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M&P 9 pro - range report

This is a discussion on M&P 9 pro - range report within the MP Range Reports forums, part of the Smith & Wesson MP Forum category; M&P Pro Series 9mm - field report The setup: 1. (lightly) used M&P 9 Pro 2. 5 - 17round magazines - 1 factory, 4 MecGar ...


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Old June 14th, 2015, 05:45 PM   #1
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M&P 9 pro - range report

M&P Pro Series 9mm - field report

The setup:

1. (lightly) used M&P 9 Pro
2. 5 - 17round magazines - 1 factory, 4 MecGar from Greg Cote LLC Greg Cote, LLC
3. Serpa holster
4. Safariland mag pouches
5. Bladetech belt
6. Cheap gunshow reloads

The gun: I bought the pistol used, but it appears to have been used very little. Prior to my shooting it I would have estimated under 200 rounds, but I put another 278 through it without noticeably increasing the wear marks, so I really don't know. There is no sign that the previous owner modified it in any way. He certainly didn't perform any trigger improvements!

So, what makes an M&P a "pro series"? - well in this case (just "pro" not "C.O.R.E") it means 2 17round assault magazines (Though for reasons inexplicable, my used pistol came with only one.) Novak sights, and a 5" barrel. (The standard M&P is 4.25") It does *not* have an improved trigger. Or if it does, I'd hate to see what the 'unimproved' trigger was like.

Like all M&P pistols, it has three interchangeable grip inserts ("palm swells" in S&W parlance) and I opted for the largest as it let me get more support hand on the gun while still gripping it properly with my strong hand. The gun feels very ergonomic, much less 'blocky' than even the 4th gen Glocks and the grip angle makes it point very naturally. If you've trained yourself to the awkward angle of the Glock, this won't be the case... Most of the controls are readily accessible, although my large hands make it easier for me than it is for some.

The slide release is easier to activate (with the thumb) than a Glock, but significantly harder than a 1911. It's completely usable, but will take some practice to get used to.

The mag release can be switched to either side to accommodate left and right handed shooters - which is great, although it doesn't really impact me one way or another. Of greater relevance is the fact that the grip has a 'mound' in front of the mag release button. This may be due to how the mag release is implemented, or it may be an attempt to make the mag release more snag-proof, or less likely to get 'bumped'. Whatever the reason, it is a poor design in my opinion and will likely make it harder for the short-fingered to depress the button with their strong-side thumb. A big part of the shooting community has issues ejecting magazines - S&W fixed part of the problem for left handed shooters, but have ignored, like much of the industry, shooters with small hands.

The trigger is an interesting variation on the 'trigger-safety' concept that Glock pioneered. Like the Glock there is a wedge of plastic that extends beyond the top rear of the trigger which interferes with the frame at times. In the case of the Glock, that means if the blade, in the middle of the trigger, isn't depressed. In the case of the M&P it means that the bottom 1/2 of the trigger isn't depressed. I had some concern that hitting the trigger up high would cause problems, but these proved unfounded. While I find the trigger safety concept an unnecessary complication, I'd have to give the edge to Glock for being a shade 'safer', while the M&P feels a bit more natural. On the other hand, and saving the best (or worst) for last, the trigger pull on the M&P is *horrible*. "Like 'deal-breaker bad' in the words of another shooter I spoke with. As horrific as the long, squishy throw of the Glock is, Smith and Wesson managed to do worse. Much worse. It's quite a stretch to say anything positive about the factory M&P trigger. If it has a 'pro', it's that it might be a little more forgiving for trigger slappers, as all the mush and overtravel may keep certain aspects of lousy trigger control from affecting your shooting as much. I feel like I'm really grasping for something nice to say here... The trigger is heavy, gritty, and mushy with an unremarkable break and completely indistinct reset. I could probably write another few paragraphs extolling its lack of virtue, but hopefully by now you've gotten the idea.

Field stripping the gun is relatively easy, if a bit awkward. One simply locks the slide to the rear, rotates a takedown latch (ala Beretta) and (here's the awkward part) reaches into the ejection port and pivots a yellow-painted wire downward, then simply slip the slide off the front. An alternative is to 'fire' the pistol as you remove the slide. This works, but is not the method suggested in the manual. I can see no way this might damage the pistol, but am still very much new to it. While the lever is much more readily activated than the takedown bar on a Glock, requiring that a tool be inserted through the mag well is, frankly absurd, and no pistol has been that idiotically designed in many years.

As a final (self-inflicted) jab at the gun, you're not supposed to dry fire it! (This may have changed - internet rumor is that the 'silver' striker can be dry fired, while the original 'black' striker cannot.) I have the 'silver' striker - we'll see. Dry firing is the quickest, most certain, and least-expensive step one can take toward becoming a proficient shooter. A pistol you can't dry fire is about as useful as a fishnet condom. I intend to dry fire the snot out of this pistol, and if it breaks, I shall condemn it completely. I've bet half a grand that this isn't another Sigma - hope I'm right!

The Magazines: As mentioned earlier, I used five magazines: one S&W, and four MecGar. In terms of general characteristics, all magazines are identical. MecGar is the world's largest manufacturer of magazines, so it wouldn't surprise me if they made the factory mags for S&W, but I don't know that for a fact. Feed lips, magazine catch cuts, etc are all completely identical. The S&W mag has holes in the side to see how many rounds are in the magazine, while the MecGar mags have holes in the back. I much prefer that aspect of the MecGar mags. All five are difficult, even painful, to load. The S&W is a shade easier (lighter spring? more break-in?) but none are very comfortable to load, even to 10 rounds, much less full capacity. Add "UPLula", or some other mag loader, to the list of 'must have' accessories for this pistol. I had a single potentially magazine-attributable problem, and it was with one of the MecGars. That was with rounds binding in the magazine and refusing to 'rise' after the first round had been stripped off. It appeared that the nose of one of the rather pointy FMJs that I was shooting had stuck in the magazine catch slot. I regret not identifying that round and checking it out, as given the low quality of the ammo (more on *that* later) it may well have been overly long or otherwise defective. This incident occurred only once and I am dismissing it, wearily, for the time being.

The holster: Sucked. It's a Serpa, what can I say? Even if you're reasonably competent, so shooting yourself in the foot isn't a hazard, the Serpa is just a cheaply made, badly designed, holster with a selling price that is 2.5x what a well-designed holster of comparable quality should cost. Two words: "just don't".

The magazine pouches: Safariland. Just as "Serpa" is synonomous with cheaply made, poorly designed garbage, "Safariland" is synonomous with (expensive) quality made holsters and magazine pouches. The 773 pouches used today left nothing to complain about. They adjusted easily to an excellent mix of retention and ease-of-extraction, and maintained that adjustment.

The Belt: My first time using a Bladetech competition inner/outer belt. No real complaints. The inner belts seems a litte cheaper than the CR Speed belts I normally use, but there was no degradation in performance as a result. A good belt at a good price.

The ammunition: Alright, here's where you begin to question my judgement. I bought 500 rounds of 9mm at a gun show, without realizing they were reloads. They were 115gr FMJ, and a rather pointed FMJ at that. The sole label on the ammo can was "Tactical Ammunition" - and they were extremely low quality. In loading up magazines prior to going to the range I found a half-dozen failures (high primers, smashed case necks, and a missing primer). While shooting, my six malfunctions were all easily, and unmistakeably, attributable to the ammunition: 1 crunched case neck, 1 backwards primer, 1 mangled rim - to the extent that the round would not go into battery, 2 high primers, and 1 low (very low) primer. The last being around .040" below flush. I've probably loaded over a million rounds of ammo, and I've never seen that before! I'll be autopsying that case to see what's going on!

The results: I like the pistol, for what it is. I fired 278 rounds and as I became more accustomed to the (still lousy) trigger, my groups improved. It digested 278 crappy reloads, failing to fire only six rounds that were so defective no pistol of which I'm aware would have fired them. This will never be a 1911 (the standard by which all others are judged) but it should become an excellent shooter once the trigger is improved. It fails, by a large margin, to live up to the notion of "military and police" - the takedown (requiring a tool be inserted through the ejection port to hook an indistinct wire) and the manual's prohibition on dry firing make this pistol distinctly unsuitable for military OR police applications. Let's hope it can perform in competition!

My first few groups were a little low (~8" @ 25 yards), and a bit left. Benching the gun revealed that the 'low' part was real, the 'left' was me - and that improved / disappeared as I gained experience with the trigger. Groups however were as tight as I can shoot, particular given this particular front sight - 6-8" at 25 yards.

The jury is still a little bit out on the MecGar magazines, but they are tentatively an excellent low-cost substitute for the over-priced S&W mags. I feel bad for even questioning them, given the low quality of the ammo, but until I have another 500 rounds under my belt, they're on probation. Serpa continues to suck, Safariland continues to be great, and Bladetech belts just don't leave a lot upon which to comment.
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Old October 22nd, 2015, 03:08 AM   #2
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Are you sure it's a pro, or at least still has the pro trigger? Mine is anything but heavy. Even my regular 9c doesn't have a heavy trigger and seems better to me than my Glocks.
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Old October 22nd, 2015, 07:04 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vista461 View Post
Are you sure it's a pro, or at least still has the pro trigger? Mine is anything but heavy. Even my regular 9c doesn't have a heavy trigger and seems better to me than my Glocks.

Same here, and the 17 round mags aren't anything special; standard with all but the compact 9mm M&P's.

The low POI compared to the POA is likely associated with the crappy reloads.

All of mine shoot POI=POA with my reloads and factory ammo (115gr).

Last edited by Rick M; October 22nd, 2015 at 04:04 PM.
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Old October 23rd, 2015, 01:46 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GeneT View Post
M&P Pro Series 9mm - field report

The setup:

1. (lightly) used M&P 9 Pro
2. 5 - 17round magazines - 1 factory, 4 MecGar from Greg Cote LLC Greg Cote, LLC
3. Serpa holster
4. Safariland mag pouches
5. Bladetech belt
6. Cheap gunshow reloads

The gun: I bought the pistol used, but it appears to have been used very little. Prior to my shooting it I would have estimated under 200 rounds, but I put another 278 through it without noticeably increasing the wear marks, so I really don't know. There is no sign that the previous owner modified it in any way. He certainly didn't perform any trigger improvements!

So, what makes an M&P a "pro series"? - well in this case (just "pro" not "C.O.R.E") it means 2 17round assault magazines (Though for reasons inexplicable, my used pistol came with only one.) Novak sights, and a 5" barrel. (The standard M&P is 4.25") It does *not* have an improved trigger. Or if it does, I'd hate to see what the 'unimproved' trigger was like.

Like all M&P pistols, it has three interchangeable grip inserts ("palm swells" in S&W parlance) and I opted for the largest as it let me get more support hand on the gun while still gripping it properly with my strong hand. The gun feels very ergonomic, much less 'blocky' than even the 4th gen Glocks and the grip angle makes it point very naturally. If you've trained yourself to the awkward angle of the Glock, this won't be the case... Most of the controls are readily accessible, although my large hands make it easier for me than it is for some.

The slide release is easier to activate (with the thumb) than a Glock, but significantly harder than a 1911. It's completely usable, but will take some practice to get used to.

The mag release can be switched to either side to accommodate left and right handed shooters - which is great, although it doesn't really impact me one way or another. Of greater relevance is the fact that the grip has a 'mound' in front of the mag release button. This may be due to how the mag release is implemented, or it may be an attempt to make the mag release more snag-proof, or less likely to get 'bumped'. Whatever the reason, it is a poor design in my opinion and will likely make it harder for the short-fingered to depress the button with their strong-side thumb. A big part of the shooting community has issues ejecting magazines - S&W fixed part of the problem for left handed shooters, but have ignored, like much of the industry, shooters with small hands.

The trigger is an interesting variation on the 'trigger-safety' concept that Glock pioneered. Like the Glock there is a wedge of plastic that extends beyond the top rear of the trigger which interferes with the frame at times. In the case of the Glock, that means if the blade, in the middle of the trigger, isn't depressed. In the case of the M&P it means that the bottom 1/2 of the trigger isn't depressed. I had some concern that hitting the trigger up high would cause problems, but these proved unfounded. While I find the trigger safety concept an unnecessary complication, I'd have to give the edge to Glock for being a shade 'safer', while the M&P feels a bit more natural. On the other hand, and saving the best (or worst) for last, the trigger pull on the M&P is *horrible*. "Like 'deal-breaker bad' in the words of another shooter I spoke with. As horrific as the long, squishy throw of the Glock is, Smith and Wesson managed to do worse. Much worse. It's quite a stretch to say anything positive about the factory M&P trigger. If it has a 'pro', it's that it might be a little more forgiving for trigger slappers, as all the mush and overtravel may keep certain aspects of lousy trigger control from affecting your shooting as much. I feel like I'm really grasping for something nice to say here... The trigger is heavy, gritty, and mushy with an unremarkable break and completely indistinct reset. I could probably write another few paragraphs extolling its lack of virtue, but hopefully by now you've gotten the idea.

Field stripping the gun is relatively easy, if a bit awkward. One simply locks the slide to the rear, rotates a takedown latch (ala Beretta) and (here's the awkward part) reaches into the ejection port and pivots a yellow-painted wire downward, then simply slip the slide off the front. An alternative is to 'fire' the pistol as you remove the slide. This works, but is not the method suggested in the manual. I can see no way this might damage the pistol, but am still very much new to it. While the lever is much more readily activated than the takedown bar on a Glock, requiring that a tool be inserted through the mag well is, frankly absurd, and no pistol has been that idiotically designed in many years.

As a final (self-inflicted) jab at the gun, you're not supposed to dry fire it! (This may have changed - internet rumor is that the 'silver' striker can be dry fired, while the original 'black' striker cannot.) I have the 'silver' striker - we'll see. Dry firing is the quickest, most certain, and least-expensive step one can take toward becoming a proficient shooter. A pistol you can't dry fire is about as useful as a fishnet condom. I intend to dry fire the snot out of this pistol, and if it breaks, I shall condemn it completely. I've bet half a grand that this isn't another Sigma - hope I'm right!

The Magazines: As mentioned earlier, I used five magazines: one S&W, and four MecGar. In terms of general characteristics, all magazines are identical. MecGar is the world's largest manufacturer of magazines, so it wouldn't surprise me if they made the factory mags for S&W, but I don't know that for a fact. Feed lips, magazine catch cuts, etc are all completely identical. The S&W mag has holes in the side to see how many rounds are in the magazine, while the MecGar mags have holes in the back. I much prefer that aspect of the MecGar mags. All five are difficult, even painful, to load. The S&W is a shade easier (lighter spring? more break-in?) but none are very comfortable to load, even to 10 rounds, much less full capacity. Add "UPLula", or some other mag loader, to the list of 'must have' accessories for this pistol. I had a single potentially magazine-attributable problem, and it was with one of the MecGars. That was with rounds binding in the magazine and refusing to 'rise' after the first round had been stripped off. It appeared that the nose of one of the rather pointy FMJs that I was shooting had stuck in the magazine catch slot. I regret not identifying that round and checking it out, as given the low quality of the ammo (more on *that* later) it may well have been overly long or otherwise defective. This incident occurred only once and I am dismissing it, wearily, for the time being.

The holster: Sucked. It's a Serpa, what can I say? Even if you're reasonably competent, so shooting yourself in the foot isn't a hazard, the Serpa is just a cheaply made, badly designed, holster with a selling price that is 2.5x what a well-designed holster of comparable quality should cost. Two words: "just don't".

The magazine pouches: Safariland. Just as "Serpa" is synonomous with cheaply made, poorly designed garbage, "Safariland" is synonomous with (expensive) quality made holsters and magazine pouches. The 773 pouches used today left nothing to complain about. They adjusted easily to an excellent mix of retention and ease-of-extraction, and maintained that adjustment.

The Belt: My first time using a Bladetech competition inner/outer belt. No real complaints. The inner belts seems a litte cheaper than the CR Speed belts I normally use, but there was no degradation in performance as a result. A good belt at a good price.

The ammunition: Alright, here's where you begin to question my judgement. I bought 500 rounds of 9mm at a gun show, without realizing they were reloads. They were 115gr FMJ, and a rather pointed FMJ at that. The sole label on the ammo can was "Tactical Ammunition" - and they were extremely low quality. In loading up magazines prior to going to the range I found a half-dozen failures (high primers, smashed case necks, and a missing primer). While shooting, my six malfunctions were all easily, and unmistakeably, attributable to the ammunition: 1 crunched case neck, 1 backwards primer, 1 mangled rim - to the extent that the round would not go into battery, 2 high primers, and 1 low (very low) primer. The last being around .040" below flush. I've probably loaded over a million rounds of ammo, and I've never seen that before! I'll be autopsying that case to see what's going on!

The results: I like the pistol, for what it is. I fired 278 rounds and as I became more accustomed to the (still lousy) trigger, my groups improved. It digested 278 crappy reloads, failing to fire only six rounds that were so defective no pistol of which I'm aware would have fired them. This will never be a 1911 (the standard by which all others are judged) but it should become an excellent shooter once the trigger is improved. It fails, by a large margin, to live up to the notion of "military and police" - the takedown (requiring a tool be inserted through the ejection port to hook an indistinct wire) and the manual's prohibition on dry firing make this pistol distinctly unsuitable for military OR police applications. Let's hope it can perform in competition!

My first few groups were a little low (~8" @ 25 yards), and a bit left. Benching the gun revealed that the 'low' part was real, the 'left' was me - and that improved / disappeared as I gained experience with the trigger. Groups however were as tight as I can shoot, particular given this particular front sight - 6-8" at 25 yards.

The jury is still a little bit out on the MecGar magazines, but they are tentatively an excellent low-cost substitute for the over-priced S&W mags. I feel bad for even questioning them, given the low quality of the ammo, but until I have another 500 rounds under my belt, they're on probation. Serpa continues to suck, Safariland continues to be great, and Bladetech belts just don't leave a lot upon which to comment.
Can we please see your targets!
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Old October 23rd, 2015, 04:44 AM   #5
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Find the right ammo for tighter groups. After trying literally dozens of different brands and weights through my new Pro, I found American Eagle the best, with 25 yard benchrest groups running 3-4", right to POA, if you're careful. I also have an Apex competition trigger kit in mine. Never one to stop trying for improvement, I'm waiting for the Apex barrel to be released. Of course, I could die of old age, before that happens.
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Old October 23rd, 2015, 06:36 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by agksimon View Post
Find the right ammo for tighter groups. After trying literally dozens of different brands and weights through my new Pro, I found American Eagle the best, with 25 yard benchrest groups running 3-4", right to POA, if you're careful. I also have an Apex competition trigger kit in mine. Never one to stop trying for improvement, I'm waiting for the Apex barrel to be released. Of course, I could die of old age, before that happens.
Wilson Combat makes some nice barrels for the M&P series. I have one in both my 9c, and one of my M&P9's.
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Old October 23rd, 2015, 08:05 PM   #7
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Here's one I shot last Wednesday from my Pro, take out the flyer and it would be about 4.5", this is 20 shots at 25 yards. Ammo used was my handloads, 115 gr Xtreme plated bullets, 4.6 gr of WW231 and Winchester primers.
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