As we all know, Smith & Wesson has been a staple in the American firearm industry since the late 1850s, producing weapons for civilians, LEO, and Military alike. Their reputation for making innovated and excellent wheel-guns proceeds them in a prestigious manner. There's a reason they've been around for so long, they make good stuff!
Smith & Wessons earlier attempts at the civilian and Mil/LEO semi-automatic pistol markets have been "hit-and-miss", if you will. Some models, such as the Bodyguard 380, the 4006, and the SD VE(even with its God-awful trigger), have been relatively accepted and successful. While other models such as the Sigma, (Smegma, to some) made customers less than satisfied. Since 2005, Smith & Wesson has produced the M&P models after realizing the need to create a pistol able to contend with the over-whelming popularity of the polymer-framed, striker-fired pistols produced by Glock, and Springfield, that wasn't quite as low-budget as the SDs and Sigmas from past production runs. So they came up with the M&P, and it seems to be working well for them. I've heard some complaints, but I've also heard alot of praise. In this review I'll be giving my honest, and long researched opinion of Smith & Wesson's full-size M&P in .40 S&W.
The M&P .40 comes with a transferable lifetime warranty. It's roughly the same size as a G22/G17 and is slightly heavier than the afore mentioned pistols, with the same magazine capacity as the Glock 22. In my opinion, it's better than any S&W striker-fired I've ever fired and handled before.
Honestly, the ergonomics of the full-size M&P .40 are more than satisfying. The contours are excellent, and really allow the user's hands to assume full, and comfortable control of the firearm. The grip itself fills my hand fantastically and I really can't give it anything but praise.
The grip is complemented by an equally as satisfying high beaver-tail, which allows for you to really utilize the firearms exceptionally low bore-axis.
Personally I enjoy the standard features of the M&P more than almost any other contemporary polymer-framed pistols on the market today. The stippling is also very well thought out. Could potentially be more aggressive, but it's not underwhelming as of now.
Moving on to the magazine capacity, the standard capacity is fantastic for .40S&W. 15 rounds without having too much grip. It seems as though so many manufacturers attempt to capitalize on their magazine capacity at the sacrifice of having grips that are just unnecessarily long and unwieldy. Forcing you to modify your grip to accommodate an extra half to full inch of magazine base-plate/grip under your hand. Smith & Wesson really did this right in my opinion.
The M&P seems to be exceptionally reliable too. I've owned this one for a couple weeks now, and probably put close to 400 rounds through it. Of course that's not an overwhelming amount of ammunition, especially when not fired all at once. However anyone can get online and see some relatively impressive tests with this pistol. Filling it with dirt doesn't seem to bother it much. They've been dropped off moving vehicles, brushed off, loaded, and fired. They definitely don't seem to be easy to stop besides literally cramming rocks into them. I've seen someone put close to 600 rounds through his consecutively, only stopping to reload his magazines. Now torture testing hasn't been as comprehensive as they have been for Glocks, but there is definite evidence to show these pistols will handle everyday abuse, normal, and abnormal.
Discussing the overall standard of construction, I do have a few issues with it. For example, the gaps between the frame and slide of the firearm, which, of course, are relatively common for striker fired guns, are larger than those I've seen on Glocks, XDs, or even some of the cheaper striker-fired firearms like the DBFS9 from Diamondback. Which to me does present some definite concerns with debris finding its way into the frame and trigger group. Also there was a noticeable amount of frayed polymer along the sharp edge of the front of the frame where it meets the slide. Like that of a molded toy. Of course that was simply aesthetic, and was quickly removed within a few minutes with a file. Other than these issues, I really had no further complaints... so far.
The M&P .40 features a well-functioning ambidextrous slide-release. The release controls are completely proprietary to each other, and move in flawless conjunction with one another, though the right release is positioned slightly more forward than the left. That doesn't seem as though it would cause problems for anyone unless they had relatively small hands.
The releases are quite easy to manipulate and are of satisfying size. It also features a rather convenient witness hole for easy viewing of a loaded chamber. Given this is useful, it also presents itself to be a further access point for debris combined with the surprisingly large gaps between the frame and slide. One thing that I absolutely love about my M&P model is the FANTASTIC fish-scale serrations Smith & Wesson included at the rear of the slide. Not too aggressive, but completely viable wet, dry, gloved, or barehanded. Those are well complimented by the contours at the muzzle-end of the slide. Which allow the user to get a considerably better grip when racking the weapon with a forward placed grip.
Moving on to the most important part of any firearm. Of course, the trigger. I don't like it. To put it completely bluntly I just don't like it. That seems to be a pattern in the striker-fired S&W Autos that I've fired. Regarding the pull, it's advertised at 6.5lbs. There is a definite tension about 3-5mm after the safety on the trigger has disengaged, that tension lasts for about another 3mm leading up to the break. Now it does have comparably less creep than other striker-fired pistols in its price range, which is the triggers only saving grace, but it still has a noticeable 1mm of spongey creep when pushing through the break. It does, however, maintain a satisfying response and distinct breaking point.
The reset is really where Smith & Wesson lost me on this one. It definitely leaves something to be desired. Where the stock trigger pull I find is acceptable, the reset really is not.
Maybe this is a problem limited to my firearm, but here is my experience. I have noticed the reset to be very numb. As you release it will begin to pull your finger harder under tension. You will notice a click, BUT that is not the trigger has not yet come in to battery. Following that first click closely behind is a second, which is unfortunately, much less distinct than the first. So if the user was inexperienced with the firearm, and attempting to fire off the reset, they would find themselves pulling the trigger too early upon release of the previous shot.
My final summation is as follows;
Smith & Wesson gave a valiant attempt at making a combat style, polymer-framed, striker-fired pistol. They didn't fail! Though they still have a lot of refinement to do. This pistol, though better than previous models, still follows the same mildly disappointing pattern that the previous ones did. They might look good, they might function well, but for some reason Smith & Wesson striker-fired pistols always seem to leave a little something missing. Something to work better, or function more effectively. Always something left to be desired is my experience with Smith & Wesson's striker-fired guns. There's a definite reason why after Smith & Wesson's 20+ member shooter team disbanded, only one member kept their M&P for competition. The Smith & Wesson M&P in .40 gets a six-and-a-half or seven, out of ten in my book.