AGENCY ARMS URBAN COMBAT M&P9 M2.0
Inside Agency Arms, and the company’s retooled M&P9 M2.0—form following function in the purest sense.
Nestled between the picturesque beaches and artisan wineries of California’s Ventura County is an outfit that’s turning the aftermarket firearm customization business on its ear. Partners Michael Parks and Randy Niswander formed Agency Arms in early 2015 with the mandate to upgrade and perfect the functionality of firearms, initially specializing in the ever-popular line of Glock pistols.
If you’ve ever browsed the Internet or flipped through Instagram looking for gunporn (who of us hasn’t?), there’s a good chance that you’ve come across an Agency Arms custom-built pistol to drool over. Their instantly recognizable look is hard to miss. With a multitude of slide serrations and unique frame cuts, once you’ve seen an Agency build, it’s hard to forget it.
Function Over Form
The guys at Agency Arms insist that they are “interested more in the functionality [of their product] than its visual appeal.” Being that they produce what practically amounts to futuristic-looking pieces of functional art, we find that last statement a bit hard to believe. Since visual appeal isn’t their primary focus, we’re very interested in taking a pistol out to see if it shoots even better than it looks.
Unlike their competitors in this space, their first goal was to focus on those users who require their guns to primarily function under the pressures of life-and-death scenarios. They paid little consideration for the use of their modified weapons at events such as shooting competitions or weekend plinking. By catering to those who carry on-duty and off, as well as for those who carry for the self-defense of themselves and others in real-world situations, Agency Arms shoulders a heavy responsibility—and as we found out, they’re more than eager and capable to take it on.
Agency Arms quickly found success after they debuted their initial line of modified Glock pistols, which have since become their most popular items. Their modification process is straightforward and practical. They essentially re-skin the pistol by machining custom lightening cuts and adding additional cocking serrations, among other things, that add to the slide’s functionality and performance.
They also drastically tune the Glock’s frame to suit the needs of shooters such as a re-contoured groove-less grip, a complete stipple job, and a high trigger guard undercut, to name a few. One of the most recognizable mods that Agency Arms makes to the frame comes toward the front end in the form of “Accelerator Cuts.” We’ll talk more about those later on.
Agency Arms also modifies the internals of the pistol by painstakingly hand-fitting their Flat Faced Trigger for an overall better trigger feel with minimal over travel and a very noticeable reset. The result is a satisfying trigger pull, which also results in faster follow-up shots, and if you’re doing your part, tighter shot groups.
With these quality modifications, demand exploded and the Agency Arms crew discovered that their customers’ appetite for their services was in danger of quickly outstripping their capability. In just a few short years, Agency Arms went from a small shop staffed by a handful of people to a more expansive facility housing even more staff and even a third shift that allows the company to run 24 hours when need be— and as we can attest, there is a need.
With all of Agency Arms success with Glock pistol modifications, it was only natural that Smith & Wesson M&P enthusiasts came knocking. The M&P line of pistols has rapidly gained ground on Glock’s dominance in the striker-fired polymer pistol game since
its introduction about a decade ago and is now a favorite among shooters of all backgrounds. Many M&P owners waited with bated breath for Agency Arms to start modifying M&PS. Their appeals were answered.
Agency Arms used the blueprint of their successful Glock mods and applied them to the M&P. They offer three package variations: Urban Combat, Hybrid Special, and Field Battle. Each version features subtle changes as to the number of serrations and availability of lightening window cuts. All packages include an RMR Cut as standard to accept an optional Trijicon RMR red dot sight. A “Battle Plate” cover is installed when the red dot is not being used.
The M&P frame also gets a similar treatment as the Glock frame, including Agency Arms’ Accelerator Cuts on the forward portion of the slide and frame stippling for an enhanced non-slip grip.
The M&P M2.0
Just before SHOT Show 2017, Smith & Wesson released its revamped M&P M2.0, which features improvements such as a more aggressive grip texture, different slide contour and improved trigger. Not missing a beat, Agency Arms quickly followed up and debuted a couple modified versions of the M&P M2.0 only days later and released even more exciting news.
Agency Arms, in collaboration with longtime M&P aftermarket trigger specialists Apex Tactical Specialties, announced the release of the Agency
Arms M&P Flat Faced Trigger. This trigger pairs the patented Agency Arms Flat Faced Trigger with Apex Tactical’s renowned internals. The trigger promises reduced trigger pre- and over-travel for a feel similar to a single action system. The resulting reduction in trigger travel is about half with a reduced reset and smooth trigger pull throughout. Plus, let’s not forget the cool-looking, and nice-feeling, flat-faced trigger itself.
We were fortunate to be invited to
Agency Arms to check out the M&P9 M2.0 MAY-JUNE, 2017 chambered in 9mm as finished in the
Urban Combat package. Due to the number of window cut outs, this package provides the lightest possible slide configuration that they offer.
The Urban Combat slide features three window cuts, one on each side toward the front of the slide and a large window cut out up top. Like the other slides offered by Agency Arms, an Rmr-ready cut with Battle Plate cover comes standard.
Angled serrations are then re-cut into the front and back of the slide, eliminating the stock scalloped serrations from the factory. It’s notable to mention that the new front serrations greatly increase gripping area compared to the stock version, though we found them to be a tad shallow for our preferences. The slide is also re-profiled for extra weight savings along the lengths of
“Unlike their competitors, agency’s first goal was to focus on users who require guns that function under the pressures of life-and-death scenarios.”
both sides over its standard configuration. As a finishing touch, a set of custom Dawson Precision sights complete with a fiber optic front are installed.
It’s not like Agency Arms to leave any stone unturned, but we were informed that they found the M2.0’s improved, aggressive grip texture to be more than adequate and that further stippling by the Agency Arms team to be unwarranted in those areas of the frame that were endowed with this new texture. They did however complete the job and added stippling to the portion above the grip and alongside the top portion of the frame. They also found the stock trigger guard undercut to be sufficient and left that area alone as well. To complete the frame treatment, Accelerator Cuts are milled to the front portion where the front of trigger guard meets the upper portion of the frame. These triangular cuts form a “shelf” for the support hand’s thumb to rest on, which allows the shooter to gain better purchase on the pistol, helping to actively mitigate muzzle rise for faster follow-up shots.
At the time of our visit, Agency Arms was still waiting for Apex Tactical to compete their sear for the M2.0, but we did get to examine the pistol with their Flat Faced Trigger, which felt as good as it looked.
The Agency Arms shoe with Apex internals comes out to a consistent 4.1-pound trigger pull.
We headed to the range with several models and configurations of Agency Arms-ified M&PS to evaluate. One thing to note was that the Agency Arms reps who came with us, Parks and Agency Arms Gunsmith Paul Van Dunk, did not bring any ammo with them to the range. Because of their focus on building guns that absolutely need to function correctly at any given time, with no excuses, we were encouraged to bring our own ammo to see how their pistols functioned.
We’ve been around long enough to immediately realize that these guys were beyond confident about their product. You might be surprised, but you don’t see that
all the time. If we brought underpowered loads or ammo that wouldn’t otherwise function correctly for one reason or another, that would be a quick end of our day. Many other manufacturers would bring ammo that they knew would run right in their guns as insurance. Not the Agency Arms guys; they knew their guns would run no matter what.
We brought a mixture of reloads, steel cased, and match ammunition in both 115 and 147 grain weights by Freedom
“The guys at Agency Arms insist that they are more interested in functionality than visual appeal. Being that they produce what amounts to futuristic-looking pieces of functional art, that’s a bit hard to believe.”
Munitions (as well as some old reloads from home) to run though the M&PS. As one would expect, the higher the grade of ammo, the better the accuracy we observed. But the most important thing is that no matter what type of ammo we used, even rounds from our box of random homemade reloads, each of the three M&PS we got to shoot, which included the original non-m2.0, fired perfectly with absolutely no hiccups.
The Apex Tactical internals with the Agency Arms Flat Faced Trigger was noticeably improved over the standard Smith & Wesson trigger. Its short travel and reduced (and very noticeable) reset allowed us to get off accurate double taps with ease. We noticed the lightened slide allowed us to get back on target very quickly. Coupled with the fact that our off-hand thumb instinctively found the frame’s Accelerator Cut to rest on, the nose of the pistol instinctively returned to the original position after completing its firing sequence. Shot after shot, the pistol came back to rest in nearly the same position. Even though we shot at an indoor range, the Dawson’s fiber optic front sight was still able to catch enough light to allow it to glow nice and bright.
The pistols’ controls were excellent, with the extra serrations, especially the front ones, allowing us to perform press checks without any slippage. The stippling was aggressive enough to give us more confidence when gripping the gun, but at no point did we think our hands were being skinned alive.
We had the opportunity to visit with the designer, technicians, and artists that make Agency Arms modifications a reality. To
observe how much care and skill is put into each job is inspiring. One thing we haven’t touched on is the price of this package. That’s the gorilla in this room, isn’t it? According to their website at press time, an Urban Combat treatment starts at $1,400—not including the gun itself. Yes, you read that right. The listed price includes all the custom work plus Dawson Sights and the Apex Tactical internals minus the pistol. Options include a variety of finish options and slide coatings (many of which are über-cool, by the way). We’d venture to say that only you can judge if it’s worth it or not. But taking into account the many man-hours poured into each job by highly skilled professionals using state-of-the-art equipment, it is a sum that can be justified in our opinion.
One thing to know however, if you do decide to take the plunge, you’ll have to get in line. The last time we spoke to the Agency Arms guys, they informed us that the current wait time for their services is counted in months. If you want one sooner, you can try search out a stocking dealer through their website.
Did the Agency Arms modified M&P perform flawlessly? Yes, it absolutely did for us. Was it accurate? Yes, as accurate as the shooter allowed it to be and in accordance to the ammo it was fed. Was it pleasing to handle? Yes, it did all that we asked it to. Does Agency Arms’ M&P function better than it looks as the founders intended? That’s got to be a judgment call. It performed beyond our expectations and we do think it looks damned cool. So perhaps it’s a toss-up in our book.
“Many other manufacturers would bring ammo they knew would run right in their guns. Not the Agency Arms guys; they knew their guns would run no matter what.”
Agency Arms essentially reskins the pistol by machining custom lightening cuts and additional cocking serrations that add to the slide's functionality and performance.
Three packages are available: Urban Combat, Hybrid Special, and Field Battle. Each version features subtle variations and all include an RMR cut as standard to accept a Trijicon RMR red dot sight.
Agency Arms can apply their touch to both the original M&P and the newly released M&P M2.0 series of pistols. The M2.0 is seen here placed on top of the M&P.
When Smith & Wesson released its revamped M&P M2.0, Agency Arms quickly followed up with a few modified versions, debuting them just days after the pistol's introduction.
The pistol's controls were excellent; shot after shot, the gun came back to rest in nearly the same position.
The Urban Combat slide features three window cuts, which makes it the lightest slide offered by Agency Arms. The Rmr-ready cut with Battle Plate cover comes standard.