One round vs. reliability and consistency

As much as I love my Smith & Wesson M&P’s, there’s one “feature” about the gun that I cannot stand.

How it “auto-forwards” the slide upon inserting the magazine.

Or more specifically, how this “feature” is unreliable.

Sometimes it goes forward, sometimes not. Usually it goes forward if you insert the magazine hard enough (i.e. the action depends upon forceful insertion). But I’ve had times where I slammed a magazine home, strong enough to have expected it to go forward, but then it didn’t.


And most of the time when the slide goes forward it strips and chambers a round. But I have had a few times when it didn’t.


So is this a feature? or a bug?

If this was a gaming rig, I might be happy with it and try to finagle the gun to be more reliable about auto-forwarding. It certainly makes things faster. Because, it’s just a game and if I blow the game, it’s not the end of the world. But even in a game, it’s preferrable for things to be reliable and consistent.

But for a gun that I use for personal protection? Oh, that matters more. To have things behave in an inconsistent manner? That could be fatal.

So what’s the solution?

Keep your training the same. Keep the same motion. Insert the mag, rack the slide. What’s the worst that can happen? it jacks out a round onto the ground. Meh… it’s just one round.

The only time I’ve found that to be a problem? If I’m trying to run a particular drill that requires a particular setup and losing that round throws things off. So my solution is to look at the drill and adjust; if that means I put one more round in so I can afford to lose it, fine. If that means I adjust the scoring slightly to compensate for the loss of round, then so be it. Whatever. In the end, I’d rather ingrain solid, reliable habits.

14 thoughts on “One round vs. reliability and consistency

  1. Heh. Yeah, there is that. The only other one I would consider would be a Glock. Only reason I haven’t considered it is the cost involved: gun, trigger, sights, holsters, mag pouches, many mags…. it’s just a lot of cost to switch.

    The above “auto-forward” isn’t a deal-breaker for me. It’s simple enough: just rack it always. It’s fair habit anyways.

    • “The only other one I would consider would be a Glock.”

      I have two Glocks for concealed carry, the 19 and the 26 (3rd gens). But both are little bulky (in summer hot weather).

      For “deep carry” I have a S&W 642 with a Crimson Trace laser. It is highly concealable and I have been shooting revolvers since 1970s so I am used to heavy (but smooth) trigger and I can manage the recoil (lightweight little bastard kicks for a 38). But it is purely a defensive gun at close range. In Texas I can carry it to church and they are “huggers” there so have to be careful, some of those ladies hands can wander a bit in their hugs. 🙂

      One reason I love the Glocks is that in one important way they are like an old fashioned revolver. No safeties to think of manipulating. Just grab, aim, pull the trigger – bang. One reason I hesitate to buy any gun with a safety I have to remember to disengage. Too old a dog to learn a new trick.



      • I think “bulky” and “summer carry” can be a little overrated. I will still carry a full-sized service pistol IWB in the middle of Texas summer, and I don’t have to wear a parka to do so. But it is individual, body, clothing, etc. dependent for sure.

        I do love my 442, but lately I’ve felt that I’d rather standardize on something. M&P9 and Shield is a nice combo, but things like Glock 19 and 26 are a little better because they’re almost the same form factor, same magazines, etc.. And the Shield is still “just too big enough”. I have been using an M&P9c, which with the M&P9 works nicely but even still it’s not as slim. Nothing’s perfect. 🙂 Maybe someday I’ll get one of those small Kahrs… But then, like I said at the start, I typically can carry a full-size, so… why not?

  2. I got to play with one the other weekend during a class (student had one). I will say for a factory trigger, that’s pretty nice.

    Build up a better aftermarket and we’ll talk. 🙂

  3. Yeah, I had this same dilemma. I eventually came to view it as a feature. (I kind of miss it now.)

    It does have some negatives, I can remember banging on my mags floorplate at a match thinking “why isn’t the slide going forward?” Then in a moment of clarity, “duh, use the slide stop, idiot!”

    Eventually I became zen with autoforward. Once you do this you simply inspect and rectify as needed without thinking.

    To me it was a non-issue on a carry gun because I only carry the one magazine anyway. :)-~

  4. I’m willing to classify it as a feature, but a buggy feature because it’s inconsistent. If it was consistent, I’d be all over it.

    The thing is, if “inspect and rectify” becomes the habit, that still means your brain is always in a “ready position” waiting to see what will happen. Sure that can become your default action, but to me it’s still using brain cycles for something that it shouldn’t — when you probably have more important things to be focused on.

  5. sorry about the test comment. pls delete, i was changing wordpress accounts.

    if it was me i’d have to find a more reliable gun, either by trading this one in or having a gunsmith fix this one if possible. i’m just too anal in routine matters and were it my life at stake i wouldn’t be able to accept anything but absolute consistency.

    but worse, in my case at least, would be trying to keep up with the ’empty/loaded’ equation and my ocd would take over, forcing me to check constantly. and this would be in a routine or training situation. under stress my mind would be out the window and an accident could occur either way.


    • No worries on the test. Deleted.

      The gun is very reliable, both my particular one and the platform in general. In fact, I’m really happy with the M&P9c I recently picked up — it’s proven to be quite a performer. What’s not reliable is this supposed “feature” of auto-forwarding. Really it’s a debate of auto-forwarding: bug or feature, and I’m not sure there’s really a clear conclusion or if it matters. What I’d just like is for it to be consistent, no matter which way it went. But to me it doesn’t matter — just follow the SOP of always racking, which is what you’d do with any other gun anyways, so why make this any different? The only downside is you drop a round on the ground, but meh.

      I understand the OCD aspect. It does nag at me some, but I’m trying to overcome that. 🙂

  6. i doubt anyone you’ve encountered in your class who goes so far as to tailor the magazine or cylinder to the anticipated scenario by assigning a specific cartridge with differing characteristics or loads to each slot or chamber. i am that person! and if i dropped a round it would throw my whole schema off. [g]


    • Well, you shouldn’t do that because life’s not like that. You don’t get that advantage outside of the classroom.

      That said, sometimes to run a particular drill you do need a particular setup (e.g. it’s going to test reloads, or ball and dummy, or some such), and so yes, this auto-forward can throw things off. But you just look at the nature of the drill and compensate… throw an extra round in the magazine, or just account for it in the scoring, or whatever.

      • yes, i was laughing at myself for being that anal. but i really am that anal and typically overthink such things. such is my life. just trying to explain why it might bug me more than most who would just shrug and work around it. there’s no reason to discard a weapon you trust because of such a minor issue that can be worked around with just a slightly altered routine inforced by training reps.


        • And really, the training reps that matter end up all working out here. Really, we just have to accept and ignore it (and pick up the round off the ground afterwards). In the end, it all works out.

          Only time it really matters is 1. for dealing with specific drills (and then you’re being artificial anyways), 2. if you have OCD. 😉

Comments are closed.