good size and is easy to operate. The textured and contoured slide stop/release makes locking the slide back or releasing it with your thumb easy. The slide stop is ambidextrous and the magazine release is reversible, making the M&P an excellent choice for left-handed shooters. The grasping grooves on the rear of the slide are the best design I have seen. They are attractive, low profile, and provide excellent grip. The dust cover area of the frame features a Picatinny-style rail for attaching compact lights or lasers.

Each M&Pc comes with two magazines. One mag has a flush-fit baseplate while the other has an extended base that S&W calls the Finger Rest. I’m not a fan of having my little finger wrap under the butt of the magazine, so for each extra magazine I order, I will get them with the Finger Rest.


Smith & Wesson obviously put a lot of thought into the safety options of the M&P lineup. All M&P pistols include a trigger safety, a firing pin block, a loaded chamber window, and a sear disconnect lever for safe disassembly. Because of the trigger safety, unless you pull the trigger, the gun will not fire. The M&P9c’s safety feels best to me because it gives a flat trigger face as opposed to a split face with a centered safety lever. The firing pin block protects against accidental discharge due to mechanical failure and the loaded chamber witness hole allows you to verify easily the status of the pistol at a glance.

When taking down the M&P, the built-in safety impresses me. Everyone should know to make sure that a gun is empty and clear before disassembly. Yet every few months we hear of a negligent discharge during pistol disassembly because the user “thought it was unloaded.” S&W has attempted to combat this issue with smart engineering. The M&P will not disassemble without retracting the slide and locking it down to the rear. Only then will the takedown lever rotate down. If there is a round in the chamber, retracting the slide will remove it. With the slide locked back, you can reach into the ejection port to lower the sear disconnect lever. This allows you to remove the slide without requiring you to pull the trigger as you do with most other striker-fired guns. To restate what should be obvious: any firearm disassembly must begin with clearing the weapon. I appreciate that S&W took steps to foolproof this procedure for the M&P line.

In addition to the safety features standard on all M&P pistols, some also include additional safety features. The M&P9c is available with an ambidextrous thumb safety. This is a good option if you are not comfortable carrying a pistol without a manual safety. It’s also a benefit if you’re accustomed to shooting a 1911 and like using the safety lever as a thumb shelf. The lever is placed and sized appropriately for this use and will help some thumbs keep from preventing slidelock on an empty mag. S&W also provides models with magazine disconnect safeties and internal locks for customers in those jurisdictions that require them.


The M&P9c is easily one of the most durable pistols ever made. The metal parts are all stainless steel, treated with S&W’s super-hard Melonite process and blackened. The M&P routinely outlasts many other duty-style pistols in high round-count training environments. The design’s reputation is such that it is one of the few pistols you can expect not to have issues with in extreme conditions. The fact is the M&P will outshoot and outlast most of its owners. Because of this reputation, and the fact more and more police departments are switching to M&Ps from their other polymer-framed guns, aftermarket parts and accessories are getting easier and easier to find. If you are in the market for a compact pistol, the M&P9 Compact really should be the first thing you check out.

Do you have an M&P pistol? What do you find are the pros and cons of the design? Tell us in the comment section.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (20)

  1. This was the first gun I bought and after years of purchasing guns, still my favorite. Accurate as heck, great for conceal and reliable as the day is long. I have put thousands of rounds through this baby and not one jam. I highly recommend it.

  2. Just bought and had a chance to shoot the SWMP9c for the first time today.


    trigger was nice
    recoil is highly manageable–very comfy
    mags were rough, but I’m sure it’ll even out after a few more trips to the range.

  3. I have been looking for a good ccw for a while now. I’ve shot my friends glock 19 and I’ve shot my other friends m&p 9c.
    I was decent with the g19 but with the m&p 9c I barely missed. The gun felt amazing in my hand and it was remarkably accurate for its size. The recoil was very nice on it. Follow up shots were very easy. I highly recommend this pistol.

  4. I have a 9C and a Shield. I find the 9C to bulky (ambidextrous butterfly safety) for CCW, but it is a great shooter, and very accurate – I regularly get 2.0″-2.5″ groups at 21 ft. I do love to shoot this gun, and it feels great in the hand, so much so that it proudly stands guard on my night stand. I also have a M&P .22, and while there are many great gun manufacturers, all of my M&P’s have been ubber reliable, and I would recommend anyone rent one at a local gun range and give it a try before you buy.

  5. I’ve owned a 9c for a few years. The two factory mags chewed up my thumbs at first, and I bought a loader. It was a waste–the mags loosened up after a number of trips (maybe 5-6) to the range. It did take a while, but now they are very comfortable to load. The loader sits unused in the bottom of a drawer.

  6. I think all agree that mags are stiff and a bear to load. I too use the UpLula and it’s a real help. Accuracy is very good for barrel length. 3.5″ groups consistently at 21′. Trigger is smooth and easy to control. I’ve heard some say mushy, but I don’t see it. I love this gun and highly recommend.

  7. Owner of 2 M&P’s Full size and compact both 9mm’s, had been carrying Ruger LC9 very reliable and accurate enough at self defense distances, but I was talked into the M7P line by my oldest son he has carried a M7P 40 cal for years. We teach CCW classes together and he finally got me to try a Smith M&P full size and I was hooked, but I came across a M&P 9c and was very impressed
    and it has become my EDC gun, I have found it to be ultra-reliable with almost any ammo I use, it carries very well in an Elite
    IWB nylon holster. I can agree it is one of the most accurate compact weapons I have ever fired. A hostage shot at 25-30 feet if the person shooting it does their part the gun will do it’s part. I have no trouble keeping rounds in tight groups at 25 feet.
    The 9c is one you can wear with confidence.

  8. First, I’ve never used the sear disconnect, pull the trigger to remove the slide, and the sear is not necessary to reassemble either, just pull the slide back. Second, my m&p9c is as accurate as my full size walther ppq first edition, and at 45ft. I can make a six to eight in group easily, and I’m no pro, so I think you probably need to learn now to grip a pistol. Third, follow up shots are better than any pistol I’ve ever shot, including full size. Fourth, yea, the mag springs are stiff, but they are on almost all new guns. Full size mags with grip extenders are available, but the pinky extension works very well. My favorite gun hands down and new edc. Felt recoil is less than any full size postol I’ve shot, and accuracy is amazing. I would not hesitate to shoot a hostage taker in the eye at 30ft. 🙂 . Quality and finish are top notch, this gun is a bargain, and definitely one of the best duty or SD gun on the market. Police and civilians alike are selling their Glocks to buy these for a reason.

  9. Gosh people…..Just take all that garb out of your pistol, it’s so easy a lazy caveman could do it, you dont need the mag safety, or the sear disconnect, then to tear down, just pull the trigger, reassembly is just as easy, just reinstall the slide….The M&P 9c is one of the best compacts on the market…..Not trying to compare, but even ranks with the “G” words…….lol

  10. It is not necessary to ‘pull down’ the sear disconnect lever to disassemble the gun. If it is such a problem, just pull the trigger and the slide will come off. However, to put the slide back on, you need to pull down the sear disconnect. Be advised, it is easy to pull it down with your finger once the slide is off the frame.

  11. Not trying to be rude or anything The Don but its a carry pistol with a short barrel, of course your p99 is going to out shoot it at 30 feet. Secondly 12 inch groups at 20 feet? You’ve got to be kidding me, ive put all mine within 3 1’2 at 20ft. The only thing i agree with you on is the mag tension, it is a beast to load and lets be honest when your shooting a gun that only holds 12 rounds you tend to have to reload very often at the range. I bought a universal speed loader for it and couldnt be happier. Ive put about 600 rounds through mine without a single malfunction. Great gun, took some getting used to as i regularly shoot full size .45’s and 9mm but i truly do love it and especially for the price. Picked up mine for $480 same day at a gun show. Also they make tons of after market parts for it and there are a ton of holsters that will fit it perfectly. I would recommend this weapon to anyone looking for a carry handgun.

  12. The Don, sounds like a pussy. All those complaints are just from being a girly man. I have no problems with everything he has stated. I think he needs to hit the gym and get more trigger time, this is one of my more accurate guns.

  13. The Don: fingers raw from loading the mags of the S&W MP9c? Me too. May I suggest you try the “UpLula, Universal pistol mag. loader” suitable for loading 9mm to .45CP rounds? It takes a careful reading of the instructions and a little practice to use the UpLula correctly but it works well. Good luck

  14. Forgot to mention: the sear deactivation lever is simply annoying. You have to keep a small screw driver handy to field strip it (unless you want to pull the butt off the handgrip to access the tool). As far as I am concerned, that “feature” can go away in the next version of this model.

  15. I am a M&P9c owner for a little over a year now. I bought it as a home defense weapon and to teach my son to shoot a medium caliber handgun. It has awesome felt-recoil characteristics for such a small gun. It is a 9mm that shots like a .380. I am happy with the behavior, reliability and features of the pistol. I have more than 2,000 rounds through it and it has never jammed. The wear patterns have been minimal. The mechanical characteristics seem to improve with each 300-round trip to the range.

    I basically agree with everything said here, and would recommend the pistol. However, this article makes the M&P9c sound like the best compact pistol ever. It is not free from sins. It is far from perfect. The article should have included a few caveats:
    1. It is comfortable only with the extended grip mag. I have small hands and even I find the flush-fit grip too short to control.
    2. It is very heavy for its size. Not ideal for CCW. I you are going to carry it, you need a secure belt or shoulder holster.
    3. The short barrel is very inaccurate. Combat accuracy only: I would not expect less than 12” groups at 20 feet. Do not engage any target beyond 30 feet. I am by no means a marksman. This may give you some point of reference: In a quick-fire drill, can put 8-out-of-10 rounds in the black on a 8” target at 30 feet with my Walther P99. I only get 8-out-of-10 on paper at 20 feet with my M&P9c.
    4. The spring is heavy. Neither my wife nor my 13-year-old can rack it or use the slide release.
    5. The mags are a BEAR to load. By the time I load up 5 mags for a trip to the range, my thumbs are raw. I am looking for a mag loader for it.

    I mention the above only because information is important to satisfaction.
    The M&P9c does have it sins, indeed. However, those sins are more than offset by the positives.
    It is a GREAT pistol for its price point. I recommend it highly.

  16. I just picked this pistol up at a local shop and I have to say I love it. I have the .40 in full size, and really like that as well. I’m a lefty, which makes it a great match for me. I ordered the Viridian C5L for the compact as well, which should make it a great carry piece. Now if there were only better holsters choices…=)

  17. We want to sell them to you but we’re having trouble getting enough in stock. They come in and are sold very quickly.

  18. The M&P9c has been out of stock on CTD (and on a number of other sites) for a long time now so someone must like them. Of course, you’d like to think that S&W and CTD would be busting butt to keep up with demand. Just sayin’.

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