The model designation M&P (Military & Police) predates the current Smith & Wesson autoloaders by 106 years.
Originally applied to .38 revolver of 1899, the name was resurrected for the wide variety of semi-auto pistols.
Starting with the standard 9mm model, a 17-shot polymer-frame striker-fired pistol with 4.25″ barrel, the M&P line spawned a great variety of variations to fit almost every possible niche.
With so many variations, it can make your head spin. So which S&W M&P model is right for you? Let’s cover several models to assist in your decision
Evolution of the M&P
The basic design features a double-stack magazine, a steel chassis within the Zytel grip frame and swappable backstraps.
It’s evolved into a compact model (3.5″ barrel, 12 rounds) and a long slide competition and hunting variant (5″ barrel, 17 rounds, ability to mount optical sights on the slide).
All these were later made available in .40 S&W and .45 ACP. 357 Sig chambering was available for a time, but was later discontinued.
The ‘Go-To’ Option: M&P Shield
The same basic control and parts layout apply to the slimmed-down single stack M&P Shield, also available in 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP.
With barrel lengths similar to the compact model, and magazine capacity down to 6-8 rounds, Shield offers improved concealment with the same manual of arms as the larger variants.
Relatively mild recoil and good accuracy made this a very popular development. They are available with optional integral lasers.
Best M&Ps for Training and Recreation
For training and quiet recreational, full size and compact .22 rimfire versions have been introduced.
Completely dissimilar internally, these are entirely faithful in reproducing all interface and handling features of the centerfire pistols, other than the noise and the recoil.
The design overall is based on Walther P22. Available with 10- or 12-round magazines, M&P .22 makes an excellent trainer to reduce ammunition costs and shooter fatigue.
Other M&P Models for Consideration
Both use concealed hammer firing instead of striker, and both feature locked breech. Bodyguard is a subcompact 6-shot pistol with 2.75″ barrel.
It is available with optional integral lasers. It’s a little jumpy on recoil, but not painful thanks to the tilt-barrel Browning lockup.
With a 3.7″ barrel and an 8-shot single stack magazine, it’s about the length and height of the double-stack Compact model.
Because of the less powerful .380 ACP chambering, it can be racked and fired even by users with minimal hand strength.
Currently in 2.0 generation, M&P series have proven themselves as reliable, ergonomic and durable guns.
This 2017 update lengthened the internal steel chassis for greater rigidity, provided improved triggers and more aggressive grip texture to aid retention.
The streamlined grip makes them a better fit than Glocks for many shooters with small hands.
They are becoming popular with American police departments, and have been adopted in over 30 other countries as police and military sidearms, living up to the name.
Several competition configurations, specified by such notables as Julie Golob, are also available. Choosing the right M&P for you depends on your preferences, but you have plenty of models to choose from.
Which M&P is your go-to? What advice would you give to someone thinking about purchasing an M&P? Let us know in the comments below.