The most talked about Smith and Wesson product at SHOT 2017 was the M&P M2.0, the company’s first major update to the M&P pistol line since its introduction in 2005. While the M&P had made major inroads upon the law enforcement and concealed carry markets, it was not received without criticism. Some aftermarket parts had become so popular that they were almost considered by some to be required upgrades to a box-stock M&P. Smith and Wesson took notice of this and has attempted to address the areas most people sought to upgrade. Here we review in a brief, initial manner just how much S&W has managed to improve upon the M&P, based on shooting a few mags through an M&P M2.0 at SHOT Media Day.
You Can Feel the Trigger Now
Most people’s first complaint about the Smith & Wesson M&P handguns comes as soon as their finger touches the trigger – rather, as soon as their finger puts enough pressure on the trigger to make the gun go bang or click. The break is soft and indistinct and the reset even more so. Reviews of the M&P at the time of its release a dozen or so years ago politely commented that the trigger was “better than the Sigma,” the Sigma being Smith and Wesson’s prior polymer frame striker fired handgun with a notoriously stiff trigger. Other things “better than the Sigma” include watching your favorite sports team lose a big lead in a playoff game and having your toenails extracted without anesthesia.
One company in particular, Apex Tactical Specialties, has made a name for themselves in upgrading M&P triggers with their Action Enhancement Kits, Forward Set Sears, and Reset Assist Mechanisms. Well, Smith must have taken a long and hard look at the desire for and result of those modifications, because the M&P M2.0 trigger is far better than the original design. Not only is it much cleaner and more distinct in terms of break, which greatly aids in accuracy and especially accuracy at distance, but the reset is shorter as well as more tactile and audible, which aids in rapid and precise follow-up shots.
In other words, you can feel and hear when the trigger is ready to fire again, and it’s seemingly ready to fire again with less forward travel than the original trigger. You could feel and hear the reset of the original M&P, of course, but only if you were concentrating and had no distractions. Rarely do gunfights afford the participants the luxury of no distractions. For those who buy a pistol with the thought of potentially using it to defend their life one day, the improvements to the M&P M2.0 trigger will be most welcome.
You Don’t Grip the Pistol, the Pistol Grips You
Immediately upon picking up the new M&P, the new and very aggressive grip texture becomes one with your hand. While the old M&P had a tendency to get a little slick in the hand, the M2.0 will almost certainly obviate any desire to send your new pistol off to be repeatedly poked with a hot soldering iron in an attempt to make it more “grippy.” In fact, the new grip is so aggressive that you might find yourself only using the pistol for outside the waistband, duty, or competition purposes instead of concealed carry, as the texture is very rough and would likely chafe skin as well as rapidly tear up clothing.
The tradeoff here is that when you snatch the pistol out of a holster or off a table, you are more confident in your grip and might not feel a need to readjust your grip on the pistol as often, if at all. It’s certainly an improvement, though one which must be weighed against your potential needs before adopting. A side benefit for those who don’t want boring black guns is that FDE (flat dark earth) is now a factory color option.
M2.0 Isn’t Just a Facelift
Perhaps the biggest functional change to the M&P design is a full-length stainless steel chassis which now extends beyond the trigger guard, just above the molded polymer picatinny rail. This change was most curious to me, for it is described as being intended to “reduce flex and torque while firing.” I was apparently unaware that flex and torque while firing were an issue with the M&P series.
Indeed, extraction and feeding problems encountered by police officers shooting Glock third generation pistols in .40 S&W equipped with tightly mounted weaponlights came about precisely because there wasn’t enough flex and torque allowed in the frame during firing, leading Glock to hastily redesign the pistol as the Gen4 and encourage officers to not secure their weaponlights so tightly. There have been barrel cracking problems with some first generation M&Ps, but as the M2.0 is designed to complement instead of supplant the original M&P in catalogs and on store shelves, it isn’t likely that the barrel cracking or any other functional problems encountered by M&P users are being addressed by the stiffer frame of the M2.0.
Instead, the M2.0’s “reduced flex and torque” is most likely an attempt to make the pistol more shootable, as is S&W’s mention of a lessened distance between the bore axis and the grip. The original M&P was widely acknowledged as very “shootable” in this regard and I didn’t notice a significant difference between the two in terms of “shootability” which I could not attribute to the greatly improved trigger.
Incremental Upgrade or Total Reset?
The 2.0 designation implies a major update has been applied to an item, whether it is a pistol or a piece of software. Before handling or shooting the new M&P, I joked with friends that it looked more like a 1.1 than a 2.0. After shooting and handling it, I’m still not ready to declare it objectively worthy of a 2.0 moniker, but I’d revise my initial 1.1 estimate upwards to at least 1.5. If you were to send your M&P pistol off to a custom shop which specializes in “fixing” the problems of stock handguns, it might come back looking and feeling a lot like the M2.0 – but perhaps not as polished as this factory offering, which at an MSRP of $599 only costs $30 more than a standard M&P. For that price, the changes are a bargain as you’d easily spend ten times that much on grip and trigger upgrades from the aftermarket.
Smith and Wesson faithful will of course find a lot to like in the new M&P M2.0, but it’s also back to being a major contender among polymer handguns for anyone’s hard earned dollars. The M&P M2.0 earns a Full Mag, or a score of four out of five in our rating system.