How to fix the M&P auto-forward problem

How to fix the Smith & Wesson M&P pistol’s auto-forward problem.

Buy a Glock. 🙂

I’m half joking, but also half serious.

I love my M&P9. I’ve also got a 9c and a Shield. I really do like them. There’s a lot about the ergonomics, overall capabilities, etc. that are just great. I’m generally quite happy with things. Yes, I had some problems with the 9’s accuracy when I first got it, which was fixed by replacing with a KKM barrel (seems many M&P’s had this problem). And interestingly, my 9c shoots better than my 9.

But the one thing that continues to stick in my craw is the auto-forward behavior, where seating the magazine — sometimes — causes the slide to go forward. I could see this as a feature — if it was reliable — but it’s not. It doesn’t always go forward. And I’ve had a few times when it did go forward but yet it didn’t chamber a new round. To me, that’s not a feature — that’s a bug. And IMHO it’s a bad one. The solution tho is simple: always rack the gun anyways. But now you lose a round on the deck, or you don’t. Maybe not always a problem, but it can add up in classes or shooting particular drills that need a particular setup. Some people suggest that you just watch what happens and react: if it forwards, go; if it doesn’t, rack it. But that doesn’t help the failure to chamber problem. It also has another side-effect… which I just experienced.

I went to the gun range with my friend foo.c. See, I’ve been discussing with some people about switching to a Glock 19 and being done with it. So foo.c brought his 19 out for me to use for a bit. What was most telling? The first time I seated the magazine. Of course, the Glock doesn’t have this auto-forward problem, but yet I acted as if I was addressing it: I was reserved in how I seated the magazine, and I was pausing to diagnose what was going to happen — bracing myself for what may or may not happen. When you’re in a situation where the problem is fully removed, then the compensations you make for that situation suddenly become glaringly obvious. I didn’t realize I was doing what I was doing. It bothers me. I should just slam the damn magazine home and get to business, but the nature of the beast: if it forward or not, if it chambers or not… geez, that’s causing some behaviors that are not good.

Could I overcome them? Sure, I could attempt to train around them, but again consider the side-effects it creates — that other guns do not.

So all things come back to… gee… is it time for me to dump my M&P and just get a Glock and be done with it?

All these years of not being a Glock fanboy, of jibing and jabbing my Glock-using friends. And now am I going to drink the Kool-Aid? Probably not that, but I’m certainly at a point where I care less about the gun and care more about myself. Glock: it works, it’s reliable, it’s got the track-record, it’s not sexy, it’s not frilly, but it gets the job done.

I’ve also said it before and I’ll say it again: the form factor of the 19 is tough to beat. Everyone makes “17-sized” and “26-sized”, but no one else makes a 19-size. I don’t know why, but it’s just such a perfect form factor.

So yeah… not switching yet. But I am thinking more and more about it.

18 thoughts on “How to fix the M&P auto-forward problem

    • Be straight with me. Downsides? Glock isn’t perfect.

      I can fix the trigger. I can get better sights.

      One constant annoyance is seeing Glock mags that don’t drop free. foo.c claims its weak mag springs, which if that’s all it is, is easily avoidable and fixable.

      • Also if you have larger hands, you need to make sure your strong hand doesn’t come in contact with the bottom of the mag. Also unless you have long thumbs, you really have to work to fully depress the mag release with the older Glocks.

        If I grip it wrong or don’t fully get on the release I can make it fail, but if I do my technique right I can get the mag to drop free every time.

        Also, in addition to springs, Dawson makes some metal base pads which add a little weight to help them drop.

      • Downsides:
        My Glock 21 is a Gen 2, thus it lacks the accessory rail.
        It HATES reloaded ammo. I’ve tried a few rounds from various sources with bad results. Mostly, Click with No Bang. Hold the gun pointed down range for a thirty count, then drop the mag and carefully eject the round… I’ve sworn off reloads for the Glock. Personally, I blame the reload, not the Glock, but I’ve seen the exact same bullet that wouldn’t fire from my Glock fire out of a 1911 after being picked up off of the floor.
        It is a fat gun. Fortunately, Oklahoma’s standards for concealed are very relaxed compared to Texas so it doesn’t matter if I have visible Glock bulges on my side.
        Mine doesn’t like to feed those weird blunt nosed bullets, yet it feeds hollow points just fine. Go figure.
        I’ve never really had any complaints about it. It is the only pistol I’ve ever owned, but I’ve shot loads of them. Every year I get an itch to go buy a new gun but I just can’t see it replacing my Glock 21. The only one that’s come close is a Glock 19.

        • Lack of rail isn’t a deal breaker. I rarely use them on the pistol, but it is one of those things that all things being equal, nice to have “just in case” because it doesn’t affect the size or ergonomics or anything about the gun to have it there.

          I do know there are some Glock issues in the .40’s because of the unsupported chamber, but aftermarket barrels are always an option there. That can also help with things like the feed issues. But to me, once you start going down this road of changing every part out… how much benefit am I gaining vs. just sticking with what I have, y’know?

          Your issue sounds like it may be the reloads, or maybe weak springs? I mean, if it’s 20 years old and never had the springs changed, I’d look at replacing all the springs in the gun with new springs.

          If I did go down this road, it would be the 19. A big reason is the size. While I saw some stuff showing how S&W positioned the size of the M&P line to weave with the Glock (i.e. from largest to smallest it’s like Glock 17, M&P 4″, Glock 19, M&Pc, Glock 26… something like that), I still find the size of the 19 to be just such a sweet spot, especially for AIWB, which is ultimately my goal.

          I dunno. I’m not ready to drink the Kool-Aid yet, mostly because it’ll be an investment (gun, 2nd gun for backup, sights for both, possible other parts for both, holster, many magazines, etc.). It’s just a lot of scratch right now. But still… it’s seriously rolling around my head.

            • What recoil and striker spring weights are you running? Factory?

              My new G21 was doing this same thing. I could feel the slide clunking forward as I reset the trigger. I believe this was because the striker spring was still new and pretty stiff. The slide didn’t have enough return force to overcome it. (Mousefarts partly to blame.)

              I “fixed” it with a liberal amount of oil in the slide rails and working the slide a ton. It just sounded wrong at the beginning and now it sounds normal.

    • Hadn’t seen this video (but then, it was only posted yesterday). But yes… “as we’ve all experienced”.

      Very interesting detail of the design there. I wonder how those parts will wear and contend with breakage. I figure if something breaks there, it just means the slide won’t lock back or might auto-forward, so likey not the worst thing in the world if breakage or excessive wear. Because with that latch going over that nub, that WILL wear and/or break eventually. I wonder what that point will be… and what it takes to fix it (i.e. user-servicable drop-in parts?).

      Thank you for the video.

      Can’t wait to see his range report, especially since he said he was going to especially hammer on the auto-forward issue.

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