Finally got to the range to break in the M&P.
Here’s my first impressions. And here goes my second impressions, tho first with live fire.
What I shot was an M&P 9 (the “standard” model), Apex DCAEK and RAM trigger parts, Comp-Tac MTAC holster, Comp-Tac mag pouch, and the rear dots on the factory Novak sights are blacked out. I ran various ammo through it: Winchester White Box, some Federal “maroon box”, American Eagle 124 grain, my reloads, and some Speer Gold Dot 124 grain +P. This will be relevant later on.
Shot numerous ways. Started off just blazing away to see how she felt. Did some benchrest shooting at 25 yards. Did some offhand slow group shooting at various distances. Shot the FAST test. Ran some drills out of the DR Performance Practice Deck for iOS. Some one-handed shooting. Just did a lot of things to see how things went. And so… how did it go?
Generally speaking, I’m liking the gun. The ergonomics are just so much better — at least for me. But I was stinking up the joint today; I chalk that up to my brain shooting the XD and my hands shooting the M&P. I just need to get used to the gun, because it’s different enough.
For instance, the feel of where the trigger breaks is earlier on my M&P vs. my XD and so it messed with my timing and handling of things. The distance the trigger travels while shooting, while resetting, there’s both take-up and overtravel on the M&P… and the M&P trigger, tho better than factory, is still that “mush” spongy feeling, whereas my XD’s is rock solid and tight as a drum. Consequently, I was yanking the trigger all over the place. I started to wonder if I’m actually mashing the trigger always, if that’s just how I shoot my XD, but due to the differences in the gun it just became evident on the M&P whereas with the XD it’s such a brick it absorbed all my mashing (or I learned how to compensate for it with grip and other things). I have to use a lighter touch with the M&P. I will also have to relearn my grip because the recoil feels different and recovers different.
I also need to work on the present/press-out with the M&P. I don’t know for sure what it was, but I just went slow. Could be I was trying to do too much mental compensation for POI vs. POA I don’t know, was thinking too much instead of “just shut up and shoot”. Could be my eyes weren’t used to picking up a white dot vs. a red dot. Can’t say. Just need more work on it. Very evident during the FAST test.
Bottom line: I need a lot more trigger time with the gun to learn it.
But here’s the bigger deal… the gun performance itself.
Shot probably 400 rounds through it, various ammo (as noted above). No hiccups nor problems. That’s good. What wasn’t good was the accuracy. Using any 115 grain ammo (my reloads, WWB, Federal), the grouping was horrible — 6-8″ out at 25 yards. Unacceptable. But, shooting Gold Dot at 25 yards? 3-4″ group. Acceptable. Shooting the AE 124 grain? Also grouped just fine. Apparently the M&P 9’s were designed for 124 grain ammo (makes some sense, given most self-defense ammo is 124 grain), and will most of the great unwashed ever realize their 115 plinking isn’t that hot because many will never shoot beyond 7 or 10 yards? So, the KKM barrel is going to be used. Will have to do a lot more testing with that to see how it fares. But the factory barrel just won’t cut it in my book. I took the various ammos on the advice of Dave Re, and IIRC he too found heavier bullets to work better (Dave, correct me if I am wrong).
The factory Novak sights? Gee if they aren’t horrible. I wouldn’t mind the front post being just a hair thinner, but really they aren’t bad. Tom had Dawson’s and one of foo.c’s had the M&P Pro’s sights, and being able to compare all 3 side-by-side I really don’t think the factory Novak’s are all that bad, just a wee fat on the front sight post. But…. I was consistently shooting left. I figured it was me, given the slapping plus how with the XD I always had that slight shoot-left problem due to how my index/trigger finger rubbed the frame. Well, part of the reason I wanted the M&P is because it alleviates the frame rub problem, but I still chalked up the slight left shooting to me. After a little more slow group shooting and some specific adjustments of my own shooting to look deeper into it, well… I ended up thinking maybe it was the sights, looked down at the slide, and I saw the rear sight was off-center (slightly left). And so, there we go. Factory sights were not set right. Had no allen wrench of size at the range, so I’ll see about doing a slight adjustment myself later on.
You know how the M&P is famous for auto-forwarding the slide? I hate it. First, it doesn’t happen all the time, most of the time, but not all. It messed with my head a lot because I’d see the slide go down and want to just keep going (GREAT! IT’S DOWN. SHOOT!) but I would want to rack the slide again, but I had already set up the gun for the drill with exactly the number of rounds and if I racked it would throw off the drill, and so I’d lose too much time thinking about all of this. Ugh. And then, a few times it didn’t work right. One time the slide dropped and it failed to load the chamber so the gun just went “click”. Another time it failed to fully strip the round and made quite a nice malfunction. I don’t need that shit in a gun that I wish to entrust my life to. I can see it being nice in a gaming situation, but for a carry gun? Well, it either needs to happen 100% of the time or not happen 100% of the time. To happen 92% of the time, 3% of the time it happens but something goes wrong, and 5% it doesn’t happen at all, that’s unacceptable. I found this as a possible mod to fix it, but I’ve only just started to look into things.
Also played around with Tom’s Raven Phantom holster with the Magpul cut. I cannot deny that it’s a great holster and you will draw much faster from it. But I just can’t wear it because of how it sits on my body. It just will NOT allow concealment, but it does on Tom’s. Differences in our body shapes and clothing. However, we fiddled around a bit and reset his holster from having no cant to a slight forward cant. Not sure the angle, but we just moved the rear loop to the “lower” holes. The cant was slight, but it was just enough that it worked better with my body. Plus there’s no question that while the holster is the “same” holster, the XD just did not ride as well as the M&P. So, when/if I get back on the OWB front, I think I’ll reconsider getting a Raven and see how it goes but wearing at that slight cant.
So in sum:
- In general, I like it. Ergonomics work better, and yes I think the medium backstrap is what I want.
- Rear sight needs to be adjusted.
- Auto-forwarding sucks, IMHO.
- Factory barrel is questionable, at least with 115 grain ammo. 124 seemed to shoot better. Would be curious how 147’s shoot. Am going to switch to the KKM and see how it does.
- And I need a lot more time/experience with it to unlearn my XD habits and learn how to shoot this gun well.
And, it was a good day at the range.