S&W M&P: Which Model Is Right for You?


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

S&W Archangel Holster

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.

S&W M&P Shield LaserMax

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.

S&W M&P Shield Recoil

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.

S&W M&P .45 Suppressed

Other M&P Models for Consideration

Two different .380 ACP models are also offered: the Bodyguard, and EZ .380, an original development.

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.

S&W M&P9 Long
EZ 380 is a nice design with several unusual features. It utilizes a grip safety, with a manual thumb safety as an option.

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.

Unlike Glocks, M&P pistols also do not require dry-firing for take-down, using an internal de-cocker lever instead.

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.

About the Author:

Oleg Volk

Oleg Volk is a creative director working mainly in firearms advertising. A great fan of America and the right to bear arms, he uses his photography to support the right of every individual to self-determination and independence. To that end, he is also a big fan of firearms.
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 (12)

  1. Well, I own 3. But the Shield is my choice for EDC. I also have a full size, and a 2.0 with a 5″ slide. I want to get a compact next. They are geat guns and have never failed to function. Oh, and I choose .40 caliber for the superior stopping powet.

  2. I own, shoot, and carry several versions of the M&Ps. I highly recommend the Shield (in the 2.0 standard 9mm to many women who are looking to carry and shoot and also the EZ. The M&Ps fit into my hand like they were made for me. My personal carry is an M&P9c. I’d like to replace it on my belt with a M&P9c 2.0 in the 3.6 barrel length. I like the 9mm for the smaller guns but I also carry a full size .40 and like it, as well as the .22 full size for practice and plinking. No .45s in this line because I grew old carrying the classic 1911 and still do on occasion. I don’t like the bodyguard because it doesn’t fit me and have know a few people with similar experience. I was a S&W wheel gun man for a long time and still carry my old 64 and 60 in 2″ versions. The new revolvers and the old M&P line are reliable and serious contenders and should not be overlooked since the most popular Shields on carry one or two round more depending on caliber. M&Ps are the best of breed and I’ll take them over other brands any day.

  3. I have owned M&P in different versions since they first came on the market. From their first compact to the competition size and Shield in first and second generation. I personally find them personally to be a great Firearms in fit and feel as well as point ability compared to other I have carried over the years.

  4. I recently purchased an M&P Shield .45 Performance Center model. The first thing you notice is that, although this gun can cost upwards of $100 more than non-PC models, they come in cardboard boxes. Some other S&W’s come in nice hard plastic cases, and you would think a PC model would, but no. Hope S&W saved some money. It’s not all negative, hang in there. To me the Hi-Viz sights are ‘average’, not super-duper, even in daylight. On the plus side, the trigger is smooth, and the gun ate everything fed to it with zero ftf’s or other difficulties. Personally I like the porting. I’ve read all the objections some have to it but I like it. It is accurate and very easy to carry, and sits with a P220 and a Colt Commander as EDCs. I can live with the things I consider shortcomings and still love it. Sadly, it was not eligible for the recent military rebate, and the box thing pisses me off, but all in all a good gun and a good purchase.

  5. I own a S&W 40C. Such a sweet sidearm. Perfect for conceal carry or open carry. I dont know if it’s from experience or not but seems to have very little recoil if any. Very happy with mine!!

  6. The 2.0 M&P pistols are so different in so many ways from the pistols featured in this article that they are hardly the same gun. And there are many more variants than covered here. I run off-the-shelf M&P9c 2.0 (standard 15+1) manual safety 3.6″ barrel, 26oz empty.

  7. I’ve got an M&P 40c with the factory grip laser sights and with a full size mag in it I’ve got 16 shots of 40 S&W! The only thing I would carry besides this pistol is my Kimber Ultra Carry II with laser grips and 8 rounds of 45 ACP

  8. There are so many choices to consider in the crowded 9mm S-A group. I’ve had several models of Glock, all of which had grips which did not conform to my hand, for no reason I know of. As soon as I shot the M&P “C” model (12 rounds, 3.75″ bbl), I knew I had a winner. I have two Gen 2 “C” models now, each fitted with 17 round mag, and extension adapter. One is my OC gun, the other is my bedside gun. I like having two 9mm’s that operate identically, fit my hand, and have high-caps.

  9. I own both a M&P9 2.0 and a M&P9 Shield M2.0 with the Laser Guard Pro and I love them both! I considered and shot a few Glocks, Springfield’s Rugers and Sigs but like the MP9 2.0 series the best as far as feel, weight and firing. The only downside with the M&P9 Shield with the LL-801G GREEN LASERGUARD® PROthere is that there are not many conceal carry holsters to choose from. With that said, I will never look back on my final decisions. Awesome firearms!

  10. I have one of the original full stack in 9mm. I was impressed with the pistol from the first round fired dead center. I have run all kinds of ammo theout it without a miss fire or jam. My girlfriend had never shot a pistol in her life first two rounds in the bullseye 3rd, 4th,5th touching the bullseye. We were at 15 yards distance. She said I don’t knot what’s so hard about shooting.
    I’ve ran this gun really dirty and still didn’t effect it. The quick change grip inserts makes it universal for multiple users to enjoy using the same gun. Maybe I just got lucky but other people have said the same about out of the box accuracy. Plus the sights are easy to see. Hope this helps someone make a decision on their future purchase.

  11. I recently bought a S&W 2.0 45 shield with a 3.3″ and was amazed at how accurate it is and how reliable it is.I ran wolf ball ammo first then Remington 230gr golden saber and Federal 230gr hollow points as well,no jams and no failure to feed.The recoil was amazingly mild and comfortable.At 7yds you could almost put every round in the 10 and I have poor eyesight.I do believe it’s time to sell my glock 30sf,this is going to be my conceal carry with a Ruger lc9s as my pocket back up.Keep up the good work S&W!

  12. I love my M&P9c for several reasons. First it is my EDC and rides nicely in my IWB holster at 4 o’clock. I use the large palm swell as it fits my hands the best. I carry a M&P 9 magazine on my belt horizontally at 9 o’clock that gives me a larger reload capacity if needed and is compatible with my compact M&P9c.

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