Click the READ MORE below to read about our coverage of the S&W M&P 9L pistol.  Please note, this is the range shoot of the S&W M&P 9L as it comes from the manufacturer.  We will be covering this gun in a few episodes.  We will be utilizing a third party company for custom work on the M&P 9L and then re-shooting the range shoot afterwards, showing both accuracy and performance enhancements. 


S&W M&P 9L

by Jessie Indracusin

Background

First off, we are shooting these videos out of order.  Most of you who read and watch our weekly articles know that we shoot our studio video shoot first on the gun and cover the range video afterwards.  In this case, we are shooting them in a different order.  Also, because we need to send the gun off, the time that will pass between these videos will be a few weeks versus back to back.  So what I am talking about here is the M&P 9L as it comes from the manufacturer.

So the first question people tend to have is why the M&P 9L.  I was looking for a 9mm handgun to use in shooting courses.  The reason for this is to be able to have even greater control on my ammunition expenses.  I recently was shooting someone's Glock 34, which was the original direction of what I was planning to buy but then I fired someone's custom M&P 9 and it just worked out better for me.  So what I decided to get was a long slide edition of the M&P 9 which is the M&P 9L and send it off for custom work.

However, before sending it off, I wanted to shoot a before and after video to really highlight the differences in the firearm's performance and give an evaluation of if the money is worth it.

First Impressions

When you first handle a S&W M&P 9L, you instantly want to compare the gun to a Glock or a Springfield XD Series.  Cosmetically and in a lot of ways functionally, the guns are very similiar.  They are all hammerless guns, make a modest use of high impact plastic composites to reduce weight and even break down very similiar.  They all do suffer from another design failure, an absolutely HORRIBLE slide release. Some people will even slingshot the slide for the first few hundred rounds because it is so tight.  Sling shotting is the motion of pulling the slide back first and hitting the slide release versus just hitting the slide release.  All of the above get better after you put rounds through it, and after putting through 300+ rounds initially, it is getting a little better.  On a Glock, there is something called an aftermarket extended slide release.  I have found no such part for the S&W M&P Series. 

The factory trigger is not very smooth.  This is where a majority of my custom work is going to be done, in the area of cleaning up the trigger.  Finding the dead space on the trigger is hard to find.  Mine even had a clicking noise when I first got it.  You could even feel the click in the trigger.  

The gun has adjustable backstraps.  This is a major advantage over the Glock Series.  Since I have larger hands, I like a gun that offers this directly out of the box.  This gun fits a lot better in my hands than a Glock.  This makes this gun feel like an HK45 series to me. 

The universal rail alows attachment of any standard light, laser or light/laser combo.  There is also ambidexterous slide releases on the gun for left hand shooters too.  This is very helpful for transitional drills where you go from left to right hand grips.  Now why you would do this without adding a magazine release that was ambidextrous is beyond me.

The gun maintains a magazine capacity of a standard 9mm Glock (17-rounds) which gives plenty of firepower for the gun.  These magazines are easily found in most shooting stores and run around $40-$50.00 a clip. 

Performance

The gun performs fairly impressive out of the box.  I would recommend anyone who is looking at one of these and not wanting to get the trigger work I am getting done, to skip the M&P 9L and get the M&P 9 Pro Series.  The Pro has a much better trigger, same 5" barrel and improved front sight (if you tend to like that style of front sight).  It maintains very good performance out to 15 yards and exceeds my expectations.  Out of the box, the gun is very solid.  We ran 300+ rounds of higher grain Winchester Ranger ammunition through the gun and it operated flawlessly.  The gun has minimal recoil and is easy to control.  The trigger still makes smooth trigger control a bit difficult.  Repeatable firing is a little difficult when it comes from the manufacturer.

Reliability

I did various rapid fire shooting tests.  The gun has the same reliability as a Glock in our testing.  I tried running a loose wrist to see if I could have a failure to eject or a stove pipe.  The gun had no issues.  I can understand why the gun has been adopted by various law enforcement organizations.  It is simple, reliable and easy to handle.  I can see this gun, with a little work from S&W, making a serious dent in Glock's sales in the Law Enforcement arena.  They really need to offer the M&P 9 Pro Series pistols in all of their handguns and not as some premium upgrade option.  This would make a world of difference.

Value

The gun sells for a street price of around $650.  The MSRP of the gun is close to $800.  If you can buy an M&P 9L or better a M&P 9 Pro for under $650.00, this is a great deal for what you get.  I would recommend anyone looking at this gun also consider competiting firearms of the Glock 34 and the Springfield XDm Tactical Models 9mm.  Go to your local dealer and try all three of these guns on the range and see how well you perform with them.  At the end of the day, choosing any of these three guns are all good mid ranged guns.

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Last Updated (Sunday, 18 April 2010 18:06)