Concealed Carry Hand Guns - - TABLE OF CONTENTS - By Chuck Tay­lor

A few more im­prove­ments allow you to get the most from the S&W M&P 2.0 9mm.

Smith & Wes­son did its job well when it came to up­grad­ing its al­ready ex­cel­lent striker-fired pistol with the M&P 2.0. Now how can you as a shooter make a good thing even bet­ter?

I took a new M&P 2.0 and had some per­sonal mod­i­fi­ca­tions done to make what I think are some key im­prove­ments to this fine fight­ing hand­gun.


When the Smith & Wes­son M&P 9mm pistol ap­peared a few years back, it set the hand­gun world on its ear. It was sleek, aes­thet­i­cally pleas­ing to the eye and just plain had the look of suc­cess.

And it wasn’t just an­other pretty face. When you held it in your hand, you knew it was a win­ner. All the con­trols were in the right place for fast, ef­fi­cient oper­a­tion un­der stress, and its pointabil­ity was so su­pe­rior that many sug­gested it was the log­i­cal to the leg­endary M1911. Yep, cham­bered in 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP, and avail­able in mul­ti­ple con­fig­u­ra­tions, the M&P pretty much cov­ered the whole field of tac­ti­cal hand­gun­ning, quickly ris­ing to the top of the pop­u­lar­ity scale.


Be­ing a long-time M1911 and Glock afi­cionado, I viewed the M&P’s me­te­oric rise with a cer­tain de­gree of cyn­i­cism. Af­ter all, ev­ery time a new gun ap­pears, we see a flurry of ac­co­lades about how won­der­ful the new gun is. Then, as time passes, and the true char­ac­ter­is­tics and ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the weapon be­come more ap­par­ent, the ac­co­lades quickly fade away and it be­comes just an­other pistol.

This is why truly rev­o­lu­tion­ary guns like the M1911 and Glock re­main so well thought of—af­ter their char­ac­ter­is­tics and true ca­pa­bil­i­ties be­came known, their pop­u­lar­ity re­mained high be­cause they re­ally are su­pe­rior!

As a weapons and tac­tics in­struc­tor and writer of many years, I long ago learned to put per­sonal pref­er­ences aside and at least try to con­trol my bi­ases when eval­u­at­ing firearms. Some­times this isn’t easy to do, be­cause I quite lit­er­ally work with them ev­ery day, and even­tu­ally came to re­al­ize that cer­tain guns are bet­ter than oth­ers, and those that make the top of that list are few and far be­tween.

Yet, as soon as I picked up my first M&P 9mm, I knew I was holding some­thing truly bet­ter in my hand. Not only did it point and han­dle beausuc­ces­sor

ti­fully, but its var­i­ous se­lec­tive back­straps en­sured a per­fect hand-to-gun fit, some­thing that few man­u­fac­tur­ers had pre­vi­ously both­ered to of­fer.

Sub­se­quent shooting drills con­firmed my ini­tial im­pres­sion—the M&P was in­deed some­thing new and ex­cit­ingly dif­fer­ent. Tran­si­tion­ing to it from a Glock or M1911 was easy be­cause it pointed and fit my hand so well, and once it re­ceived the trig­ger job that nearly all new guns need, my per­for­mance with it im­me­di­ately equaled both. This sur­prised me, be­cause typ­i­cally a fa­mil­iar­iza­tion pe­riod of at least a few weeks is needed for full tran­si­tion to take place.

And, as they say, “The rest is his­tory.” In the years that fol­lowed, I pur­chased five more M&Ps—two in 9mm and three in .45 ACP. And in each in­stance, my ini­tial im­pres­sion re­peated it­self. Now the M&P is the gun I carry daily, which means I’m will­ing to bet my life on it. What bet­ter rec­om­men­da­tion can there be?


Not sat­is­fied with hav­ing a su­per­star on their hands, Smith & Wes­son didn’t sit on their lau­rels. In 2016, the company be­gan of­fer­ing an im­proved M&P 9mm, which they dubbed the 2.0. Though the U.S. military did not adopt it (for neb­u­lous rea­sons, from what I’ve been told), the 2.0 hit the com­mer­cial mar­ket late in that year and, like its orig­i­nal ver­sion, quickly be­came a suc­cess.

But how do you im­prove on some­thing that’s al­ready su­pe­rior to ev­ery­thing else? Well, the 2.0’s frame was strength­ened and its trig­ger de­sign im­proved. S&W also en­hanced the M&P’s al­ready su­pe­rior pointabil­ity, mod­i­fied its am­bidex­trous slide stop lever to op­er­ate more pos­i­tively

and roughed up its grip-frame area to im­prove its grip.


You would think that these im­prove­ments would make the 2.0 the per­fect fight­ing hand­gun, but in fact, as good as it is, it isn’t per­fect. For my needs, some of the im­prove­ments ac­tu­ally de­grade my per­for­mance with it. First, while its am­bidex­trous thumb safeties are well lo­cated, they also ex­hibit some sharp edges, which must be re­moved to pre­vent ex­ces­sive abra­sion of both skin and con­ceal­ment cloth­ing.

There are other abra­sive ar­eas as well, in­clud­ing the front and rear grasp­ing grooves on the slide (which are too sharp), the magazine re­lease but­ton, the take­down latch and the whole grip-frame area. For ab­so­lute best per­for­mance, sharp edges of any kind on a tac­ti­cal hand­gun must be re­moved and ex­ces­sively abra­sive ar­eas toned down.

The stated trig­ger pull for the 2.0 is 6.5 pounds, but mine was more like 8.5 pounds, so I opted to have a slightly mod­i­fied Apex trig­ger kit in­stalled, us­ing the reg­u­lar M&P hinged trig­ger and fac­tory striker spring and striker.

In all the years I’ve been shooting M&Ps, I’ve never had trig­ger is­sues of any kind, in­clud­ing the cur­rent much dis­cussed re­set prob­lem. And be­cause I’ve al­ways op­er­ated un­der the premise that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” I saw no need to opt for the new solid trig­ger. With the afore­men­tioned Apex kit in­stalled, the trig­ger pull on my 2.0 is 4.25 pounds, which is not so light as to cre­ate a civil li­a­bil­ity haz­ard, but light enough for ex­cel­lent ac­cu­racy.

The slide stop on the 2.0 has been slightly re­designed and a spring-loaded lever added to bear against it to pre­vent the slide from trip­ping too eas­ily. How­ever, in my view, one of the neat­est things about the orig­i­nal M&P was that the slide tripped when a magazine was briskly in­serted, cut­ting off a full half sec­ond of a speed reload.

Ap­par­ently, there was some even­tual slide stop break­age as a re­sult, and in­stead of sim­ply strength­en­ing the slide stop lever, Smith & Wes­son in­stead chose to solve the prob­lem by adding the spring-loaded lever.

Un­for­tu­nately, the re­sult is that the lever is now too hard to quickly and ef­fec­tively op­er­ate un­der stress and forces many shoot­ers to reach over the gun and re­tract and re­lease the slide to cham­ber the top car­tridge in a freshly in­serted magazine.

This adds a full sec­ond to a speed load and is, to my way of think­ing, not a good thing, be­cause if you need to speed load in the first place, you’re


al­ready in a nearly fa­tal sit­u­a­tion. If things are that bad, reload­ing time must be kept to a min­i­mum, not in­creased. I rec­ti­fied the prob­lem by hav­ing the spring in the bear­ing lever light­ened so it doesn’t bear so heav­ily against the slide stop lever. I also had the height of the ridge around the slide stop lever re­duced to allow faster and eas­ier ac­cess to the lever it­self.

The 2.0’s magazine well is al­ready ex­cel­lent and needs no im­prove­ment, so I left it alone. In ad­di­tion, the small ra­diuses on each side of the grip-frame near the magazine well are quite well con­ceived and ef­fi­cient, so no mod­i­fi­ca­tion of them was un­der­taken.

The 2.0’s fac­tory sights are high-vis­i­bil­ity and fea­ture a white paint three­dot hor­i­zon­tal pat­tern, mak­ing them quite vis­i­ble in nor­mal light. How­ever, in low light pe­ri­ods (where the vast ma­jor­ity of hand­gun al­ter­ca­tions oc­cur), more is needed so I had a set of Tri­ji­con tri­tium hor­i­zon­tal three-dot sights in­stalled.

Now get­ting per­ilously close to be­ing an old man, my eyes aren’t what they used to be, so I also opted for a front sight that fea­tures a large orange ring around the tri­tium vial, so I can see it quickly and clearly at high speed. Does it work? Yep, al­though if my eyes were just a bit younger, I don’t think it would be needed.

Re­mov­ing edges from a gun means re­fin­ish­ing it, so I had the slide and frame of my mod­i­fied 2.0 Cer­akoted in MOE Flat Dark Earth and all other parts—the bar­rel, magazine re­lease but­ton, take­down latch, thumb safeties, slide stop lever—Cer­akoted in matte black. The re­sult was an eye-pleas­ing ap­pear­ance, but with­out the loss of prac­ti­cal­ity. In­ter­est­ingly enough, the Cer­akote tight­ened up the bar­rel/slide/frame re­la­tion­ship a bit and im­proved ac­cu­racy, with­out loss of func­tional re­li­a­bil­ity.

Above: While the stan­dard M&P 2.0 has a 4.25-inch bar­rel, S&W offers this model with a 5-inch bar­rel and FDE fin­ish. S&W photo

Bot­tom: For fastest sight ac­qui­si­tion in both nor­mal and low light, the au­thor had ex­tra high-vis­i­bil­ity Tri­ji­con tri­tium sights in­stalled. Front blade and rear notch both mea­sure .150. Large orange dot around tri­tium vial in front sight guar­an­tees...

Be­low: Though the 2.0’s bar­rel-to-slide fit is good, black matte Cer­akot­ing tightens it up some­what, en­hanc­ing ac­cu­racy with­out re­duc­ing its me­chan­i­cal re­li­a­bil­ity.

Right: In­te­gral Pi­catinny rail al­lows mount­ing of any num­ber of ac­ces­sories, par­tic­u­larly a light. Tay­lor se­lected the Stream­light TR-1HL, fin­ished in Flat Dark Earth, and to pro­tect the lens from dust and other for­eign mat­ter, also in­stalled a But­ler...

Be­low: The ridge around the 2.0’s am­bidex­trous slide lock levers is ex­ces­sively high and in­ter­feres with op­er­a­tor ma­nip­u­la­tion when­ever the slide must be locked back, such as dur­ing a Type 3 mal­func­tion clear­ance or weapon un­load­ing pro­to­col....

Above: For smoother oper­a­tion with a wider va­ri­ety of am­mu­ni­tion types, the sharp edges on the breech face were pol­ished off and the feed ramp pol­ished and slightly re­con­toured.

Top Left: The 2.0’s am­bidex­trous thumb safeties are well lo­cated for ef­fec­tive use, but had too many sharp edges, so they, too, were pol­ished off. Bot­tom Left: To en­hance its oper­a­tion un­der stress, magazine re­lease but­ton was pol­ished around its...

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