Smith & Wesson M&P9 M2.0 – Live Fire

Previously I had written about my “first impressions” of the new Smith & Wesson M&P9 M2.0. Those impressions were from bringing the gun home and doing some dry fire work with it, along with some other general exploration (e.g. equipment compatibility).

What people really want to know is: how does it shoot?

Live Fire

At this point I’ve put about 1000 rounds through the gun across 3 range sessions. Mostly Freedom Munitions 9mm 124 grain RN New and Reman, but also some Speer Gold Dot 9mm 124 grain +P.

I shot numerous drills, such as: Three Seconds or Less3M Test, Rangemaster Bullseye. I also shot a lot of steel.

My goals were to put a lot of rounds through the gun, to break it in and just see if it runs without problems. To assess how it shot, how it felt, accuracy, reloads (especially the whole auto-forward issue), etc.. Just see if it really addressed my gripes with the 1.0 or not.

tl;dr Answer

I’m happy.


The first thing I noticed was less felt recoil. I was surprised at first, so I switched back to my 1.0. Did some back and forth between the two guns, and no question: there’s less felt recoil. It’s not some huge difference, but I noticed it.

It also appeared to be less muzzle flippy. Is this because of the steel frame inserts? Or maybe because of the aggressive grip texturing? Probably both. Bottom line is I found myself back on target faster.

Functioned just fine. There was one failure to fire, but it was the ammo and not the gun. Things went bang. Extraction and ejection was fine. I did clean and oil the gun when I first got it, haven’t cleaned it since then. I don’t plan on cleaning it for a while (tho I may add a little oil now and again).

I don’t find the factory sights great, but as far as factory sights go they’re not the worst I’ve seen. For sure I’ll be switching to some Dawson Precision (0.100″ red fiber front, 0.125″ serrated Charger rear).

Again, the trigger is serviceable. It’s not too bad for a factory trigger. Main place I noticed was doing 25 yard group shooting, and there I did feel the pull weight. But even  tho it was a little heavy, it was workable. Yes, I’ll be switching to a Apex trigger, because it will be better.

To that, I’ve said before and I’ll say again that I wish I had this gun during the Rangemaster Advanced Instructor course some months back. My first range session with this gun was actually my first live-fire in some time due to the holidays and such. I know I had to shake a little rust off. That said, if I had shot 25 yard groups like this during the Instructor class, I’d have been thrilled (all shots inside the 9-ring @ 25 yards, consistently – and again, with the factory sights and trigger and FM’s reman ammo). I did some further accuracy (group) shooting from 5, 7, 10, 15, 25 yards. Just drilled things. I know how I shoot. I know how my groups normally look. There’s no question the hardware simply improved things. Is that tho a statement of how well the 2.0 shoots? Or how horrible my 1.0 shoots? Probably a little of both.

Grip texture really got in my way during my drawstroke. Clothing snagging, hand dragging. I’m sure I can adjust, but I just normally don’t shoot with a heavily textured grip. That said, the more I use it, the more I like it – from a shooting standpoint. From a concealed carry against my skin standpoint, not so much.

The auto-forward. This is the curious part. Try as I might, I couldn’t get it to auto-forward. I put the mag in the gun, locked the slide back, and HAMMERED the gun on the bench repeatedly with a great deal more force than one would normally use to seat a magazine. The slide never dropped out of battery. Great! And for the most part, every (re)load I would do, never a drop. But, there were a couple times where it did! That was curious, and a little bothersome. I’m trying to figure out why it happened. My current hypothesis? The slide stop wasn’t fully engaged to begin with. The new design requires explicit force to engage and disengage (vs. just spring tension and pushing). It may be that the stop wasn’t over the little metal “hump”, so it’s easy to slide back down. But that’s just a guess, and of course the next question would be: why isn’t the stop then going fully over the hump? Again, this is all a guess right now, as this is something that’s difficult to catch and notice before it happens so you can know to pay attention to why it happened. But at this point I don’t consider it a showstopping problem. I mean, when I can smack my 1.0 and have no problems getting it to autoforward, but I can beat on this and autoforwarding is rare. I’m going to keep my eye on this, but so far I’m not going to sweat it too much.

What troubles me more is that it revealed I do have a training scar from contending with the auto-forward issue for so long. I stutter on my reloads because I’m diagnosing the issue. Well there isn’t any more issue, but still I stutter. Just means lots of dry practice on reloads to overcome this. Just how it goes.

Where to next?

At this point, I’m pretty happy with the gun. Happy enough to go ahead and press it into service.

I’m going to order an Apex trigger kit, Dawson sights, and work on the grip texturing a bit. I know it’s a hot topic about having to change the sights and trigger, like it should just be awesome right out of the box no changes needed. I can see that, and again I think for many people the gun will be just fine out of the box. On just about any gun I would buy, I would be changing the sights and trigger because it’s rare the factory trigger and sights will be awesome (and I’m talking mass-produced guns, not hand-crafted custom pieces or really high-end like Wilson Combat or Nighthawk Custom).

Once I get those in and installed, I’ll be making this gun my primary.

We’ll see how things go over time. It may continue to live up to expectations, or it may fall from grace.

Time will tell.

13 thoughts on “Smith & Wesson M&P9 M2.0 – Live Fire

  1. Concerning the auto-forward, am curious to know how many 1.0s you tried and did every one have the issue? Mine (only one I ever tried) seems to only do it when there is some forward force component when I slam in the mag. Also what percent of the time did the auto-forward not strip out a cartridge? (I seemed to remember something at or close to 100%.)

    • I have an M&P Pro with the 5″ barrel and two M&P Pro’s with the 4.25″ barrels and all three guns auto-forward. I would estimate about 1/3 of the time. It occurs during both reloads and initial loads. However, it has only failed to load a round 3 or 4 times over a two year period.

    • All the M&P’s I’ved personally used have done it, and I’ve spoken with many people where it happens as well; in fact, spoke with another such person just yesterday.

      Interesting tho that Karl says none of his M&P’s do this. I haven’t had time yet, but I want to try his out.

      And this echos much of what I read online from other people. Happens for many, doesn’t happen for all. But when I press people about it, one pattern emerges: whatever happens, it’s not consistent and 100% reliable.

      As for percentages, I couldn’t tell you. Guess? maybe 10% of the time it failed to strip?

      • I took my 3 day old M&P Mod 2.0, 9mm, 5 inch, to the range last weekend. Fired 125 round in 30 minutes, bare-handed. No issues with the grip texture. I carry openly, OWB. I conceal in my church’s sanctuary during services by donning my suit coat. On those very rare occasions when I conceal IWB, I wear an undershirt. I expect no issues carrying in this manner, but have not had occasion to test it.

        I had no “auto-forward” instances. My new pistol fired Winchester Whitebox 115 grain and Remington 115 grain jacketed hollow point flawlessly. This is the pistol I’ll be carrying at KR Training next month.

        John, we can compare notes on April 22. 😉

        • I have found the grip texture snags clothing as well. YMMV depending on how you carry.

          The auto-forward does seem to be engineered out. I have had a couple auto-forwards tho and a couple failures to lock open, but I am not sure what to attribute them to just yet. My working hypothesis is something “was in the way”, like a thumb in the wrong place so things didn’t fully engage (given how explicit and affirmative things have to be work the slide lock). So I’m not ready to say it’s anything with the gun itself, because I have done things like lock the slide back and BANG the gun around and it just didn’t close.

          See you in a few weeks then. 🙂

          • Just to add to the discussion. I’ve got around 500 rounds through my 2.0 now. I’ve fed 124 gr round nose Freedom Munitions through it (about 150 rounds) and the rest have been Federal HST 124 gr +P. All have performed fine. The only glitch I’ve had in the 500 rounds was one failure of the slide to lock open at the end of a magazine. I’ve had no auto-forwards. I had Karl install Dawson sights on mine as well. I’ve also installed the APEX DAEK kit (but kept the original trigger). One thing to note: the DAEK kit that fits the 2.0 is the one for the .45 M&P. Just order the kit recommended on the APEX website for the 2.0 and you’ll get the correct one. After installing it, the trigger pull weight is around 5.5 – 6.0 lbs. That is the same weight as the gun had prior to the DAEK installation. The trigger action is smoother.

            The grip texture is definitely aggressive. I personally like it. My only issue has been clothes snagging. I am waiting for my IWB holster to arrive so I have not had the opportunity to carry it yet. However, I took one of the extra back straps and installed it on my 5.0″ M&P. The banded bottom polo shirts I most often wear have a texture to them and when the backstrap comes into contact with it, it behaves like velcro. I too took some 320 grit sandpaper and knocked the edges off, and it helped but did not completely cure the issue. I don’t want to sand all of the texture down, so hopefully there is a “happy spot” in there somewhere with the sanding. I should receive my carry holster this weekend and I’ll start carrying the 2.0 and work on the backstrap I’m using on it.

            I’m very happy with the gun. I like the 4.25″ barrel for carrying better than the 5.00″ on my other M&P and I look forward to it becoming my full time carry gun.

          • OK, so you too have seen the failure to lock open. I am wondering what causes that. First thought is weak mag springs, but I replaced all these mag springs with new just a few months prior — they can’t be that worn out already.

            The Apex kit – yeah, it’s interesting that you put the .45 kit into the M2.0. The Apex website does make it clear, but it’s a little muddled and easy to overlook as you navigate the website. And same results here: about the same weight, but smoother.

            Texturing – yup. Sticks pretty hard to clothing. The sandpaper helped, but still has a little friction. Nothing I’ve felt horrible about yet, but it’s hard — you can always take more texture off, but once it’s off it’s off.

            Keep me posted on your experiences. So far everyone seems pleased with the gun.

  2. Nice! I think I’m going to go with Dawson’s on mine, too. I suspect that’ll get my 25 yard groups out of the 4″ range. Those OEM sights are BIG. I have a mouse sander that I use for dumbing down rough stippling. I’ll probably use it to knock the high points down on this one too.

    • The thing about the Dawsons is I find whatever finishing process they use it doesn’t stand up well to sweat — always start to rust. I haven’t had that with other sights. But the Dawson’s have the best sight picture and utility, so it’s hard for me to not continue to use them.

      I found some 320 grit sandpaper in the garage (finest I have on hand). Gave the grip a little attention there, and it’s MUCH better now. There’s still noticable texturing and grip — so much that I actually don’t like going back to my 1.0 now as it’s way too smooth — but it’s no longer too rough against my torso.

  3. John, when you talk of installing the Apex trigger are you referring to the installation of just the DAE kit (sear, spring, trigger spring and USB) or actually also putting a trigger (aluminum or polymer) in (along with DAE kit?

    • Yeah, the internals, and internals only.

      I actually got to dry fire a flatty yesterday. It sure tightens things up, no question. But I’d like my gun to still be USPSA Production legal so… no changes to the actual trigger itself.

  4. I have the same gun. There is less muzzle flip/felt recoil because of a new design feature on the 2.0. Notice when you take it apart, the metal insert extends fully into the dust cover. This prevents the polymer frame from flexing as much, thereby reducing recoil and muzzle flip. Mine won’t be carried much, if at all. I got it for my steel challenge gun. I also have the Shield 45 (same aggressive grip texture) that I do carry a lot. However, it rides in an OWB holster so texture against skin is not an issue with me.

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