2nd Amendment to the Constitution of The United States of America

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

"I ask sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people except for a few politicians."
- George Mason (father of the Bill of Rights and The Virginia Declaration of Rights)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Smith & Wesson M&P40c review

Note: Cleaning out the draft page of the blog. This is a post I started a while back and never finished. It was intended to be a 2 part review of teh M&P40c and my new Glock 23 RTF2. For now I am going to post it as a review of the M&P (although some Glock content is in here) and will follow up on the Glock 23 in a later post.

OK, this is going to be a bit strange, but I want to review my M&P40c pistol that I sold last month. I have touched on it before and have provided numerous pics of it but have never actually written a review on it. Let me just start by saying it is an outstanding handgun and me selling it is not because of any deficiency I see in the weapon. I originally got the M&P40c to compliment the full sized M&P pistol I had so that I had a the same platform to train on for both a full sized pistol for a “SHTF” type use as I did for CCW. Problem was that I couldn’t hit the broad side of a 10 ring at 20 feet with the M&P for some reason so I traded it in on a used GLOCK 22 and have been very happy with it. The G22 is what I have been shooting steel plates with and it works pretty well for me, as the following video shows…

Anyway, I kept the M&P40c even after getting rid of the full sized pistol just because I didn’t feel like messing with the entire trade in hassle and stuff. I finally decided to go back with my original plan to have a common platform for both my full sized and CCW pistol after shooting my friend Greg’s G27 sub-compact GLOCK in .40 a few weeks ago. The size difference between it and the M&P4oc was minimal in practical carry sense. Then a guy who I follow on his blog called the Mad Ogre (George Hill) who has always been a huge SIG fan got a G23 seemingly out of nowhere and I started thinking. Just as the M&P40c was only marginally bigger than the G27, the G23 is only Marginally bigger than the M&P40c and gives you another 3 rounds of firepower. Interesting I though. I tool a look at Greg’s G23 and made a few comparisons against the M&P and decided that the GLOCK is where I wanted to head.

Above. The M&P40c on the left compared to my new Glock 23 RTF2 on the Right. The Glock is about .6” longer, but height wise (which is what is really important in CCW concealment) they are about even. The difference is the Glock gives me 3 extra rounds.

But before I start going into to too much detail about the differences between the two, let me first do a quick review of the M&P.

A Quick Smith and Wesson M&P40c Review.

First and foremost let me state this, the M&P series of pistols, to include the M&P40c, are fantastic weapons. They have been adopted by many law enforcement agencies to include the Columbus Division of Police here in Central Ohio. The fact that I am selling my M&P has nothing to do with the quality of the pistol, but rather on a philosophy that I am trying to adhere to.

A little background. Smith & Wesson is not only the nations largest manufacturer of firearms, it is also one of the oldest and continually operating businesses in America. They have a tradition of building quality pistols and other firearms going back over 150 years. Back before the plastic pistol craze and the “wonder 9” explosion, the majority of civilian police forces in this country carried a .38 or .357 revolver on their hip, and the vast majority of those were made by Smith & Wesson. I think it could be argued that maybe they did not see the impact that semi-automatic polymer handguns would have on the law enforcement market, but they were definitely caught off guard when police agencies began to retire the wheelgun for 9mm and .45 auto pistols in the early 80’s.

Smith & Wesson’s early counter to the trend was a successful line of steel frame semi-automatic pistols chambered in 9mm and .45. These were often adopted on the S&W name and, more often than not, proved to be capable duty weapon and self defense pistols in the hands of competent shooters. Still, the onslaught brought on by Glock and some other manufacturers began to seriously eat away at S&W’s market share in LE sales. Finally in 1994, S&W debuted their own polymer framed pistol dubbed the “Sigma” series. It bore a striking resemblance to the Glock. So much so that in fact there are stories of people actually swapping barrels and entire slides between the two. The similarities were so much alike that their earned the nickname “Swock” (S&W + Glock = Swock). This connection did not escape Glocks notice either and they sued S&W for patent infringement. The case was settled out of court with S&W reportedly paying Glock millions in compensation for the right to keep on manufacturing the pistol with minor changes to the mechanism. S&W still sells the Sigma today as a value line oriented pistol for self defense and it has also been ordered in quantity to equip the police forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. I have never personally fired one, but I have handled them in stores and gun shows. They fit pretty well in the hand but have fairly ordinary, if just not out right bad, triggers for a striker fired semi-auto. Still, they appear to be solid, they have a fairly decent reputation, and you can currently get one for about $270 after a rebate before tax. Not bad if you need a “beater” or “truck gun” for self defense.

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A Smith and Wesson Sigma Pistol.

Skip forward until 2005 and Smith and Wesson finally engineered and designed a poly pistol that they needed to in order to stay competative. Although they borrowed from some design points from both Glock and Walther (who they are also licensed to produce copies for) the overall design of the pistol was somewhat unique when it came out. First off it offered the ability to switch out the backstraps of the grip to fit multiple sized hands. This is a major plus for police and law enforcement departments that are trying to buy one weapon that can be fitted to many people in the department. This feature has now been ported over by many manufacturers, including Glock, into their pistols.

Another thing that S&W did with the M&P was incorporate a innovative and safety conscious method for disassembling the pistol. Instead of the Glock method which involves manually clearing the pistol and then pointing it in a safe direction and pulling the trigger in order to remove the slide, S&W went another route. The pin that is used as the retaining pin for the back straps also doubles as the take down and armorer’s tool for the weapon. You drop the magazine, lock the slide to the rear and then with the tool push down a shepards hook wire in the mag well from the ejection port to disengage the sear and allow the slide to be removed from the frame. This forces the shooter to verify clear by making them not only visually peer into the chamber area but also do a physical sweep of the area. Every year some officer or civilian somewhere puts a round into the duty room floor or living room floor by pulling the trigger on a Glock that they thought was unloaded but wasn’t. This system on the M&P all but removes the chance of this type of ND (negligent discharge) from happening. In addition, in lieu of the take down bar in the Glock, the M&P utilizes a rotating take down lever on the left side of the frame.

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S&W M&P40c pistol with a compact 1o round mag and a full sized 15 round mag, it will use either.

As far as design aesthetics and ergonomics the M&P does well in both areas. Its slide is recessed and beveled in spots to make it very “sexy” in appearance and to aid in reholstering while still retaining enough material to be very durable. The slide is finished with a melonite treatment, similar to the Tennifer treatment on Glocks. They are both nitriding processes but differ slightly in the chemical composition of the formulas uses. In addition to the interchangeable back straps contributing to the feel of the grip, the pebbling on the surfaces and the angle are also very comfortable. The controls are excellent with the slide stop being located on both sides of the frame for both left and right handed shooters. On models newer than the one I had with an external safety it is also located on both sides of the frame. The magazine release, while only on one side at a time, is adjustable and can be moved to either side at the discretion of the shooter (utilizing the grip tool again).

As far as safety goes, in addition to the takedown procedure outlined above the M&P uses the 3 safety systems utilized in the Glock as well: 1. A trigger safety, 2. A firing pin block safety and 3. A drop safety. All 3 are disengaged in order when the trigger is pulled and automatically engaged when it is released. As I mentioned above, certain models can be gotten with an external manual safety as well. Going even further, certain models (like mine) have a magazine drop safety (pistol cannot be fired without a magazine in the weapon) and still others have an internal key lock safety as well. All in all, using these and following the 4 basic rules of firearm safety it would be hard to have an accident with this pistol. Unfortunately, some idiot will undoubtedly prove me wrong.

The one safety feature I was not particularly fond of the way it was implemented was the trigger safety. The trigger safety consists of an articulated trigger hinged in the middle that must be depressed from the bottom as well as the top to enable it to clear the trigger guard area and fire the weapon. This is supposed to prevent ND’s from happening when the trigger may receive lateral pressure from an errant piece of clothing while reholstering or the like. Problem is I didn’t think it would be likely that a piece of clothing would only strike the upper part of the trigger in the smaller part of the arc of the trigger. In a glock this is done by a slimmer safety lever in the middle of the trigger assembly (think Savage Accu-trigger) that is devoid of any contact with the side of the main part of the trigger. This seems to make more sense to me. There was probably some type of patent infringement that they had to worry about that they could not violate to keep that out of the M&P. Not a show stopper, keep blind returns to the holster to a minimum and be safe and it should not be a big deal.

Shooting and Reliability. In contrast to the poor showing I had with my full sized M&P .40, shooting the compact version of the pistol was easy to keep my rounds where I wanted them. I never really worried about group sizes other than to say the majority of my shots past 10 yards would generally end up in the targets torso which is “good enough” for a 155 – 18o grain .4o round traveling 900 – 1100 fps in most cases. I nary ever had any malfunctions with the pistol with either both the feeding, cycling or ejecting of rounds. The issues I did have I think I narrowed down to some questionable reloads that I had gotten a hold of. For range use Winchester 180 grain TMJ practice rounds ran flawlessly in it the entire time I had it on my hip.

Overall, the M&P40c was a great pistol to have. I genuinely would trust my life on it (and did as a primary CCW weapon) and would not hesitate to recommend it to another shooter. The guy I sold it too, Zach, is getting a great pistol and considering the condition of the pistol, Night sights, the 4 compact and 1 full sized mag I threw in along with a Custom Carry Concepts Versaclip holster, I think he got a great first CCW setup and I did not gouge him on the price.

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