S&W M&P .45FS Review

Discussion in 'GSSF' started by Morris, Nov 14, 2010.

  1. Morris

    Morris CLM

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    Some background: I have been shooting handguns for over 20 years. I've been an instructor, owner, etc. This review is to help those who are curious about the differences between a G21 and the M&P .45. I don't claim to be an expert but I'd like to see future buyers armed with information.

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    Since its announcement and splash into the shooting scene, I have been following the M&P series. I’ve watched local agencies change from a multi-gun issuance system (from a choice of different pistol types) to a M&P only system. I’ve monitored the finish and various parts issues as well as Smith & Wesson’s response to the problems. When I saw that the pistols had come to a maturation point that I was comfortable with, including Smith’s rapid resolution to problems, I purchased one. This pistol was to be considered for off duty carry as my department is solidly in the issued Glock .40 category.

    Being that I am issued a Glock 22 in the .40 flavor, I could have stayed with another .40. However, for as much as I shot my G21s and loved them while enjoying the slimmer lines of the 1911 series (but not liking that pistol), I wanted a different .45 caliber pistol that met a lighter weight, durable finish, easy to replace parts and was to be a shooter, not a safe queen. I settled on the full sized version of the M&P .45 without an external safety and no magazine disconnect. The package came with night sights (older style/pre-stepped rear sight), the usual three magazines, three sized backstraps and other small things. My price was $520 with a rebate I took advantage of for the two free magazines, a bit more than a similarly equipped G21 with night sights. One of the things I have come to like about the system is the metal magazines as well as the easy insertion and ejection of loaded magazines. I have had issues over the years with Glock 21 magazines of different generations.

    After handling the pistol, I settled on the slimmest grip panel. Then it was off to the range to fire some 230 grain Blazer ammo I had. Over the years, I have found that Blazer loads worked fine and were plenty accurate enough for my G21 and 21SF pistols (3 inch groups at 25 yards). As expected, the first thing I noticed was the trigger. As described by others, it was gritty, long but manageable.

    However, the lack of positive reset that I was used to with Glock pistols came out in spades initially. Several times, I found myself “short stroking.” After ten times, I learned full extension and the problem went away. After 100 rounds fired, I found that the pistol shot very well. Groups were easily 1/2 inch or tighter and true to center. One of the consistent problems I have had with my Glocks is the left side grouping. Not with the M&P. But the trigger remained a nagging issue. After searching the internet about the trigger, I discovered APEX Tactical of California. In full disclosure, I am dubious of aftermarket parts. But many folks sang high praises and APEX was highly recommended.

    APEX had developed some quality aftermarket parts that were designed to improve the trigger pull. One of these is their “Duty/Carry Action Enhancement Kit (DCAEK)” for the .45 series. After sending it to APEX, owner Randy Lee installed the kit and upgraded the slide for the new parts. I contacted my S&W rep and the company sent me the latest striker assembly to install. Less than three weeks from sending out, I received the pistol back after APEX test fired it.

    It was back to the range and 200 more rounds were fired. Using my trusty G21SF as a comparison, I found the recoil to be a bit snappier. However, I think that G21SF has one of the softest recoil pulses in a .45 platform I have shot. Yet the pulse felt with the M&P I describe and felt as a more straight back pulse versus a “flex” I felt with the G21. The more I shot it, the more this straight back pulse seemed to keep me in line, especially when firing one handed. Again, this seemed to keep me in line and I suspect it contributed to a better grouping than my G21.

    As to the trigger upgrade, the DCAEK is a serious improvement over stock. The trigger was appreciably lighter but at a weight I felt was comfortable and appropriate for off duty carry or even for duty carry, should the opportunity present itself. The pull was clean and straight. I found less wobble than my stock Glock trigger. There was even a noticeable, albeit, soft reset felt. In slow fire, I could easily feel it. In rapid fire, I found full reset of the trigger was the best. One thing I appreciated was the curvature of the trigger. One of my on-going issues with the Glock design was that after approximately 200 rounds, I found my finger dragging along the inside of the trigger guard. Not so with the M&P. Some have issues with the hinged trigger assembly but I don’t.

    As I continued to fire the M&P, I realized that I was making conscious comparisons between it and my well enjoyed G21. I found that the grip of the pistol was natural. Even though I maintained a positive grip on my 21, I would occasionally get a bite from the slide. Just the nature of the webbing at the thumb of my dominate hand. Not so with the M&P. Funny enough, the “Glock knuckle” became the “M&P thumb knuckle” but much less. The “pointability” of the M&P full size is spot on for me and I attribute this to the grip design. Another positive for the M&P is no finger grooves. I am one of those who have found finger grooves to be a detriment, not an asset.

    One of the areas discussed is the reduction of the rounds available for the M&P versus the G21. As we know, the G21 is a 13+1 capacity while the M&P is a 10+1 capacity. On a personal level, I find that 11 rounds of .45 to be fine for my carry needs and at least two to three rounds more than the usual 1911 style pistol. So it’s a moot point for me.

    Another area of concern and discussion is the viability of spare parts as well as the ease for armorer level repairs. The spare parts issue is pretty much resolved now that Smith and Wesson has them in the market place. While not as cheap as Glock parts, they are there and I suspect will come down in price a bit as more parts enter. As to armorer level parts, the Glock shines brightly. It is simply a breeze to do armorer work on a Glock, no dispute there. However, my pre-armorer certification work showed that with some minor areas, an M&P can be very easy to do armorer work on. I will be attending the armorer course as soon as it is offered in this area.

    In the past, I have carried my G21SF as an off duty carry piece. And I was a small part of the population that would or could carry a full sized Glock .45 as a daily carry piece. But the reality is that while I like a full size pistol for carry (and generally had no issues with a 4.5 or even a 5 inch pistol), I wanted something slimmer but as reliable. I have a position that I know whether a pistol will be right or wrong, solid or problematic within 300 rounds. I’m past that with the M&P. My M&P .45FS fits the bill and is now my primary off duty carry pistol.

    I'll update this thread as I continue to shoot and carry it. I'll be qualifying with it shortly as an authorized off duty pistol and after my holster arrives.

    Feel free to PM or e-mail me if you have any questions. I’ll answer what I can.

    Links:

    http://www.smith-wesson.com/webapp/...57782_757781_757781_ProductDisplayErrorView_Y

    https://apextactical.com/store/product-info.php?pid16.html
     
  2. faawrenchbndr

    faawrenchbndr CLM

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    Morris,......thanks for the review. Simply put, the best pistol review I've read in a LONG time.
     

  3. FLglockdude

    FLglockdude

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    Very nice job on the review.

    I'm glad you like your M&P, I know I love mine. :)
     
  4. Morris

    Morris CLM

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    Thank you for the words!

    Some updates and answers after I looked at some notes I wrote for myself:

    1) The final 200 rounds was actually factory fresh S&B 230 gn loads. They have also functioned fine in my G21 but have always run to the dirty side. No difference here. From my notes, I noted at at about the 195 round mark, I had a slow feed from the magazine. The feed ramp was FILTHY but the round continued in. I checked the brass after and it seemed like it was barely flared at the rim so maybe dirty feed ramp/chamber plus slightly out of spec brass? Not sure but it was the only "slow to feed" round I had.

    2) I will highly recommend APEX as their communication and work was top notch. Randy Lee and I discussed by e-mail what I would need to do to my pistol, such as here:

    I had a package done which was the Action II (which includes the DCAEK). I apologize for that oversight. It can be found here:

    http://www.apextactical.com/services.php

    My total from APEX including shipping was $224. My cost to ship FedEx overnight was ~$38. I recognize that some may question whether this is needed, especially for a duty gun. I would say yes, not unlike a 1911 user upgrading their trigger or a Sig shooter moving to an SRT or similar type system from Sig Sauer or Gray Guns (as an example). It's an investment and I hope that Smith does look carefully to the future on their triggers to make some improvements for novice or new owners. Does it potentially void Smith's warranty? Likely so, like with any other maker of handguns (and understandable). However, I felt it was a worthwhile investment, especially since I found the pistol to be an improvement and planned on making it an EDC.

    3) Ran all of my M&P magazines to check functionion, loading, etc. The only issue was that on the second loading, I had a time getting the 10th round to load. Unloaded fully and then reloaded for a third time and no issues. Odd enough that I disassembled all of the magazines and checked things. But absolutely no issues with manual loading, unloading, etc.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2010
  5. G33

    G33 Frisky! CLM Millennium Member

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    Thanks for post.
    Like both Glocks and M&Ps.
    M&P .45 just fits my hands better.
    I use the small back strap.
    :wavey::supergrin:
     
  6. den888

    den888

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    Thanks for the review !
     
  7. cowboy1964

    cowboy1964

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    M&P 45 Compact here. I still marvel at how soft it shoots. I've never shot a G21 but can't imagine it would be softer than the M&P. My mags are always difficult to load the last round. And I've had two mag springs go bad.

    The trigger on the M&P has never bothered me.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2010
  8. Berto

    Berto woo woo

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    Great review and thanks for the info.
     
  9. MAGICMANIA

    MAGICMANIA

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    Thanks for the information and review