So off we went. Smith and Wesson, and me...always wanted to say that.
RANGE REPORT: SMITH & WESSON M&P 45C
Conditions: 39 Degrees, Clear, No Wind.
8+1 capacity .45 ACP Pistol
Other: Thumb Safety
Made in U.S.A. by Smith & Wesson Baby!
100 Rounds 230 gr CCI Blazer Brass FMJ
100 Rounds 230 gr Remington FMJ
2 Failures to return to battery third magazine through pistol (Remington FMJ). Tapped rear of slide to correct both malfunctions. None after.
No issues shooting one handed, non-dominant hand, etc.
Could not make it fail on intentional limp wrist trials.
Prior to the range expedition I field stripped the pistol. Internally it is like any other M&P pistol you have seen. That is to say, it looks a bit like a more complicated Glock inside. I know that there is more to them than that, according to posts from others here that have attended the armorer's course, but that's beyond my scope. Highlights include the nice rails for the slide to ride on and the nice all steel captured recoil spring and rod. I really like the way Smith did that up. The pistol could haven been fired as is out of the box but I wiped it out with blue shop towels to get off the factory lube. Next, I used Slip 2000 for all lubrication of the pistol except Hoeppes Elite Gun Oil to wet patch the barrel followed by one pass with a dry patch.
I took 200 rounds of mixed Blazer Brass and Remington FMJ with me. I was also testing the LC9 this day and fired 260 rounds through that prior to getting to the M&P 45C. If you want to read that range report it is here: LC9 REPORT: http://glocktalk.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1386655
Whenever I test a new pistol I always like to use paper so I can see how I am doing with the trigger over time.
The pistol comes with two magazines. One flat bottom and one finger extension. I can easily get a full three finger grip using the extension magazine and I can get an almost three finger grip with the flat bottom magazine. Magazines are made out of steel and welded. The follower is plastic, uh, excuse me, polymer. The magazines are not super bright shiny silver like on the Springfield XD models of pistols. The steel is kind of a dull gray color. I don't know if it has been treated with anything on this model or just looks like that. The magazines on my M&P 9C are black from the factory. The M&P45 C can also use the 10 round and 14 round magazines made for the Mid Size and Full Size models. To my knowledge, at the time of this writing, there is no X-Grip adapter out yet but their web site said they were planning on it.
I'm going to give it a big negative at the time of this writing (12/17/2011) due to magazine availability. I looked on a few of the big name gun parts sites and the 8 and 10 round M&P .45 magazines are out of stock, back order. One of the largest sites has 10 rounders listed as coming in end of January 2012, 10 rounders with FDE color base plate end of March 2012, and black 8 round finger rest magazines as end of February 2012. I didn't even see flat base plate or FDE color base plate 8 rounders, like it came with, for sale. I looked on the online Smith and Wesson store and they list the same magazines as the retailers, but that doesn't mean they are in stock, plus they want like $8 each more for them. I guess a couple things could be happening, maybe M&P 45 models are flying off the shelves, Smith and Wesson is going through all the magazines they have to put in the boxes of new pistols, or they just have a manufacturing shortage or supplier issue. That kind of makes sense as it took 3 months for my local store to find one at the distributors in this color. Either way, it kind of sucks. You can find magazines for sale online at some of the more "out of the way" retailers but you'll pay a few bucks more of course, but less than buying from the Smith and Wesson online store.
3 Dot low profile ledge sights. I really like the steep ledge on these. The sight picture is a lot better than my factory Glock night sights to my eyes. These are not night sights on the M&P but they are available from Smith and Wesson using Trijicon tubes. I have them on my M&P 9C and they are nice and provide the same sight picture. There is a generous amount of light on each side of the front blade. Sights are dovetailed and can be tapped over if needed. Rear sight has a set screw in it. If I was going to get night sights, I would just mail the slide right back to Smith and Wesson for installation of factory ones.
In this photo you can see the controls of the M&P 45C
ERGOS AND CONTROLS:
Works as expected. Magazines eject strongly and I did not have any issue where I unintentionally released the magazine or bumped it with my hand. Everything is good here. You can reverse it if you like.
TAKE DOWN LEVER:
I won't beat this to death. It works. I like the Glock system better but nothing wrong with this. It doesn't get hot after shooting a bunch of rounds like it does on the M&P 9c.
The release is ambidextrous if you care for it. It is pretty small but still usable. Matter of fact it requires much less pressure than the one on the LC9. If you do not wish to use it you will be happy to know that slamming a fully loaded magazine into the pistol with your palm at a 45 degree angle to it will cause the slide to release. Don't freak out. I have SIGs that do that and my H&K P2000 series all do that. It only happens if you slam it home with your palm at that angle. I consider it a feature because it only happens when I make it do that. Or of course you can slingshot it.
Finally we have the manual safety. Up for safe. Down for fire. It works well, is not in the way of my grip and when I ride it with my thumb I can lock my hands in good. Couldn't ask for more. Also, it works the same as the ones on my USP pistols, you can leave it on safe and still operate the slide. I prefer that over the LC9 or 1911 safety where you can't manipulate the slide with the safety on. I don't know why, just personal preference.
According to Smith and Wesson, if you get an M&P without a safety you can't
add it later. If you get a model with one, you can remove it, but you'll of course have an extra small hole in the frame where it was. I don't know if they will officially do it for you (doubt it strongly), but I saw some You Tubers removing it of course. I'm leaving mine. I like it.
Finally, I held up my 1911 Commander to the M&P 45C and lined up the rear of the slides. I found that the slide release and safety lever were in nearly identical locations to each other proportionally. So, 1911 guys, you will probably feel right at home with this one. I guess the M&P is like a CCO size 1911. About a Commander length slide with an Officer size grip. Speaking of which...
The grip circumference feels really good. It feels ever so slightly thicker than a 1911 and about the same as the USP Compact .45 which is my all time favorite feeling grip. I have no complaints. With the three inserts available I'm sure it can be made to suit most hands. You'll also notice on this model that it does not have the extended beaver tail like the Mid Size and Full Size models. Fine by me.
You have the option of using a finger extension base plate or a flat base plate. Here is the funny thing. Earlier in the day I was having all kinds of misery with my new LC9 trying to get a grip (har) on the pistol switching between the extended and flat base plate mags. I had wondered in my earlier written range review of the LC9 if I was having trouble because I had been shooting a lot of small pistols lately and using a two finger grip. Thereby, when using a three finger grip base plate I was thinking I was putting way too much pressure on the grip with my pinky and stringing my shots vertically. Well, wait until you see my targets from shooting this pistol I think I have my answer. Too funny.
The stippling on the M&P, while not very aggressive was more than enough. It was cold out though. If I had been wearing gloves without much traction or if it was hot with sweaty hands, I might want some grip tape on there.
Recoil on this was smooth. It was different than a 1911, more spongy, and felt about the same as the USP Compact .45. No problem at all and to my hands more pleasant to shoot than the LC9. Of course I did just get done shooting 260 rounds though the LC9 prior to this, so my hands might have been biased at that point. Muzzle rise was negligible. Using a thumbs forward grip it was easy to maintain control of the pistol and it settled back on target very quickly.
Room in the trigger guard is adequate and would work if you were wearing winter gloves. The trigger pull itself seems just fine. I don't know the pull weight but it's a touch heavier than my M&P 9c and feels a bit lighter than my Glock 19 with NY1 and standard trigger bar. I like a heavy trigger anyways. The break has a nice snap to it. What a lot of people aren't going to like is that there just isn't a really discernible reset. This is where Glock cleans the M&P's clock. With the NY1 in, the reset on the Glock is very forceful. I can't even feel it on the M&P. I'm not a trigger snob and I'm pretty trigger insensitive really, but I would just like to feel some kind of reset.
Now in actual use at the range, that didn't matter a lick to me. I find that on the range, I naturally let the triggers out all the way and just keep my finger in contact with them. I didn't have any problems with it and could produce pie plate accurate rapid fire groups.
So here is the funny thing. The first target posted is me using the extended base plate. The second is using the flat, almost three finger grip, base plate. I would shoot one mag of extended into the left target, reload and shoot the flat into the right target. Hmmm... Interesting results. Pistol is obviously more accurate than user was on that day.
Using extended base plate magazine:
Same amount of shots (couple mags or so) using the flat base plate magazine: - better
Ejection was strong and to my right rear. I had no brass come back at my face. Most brass was about 12-15 feet away from me. Even when I spent a few magazines trying to induce a limp wrist malfunction, which never happened. I was impressed with the steady ejection. The surprise of the day was the LC9 which spit brass almost twice the distance. You can see in the photo below where I have indicated the relative locations of the brass piles.
I think this pistol is very well built and it comes in a variety of options and configurations that you might like. I think if you are a 1911 guy looking to go polymer for carry, a guy looking for a G30 alternative (though it is ever so slightly bigger) or you just want a smaller sized .45 you can't go wrong here. The only negs I'll give it are magazine capacity versus the G30 (10) and the new XDM 3.8 .45 (9), and the aforementioned trigger reset and magazine purchase availability issue. Still it carries the same load as a Full Size or Commander size 1911 in a smaller package overall. And you can carry a 10 or 14 round spare if you want. I'm really pleased with this. Just remember it's not a pocket pistol. If you can't carry a G19 because of size restrictions, you aren't going to be able to carry this, because it's just about the same size. If you need to go a bit smaller for CCW and still want a .45 polymer pistol, I would personally look at G36, G39, Kahr CW45.
In short, this one is a real winner. I like it a lot and if you shot it, I bet you would too.
Thanks for reading!
Going home with lil' buddy the LC9: