Sunday, September 14, 2014

Smith & Wesson M&P 45c Review.

This is a used gun with an unknown number of rounds. Used guns are going to have some dings and scratches. Carefully inspect any used gun for cracks, excessive wear and tear, or mismatched parts before you buy and when in doubt, consult a qualified gunsmith. The Smith&Wesson M&P (Military & Police) brand has many different variations, so not all features will be on or apply to every gun in this brand. The gun this writer is reviewing is the .45 compact with the four inch barrel and no magazine disconnect, thumb safety, or internal lock, although these features are available on select pistols if you want them or your jurisdiction requires. The SKU number isn't on the S&W website but it is on this one.

Always obey local laws concerning firearms, their possession and use. This writer does not recommend putting your finger in the trigger guard unless you are committed to shooting something. "Stacking" or "staging" the trigger is a dangerous practice with any firearm, and this will not be evaluated here. This is not the place to debate that you don't like guns or take issue with "gun culture". These are a tool, much like an automobile, a scoop shovel, lighter or screwdriver; all are dangerous when misused. Same applies for those who may have a dislike for this or a strong like for another model or brand in a rivalic fashion. These comments will not be posted.

Smith&Wesson is a gun manufacturer this writer has been acquainted with for thirty-three years, the first handgun I fired was a model 686 chambered in a .357 magnum at the age of eleven years. They are well known for their revolvers and even though I'm not a fan of these, I still have a healthy respect Smith and their products. This wasn't too hard when making the transition from wheelgun to semiauto. The SD VE is a great piece for the money and they work better and cost less than the Glocks. The M&P brands are very similar in appearance, but are much more aggressively styled and probably beefier constructed as well. Unlike the SD VE's I've looked at, this one has metal, rather than plastic sights with Tritium inserts. The gun has a heft and a quality feel to it, There are three controls, exclusive of the bang switch. These are the magazine release (reversible), the slide lock (ambidextrous) and the takedown lever (on left side). There are no external safeties save for keeping your pointy finger off the trigger, which unlike the many pistols and even some long guns, has a pivot rather than a tab in the middle. 

After a month, and two days of layaway at Gander Mountain in Lansing, I got this one out of hock. I used my Bersa Thunder .45 pro compact as a trade in. The gun was fraught with issues including that love tap with the hammer that I was not in love with.

I picked this gun up for $399 + tax, and I don't believe that Smith and Wesson sells this one new anymore  This one came with two magazines, a lock, a frame tool, the paperwork as well as a really nice blue case and the gun itself. In addition, it came with three backstraps, small, medium and large. These come off easily after removing the frame tool from the grip of the gun. This is just a quarter turn and it comes out. The backstraps are easily removed and switched. The medium one was installed with the gun and worked fine with my mitts. This model has a 4 inch barrel, is 7.55 inches long, and 4.8 inches high. This tips the scale at 26 ounces and some change, or over a pound and a half empty. This is over two pounds with a full mag, so a good holster and belt is mandatory, but very doable. This model also comes with Tritium sights, which are usually an aftermarket install. Those are the facts.

This piece fits in a size 2 blackhawk pancake holster, as well as my Vega IB 341. A belly band holster, forget about it. 

Racking the slide with arthritis is pretty easy; a touch easier than the Ruger Sr9c I've gotten to use as my go to gun. The serrations are aggressive enough to give you a good grip on the slide, which is a nice touch. Loading rounds into the magazines takes lots of hand strength, and a loader isn't a bad idea. These hold eight rounds, but you can buy longer magazines depending on your jurisdiction. These snap in easily and positively, and drop easily which is important in a fight. This piece lacks a magazine safety, which means if there is a round in the chamber and you press the bang switch, it will go pop and make a hole. Again, you can get models with these safeties if you want as they are available. This one didn't have and I didn't particularly want them,

What has never happened in the 33 years of experience with handguns is this,,,I was able to hit the bullseye with a four inch group at 20 feet with this piece...right out of the box. I'm not the best practiced, but getting better, but it still takes time to acquaint yourself to a new gun. The M&P was not a problem in that department at all due largely in part to the long sight radius and excellent ergonomics. Trigger pull is crisp with no grittiness or other problems. At about 7 pounds, it's more than doable for anyone. Recoil is slightly more than my Ruger 9mm, but there is very little muzzle flip. The sights are three dot and fairly easy to see, even in low light with the Tritium option. Follow up shots are much easier with this combination. There were no malfunctions as of late with about 50 rounds through it. Most of you will probably use about that a session anyway. If there is I will update it.

To field strip this gun is not intuitive, but it is easy. You need to drop the magazine and rack the slide to remove a chambered round and lock it open. The frame tool is accessed by turning the half moon shaped nubbin at the bottom of the grip one quarter turn like a key. The back strap can be lifted off and changed at this point too, as the tool also locks this down. You will then need to use this tool, or something similar (NOT your finger) to push the sear lever down. Then you release the slide lock, pull the takedown lever and the slide should come off. The guide rod and spring are made of steel and are easy to clean up and get back in action. You will want to push the sear lever back where you had it. Reinstall the frame tool and your gun is ready to go. Probably just enough to avoid patent infringement on the almighty Glocks, which the M&P is mechanically similar to.

What you don't get with the M&P is the Glock name, the ergonomics, slick slide, or the price premium. Police departments have bought these for three decades and they've done something right. I've wanted one, but the price and grip angle have put me off. A glock 30 short frame is over $650 in my neck of the woods and a new M&P .45 compact (not mine) is available new for $525. The one I got was still $100 cheaper than the Glock 21 that set next to it, and these were used guns. Not to rain on anyone's parade, but I would consider the features and ergonomics over the brand any day. On this one, Smith&Wesson wins out. Maranatha! 

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