WELCOME TO THE 2.0 EVOLUTION
SMITH & WESSON TAKES A GIANT STEP FORWARD WITH THE M&P PLATFORM IN THE NEW M2.0 SERIES.
Smith and Wesson’s M&P has been a popular pistol for the last two years, but it had a few shortcomings. The M&P 2.0 is a giant step forward.
An old expression says, “There’s nothing new under the sun.” If you look at the products coming out of Hollywood these past few years, you’d be hard pressed to disagree.
But, this ain’t Hollywood. Gun manufacturers are constantly trying to create new products, and in this case—with Smith & Wesson—improving upon old ones.
Around 10 years ago, Smith & Wesson introduced its M&P line of polymer-framed, striker-fired pistols. In part, this was a bid to re-capture some of the law enforcement market that was lost to Glock over the past couple of decades. Smith & Wesson used to hold the lion’s share of the law enforcement market with its revolvers and semiautomatic pistols, and it wasn’t willing to sit idly by and let the world go past. Thus, the M&P was born, and it was well received by shooters, both amateur and expert, alike. It was the first polymer-framed, striker-fired pistol that presented significant competition to Glock in the marketplace for that type of pistol.
As much as people liked the M&P—and for good reason— there were still a few quirks or idiosyncrasies that needed some fine-tuning. After listening to feedback from customers and different agencies, Smith & Wesson made some significant improvements to the M&P line and announced the M2.0 series early this year.
Some folks might be new to the M&P pistols, but don’t worry; we’ll talk about what the basic pistol is, including its specs, along the way. The big attraction of the new M2.0 series is the improvements that have been made over the original lineup. That’s what’s drawing the crowds, so we’ll address those first—especially because those improvements, themselves, could take up an entire article.
Some of the changes that were made to the M&P M2.0 were subtle, but others were much more apparent after I received my sample. The most obvious improvement was the trigger pull. Despite its popularity, the original M&P was often criticized for its trigger pull. It had a very “spongy” feel to it, and the entire process provided the user with little feedback as to the trigger’s condition and position.
That’s not the case anymore, now that the M2.0 is headlining the gig. All aspects of the trigger pull are greatly improved.
While there’s a good bit of pre-travel, the trigger breaks crisply. The factory lists the trigger pull at 6 pounds, but my sample broke right at 5.25 pounds. It isn’t a best-of-breed trigger pull, but it’s pretty close to the top.
The trigger does provide an audible and tactile indication when it resets, which was lacking in the first generation. I think those aspects might be over-hyped a bit, because most of us aren’t really paying attention to those indicators under stress fire. We just get a feel for how a pistol shoots and go from there. But those indicators do provide a positive response to the distinct positions of the trigger, giving a crisper feel to the entire trigger-pull sequence.
Another significant change, at least in my opinion, is the ambidextrous slide stop, which includes a detent mechanism. This detent mechanism keeps the slide stop locked up or down.
OFFERING BETTER CONTROLS AND A MORE ROBUST BUILD WITH AN EYE TOWARD RELIABILITY AND DURABILITY, THE SMITH & WESSON M2.0 IS MOST DEFINITELY A WINNER.
On the original M&Ps, the slide stop was a little sensitive, and it would often release the slide with just the force of a magazine being inserted. That’s not always what the user wants.
With the new slide-stop detent in place, it holds the slide open, even with hard impacts from a magazine being inserted. With enough force, the user could smack the bottom of the grip and get the slide to release, but it’s nowhere near as easy as the first-generation pistols. This is definitely a nice improvement
to ensure the user has control over all aspects of handling and charging the weapon.
Like the improved trigger pull, the texturing and the contouring of the back straps and grip are also significant improvements over the original line. I currently have an M&P Shield in .45 ACP, and the texturing is somewhat similar, although I find that the texturing on the new M&P pistols feels more aggressive. That could just have to do with the size of the different pistols and how they feel in the hand.
That said, the new texturing is just about a perfect balance between being slick and feeling like a cheese grater. After shooting the new M&P M2.0, I really liked how my hand was locked in on the pistol as a result of the contouring and texturing. The ergonomics of the next design are fantastic, and without shooting the pistol a good amount, it’s easy to miss the difference between the firstand second-generation models.
Along those lines, Smith & Wesson stepped up its game to help ensure a great fit for all users by increasing the number of interchangeable back straps from three to four. The sizes now include small, medium, medium-large and large, making the M&P M2.0 a more appealing option to shooters with hard-to-fit hand sizes.
Some changes that were made are a bit subtler, but if you take the time to look, they are noticeable. One of these is the wider feed ramp on the M2.0 series. There were a few complaints about ammo sensitivity with the first-gen pistols, so Smith & Wesson incorporated that feedback into the new design by widening the ramp to ostensibly improve reliability.
The magazine release is made of steel and is reversible for left-handed shooters. Also, the slide rails are much beefier to provide extra stiffness for reduced muzzle flip … and, I would assume, to increase durability.
To add to the pistol’s stiffness, the factory also extended the steel chassis out to the dust cover. This aids against the frame flexing, and it provides a more rigid platform for the attachment of accessories to the Picatinny rail.
BACK TO THE BASICS
Currently, the M2.0 line consists of the carry model in black with the 4.25-inch barrel with no external safety and the longslide version in flat dark earth with a 5-inch barrel and an external safety. I’m sure that as time goes on, different colors and safety options will be available with both models, as well as an increase in differently sized models.
I received the black model with the 4.25-inch barrel. It comes with two 17-round magazines. From all indications, the magazines from the first-generation pistols will work just fine in the new lineup. Both the barrel and slide are stainless steel and are finished in black Amornite. The sights are made of steel and are a standard three-dot variety. As mentioned, the frame is polymer and comes with four interchangeable back straps. The M&P M2.0 carry version weighs in at 24.7 ounces and has an overall length of 7.4 inches.
TO THE PROVING GROUNDS
All the pieces came together on the range. Everything from the trigger pull to the improved grip texturing fused together to make the M&P M2.0 an excellent shooter. Although the trigger is still made of polymer and still has the deep curve to it, it is still remarkably better than earlier iterations.
For testing both reliability and accuracy, I used four types of ammunition, including SIG Sauer’s 115-grain V-Crown, Speer’s 124-grain +P Gold Dot, Federal’s 147-grain +P HST and Winchester’s 115-grain Silvertip hollowpoints. I fired approximately 100 rounds of each load through the M&P M2.0, and there was not one single malfunction. That’s exactly what should be expected from a pistol of this caliber.
The 18-degree grip angle made the pistol point naturally and optimized the user’s purchase on the pistol to mitigate recoil. In fact, the M2.0 is one of the softest-shooting striker-fired pistols I’ve tried in recent years.
Accuracy was on par with expectations. Without the aid of an optic, my eyes will have more of an effect on the groups than the pistol, itself. Shooting from a standing rest, the best group of the range sessions was 2.19 inches at 25 yards with SIG Sauer’s 115-grain V-Crown ammunition. SIG’s 115-grain load also took the best average group size: 2.43 inches.
If the shooter does his part, the pistol will take care of the rest.
Firing off hand at an average rate of 1.06 shots per second at 15 yards yielded 17 shots in the 9-ring or better. The pistol was easy to control, and its aggressive texturing allowed me to really lock down on the pistol’s grip while shooting. The three-dot sight system was fairly easy to pick up, but I’m getting used to high-visibility sights for quicker acquisition.
UPGRADE TO THE M2.0?
There’s no question that I would endorse the M2.0. It’s an appealing package that ticks all the right boxes, and it comes
in at an equally attractive price: The MSRP of the T&E sample I reviewed is $599, which indicates a lower street price probably in the low $500s.
For those users who already own the first-generation model, would I recommend the upgrade? That’s hard to answer. As a photographer, I constantly see new camera models come out that offer two more megapixels or shoot at 12 frames per second instead of 11. The question is whether or not the buyer gets a return on their investment: Particularly, is there something about the M2.0 that you just can’t do with the M1.0, or will the sum of the individual improvements offer a counterbalance to staying pat with the first-gen models?
That’s a personal choice, and I can only offer my own opinion. If I were faced with that decision—particularly considering it’s a defensive weapon—I would upgrade to the M2.0. Whether you trade the old one in or just get a second pistol, the jump is well worth it. All the improvements affect reliability, recoil mitigation and user control—all-important criteria for a fighting pistol.
In a defensive situation during which I might have to protect my life, I’d want the very best I could have, and the M2.0 is a definite step up from the original line of M&P pistols.
Offering better controls and a more robust build with an eye toward reliability and durability, the Smith & Wesson M2.0 is most definitely a winner. GW
THE PISTOL WAS EASY TO CONTROL, AND ITS AGGRESSIVE
TEXTURING ALLOWED ME
TO REALLY LOCK DOWN ON THE PISTOL’S GRIP WHILE SHOOTING.
At a rate of slightly more than one shot per second, the M2.0 proved to be very accurate and easy to control during fire. All 17 shots went into the 9-ring or better at 15 yards.
The Smith & Wesson M&P M2.0 is a morerobust platform than its predecessor, and it incorporates excellent ergonomics to provide the user with secure and comfortable purchase on the firearm.
The best group at 25 yards was obtained with SIG Sauer’s 115-grain V-Crown load, coming in at just 2.19 inches.
A nice improvement on the M2.0 is the slide stop detent that keeps the stop locked up or down—which, in turn, keeps the slide from closing prematurely when it is jostled.
The contouring on the grip, in combination with the aggressive texturing, provides a rock-solid purchase on the pistol and helps facilitate better control.
The sights on the M2.0 are a three-dot design that is fairly quick and easy to pick up.
Another internal improvement of the M2.0 is larger slide rails to help mitigate recoil and add additional rigidity to the frame.
Internal changes in the M2.0 include beefier slide rails and an extension of the chassis out to the dust cover. The M2.0 comes with an ambidextrous slide stop and a reversible magazine release for left-handed shooters.
The M2.0 also sports a wider feed ramp to enhance reliability with different types of loads.
The new Smith & Wesson M2.0 hosts several changes to the original design to improve ergonomics, reliability and functionality.