I carried guns chambered in this caliber for years. It is a reloaders dream as it takes 9mm components. It has great accuracy and penetration. The solid copper or Gold Dot HP's are by far the best defensive rounds (gold dots are made for this calibers velocity).
The recoil is a snap, not a push, similar to the .40.
I had a Sig 229, Glock, and H&K USP. The glock was lightest and highest capacity but snappiest recoil. I've never shot any of the Smiths.
I absolutely loved my 357 sigs over .40's. For factory ammo, .40's are cheaper and there is more choice. Since the Gold Dots are undisputed champs, choice isn't a big deal with HP's.
As for price, I think the M&P's are $600 new around here without night sights.