A while ago, I took a Practical Shotgun course with Weaponcraft, LLC (www.weaponcrafttraining.com), and part of the course was learning to transition from the shotgun to a secondary handgun as soon as your shotgun went “click” instead of “bang” for whatever reason. My SIG Sauer P220 and I did just fine, but there were two fellas who took the course with me who had S&W M&P 9mm handguns for their secondaries, and man, they were putting out a hailstorm of very fast, accurate fire from their Smiths. I was impressed. I’d always been a single-stack magazine .45 kind of guy, but doing multiple magazine changes while these guys were banging away on one 17-round magazine kind of struck me and I went home from the course, pondering: is it worth giving up the power and familiarity of the .45 ACP in order to carry more rounds in a magazine?
I must have driven colleagues and gun friends nuts with debates that were raging in my head: caliber vs. magazine capacity, magazine capacity vs. size of gun and concealability, etc. When I saw their eyes start to glaze over, I decided to try things out for myself. I borrowed a bunch of guns that were in my price range that I knew were quality pieces and would serve me well if I bought any of them: a Glock 23 in .40 S&W, a SIG Sauer P226 in 9mm, A Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm, and a Springfield XD in 9mm. All of these guns had at least 15 round magazines, and all shot very, very well. However, for ergonomics, price, reliability, and accuracy, the S&W M&P won me over. I ordered one that day, the full-sized gun in .40 S&W (I wan’t ready for any calibers that don’t start with a “.4” yet.)
Also Read: Sphinx 9mm Compact Review
That being said, let me fill you in on the gun: The Smith & Wesson M&P series of guns is the fruition of S&W’s attempt to wrestle the Law Enforcement market out of the Glock death-grip. There were a few less-than-successful attempts by S&W in the past, namely the Sigma and SW99 series of guns, but with the M&P (Military & Police – an old historical name in the S&W lineup that also shows where they mean to market the gun), they finally got it right. The gun is similar in concept to the Glock they were aiming at – namely, it’s a double-action-only striker-fired gun with a steel-reinforced polymer frame, and steel slide. Unlike the Glock, though, the M&P can be had with a manual safety a la 1911 style guns, as well as a magazine safety that keeps the gun from firing without a magazine inserted. The M&P comes in two sizes: the full-sized gun, with a 4 1/4″ long barrel, and a magazine that holds, in 9mm, 17 rounds, and in .40 s&w or .357 SIG, 15 rounds. (there is also a .45 ACP on a bigger frame). There is also the Compact, which has a 3 1/2″ barrel, and a 12-round magazine capacity in 9mm, and a 10-round capacity in .40/.357 SIG. There are the ubiquitous picatinny rails up front for light/laser hanging, and standard low-profile three-dot sights. They come in a lockable carry case, with two magazines and interchangeable grip backstraps that let you tailor the grip profile to your hand…a nice touch!
Also Read: Glock 17 Review
Upon a stop into the shop to see if my M&P had come in yet, I saw in the rack a brand new M&P40C…the compact version of the gun I’d ordered. Having never handled one, I asked to see it and instantly fell in love. The smaller grip fit my hand perfectly while still accepting the ability to use the longer full-sized magazines, and the shorter slide meant it was made for carrying concealed, something I’d been looking for, as all my handguns are full-sized and harder to hide. I cancelled the full-sized gun order and took the Compact home with me, along with an Armordillo IWB (Inside the Waist Band) holster and a couple boxes of ammo.
I stopped at the sandpit on my way home, and was instantly glad I made the purchase. The little gun put a full magazine of 180-grain FMJ rounds into a 2 1/2″ group at 15 yards. So far, with about 300 rounds through the gun, it hasn’t jammed once, displays stellar accuracy, and fits into a niche nicely in my collection, and I never leave home without it now. In the Armordillo holster (a nice kydex holster, by the way!) it disappears and is very easy to conceal under a sweatshirt. As an added bonus, keeping a 15-round magazine as a reload gives me a full 26 rounds of .40 S&W ammunition in a pinch, something very comforting to think about, especially with all the craziness running rampant in the world today. Anyone looking for a nicely balanced carry gun would do well to check out the M&P series of guns before buying…it gets my official thumbs up! :)
Do many of you carry concealed legally? What’s in your holster?
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