First Look: S&W M&P M2.0 Compact 9mm In-Depth Review

First Look: S&W M&P M2.0 9mm Compact In-Depth Review

Just this month, Smith & Wesson introduced their M&P M2.0 Compact 9mm handgun to supplement its M&P M2.0 full-size gun released earlier this year. It is my opinion that this new compact 9mm will directly compete with the very successful Glock 19 compact 9mm pistol, used by many for concealed carry. There are other compact 4-inch barreled guns that compete in this compact category. I shall present some later in this review.

The M2.0 Compact is intended to provide major changes from the original M&P 9 C design (especially the trigger, aggressive texturized grip, and extended stainless steel chassis for stability.) I wanted to test and evaluate the changes and improvements for this compact concealed carry gun for myself, since I already own the other variants. I was ready to especially experience the improved trigger, audible and tactile short reset, the more aggressive grip and improved ergonomics, 4 palmswell inserts, and the stainless steel chassis, etc. Thanks to Smith-Wesson I was able to receive one of the first ones produced to test and evaluate it for readers, students, and for myself.

I wondered if this M2.0 Compact would meet my preferences and personal criteria for my concealed carry or home defense guns? 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 the trigger press lighter, crisper, and smooth compared to the original version’s hard press? Does the grip texturing help for a more solid grip? I want to analyze, compare, and evaluate this M&P M2.0 Compact relative to some of my top 9mm guns, so I can recommend it or not in this article. Some of my students will 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 series has a reputation for quality and accuracy, so how does this improved M2.0 Compact model rate?

I use my handgun selection criteria, compare each criterion to the gun’s features, and show my range test results for the M2.0 Compact, 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 hands-on test and evaluate to learn:

  1. How accurate is it out of the box, with the improvements and without modifications?
  2. What weight is the new trigger press? Is the trigger really light, smooth and crisp?
  3. Does it have a short and distinct reset that is easy to feel and hear?
  4. Is it a reliable gun with FMJ and JHP ammo?
  5. Does the extended rigid and steel chassis frame help with muzzle flip, recoil, and reduce torque when firing it? (6) 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?
  6. Is the slide stop truly ambidextrous and does it freely and easily control the slide?
  7. Do you have to press the trigger to disassemble it or can you deactivate the sear easily beforehand?
  8. Which of the 4 interchangeable palmswell grip inserts work best for me?
  9. Does the 18-degree grip angle work for me and must I rotate my hand to operate the controls with this angle?
  10. Is the grip texture too aggressive for me and like gritty sandpaper or not?
  11. What are its pros, cons, and special features?
  12. Is this a 9mm compact gun I would recommend or not for concealed carry and/or home defense?

First, I will give you the M&P M2.0 Compact’s Specifications and special Features. Then, I will follow with a mini-visual comparison between the original M&P 9 C and this new M&P M2.0 Compact. Then I will present a chart comparing this new M2.0 Compact to 6 other current 4-inch barrel 9mms for concealed carry. Next comes my 10 criteria and their definitions. Following this, I will conduct my live-fire range test, show actual results, and give my opinions with ratings and support for each of my criteria, with individual one-by-one analysis and ratings. Then my final overall recommendation or not is given, based on my assigned number of points and my opinions. I hope this saves you some time and helps you make an important decision about what 9mm compact handgun to buy for concealed carry.

SW MP M2.0 COMPACT 9mm SPECS and FEATURES

M&P 9 Compact (Left- probably the new "Subcompact") & Enhanced M&P 9 M2.0 Compact (Right)

M&P 9 Compact (Left- probably the new “Subcompact”) & Enhanced M&P 9 M2.0 Compact (Right)

The new for 2017 Smith & Wesson M&P 9 M2.0 9mm Compact has a 4 inch barrel, while the M&P 9 Compact from about 10 years ago has a 3.5 inch barrel. Both have no grip finger grooves and the M2.0 Compact has a nice more texturized grip and a better trigger, in my opinion. Both are great concealed carry guns, but the older M&P 9 C will probably become the new subcompact concealed carry gun, while the new M2.0 is the compact concealed carry gun. There are plenty of 4-inch barrel 9mm concealed carry guns on the market now and below are just a few.

Dimensions Comparison of Some 4-Inch Barrel 9mm concealed carry Handguns [with original M&P 9 Compact (or “subcompact”) ]:

SW MP M2.0 COMPACT- 4 Inch Barrel Comparison GUNS

Aggressive Grip Texture of M&P M2.0 Compact 9mm is Just Right for Me

Aggressive Grip Texture of M&P M2.0 Compact 9mm is Just Right for Me

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 Compact 9mm. 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.

You make your own tradeoffs according to your personal goals, priorities, preferences, needs, and use, but take a total system perspective and recognize that there are several overall features, characteristics, and pros and cons to include and then consider them.

M&P M2.0 Compact 9mm Right Side Ambi Slide Stop Lever

M&P M2.0 Compact 9mm Right Side Ambi Slide Stop Lever

S&W M&P M2.0 Compact 9mm Front Slide Scalloped Serrations & Dust Cover Windows to View Steel Chassis  

S&W M&P M2.0 Compact 9mm Front Slide Scalloped Serrations & Dust Cover Windows to View Steel Chassis

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

Thanks to Sig Sauer Ammo for providing various ammo loads for my testing and evaluation of the M2.0 Compact to determine how well the gun cycled, handled, and performed. I shot high-quality Sig Sauer Elite V-Crown 124 grain JHP (rated MV=1165 fps & ME=374 ftlbs) and Sig Sauer Elite Ball 115 grain FMJ (rated MV=1185 fps & ME=359 ftlbs.) This is quality high-velocity premium ammo and worked great in this gun.

I fired only about 250 rounds 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 fine and gave me the information I needed after shooting the M2.0 Compact. 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 Sig Sauer for providing the various FMJ and JHP ammo for me to test and evaluate the new M2.0 Compact 9mm.

Like its full-size counterpart the M2.0, the M2.0 Compact has really nice ergonomics. It felt very good in my hands and the grips were aggressively texturized just right and not too grippy or rough. It was comfortable and the 4 interchangeable grips allowed me to customize it for an excellent fit to my hands. I liked the new Medium-Large palmswell grip insert and it gave me a solid grip. The aggressive texturing of the M2.0 grips was definitely an improvement over the grips on my original gun. NOT too aggressive and I really like them.

The trigger was definitely improved. The things I liked best about the new and improved M&P M2.0 Compact 9mm were 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.

Certainly the 4 interchangeable palmswell grip inserts helped the fit to my hand. The new partial front, scalloped cocking serrations were a nice touch for press checks, etc. I was able to fit all my fingers on the grip, it felt nice, and I was able to handle it for good hits. 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. It felt very solid in my hands, although lightweight. 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 Compact was very similar to my original M&P 9C 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 Compact and the Sig Sauer types and weights of ammo fired. After my range live fire, the new M&P compact really impressed me as a very accurate and reliable (with the limited 250 rounds fired by me) gun for carry and personal protection. I really like the premium Sig Sauer 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 small group. So the target hits by this old goat 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 15 rounds at 7 yards fired rapid fire with the M2.0 Compact. This gun performed great and I will probably start assembling my pennies.

M&P M2.0 Compact 9mm- 15 Target Hits Rapid Fire at 7 Yards with Sig V-Crown JHP Ammo

M&P M2.0 Compact 9mm- 15 Target Hits Rapid Fire at 7 Yards with Sig V-Crown JHP Ammo

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

1. Accuracy and Reliability – Score: 10

The accuracy of the M2.0 Compact with its 4.00″ barrel  and nice sight radius was very good for self-defense purposes for this eye-troubled old codger at distances of 3, 7, 10, and 15 yards. 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 250 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 M&P 9 Compact, non-M2.0 version’s 6-6.5# press. It definitely met and exceeded my personal preference press range and criterion. The just-right aggressive grip texturing, 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 18-degree grip angle all helped me to control the gun’s felt recoil and muzzle flip 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  Sig Sauer Elite V-Crown 124 grain JHP and Sig Sauer Elite Ball 115 grain FMJ rounds. NO malfunctions at all with any of the ammo and gun. My students were accurate with this gun and recommended it.

2. Trigger Press – Score: 10

The trigger press averaged about 4.90 pounds with 12 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 250 rounds I fired with it. There definitely was a major improvement to the trigger and its press. It was very smooth and soft with a crisp break and a very short reset point. It will get even better after more rounds down range. I prefer that my carry guns have a max. of 6.5 pounds press or much less to help mitigate movement, 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. It was fun to shoot this gun with its short, very crisp and smooth trigger press and the felt recoil was minimal. Really.

3. Trigger – Score: 10

The improved steel trigger had a very identifiable click and reset point that was easy to feel tactilely and also to hear audibly. 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. The trigger was slightly wider than previous models and helped with control. Again, the press was soft, smooth, short, and crisp. My shots were consistent each time and I could easily recognize the reset point. For me, it was a  much-improved trigger and for me there is no need for an Apex mod kit, but see what you think. I’ll bet you like it.

4. Barrel Length – Score: 10

The 4.00-inch length barrel and its long sight radius helped me to control muzzle flip and felt recoil, influencing accuracy. The M2.0 Compact’s stainless steel barrel was of high quality and with their Armornite finish should be very durable and corrosion resistant. The compact barrel length was concealable, as was my original M&P 9 C and its 3.5 inch barrel. I consider it a subcompact and the M2.0 a compact. For me and my carry and home defense purposes, this length barrel is fine, handles & points well, and I will definitely buy it and use it for carry and home defense. I had no feeding problems at all with it.

5. Sights – Score: 9

The steel front and rear sights are nice and work fine. The front sight was a white dot and the rear were a white 2-dot. They worked well and have the same dovetail cuts, so you can add aftermarket sights. For concealed carry, I will probably upgrade the sights after awhile, given my impaired night vision and color blind eyes. I prefer the bright green fiber optic front sight for a better lock on the front sight and I do like larger sight dots with my condition.

6. Proper Gun Weight – Score: 10

The 24 ounce unloaded weight of the M2.0 Compact was just right for me. The weight helped me control movement,  lessened felt recoil, contributed to accuracy, and was not too heavy for all-day concealed carry. Of course, there are personal preferences and tradeoffs. A very personal decision. For me, this total package is acceptable for home defense and for carry. Very comparable to the Glock 19 and with a better trigger for me.

7. Caliber – Score: 9

I had fun shooting this gun and it was so comfortable in my hand and I didn’t want to stop shooting it. 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 Compact digested the JHPs and FMJs easily without a single malfunction or stoppage.

8. Capacity – Score: 8

There were two mags included for this compact gun, both 15-rounders. I liked their high capacity for a compact and carry gun. The mags were well made. It would have been nice 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. But, it helps that the mags are compatible with previous models’ mags. No feeding problems whatsoever and the mags ejected freely and worked very well.

9. Ergonomics – Score: 10

The ergonomics of the M2.0 Compact were excellent. The grips were aggressively textured, just right for me, and easily customzed for my wife and students. Similar to Glock’s RTF texture. I could grip them securely and comfortably with my medium-sized hands. No skateboard tape needed and no abrasive sandpaper irritation. I was able to easily reach all the controls without changing my grip. The well-rounded grip and 18 degree grip-bore angle helped me with a solid tactile grip. It fit my hand very well with the improvements and extra medium-large grip insert. I liked that the model I tried had no manual thumb safety. This is, however, an option. It did NOT have the mag safety disconnect and can be fired when a mag is not in place. 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.

S&W M&P M2.0 Compact 9mm Pistol and Hard Case & Accessories

S&W M&P M2.0 Compact 9mm Pistol and Hard Case & Accessories

10. Miscellaneous – Score: 9

Before I shot the M2.0 Compact, I disassembled, cleaned, lubed and re-assembled 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 scalloped 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 a Loaded Chamber Indicator on top of the slide which is handy. You should know that the M2.0 Compact is backward compatible with mags, sights, and (most) 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 and has a slight beavertail. The reshaped slide profile and reduced thickness make the gun lighter and more maneuverable than previous ones. I am so glad that S&W introduced this Compact model with these improved M2.0 features and changes. The M2.0 does not include accessories like some other compacts, e.g. a holster, mag pouch, or third mag. But given the fine trigger and grip improvements and other features like the 4 included interchangeable palmswell grip inserts, extra mag sleeves for higher cap mags, etc. you do not even think about them. The M2.0 Compact has a Limited Lifetime Warranty and a Lifetime Service policy.

Total Points = 95 out of 100 Possible.

I certainly Highly RECOMMEND this M2.0 Compact 9mm 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. I will buy this gun! 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 250 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 and other instructors for their input as well.

I hope this review of the new M&P M2.0 Compact 4-inch barrel 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 250 rounds or so of FMJ and JHP 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!

Contacts:

Smith-Wesson
1-800-331-0852
Springfield, MA 01104

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

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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  • Jim L

    Seems like the new 9mm compact is slightly bigger/heavier. Probably doesn’t make much if any difference. I’ve been toying with the idea of getting a new carry gun. So far my finalists are a .357 snubbie, the M&P compact in 45 or the XDs in the same. this 9mm seems pretty cool and would be another choice as I have a Hi Power in addition to the commander. I like to have like calibers if I am going to get something else Anyway, it looks like a winner.

    • Col Ben

      Jim, This would be a very good 9mm option to consider for carry. Of course, you know I prefer 9mm… and 45s. Best!

  • Richard Stefen Rennells-Bilyeu

    Thank you, Colonel, for the excellent preview. I cannot, as a private citizen, imagine myself in a self defense situation where I would need more than a 16 shooter to accomplish the task at hand. I’d been looking at the S&W M&P 9mm 2.0 as a substitute for my 9mm Shield after sitting down in Seattle’s Pike Place Market last summer. I watched the throngs of people in the street and thought of that scenario in terms of a terrorist vehicular attack. It would be devastating. I changed the load in my carry magazine when I returned home. I had previously carried 8 rounds of Horandy Critical Defense in my pistol, with two spare magazines loaded with Critical Duty rounds. I’ve since changed the load to 3 rounds of Defense and 5 rounds of Duty, as those rounds can defeat auto glass and the body of the cab. But considering the above scenario 5 rounds might be inadequate and a magazine swap would cost me a full second. I believe you’ve pointed me to my new carry pistol.

    • Col Ben

      Hi Richard, Thanks for your fine comments and interesting story. Yes, this M2.0 Compact is a winner and should make a nice carry gun, especially with its high capacity and excellent trigger, etc. Enjoy and Be Safe!

      • Richard Stefen Rennells-Bilyeu

        Col Ben, thought you might like to know that yesterday I purchased the M2.0 Compact and brought it home. Somehow I find it fitting since my first high capacity 9mm was a S&W Model 59, purchased in the early 80’s. Again, thanks for pointing me in this direction. I’ll give it a workout at the range this weekend.

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