[FIREARM REVIEW] Smith & Wesson M&P9 M2.0

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[FIREARM REVIEW] Smith & Wesson M2.0 9mm Pistol

A few days ago Smith & Wesson introduced its major update of their successful 2005 classic polymer-framed, locked-breech semi-auto M&P (Military & Police) striker-fired pistol in the form of the new M&P M2.0 and sent me one in 9mm to Review. Although there are a number of M&P variants now, including the Pro, Compact, Shield, and Bodyguard, this new M2.0 promises several significant improvements. The M2.0 is intended to be a major change from the original M&P design (especially the trigger and grip) and is offered in three calibers, 9mm, .40S&W, and .45ACP. I had to test and evaluate it for myself to see the improvements, since I already own the other variants. I was ready to especially experience the new trigger, audible and tactile short reset, the more aggressive grip and improved ergonomics, 4 palmswell inserts, and the stainless steel chassis, etc. The president of their Firearms Division Matt Buckingham said “This is clearly one of the most advanced production pistols on the market today, and we believe it is the pistol that consumers have been waiting for.” I was anxious to get started with a hands-on trial and investigate the M2.0, rather than just read the promotional claims.

Does its specifications and features match my preferences and personal criteria… and does it work for me as one of my concealed carry or home defense guns? Will my students like the changes, after they shoot it? Are the trigger improvements and short, tactile and audible reset really “significant” improvements? Does the extended steel chassis help any with muzzle flip and felt recoil? Is there a longer sight radius than the original version? Is the trigger press lighter, crisper, and smooth compared to the original version’s about 6.5-pound press? Is the grip texturing that more helpful for a more solid grip? Will the mags, sights, and holsters I already have on my earlier model M&Ps be compatible and work with this new M2.0 model? Does it have a magazine safety disconnect? Will it perform well with various 115, 124, 135, and 147 grain JHP, Polymer, and FMJ rounds? So many questions and so little resources to investigate to help my readers, students, and myself. I want to analyze, compare, and evaluate this M&P M2.0 to some of my top 9mm guns for recommendation or not in this article. I have asked 6 of my students to shoot and evaluate it and give me feedback. I have reviewed several 9mm compact and full-size guns in depth recently, several on this website. I evaluate my Top 21 concealed carry guns in the recent second printing of my book “Concealed Carry & Handgun Essentials.” I definitely favor the 9mm for concealed carry and want to help readers and students compare this new model to my other recommended 9mms. The Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm has a reputation as a quality and accurate gun out-of-the-box, so how does this IMPROVED model fare?

Here I give my criteria, compare each criterion to the gun’s features, and show my range test results for the M2.0, to help you analyze your handguns and make the best selection for yourself. You can add or subtract from my criteria to meet your needs and preferences. I was very anxious to compare it factor by factor to my other quality 9mm guns and receive input from some of my students to see if it truly ranked in my top concealed carry pistols. Know that I am not on the Smith-Wesson payroll, have not been paid by them for this article, and not influenced to say certain things about the gun. I want to be honest and straight-forward with my opinions and ideas the way I see the pistol to sincerely help folks. Specifically, I want to show how accurate it is out of the box, with the improvements and without modifications? What weight is the new trigger press? Is the trigger really light, smooth and crisp? Does it have a short and distinct reset that is easy to feel? Is it a reliable gun with different ammo? Does the extended rigid and steel chassis frame help with muzzle flip, recoil, and reduce torque when firing it? Is the high grip-to-barrel-bore axis comfortable for me and does it help reduce muzzle rise and help for a faster aim recovery? Is the slide stop and/or mag release ambidextrous and does it freely release mags?? Do you have to press the trigger to disassemble it or can you deactivate the sear easily beforehand? What are its pros, cons, and special features? Is this a 9mm gun I would recommend for concealed carry and/or home defense?

For the Smith-Wesson M&P M2.0 model, I want to first present two charts that list the Specifications and some Features for the pistol. Note that over time and production run the specifications can change by the manufacturers and that the retail price often varies some. Sometimes you can buy the gun about $50.-$100. or so less than posted retail. Next, I give you my 10 criteria that I use to evaluate all guns. Finally, I present my analysis and how I specifically evaluated this gun against each of my criteria to recommend or not recommend it. As always, set your own criteria and priorities, do your own research and check my data, information, etc. with yours, for your very personal selection process.

The Aggressive Grip Texture of the M&P M2.0

The Aggressive Grip Texture of the M&P M2.0

3-TABLE-SW MP M2.0 SPECS and FEATURES

Criteria and Considerations 

Here are just 10 of my Criteria and factors I use for evaluating any handgun, so I will use them for the M2.0. In addition to my criteria, there are other subjective features that may be appealing for some, like smooth rounded corners, a certain style, mag release location, action, caliber, appearance, number of mags included, type of sights/modifications, bore axis, rail, grip angle, non-porting or porting, included extras like a holster and pouch, customer service, etc. So, I combined these into my last Miscellaneous criterion. I must admit that ALL gun-choice decisions involve tradeoffs, but I really want ALL of my criteria to be met. I assigned a total possible point score of 10 points for each of my 10 criteria for a total possible score of 100 points. You can certainly add your own additional criteria and preferences or subtract any of mine.

S&W M&P M2.0 9mm Trigger Press and Gauge

S&W M&P M2.0 9mm Trigger Press and Gauge

Smith-Wesson M&P M2.0 9mm Pistol Range Test 

Thanks to Federal Premium, American Eagle, Speer, and Sig Sauer for providing various ammo loads for my testing and evaluation of the M2.0 to determine how well the gun cycled, handled, and performed. I shot high-quality:

  1. Federal Premium Personal Defense-Low Recoil Hydra-Shok 135 grain JHP 9mm (rated MV=1060 fps & ME=337 ftlbs);
  2. Federal Premium Personal Defense-Low Recoil Hydra-Shok 124 grain JHP 9mm (rated MV=1120 fps & ME=345 ftlbs);
  3. Federal Syntech Polymer 115 grain TSJ (Total Synthetic Jacket) 9mm (rated MV=1130 fps & ME=326 ftlbs);
  4. American Eagle 124 grain FMJ 9mm (rated MV=1150 fps & ME=365 ftlbs);
  5. Sig Sauer Elite V-Crown 124 grain JHP (rated MV=1165 fps & ME=374 ftlbs);
  6. Sig Sauer Elite Ball 115 grain FMJ (rated MV=1185 fps & ME=359 ftlbs); and
  7. Speer LE Gold Dot G2 147 grain JHP 9mm (rated MV=970 fps & ME=307 ftlbs.)

This was a very good varied selection of JHP, FMJ, polymer, and different weights of ammo for testing. I only fired about 375 rounds total to evaluate this gun (usually I shoot 500 rounds over a couple of days) to decide if I want to carry the gun and/or use it for personal protection or not. The ammo worked very well and I had the information I needed after shooting the M2.0. Below are my evaluations for each of my 10 criteria for my concealed carry and home defense purposes. I wanted to put the gun through its paces and check it thoroughly for malfunctions, stoppages, and performance with quality JHP personal defense ammo and FMJ rounds, etc. I appreciate and want to thank again Federal Premium, American Eagle, Sig Sauer, and Speer for providing the various FMJ and JHP ammo for me to test and evaluate the new M2.0.

The M2.0 has really nice ergonomics. It felt very good in my hands, was comfortable, and the new interchangeable Medium-Large palmswell grip insert felt great and made a solid grip. The aggressive texturing of the M2.0 grips was definitely an improvement over the included grips on my original gun. NOT too aggressive. I really like them.

The aggressive texturing and solid grip; the light press, smooth, and crisp improved trigger; the short tactile and audible reset; the nice 18-degree grip angle and high grip to barrel bore axis; and the rigid stainless steel chassis to help with felt recoil are things I liked best about the new and improved M&P M2.0.

Certainly the 4 interchangeable palmswell grip inserts helped the fit to my hand. The new partial front, scalloped cocking serrations was a nice touch for press checks, etc. I was able to fit all my fingers on the grip and it felt so nice and I was able to handle it for good results. The gun did not slip in my hands and I was able to handle the recoil easily. It does have an ambidextrous slide stop, with reversible mag release, and optional ambi thumb safety. The slide was very easy for me to rack and the felt recoil and muzzle rise were very manageable, given its all steel slide, barrel, sights, and steel chassis. Even the new mag release button is steel over the previous polymer one. Below I will get into the evaluation factors and my ideas for each of my criteria after the range testing by myself and my students.

This M2.0 was very similar to my original M&P 9mm in terms of its reliability, accuracy, grip angle, takedown, and basic operations. But it was definitely improved over the original in terms of the trigger, tactile reset, grip texturing, and rigid steel chassis that reduced the torque and felt recoil when firing it. I had no malfunctions or stoppages at all with the M2.0 and the various Federal Premium, American Eagle, and Sig Sauer types and weights of ammo fired. The Speer Gold Dot G2 147 grain did not perform as well as I expected in this particular pistol, being slower, with more muzzle flip, and longer to regain the sights. However, I do like the Gold Dot JHP in 124 grain+P for personal protection. After my range live fire, the new M&P really impressed me as a very accurate and reliable (with the limited 375 rounds fired by me) carry and personal protection gun. After initially cleaning the gun and then shooting it at the range for the first time, my first 17 rounds fired rapid fire with the Federal Premium Personal Defense Hydra-Shok 135 grain JHP and Sig V-Crown 124 grain JHP at 7 yards all hit in a nice 3.0″ or less group. I really like both of these rounds. The other ammo gave me similar good results. All very decent rounds, but I prefer the Federal Premium (124 and 135 grain) JHPs and Sig V-Crown 124 grain JHPs for defensive use, because of the expansion and less over-penetration. For self defense, I am not shooting precision bullseyes, but want great shot placement AND expansion, rather than a 1.5″ group. So the target hits by me this aging dinosaur with a new tool were very acceptable for close-up self-defense encounters. BUT, shoot it for yourself to make your own decisions, based on your abilities, goals, proficiency, and purpose. Below are my hits for my first 17 rounds at 7 yards fired rapid fire with the M2.0. I must admit the gun is more accurate than me.

M&P M2.0 9mm Target Hits at 7 Yards with Federal Premium Hydra-Shok JHP & Sig V-Crown JHP Ammo

M&P M2.0 9mm Target Hits at 7 Yards with Federal Premium Hydra-Shok JHP & Sig V-Crown JHP Ammo

 

Range Test Results for the S&W M&P M2.0 9mm for each of my 10 Criteria:

1. Accuracy and Reliability – Score: 10

The accuracy of the M2.0 with it’s 4.25″ barrel  and longer sight radius was very good for self-defense purposes for this old codger at distances of 3, 7, 10, and 15 yards, with my aging eyesight and carpal tunnel wrist. My groups at each of the up-close encounter distances were acceptable and within 2.0-3.0 inches for the first time I ever fired the gun, after first cleaning it. Groups were acceptable for self defense at 10 and15 yards. I fired about 375 total rounds for this test and want to fire a total of 500 rounds to break-in ANY carry gun I’m betting my life on. The slightly-less than 5.0# trigger press I experienced was crisp, soft, short and great, and was a definite improvement over the previous model’s 6.5# press. It definitely met and exceeded my personal preference press range and criterion. The extended and rigid stainless steel chassis frame (visible thru windows cut in the dust cover), its comfortable high grip-to-barrel bore axis, and the fine grip angle all helped me to control the gun when shooting it. The slightly longer sight radius also helped. The slide and barrel are stainless steel with their Armornite treatment for a hardened, durable corrosion-resistant finish. I used my Modified-Isosceles Stance, a two-handed grip, and successfully shot high-quality 9mm Federal Premium Personal Defense 124 grain & 135 grain JHP; American Eagle 124 grain FMJ; and Federal Syntech 115 grain Polymer TSJ. Also, I shot a few rounds of Sig Sauer Elite V-Crown 124 grain JHP and Elite Ball 115 grain FMJ rounds, and Speer Gold Dot G2 147 grain JHP. NO malfunctions at all with any of the ammo and gun..

2. Trigger Press – Score: 10

The Trigger Press averaged about 4.95 pounds with 10 readings from my Lyman Electronic Trigger Pull Gauge. This was great for me and within my limits for my press range for my carry guns, given the limited 375 rounds I fired with it. It was very evident to me that there was a major improvement to the trigger and its press. It will probably improve even more after break-in and getting 500 rounds through it. I prefer that my carry guns have a max. of 6.5 pounds press or much less, so this is certainly at the optimal lower end of my range. You can compare it to my top 21 concealed carry guns & their presses, etc. in my recent Book. I really liked the short, very crisp and smooth trigger press and reset.

3. Trigger – Score: 10

The improved steel Trigger had a very identifiable click and reset point that was easy to feel. I liked the short takeup and positive reset trigger. I experienced no stacking in the press weight and the trigger was not gritty. It is very comparable to my M&P Pro Series trigger in my other gun. Again, the press was soft, smooth, short, and crisp. My shots were consistent each time and I could easily recognize the reset point. Both tactile and audible reset. For me, it was a  much-improved trigger and there is no usual need for an Apex mod, but see what you think.

4. Barrel Length – Score: 10

The 4.25-inch length barrel helped control muzzle flip and felt recoil. The M2.0’s stainless steel barrel was of high quality and with their Armornite finish should be very durable and corrosion resistant. The barrel length was certainly concealable. For me and my carry and home defense purposes, this length barrel contributes to good balance, handled & pointed well, was acceptable even for carry, and I had no feeding problems whatsoever.

5. Sights – Score: 9

The steel front and rear Sights are nice. The front sight was a white dot and the rear were a white 2-dot. I’m not sure I like ALL white dots. They were distinguishable and worked well and have the same dovetail cuts, so you can add aftermarket sights. I wanted better sights, especially for my impaired vision and color blind eyes. I prefer the bright green fiber optic front sight for a better lock on to the front sight & wanted larger sight dots.

6. Proper Gun Weight – Score 9

The 24.7 ounce unloaded weight of the M2.0 was just right for me. The weight helped me control movement,  lessened felt recoil, contributed to accuracy, but was not too heavy for all-day concealed carry. Of course, there are pros and cons for gun weight and there are personal preferences and tradeoffs. A very personal decision. For me, this total package is acceptable for home defense and for carry.

7. Caliber – Score: 9

While I was shooting the M2.0, it was comfortable in my hand and I easily handled the recoil. I really like and prefer the 9mm caliber for my main concealed carry and personal protection gun. I enjoy practicing with the 9mm, since it is not snappy and the recoil does not beat me to death after many rounds fired. The M2.0 digested the various JHPs and FMJs easily without a single malfunction or stoppage.

Smith-Wesson M&P M2.0 9mm in Alabama Holster's "The Ranger" with American Eagle, Sig Sauer & Speer Ammo

Smith-Wesson M&P M2.0 9mm in Alabama Holster’s “The Ranger” with American Eagle, Sig Sauer & Speer Ammo

8. Capacity – Score: 8

There were two mags included, both 17-rounders. I liked their high capacity and they were well made. But I would have liked to have had one more mag included. I believe for almost ALL uses a shooter should have at least 3 mags minimum on hand and included, to save up front expense for buying another. IDEA: Consider maybe trading the hard case for a sturdy box, like some manufacturers are doing now, so there can be a third mag provided. But, given the mags are compatible with previous model this helps. No feeding problems whatsoever and the mags ejected freely and worked very well.

9. Ergonomics – Score: 10

The ergonomics of the M2.0 were excellent. The 1.3″ grips were aggressively textured, but not too heavily. I could grip them securely and comfortably with my medium-sized hands. No skateboard tape needed. I was able to easily reach all the controls without changing my grip. The well-rounded grip and grip-bore angle helped with a solid tactile grip. It fit my hand very well with the improvements. I liked that the model I tried had no manual thumb safety. All models do NOT have the mag safety disconnect. The attention to detail in all ergonomic-related functions was excellent. The steel chassis with the full-length guide rails that extend the full length of the polymer frame is more rigid than the original M&P and helped lessen felt recoil and muzzle flip. The chassis is visible through the holes in the frame on the dust cover above the front rail and below the slide.

M&P M2.0 9mm in Kramer Leather Holster and Sig Sauer V-Crown JHPs and Federal Hydra-Shok JHPs

M&P M2.0 9mm in Kramer Leather Holster and Sig Sauer V-Crown JHPs and Federal Hydra-Shok JHPs

10. Miscellaneous – Score: 9

I disassembled, lubed and cleaned, and re-assembled the M2.0 before I shot it, as always with any gun. I did NOT have to press the trigger to disassemble it and it was quick to takedown by lowering the sear even without the included tool.  There is a small front rail below the slide which has partial cocking serrations, which do not extend all the way up the slide like the rear ones do. The small rail is fine with me for a carry gun. There is NOT a Loaded Chamber Indicator on this version. I learned that the M2.0 is backward compatible with mags, sights, and holsters, which helps with new gun expenses and not spending more for extras, if you have the original model gear. The gun comes in the standard black model (I tested) and in a Flat Dark Earth color if desired. The beavertail has been reduced and I like that, but some miss it from the original. I wonder if they will introduce a COMPACT version with these improved M2.0 features and improvements? Probably so, but no official word yet. The M2.0 does not include accessories like some other compacts, e.g. a holster, mag pouch, or third mag. But given the improvements and things like the 4 included interchangeable palmswell grip inserts, etc. you do not even think about them. The Kramer Leather holster and Alabama Holster’s The Ranger in kydex (both seen in above images) worked great with the M2.0 and were both a perfect fit, high-quality and sturdy matches for the M2.0. The M2.0 has a Limited Lifetime Warranty and a Lifetime Service policy.

M&P M2.0 Front Slide Mini-Serrations and Dust Cover Windows to See Extended Steel Chassis

M&P M2.0 Front Slide Mini-Serrations and Dust Cover Windows to See Extended Steel Chassis

Total Points = 94 out of 100 Possible.

I certainly RECOMMEND this handgun for consideration as your concealed carry and personal and home defense handgun. I especially like its accuracy, aggressive and controllable grip and its angle, manageable felt recoil, and its short, smooth, and crisp trigger and tactile and audible reset. There are major improvements to the trigger from the earlier version. The attention to details in its design and ergonomics put it at the top for striker-fired compact guns for me. Of course, I regularly use my other M&P guns now. I do want to shoot it more to get in my 500 rounds minimum for break-in to finalize my long-term reliability opinion, before I put it in my concealed carry rotation and for home defense use. Overall, I was very impressed with its accuracy and that I had no malfunctions or stoppages whatsoever with the few rounds I fired. Also, I liked that it was backward compatible with my other M&Ps for mags, holsters, and sights. Well, these are just my opinions and ideas, so handle, shoot it, and decide for yourself. Thanks to my students for their input as well.

I hope this review of the new M&P M2.0 9mm pistol has helped you gain some information you did not previously have. Again, consider that these are just my opinions with my criteria, my limited live-range fire and shooting only about 375 rounds or so of various ammo. Like always, I recommend that you shoot any handgun yourself before you purchase it. Our Try-Before-You-Buy range session has been well received and helped folks avoid spending big bucks on a gun that is not live-fire compatible for them. Decide on your criteria, how you will primarily use the gun, and what features are important to you and you are willing to pay for ahead of your range time. Then critically evaluate the gun YOURSELF per your criteria and purpose, with standard drills (several mentioned in my Book), with various ammo types and brands, over an extended break-in period of about 500 rounds. Remember, Safety First Always.

Continued success!

READ MORE: A Checklist of Ten Mandatory Actions To Take for Your New Gun

Contacts

Smith-Wesson
1-800-962-2658
Hartford, CT 06144

Federal Premium, American Eagle, & Syntech Ammo
1-800-379-1732
Anoka, MN 55303

Sig Sauer Elite V-Crown JHP-FMJ Ammo
1-603-610-3000
Newington, NH 03801

Kramer Leather Holsters
1-800-510-2666
[email protected]
Tacoma, WA 98411

Alabama Holsters
251-626-9988
[email protected]
Daphne, AL 36526

Speer Ammo
1-800-379-1732
Lewiston, ID 83501

Photos by Author.

* This personal opinion article is meant for general information & educational purposes only and the author strongly recommends that you seek counsel from an attorney for legal advice and your own personal certified weapons trainer for proper guidance about shooting & using YOUR firearms, self-defense and concealed carry. It should not be relied upon as accurate for all shooters & the author assumes no responsibility for anyone’s use of the information and shall not be liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information or any damages or injuries incurred whatsoever.

© 2017 Col Benjamin Findley. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in whole or in part by mechanical means, photocopying, electronic reproduction, scanning, or any other means without prior written permission. For copyright information, contact Col Ben Findley at [email protected].

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