Saturday, April 30, 2011

Review: S&W - M&P45C

It is difficult to beat a polymer framed pistol for Every Day Carry (EDC), they are light, durable, have greater capacity and are reliable.  I've owned two Glocks (17 & 22) and could never warm up to them.  I didn't shoot them well either so I parted with them without regret, it did however leave a limit in my EDC choices.

After years of pondering and handling the many offerings available I came across an intriguing pistol from Smith and Wesson.  The first one I saw was a 9mm but I soon discovered it was also available in 40 and 45 calibers.  After a number of discussions with M&P owners I finally decided try another polymer gun.

My first impressions were that it is better looking than the Glock.  It fits my hand better and the sights align more naturally.  The ergonomics were good as far as magazine release, safety and trigger placement right out of the box.  I did try the provided larger and smaller back straps but found the mediums to be most comfortable.

One of the virtues that drew me to the M&P line of pistols is their reputation for reliability.  I tested that right away feeding it a variety of ammo including those with bullet shapes not typically friendly to auto-loading pistols.  The M&P45C digested them happily, including lead semi-wad cutters, wide flat nose and round balls which is not an option in Glock pistols.  It also shoot those loads accurately.

7 yards, 5 shots
225 grain WFN cast bullets pushed to 900 fps
Even 140 grain cast lead balls fed and shot accurately in the M&P45C
The M&P45C shoots the traditional 230gr FMJ very well too.  Even old GI ball ammo more than 40 years old ran though it without a hitch.

There are a number of very good powders for 45ACP.  Of the few I've tried so far in this gun I'm liking Alliant Bullseye the best.  It gets me the velocity I want with good accuracy and less muzzle flash.

I've also tested this pistol at ranges out to 50 yards.  I was very pleased to put a magazine worth onto a sheet of paper with most inside the 6" bull.  The sights are a bit course for fine work but are highly visible and easy to pick up quickly which is important on a pistol of this type.
The DA trigger took some getting used to and it does seem to improve with use.  There isn't an obvious 'reset' but I didn't find that to be an issue when shooting quickly.

This pistol is also a comfortable carry and shooting weight.  Not so heavy it pulls your trousers down and not so light that shooting it is punishing.  In fact I would say the recoil is comparable to guns weighing nearly a pound more.  I'm not recoil sensitive so your experience may vary but recoil did not affect the speed at which I could take aimed shots.  I found myself burning though a lot more ammunition than I typically do with my revolvers and the down side of that was policing up all the brass it spewed around me.

Loading 8 in the magazines is a bit difficult but not as difficult as topping off a Glock mag as I remember it.  The M&P comes with two magazines, one flush with the bottom of the pistol and another (pictured above) with a pinky extension.  I prefer the longer magazine and seem to shoot it a little better than the flush mag.  The magazines are a bit chubby for pocket carry so a magazine carrier on the belt is something I would recommend.  

The M&P45C is a good size for a carry 45 caliber carry pistol that one intends to practice frequently with.  Too big for concealed pants pocket carry though it is quite comfortable in a large coat pocket.  I haven't found many holsters designed specifically for it but there are a number of holsters that will work.  A good holster is very important when carrying concealed and in the coming months I will be testing a few to see which I like best.

Overall I am very pleased with this pistol.  It lacks the soul (and weight) of a 1911 or a Colt Single Action Army but it is highly practical.  It is less finicky than most 1911's I've owned and shot too.  When it comes down to it reliability is extremely important in a self defense pistol.  It will take me many more repetitions before I am confident in my proficiency with this pistol.  Once I accomplish that I'm certain it will provide me with a very formidable EDC option.

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