Smith & Wesson M&P9 M2.0 – First Impressions

This is my Smith & Wesson M&P9 M2.0. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

Background

I’ve carried and shot an M&P9 (version 1.0, if you will) for a number of years now. Thousands upon thousands of rounds downrange. It’s what I’ve taught classes with, took classes with, hours of dry fire. I’ve got a lot of time behind that M&P.

But in all of that time, I’ve not been entirely happy with it.

It started with accuracy issues – or rather, lack of accuracy. When I first bought the gun the accuracy was horrible. I wasn’t the only one nor the only gun experiencing that problem. I did put in a KKM barrel and that addressed things to an acceptable level.

But the most annoying part was the auto-forward “feature”. Seat the magazine and the slide will automatically drop and go into battery. Or not – it wasn’t consistent. Sometimes when it would go forward, it failed to chamber a round. And during the Rangemaster Advanced Instructor class back in September 2016, it auto-forwarded right into a double-feed (don’t ask me how, but it happened). My frustration with the gun was at the tipping point and I was about to leave the class and head to the store to pick up either a Glock 19 or a SIG 320. However, at the time a little birdie told me that Smith was working on a major revision to the gun that worked to address “all the problems” AND would maintain compatibility.

See that’s the big problem with switching: it’s expensive. You buy the one gun, add better sights and better trigger. Well, now you need 2 guns (with sights and trigger) because redundancy is important. Then you need holster and mag pouches, well really two sets of those as well. I’d want at least 2 dozen magazines. And the cost of switching platforms just rises fast. So I figured I could wait a few more months to see what this “next gen M&P” would be like. If it fixed things, great; I wouldn’t have to invest in anything more than the gun (and sights and trigger). In fact, I’d be in no rush to get a second gun because I could always fall back to my old guns for redundancy if needed.

And a few weeks ago, the M&P9 M2.0 was revealed. I purchased one as quickly as I could.

Note: this is my own private purchase of the gun. No sponsoring, no T&E, no nothing. This is all my money, my experiences, my opinion.

First Impressions

Looks like an M&P.

I of course had to start dry. Bought the gun, brought it home, looked it over, a little dry work.

Here’s what came from that time.

Grip

Holy crap! That is some majorly aggressive grip texture.

I have to wonder who’s idea this was, and what market is S&W trying to hit?

I mean, it’s really good grip, but very abrasive. I would love this for competition shooting, because you don’t shoot much but when you do you shoot hard. Such an aggressive grip is great for that.

Shooting 2000 rounds in a weekend class? That’s going to get old really quick.

EDITED TO ADD: Based on some comments I saw, I want to clarify the above. I’m not trying to say anything about competition vs. self-defense type shooting. It’s merely a statement of shooting volume. That is, if your time shooting the gun is short, like a 30 round stage, plinking in the back pasture, or other things where it’s just a short amount of time spent with the gun, lots of rest/breaks, etc. then the texturing is likely to not be a problem. In fact, I’m sure it’s going to help because you will be able to grip the gun better. But if you’re shooting with a lot of volume: long practice session, weekend classes, etc., the texturing is going to wear on your hands. It’s just a matter of abrasion and how long your hands can handle it.

And concealed carry? I have no idea how that’s supposed to happen. Maybe I’m supposed to build up a callous on my torso? I wear against my skin and it took all of a couple seconds to know this is a no-go for me. Plus clothing snags way too easily.

If this gun pans out, I’m going to take some sandpaper to the grip to reduce the aggressiveness of the texturing. I didn’t mind the original texturing at all, but then I also have a strong grip so YMMV.

One thought I did have was to see if I could be judicious about where I smoothed it down. I may smooth down the sides but leave some aggressiveness on the front and back straps. TBD.

As for the backstraps, there are now 4, adding a “medium-large” to the mix. I’m still playing around to see what works for me. In the 1.0, the large is too large for me, but medium was workable tho always felt a little small. So I’m currently trying out the medium-large and so far it feels alright. I’ll continue to switch around a bit until I land on what works for my hands, and before I start sanding things down. The more size options are nice.

Another change to the grip is the removal of the extended beavertail. So far I’m good with this. I have other M&P’s, including M&P9c, which also lacks the beavertail. I haven’t really noticed any issues – shooting or comfort-wise when holstered – and I actually wonder if I’m able to get slightly higher up in my grip now. It feels like it, but it’s hard to measure.

Accessory Fit

I checked to see how accessories would work.

Existing magazines? No problem. I saw a few things online that gave the impression there’s a new “2.0 magazine” out there, but unsubstantiated. To my eye there’s no difference between the old and new mags. Or even if there is, the old mags worked fine with no problems I could determine.

Existing holsters? YMMV. I tried in all my M&P holsters and had no problems. I did notice a couple had a slightly tighter fit, but just barely. I saw someone measured and found the 2.0 is just a hair thicker than the 1.0, so it is possible you may have fit issues with your particular holster. But as well, since many holsters have tensioning screws, likely a slight adjustment will address fit issues. So I see no major problems here.

It does look like Apex Tactical has new/different parts for the 2.0. I’ll look into these at a later date.

I’m going to guess that aftermarket sights will be the same as the 1.0.

Trigger

I’m quite impressed. For a factory trigger, this is pretty good.

Measured the pull weight around 6 lb., but it does not feel like a 6# trigger. Karl tried it too and agreed it feels really good. I did notice during some later live fire that during some 25 yard slow-fire bullseye shooting I did think to myself “OK, this is a 6# trigger”, but overall not bad.

There’s a little travel for sure. You do get a good tactile reset. Some have asked about grit and I don’t feel any in mine, but I’ve seen some YouTube videos showing some – so again YMMV. I expect as the gun breaks in the weight will drop maybe to 5.5# and of course things will continue to smooth out.

I am finding the factory trigger to be quite usable. Oh I do expect I’ll get an Apex kit because there is room for improvement. But honestly? This is a gun where I don’t feel any rush to get an improved trigger.

Sights

The same Novak’s S&W has been putting on the M&Ps for a while now. I don’t find them all that bad; pretty good for factory sights at least. I did of course take a Sharpie to the dots on the rear sight and blacken them out. Only mod I’ve made on the gun.

I’m sure I’ll change these to Dawson Precision at some point.

Magazine Release

The mag release button is all metal. I’m not sure if this was to address some sort of problem, but it’s no big deal to me either way.

One thing I will be curious about is long-term. I noticed over time that my 1.0’s mag release got sluggish. I would disassemble and clean and it’d be fine again. I wonder if the added weight of an all-metal button might help with that. We’ll see.

Slide Stop

This is probably the most interesting and most-talked about change on the gun.

The engineering is different, and unlikely anything I’ve seen. I asked Karl if he’s seen such a thing before and he hasn’t. I’d be curious from any of the real gun-history buffs out there if this is truly a new approach or something rehashed from before.

Basically there’s a piece of metal “embedded” into the frame, and the slide stop lever folds over it. It’s a bump. So this bump now physically holds the lever up. It takes intentional force to push the lever down vs. in most guns where spring tension just returns the lever downwards. Building upon that, the slide stop’s notch in the slide is very small and shaped like a triangle. Why? Because retraction of the slide doesn’t just release friction and the stop drops. Instead, the front-edge of the notch is angled so retracting the slide applies force to the stop and pushes the lever downwards.

It’s an interesting solution to trying to keep the slide from auto-forwarding.

I’ve banged on it a bunch of times as hard as I could, harder than one would normally hit. The slide hasn’t fallen.

That’s great.

Unfortunately, it’s not perfect. Because there have been a couple times when the slide has dropped on me. I’m not sure why. My wild guess is perhaps the slide stop lever didn’t fully ride over the little metal bump, so it was on the windward side of sliding down anyways. But just a totally wild guess.

What I wonder? How robust is this solution?

You now have 2 pieces of metal in constant contact, riding over each other with tension and friction. Directly that means wear. But as well, the way the metal is folded over for the slide stop lever, every time it goes over the bump the metal has to flex a bit at the “hinge” point. How long until that breaks?

I would guess from the design of things if the slide stop tab did break off the gun would continue to function just fine – just no tab for your thumb to flick. Still…

Only time will tell.

Dry Fire

Working with the gun in dry fire was generally positive.

One hard part is again the aggressive grip texture. My draw technique apparently has me coming in contact with the grip and sliding my hand around the grip to achieve a proper hold. This is almost impossible with all that texturing; well, at least if I want to keep the skin on hands. 🙂

Trigger feels good.

Overall weight and balance feels good. S&W impregnated some metal into the frame of the gun, apparently to make the frame stiffer. Can’t comment on the stiffness in dry fire, but it doesn’t feel like the gun has become front-heavy. Some of the cosmetic changes to the front-end may have been to remove a little bit of weight to compensate for the addition of the stiffeners.

I’m not used to the factory sights (all my other guns have Dawson Precision, with 0.100″ red fiber optic fronts and 0.125″ serrated black rear Charger sights). But that’s no big deal.

Working the slide, slide-stop, etc. feels a little different, but the manual of arms is unchanged. It just feels stiffer, a little more work to do things, but when you’re working at speed you’re unlikely to notice. However, those of you that like to drop the slide by flicking the slide stop lever? That’s going to be harder to do with this gun: it’ll be interesting to see if S&W loses or gains ground in IDPA and USPSA competition with this 2.0 model due to that issue.

Live Fire

I’ve done some live fire with the gun, and while results are generally good, I’ve had some things that have given me pause.

I’ll be having another live fire session soon, and hopefully that will solidify what I’ve seen so far: either for good or for bad.

I’ll report on that soon.

Overall First Impressions

In general my first impressions have been positive.

The aggressive grip texture is the big negative for me, but because my primary context is concealed carry and that grip against my bare torso all day just isn’t going to happen. I can’t expect the average Joe to sandpaper their gun’s frame or even realize they could.

In terms of my reasons for buying and trying a 2.0? So far so good. But the jury is still out.

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18 thoughts on “Smith & Wesson M&P9 M2.0 – First Impressions

  1. to me, it sounds like you shouldn’t have waited and trusted s&w to make things right that should have been right to begin with and gone ahead with the glock. you’re a programmer, so i know that you know when to start a project from scratch and when to try to patch up things that went wrong in the first version.

    i’m not a glock fan although i realize their ubiquity–imo the absolute best buy in a 9mm (or .40) handgun right now is hk closing out their p30 and p30l models in favor of their new vp9. i traded the vp9 back in within a week, so that’s my opinion of that. but i was delighted to find cdnn selling the p30l (longslide) models below cost and snapped one up which will relegate my much beloved 15+ year old uspc (converted from 40 to .357sig) to backup status.

    i tried the m&p shield last year and it was ok. i guess. had to spend an additional $150-250 on trigger and sights and then found out that i’ve gotten old and can no longer manipulate a small, tight pistol. i literally couldn’t pull the slide back. so it went away too and i stuck with my 15+ year old s&w model pd360 titanium 357 revolver for a carry gun. btw, i’ve had crimson trace grips on it from the day i purchased it and i only changed the battery last year.

    and despite me thinking the glock is one of the ugliest and blocky and ill-fitting pistols of all time, i found a great deal on a nib, semi-rare 17l (longslide model) which came from the factory with a 3.3lb trigger and other goodies usually aftermarket. the longslide takes away the blockiness and although it’s still not pretty, it’s not ugly and balances well. i keep it in a biometric safe right behind my chair and the thing is huge–it would have to be intimidating.

    /guy

    • Yes, I do know when it start from scratch and when to try to carry on. One factor to weigh on that is cost — simple dollars. I already explained that it was going to be mighty costly to switch platforms, so to give this a shot is a small expenditure that could have the desired benefit. If it doesn’t pan out, I can still switch and sell the M&P’s at only a small loss. To me that’s a better approach to take, especially when realities of cost are factored in.

      Besides, nothing says a Glock won’t have problems. Just had lunch with a friend yesterday who recently bought a G26 and it’s having extraction problems. All these things are mechanical, all are assembled by humans, all are prone to have imperfections. S&W’s track record is reasonable enough, and the platform has served me well. I don’t hate it, it’s just irritations.

      I remain hopeful, but I’m realistic.

      • sorry, i like hk and glock’s track record in having minimal issues to begin with and fixing the minor ones that crop up quickly over s&w autos any day. i really can’t speak to sig as i only ever owned one, a 220, which had a trigger ‘reach’ nearly measured in feet even after i installed the ‘short’ trigger and which got traded to a dea agent in louisianna for an hk in short order. and now i see the army has selected sig over glock which i think is a huge mistake. they cite ‘modularity’ which is more a bane than a boon considering it’s the army which is managing the modules. if the sig was too big for me, it’ll be too big for many of the women whereas the glock already has that covered with just two models–the 17 and the 19 i think. that’s all the modularity and more reliability than anyone should need. /guy

        • Yeah, I’m not a SIG fan in general because they are massive bricks. Solid guns, just hard to use by 98% of the general population.

          But the 320 is different, and so far it’s proving itself well. And yes, the recent adaoption by the US Army is mighty interesting. But the modularity – have you looked at the 320 platform? It’s far more modular than a Glock or just about any gun out there.

          • that’s what i”m saying–it’s not a feature, it’s a bad bad bug when applied to army management protocols. so you issue a sig to a soldier and set it up for their build and mission. then they get discharged or their mission changed. let’s say it took 3-4 ‘modules’ to set that pistol up for them. so now the army has to manage 5 pieces, inventory and store them and then re-issue them for the next soldier. it’s a logistical nightmare compared to just maybe 2-3 sizes of guns to begin with and the only module a silencer maybe. just my opinion and being navy, i have a low opinion of ‘army intelligence’ or efficiency. [g] /guy

            • OK, from that perspective yeah, I can see it. I was thinking from the operator’s perspective.

              But would it be that much different with a Gen4 Glock, backstraps and so on? Still pieces to manage, set up, inventory, etc.?

              I guess it just gives some bean counter more beans to count, I guess. 😉

  2. well, damm. i forgot a section in the response above and i was typing it here and my mac completely locked up. i reset everything, tried to remote in and even ssh in and nothing worked, so i had to power reset and lost about 250 words. but it was about trying to fix reliability and accuracy issues and whether they’re money pits or time sinks. in other words, i think s&w should have power reset and started from scratch since it sounds like not only did they not fix existing issues, there might even be more issues in this model. /guy

    • The thing about starting from scratch is you are starting from scratch. Now you have a whole new set of unknowns to work with.

      Instead, taking a well-known and working to refine it, that can get you further. You have a lot of knowns – including the known bads – and you work to address them. I think S&W has actually worked pretty hard at trying to address those issues. I’m sorry if my initial words here didn’t come across that way, but spoiler: after my first live fire session my assessment was “This is what the M&P should always have been.”. I have been pretty impressed with it because it’s a pretty good improvement.

      And then the costs of total redo are not just for the company, but for the user-base. Think about all the police departments out there that have adopted and standarized on the M&P. If S&W totally started over, if all new holsters, all new gear, etc. would be required, how well do you think that would go over with departments and purchasing? It would be a HUGE hindrance to adoption.

      I see nothing wrong with the approach S&W took. It seems quite the wise one, in fact.

  3. John, I understand the costs of changing from one gun to another but I’m not sure I could have put up with all the silliness you have. The slide slamming closed on magazine insert would have been the last straw for me. And you are reporting this same behavior in the new gun?

    Like Guy I’m not fond of buying a spendy new gun and then have to spend more to make it a workable platform. That is what has soured me on the M&P line and why I just went and paid all the money for a new PPQ M2 almost 4 years ago.

    I hope you can get the new 2.0 version to be all you are hoping for.

    • I’ve learned to live with things, because the auto-forwarding isn’t a fight-stopping problem. It’s mostly just a training problem, but it can lead to training scars (which I do have and have to work to undo – and THOSE can become fight-stopping problems).

      I’m patient and tolerant, I guess.

      As for it happening with the new one, it’s inconclusive right now. I mean, I have banged on the gun HARD doing horrible things that one normally wouldn’t do, hitting and seating mags completely unnaturally — and it has NOT closed. I’ve done a bunch of reloads, dry work, nothing. It feels great!

      But then, a couple times it has gone forward. I don’t know why. It’s something hard to catch and hard to know if it’s GOING to happen so then paying attention FOR it to happen so it can be diagnosed as to why.

      I’m not willing to call it a show-stopper… yet.

      I’ve got some more work to do with it.

      And if it doesn’t work, hey… I’ll join the cool kids and get a SIG 320. 😉

    • Good question.

      I just tried it and it does appear the 1.0’s can fit on the 2.0’s.

      Does it help? It does, but maybe not enough. It removes from the backstrap and a lot of the sides, but there’s still some on the sides. Still, it could be a quick and easy solution that doesn’t modify the gun.

      That said, in trying this I found I actually didn’t like it. I do like the texturing. What I thought I would do is just see about easing it down where it rubs against my torso. That would keep texturing on the front and back straps, and on the right side. When I swapped to the 1.0 backstrap just now I found I didn’t like it – I missed that texturing!

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  5. I held the new 2.0 and the texturing was way to aggressive for me. I never had a problem with the old texturing on my 9c. This doesn’t mean I wouldn’t buy one. In fact; I’m waiting to see when they will release a 2.0 in a compact. If anyone out there knows please let me know how long I’ll be waiting! I haven’t changed anything out on my 9c yet. Trigger or sights will probably be first; but I’m hoping the compact will come out and I’ll buy one with a better trigger and pass my “1.0” down to my wife!

    • Funny thing. I had no problems with the 1.0 texturing either, but now going back to the 1.0 after using the 2.0, the 1.0 feels like slick glass.

      I took some 320 grit sandpaper to the texturing, just to take off the sharp points. It’s still got good texturing, but isn’t as sharp now. I can wear against my skin without issue (so far).

      As for other models, I forget what the S&W reps were saying but the party line basically leads one to believe that they will, but no timeline or official announcements.

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