S&W M&P 9mm Compact Title

S&W M&P Subcompact 9mm Pistol [2021 Review]

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In this post, we’ll look at the S&W M&P Subcompact, review it, and test its shooting performance. The M&P line of handguns and rifles is a big seller for Smith and Wesson.

M&P stands for Military and Police. It is one of Smith and Wesson’s several lines of pistols and rifles. The M&P name was first used in 1899 for a .38 Special revolver.

The S&W M&P Subcompact 9mm Pistol is an impressive piece of a firearm, offering excellent performance and accuracy in a lightweight design. Its 3.6-inch barrel can fire up to 15 rounds of 9mm ammunition at once, making it the perfect choice for concealed carry or home defense.

This pistol has become increasingly popular with law enforcement officers, competitive shooters, and regular gun enthusiasts who appreciate the reliability and accuracy of this S&W product. But does this small-frame S&W pistol live up to its hype? Let’s take a look.

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Quick M&P History

During WWII, thousands of M&P revolvers were made in .38 Special and in .38-200 for Great Britain. Those guns were labeled Victory models.

In 2005, S&W brought out the first semi-auto handguns under the M&P moniker, in calibers 9mm and .40 S&W with .45 ACP soon following.

If you go to Smith and Wesson’s website and search for M&P, 215 rifles and pistols come up. That’s a lot of variations on a theme. So, we see that the M&P line is alive and well.

What about the gun that causes M&P to be such a good seller? I have seen my share of guns as a reviewer and backwoods-purveyor-of-things-that-go-bang.

I sometimes think I have my finger on the pulse of the shooting public — at least at this moment. That changes, of course, but let’s talk about it now. M&P has some advantages. Of course, it is not the only gun made to fit into the subcompact 9mm category, but it does do some things very well. They include.

  • Its size is very conducive to concealed carry but gives you enough grip to hang on to. It’s 6×4 inches or thereabouts and 25 ounces.
  • It is more than sufficiently powerful for the task at hand. No matter what side of the 9mm fence you’re on, the ability of that cartridge to end the fight has been documented.
  • If you are in a stressful situation and are fumbling with your spare magazine after leaving just one round in the chamber after ejecting the empty magazine, you can still defend yourself with that last round and no magazine in place. This gun does not utilize a magazine disconnect safety.
  • The sights make it easy to hit with. Whether you get three-dot or night sights, you have a decent sight picture when you raise this gun to eye level. Plus, you can swap them out for something else if you want to.
  • It has a great trigger that makes it easy to hit what you’re aiming at.
  • The gun grips’ adaptability with four backstraps means that the gun should fit almost every hand out there that it needs to. S&W makes it easy to change things to benefit your grip.
  • Taking the gun apart to clean it is a piece of cake. It features rotating takedown levers.
  • S&W has some of the best customer services in the industry.

So, these are some possible reasons why the M&P line of pistols is so popular. Are they the only guns that fit some of these categories? Nope. It’s just that the M&Ps fit them all and are reasonably priced. No wonder they’re such good sellers. 

Another thing to consider is that at one time at least 276 law enforcement agencies use or used M&P pistols. That, in and of itself, is a good recommendation. 

S&W M&P Subcompact Review

S&W M&P Subcompact Review: Sizes and Specifications

Double-stack M&P pistols are made in three sizes: sub-compact, compact and full-size. Here are the specifications for all three sizes, in 9mm, from S&W’s website.

 SubcompactCompactFull Size
Caliber9mm Luger9mm Luger9mm Luger
Capacity
2+115+117 + 1
ColorBlackBlackBlack
Safety
No Thumb SafetyNo Thumb SafetyNo Thumb Safety
Length6.6"7.25"7.875"
Front SightSteel - White DotSteel - White DotTall White Dot - Steel
Rear SightSteel - White Two DotWhite Two Dot - SteelTall White Two Dot - Steel
ActionStriker-firedStriker-firedStriker-fired
Grip PolymerPolymer4 Interchangeable Palmswell Grip Sizes
Barrel MaterialStainless Steel Armornite FinishStainless Steel Armornite FinishStainless Steel Armornite Finish
Slide MaterialStainless Steel ArmorniteStainless Steel Armornite FinishStainless Steel Armornite Finish
Frame MaterialPolymerPolymerPolymer
Barrel Length 3.6" (9.1 cm)4" (10.2 cm)4.6" (11.7 cm)
Weight25.0 oz.27.0 oz.25.3 oz.

You can get different barrel lengths, for example, within categories. At least you can get an idea of what is available to you within each category of pistol.

The most common decision to make is whether you want a thumb safety or not. These guns come either way.

One curious thing that S&W omits from their specifications is the gun’s height. I was asked by a reader in the comment section after my latest Shield review about why I didn’t include the height as he was concerned about the conceal-ability of the pistol.

That made me think — I guess I just forgot it, since it wasn’t listed with the other specs. So, I looked it up and replied to the comment. Sometimes, I’ll measure a gun’s overall width since that is the measurement that most folks are concerned about. But I seldom measure height.

Most pistols in each size classification will be very close to each other in terms of overall height and length, all things being equal. The M&P 9 subcompact is 4.5 inches tall. It should conceal just fine.

S&W M&P Subcompact Review: Photos

Before we go on, let’s look at some photos I took. I was especially curious about the full-blown double-stack M&P since I just reviewed a Shield .45 from the Performance Center.

S&W M&P 9mm Compact Left
S&W M&P 9mm Compact Right

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S&W M&P 9mm Compact Field Stripped
S&W M&P 9mm Compact Barrel Recoil Spring

Barrel and recoil spring. Why is the spring painted yellow? It helps during assembly. The color yellow says that this is a 9mm spring.

The pain flakes off (evident in some photos around the muzzle), or you can strip it off.

S&W M&P 9mm Compact Frame Top

Frame, topside and slide, bottom. Nice machining, clean. I see more yellow down in there.

S&W M&P 9mm Compact Slide Underneath 2
S&W M&P 9mm Compact Slide Engraving 2

Slide engraving, above and below.

S&W M&P 9mm Compact Slide Engraving

Note the small slide serrations of sorts above the frame cut-outs.

S&W M&P 9mm Compact no magazine disconnect warning
S&W M&P 9mm Compact Slide Underneath 2

Another fairly important message on the slide. I don’t like mag disconnects on a carry gun, as a rule, but I suppose there are exceptions.

S&W M&P 9mm Compact Takedown Lever Slide Release Trigger 2

Takedown lever down, hinged trigger (no Glock-style trigger blade), mag release, slide release. All together in one handy area.

S&W M&P 9mm Compact Grip Texture

The 2.0-improved grip texturing. There is no comparison to the texturing on a 1.0 gun.

S&W M&P 9mm Compact Magazines

Two included magazines with extender collars. It’s a nice touch to include those and an even nicer touch to texture them with matching patterns to the grip.

S&W M&P 9mm Compact Backstraps

And lastly, the backstrap collection. A new owner of an M&P pistol should never feel that S&W doesn’t care about how the gun fits his or her hand. You have four backstraps to try.

Once you’ve found the right one, you should be all set. And, if your grip ever changes, you have the other three to choose from.

They are also easy to change: Just twist the little T-shaped rod at the bottom of the grip and pull it out. Pull the grip module down and away. Then, stick another one’s tab in the slot at the top of the grip and push it on. Replace the T handle, and you’re done.

It takes longer to describe it than to do it. The modules change the distance from the back of the grip to the trigger face and the palm swell. With four, just about every hand should find one that fits.

S&W M&P Subcompact Review: Shooting Performance

SW Tula 115-grain bullet target

I shot both Fiocchi Training Dynamics and Tula bulk 9mm ammo. Here’s a sample target shot with the Fiocchi ammo.

Both loads used 115-grain bullets and were decently accurate. I shot at 15 yards on a very cold day at my back yard range. Both loads shot low and left for me, but I never worry too much about shot impact on targets with loaner gun — that is easily fixed but not on a gun that’s not coming to live with me.

So I hunted up some factory ammo to shoot, and since my ammo larder has seen better days in terms of supply, I found some Tula. I knew I had Fiocchi ammo to shoot, but I wanted more than one factory load (no handloads this time).

I’m still determining where I got the Tula. I’ve had it for a while, but the Fiocchi was sent to me for review. I only have good things to say: the new Training Dynamics stuff is fine for everyday shooting and practice. Plus, the Boxer-primed cases are great for reloading.

I am very glad to have received some boxes of it from Fiocchi, especially in this day and age of shortages of seemingly everything shooting-related. When ammo comes back, could you check it out? It is not expensive. Also, it’s made here in the U.S. and is accurate and reliable.

I was curious to see how close my measurements of the trigger pull and overall gun weights were in comparison to the stats I got from the S&W website. The overall weight was close. S&W says the gun weighs 25 oz., and my scale showed 24.4 oz.

They don’t show trigger pull weight, but my gun was an average of 5 pounds, 1.3 ounces — very nice. There was tiny take-up and no creep, and the trigger broke. It is much improved over the trigger pull weight of the 1.0 models. I remember reading in forums time after time of owners of the earlier model installing Apex triggers — that seemed to be the brand of choice.

My shooting experience was very nice, overall. It was like shooting a slightly-heavier Shield but with more rounds in the magazine.

Wrap Up: Is the S&W M&P Subcompact a Good Gun?

Are you in the market for a new carry semi-auto? Do you want a sub-compact? Compact? Full-size? Gotcha covered. I even have heard of guys who owned a full-sized M&P buying a sub-compact for carry, they liked their gun that well.

I also like the fact that, if you wanted something a bit slimmer, there’s the slightly-less-expensive Shield at the ready. At least you’re still in the M&P family. From the time that S&W introduced that very first M&P revolver 122 years ago, the brand has been a performer for S&W and for very good reason — the guns work.

Now expanded into semi-auto pistols and rifles, the M&P moniker seems to be gaining in popularity yearly. Whenever I read a best-selling-pistol listing from a previous year, the M&P is always there, usually up towards the top.

If you want reliability, accuracy, good build quality, and a great rep to lean on, check out an M&P pistol. I think you’ll be pleased. If you own one, please feel free to leave a comment below. As always, keep them in the black and stay safe.

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