TTAG is no stranger to the M&P 45C. In fact, our boy Giao reviewed one back in July of 2011 and found it to be quite nice, save for some trigger shortcomings. I’m ignorant of most things pistol and self defense-related, but the M&Ps are mighty popular, especially with new shooters. So my take on the gun is through the eyes of a total noob. There are a few other practical reasons for the M&P comeback. First, I’m at a breaking point on finding a concealed carry piece for the First Time CHL series. . .

For a few reasons, a 1911 is no dice and I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m going to end up carrying (and shooting) a couple different guns along the way to the concealed carry promised land. Second, the rep from Springfield Armory has said that an XDs will be harder to find that an honest politician in Chicago for a while so my hopes for a grip safety-equipped carry gun are on hold until they either dig up a T&E sample or I break down and pump some money into the local economy. And third, our man Dan seems to have done a great job schmoozing the boys from Smith at the SHOT Show. They initially told me it was going to take 90-120 days before getting a test gun in my grubby little paws. Six days later, my FFL took my 1911 in for maintenance and handed over a blue plastic S&W case.

Initial thoughts

If you don’t want to sit through 6:00 minutes of my oddly toned voice, I can sum things up rather quickly. There isn’t much to finagle on this here M&P. Magazine release, slide release, takedown lever, and trigger. Those are your four controls. No manual safety and no grip safety. There is no question about this being a fighting gun. Back when I raced motorcycles (way back when), you could always spot the race bikes from a mile away. There was safety wire everywhere, coarse cut magnesium parts, and flat black paint. Just one look told you that those bikes weren’t made for impressing people. It was for getting from point A to point B as fast as the rider could stomach. The M&P is the same way. This isn’t a pretty gun by any means, but it looks functional as all hell. Bonus points for being all black.

There were a few items that really impressed me. First, shipping with two different magazines. One flush for maximum concealment, the other with a pinky extender for those with bigger paws to get a good purchase on that nicely textured grip. Second is how easy it is to change out the backstraps. You’ll only need one, but not having to dig out a drift punch and hammer is sweet, sweet news. In less than 30 seconds, you can change the grip to suit your needs. That’s seriously awesome. Third, you can release the slide by ramming a loaded magazine home with gusto. See video to watch it in action.

Now for the two pieces of bad news. First, the slide release is worthless in its current form. It is low profile which is nice for avoiding fat fingering it in a shootout. However, it is WAY too stiff and cannot be manipulated unless you completely move your thumb to 90 degrees and press down HARD. Thank god for a heavily serrated slide that makes racking easy.

Second, the trigger is godawful. Like real bad. S&W says 7 pounds. My trigger scale say 8 pounds. And it’s not an easy road to get to the 8 pound breaking point. This road to hell is apparently paved with long travel, a fair amount of grit and no noticeable reset. Good news for Apex Tactical. I’m planning to try out one of their DCAEK kits.

First Range Trip

What does it eat?

Pretty much everything. Plain and simple. I fed it steel case, hollow points, FMJ, and even some rat shot just for giggles.  According to the manual, +P is verboten. I only had one failure to fire in 250 rounds and it was from a dud primer on some steel cased ammo. Check out the video of my shit-eating grin after popping off some rat shot.

Is it accurate?

Plenty enough for me. Pictures speak a thousand words, but suffice it to say that slow or fast, seven yards or fifteen, I never had a problem with MOBG accuracy. And a nicer trigger should only improve this tendency towards ragged holes.

Is it pleasant to shoot?

You betcha! .45 ACP is no slouch when it comes to recoil, but things were manageable and I didn’t have to ice down my hands and wrists after 250 rounds after a little more than 60 minutes of bangbangamous fun. Would I take it shooting all day? Sure, as long as I could afford the ammo.

Does it jam?

Yes, but only if you don’t release the slide with vigor. You can see in the video that when I daintily released the slide with two fingers it jammed up. When I changed my grip to an overhand rack, end of problem. If the M&P does jam, a quick tap sets things in place.

While trying to film a video of the gun jamming up, I loaded and reloaded the same bullet several times. Regular readers might remember that we talked about bullet setback back in November. As this picture shows, setback is very real and happened in less than ten reloads. My guess is that the feed ramp on the M&P is a bit aggressive and that can put some things in a bind.


The M&P 45C is a good gun that needs just a bit of tweaking to become an excellent firearm. I feel completely comfortable using it as my EDC gun and will be doing so when my certificate comes in the mail. I have a feeling that I’ll be converting to 9 mm in the coming months, but for right now I’ve got a really solid platform to start practicing with.

Smith and Wesson M&P 45 Compact (no manual safety)

  • Caliber: .45 ACP
  • Capacity: 8+1
  • Barrel Length: 4”
  • Action: Striker Fire (DA Only)
  • Weight (No Mag): 26.2 oz
  • Overall Length: 7.55”
  • Overall Height: 4.8”
  • Width: 1.2”
  • Material: Polymer Frame, Stainless Steel Melonite coated, Slide and Barrel
  • MSRP: $599 (street price less than $500)

Ratings (out of five stars)

Style * * * *
Ugly as sin in all the right ways. Not Glock ugly, but still no 1911.

Ergonomics * * * *
I found it to have a very natural point of aim and the changeable backstraps mean that you have a lot of options when it comes to making the gun fit your hand. All of the controls are low profile and don’t inhibit your ability to put holes in stuff.

Reliability * * *
I’m docking points for the minor jamming issue. It might resolve itself in the next 1000 rounds or so, but I think it’s worth consideration. You need to be extra diligent about really jamming the slide home.

Control Usability * *
Mag release works great and the takedown process is easy. However, the slide release and trigger really chapped my skivvies. S&W could definitely fix the trigger by just implementing something like what Apex already offers. So why don’t they?

Overall Rating * * * *
This is a fine polymer gun that’ eaten everything I’ve thrown at it. It’s plenty accurate and  very concealable. No manual safety means that it’s a point and shoot affair. I’ll be strapping one to my hip in the next few months if that tells you anything.

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49 Responses to Gun Review: Smith and Wesson M&P 45C

  1. I dont know if its just the M&P 45 you received or something else but I can not say that i find the trigger to be gritty on my M&P 9mm. it might be that i have put over a few thousand rounds through it but its just smooth till you get to the point of breaking the glass rod.

  2. About the slide release. My initial impression when I first got a Sig P220 was that the slide release was way too tough to operate. However, after some “breaking in” it got a lot better, or I got used to it & learned how to do it better, or both.

    I know Para Ordinance recommended a break-in of 250 rounds or so.

    The S&W may also improve over time with use. They may see this as a non-issue, but it would be nice to warn buyers up front.

  3. Tyler, I own and carry a Taurus 609 and a Sig Pro 2022, no not at the same time (both 9MM), and wanted either the XDM or the S&W also in nine. So I went to a local indoor range that lets you rent guns for use while you’re at their range, and after putting around 150 rounds through both, I settled on the S&W. I just liked the feel and fit better and shot much better with the Smith. I’ve also added a Crimson Trace laser, so as soon as I purchase a Crossbreed IWB for it, it will become my everyday carry.

  4. Slightly off topic: I would like to see a side by side comparison of the M&P 9 and the Sig SP2022. From what I’ve seen they are very similar, minus the action and firing mechanism, and about the same price range. Any thoughts TTAG?
    Heck I’d even settle for just a review of the SP2022 on here. But I’m a little partial seeming how I’m picking up my 2022 next week…

    • Just got a flyer from Cabela’s today. They have the 2022 in either nine or forty for $399.99. Don’t know if you have one close, but that’s a great price. And the 2022 is the most underrated Sig out there. Low cost, good trigger, decocker, night sights and 15 + 1 capacity (nine).

  5. I have loved my M&P45c since I took it out of the box. I don’t find the trigger to be an issue at all, and I’ve never had any kind of failure with mine. Recoil is what I expected, and mine is very accurate. It is my FIRST choice as EDC over my 1911, M&P9c, or Ruger SP101.

    It is the perfect carry weapon IMO.

  6. Tyler:

    I would beg to differ about using a 1911 as a carry gun. Despite the size I find my Springfield 45 conceals nicely even in summer clothes. From my experience carrying my XDm Compact 9mm, a 1911 prints less than a modern boxy polymer pistol. If you think a full sized 1911 is too big then you can always go with a Colt Commander (4″ barrel) or a Cold Defender (3″ barrel).

    • I definitely agree about the 1911 absolutely disappearing. For me, the issue is the manual safety more than anything else. I have no doubts that I could learn and master running the 1911 as my EDC gun. However, my TTAG “job” lets me shoot a lot of different guns and I worry that I’ll start destroying muscle memory immediately when I start banging away with Glocks, S&Ws, and XD(m)s. My theory (for now) is the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) principle.

  7. The only time I ever use my slide release is for locking the slide open after emptying with no magazine in preparation for handing it to someone else. That is: not often at all.

    Looks like a nice gun.

  8. I put the very first rounds through a box-new M&P 9mm back in December, and the trigger was the worst semi-auto trigger I’ve ever fired. Worse than a WWII P-38, worse than a Steyr TMP, and even worse than the Chiappa Rhino. Which isn’t even a semi-auto. It nearly required both index fingers through the trigger guard, just to get the job done.

    If S&W would get off its ass and fix the trigger, this gun would get a lot more love.

    • You had a defective M&P then they are not that hard to fire. the triger should range from 7.5-5.5 pounds of pull if its substantially more there is an issue that needs to be fixed.

      • That M&P 9’s trigger was off the chart: well in excess of 15 pounds. It’s owner was our Good Samaritan during that range trip, he set us up with his brand-new pistol when we got stranded with a box full of 9mm FMJ when the range rental gun broke.

        I hope he got it fixed.

  9. Tyler, is that Red’s Indoor Range? North or South? I’ve been to the one in Pflugerville once…still relatively new to the area and unfamiliar with the best places to shoot. I’m a bit of a newbie too handguns and CHL too. If you’re ever up for a day at the range and a beer after let me know.

  10. Oh come on now Tyler, ugly? I think you Texans don’t appreciate anything that doesn’t shoot long colt or sport wood grips. 😀

    Good review buddy and I’m glad you came over to M&P. An interesting thing I noticed about my M&P45c is that once I put the Apex parts in it the “auto slide release” feature became pretty sporadic; which is totally worth getting a nice trigger in it.

  11. Nice review, Tyler.

    As a dedicated S&W weenie from way back (and you thought I was just a revolver man), I’ll note a few things. My EDC is an M&P 40c. I bought the .40 because the compact .45 isn’t Massachusetts legal while the full-sized .45 is legal. Don’t ask me why because I don’t know.

    A few things you should know:

    1. The slide stop/release will break in, but not to the point where you can accidentally fat-finger it. If it’s not as soft as you’d like, a ‘smith can fix it in five minutes, and he can remove the internal lock if you have one. And no, removing the lock does not leave an empty hole in the gun. It’s only the internal latch that goes buh-bye.

    2. M&P .45 triggers have been cludgy from the get-go. The trigger will break in, but replace it with the full Apex duty/carry kit anyway. It’s a 5.5 lb trigger that does not lose any of it’s takeup. For carry purposes, I appreciate that first light takeup stage. It keeps the gun a little safer and it does not compromise accuracy or speed. You’ll soon be double-tapping like Gregory Hines (look him up). If you don’t like where the trigger resets, there’s an Apex change for that, too.

    3. Never “ease” the slide forward or backward. Rack it and let it snap forward. This goes for almost any modern autoloader. They’ll all jam (FTF) if you try to guide the slide. Let the springs do their job and they won’t let you down.

    Now have fun and play nice with the other kids, okay?

  12. You cannot convert the .45s to 9mm. Only the .40/.357sigs. The breach face is just too wide. Also, the slide release will free up a but with use, but it doesn’t mater because I don’t use it anyway.

    Also, when you got te bullet setback, were you using the “slam the may in to release the slide” method? It will cause major set back and it’s not a great habit to get into. If you slam the mag in like that with only a few rounds in, like say if you were doing range drills, the mag can come apart at the Baseplate because the spring is not providing enough tension to hold it on. Plus if you slam it in too hard it can cause the rounds to nosedive possibly, then you have a non working gun.

    • Good thoughts all around.

      I won’t be converting to 9 mm. I’ll just be buying a new gun.

      Good thoughts on the slamming the mag. Its not something I’m going to get in the habit of doing because I can’t reliably make it happen.

      • I bought the 9mm conversion barrel and some 9mm magazines for my .40. It shoots Luger rounds very reliably and very straight.

  13. My m&p 9 pushes the projectile into the casing as well. I love the gun but for some reason I shoot to the left with it, and with it altering rounds its not my favorite

  14. Slamming the mag to release the slide sounds dangerous to me, in fact, it sounds like a forced malfunction. Just my opinion.

  15. I think the M&P45C looks better than the full size and would fit my hands perfectly, but I guess I’ll have to settle for the 4.5″ version since I live in California.

    I mean, I guess I could get it single shot converted but I’m sure it’s more hassle and money then I want to spend for my first handgun.

  16. I’ve had my M&P 45c for over a year and found it to be a great pistol. I used it during an advanced combat pistol class and only had one jam in about 500 rounds–and that jam was my fault; an improperly resized reload that managed to get through my progressive reloading press. The trigger was a little gritty at first, but smoothed out as a result of live fire and dry fire practice. While it will probably never be as crisp as the trigger on a 1911, it is more than adequate for a concealed carry gun. (And there is hope that it will become as light as the pull on my M&P 9 Pro!)

  17. Love my M&P45FS. 1400rounds and not a hiccup. First 500 rounds were aluminum-cased Blazer and it’s eaten anything and everything, though no rat-shot for me. It feels like an extension of my hand and the 45C fits so well too. The Apex DCAEK is a godsend and paired with a TLR-1 and PDX1s or Critical Defenses, it’s my bedside gun.

    A 45C will probably be my next handgun, albeit in SSE form- more CA BS but it is easily bypassed through legal means.

  18. I was looking to sell or trade off my Glock 21SF at the end of October last year. A guy offered me a LNIB S&W M&P 45c and enough cash for me to say yes without hesitation. I haven’t regretted that decision. It is one gun I would not consider getting rid of. The trigger pull on mine is perfect for SD, not too light and definitely not too heavy.

  19. Better re-read the owner’s manual. It says no “+P+” in any S&W handguns. Regular +P is good to go.

  20. Another attempt by S&W to enter the handgun race. Big deal. Here is food for thought; about 90-95% of the handguns used by police and military are Beretta, Glock, HK, and Sig. Add West Europe and you can put Walther and CZ on the list.
    Since introduction of the Colt 1911, US gun makers have yet to make a pistol that is good ( as in reliability/durability) enough for Govt use — not Colt, ruger, and even S&W. That’s about 100 years!!! Think about it! A sad state for American gun industry — in handgun design, the Euros have been kicking our ass for a century! There is nothing about this S&W pistol that is going to change this situation. For the flaws in this turd design, see my comments in the first (part one) S&W article above.

  21. When the gun breaks in, everything works better. I had a problem with mine returning to battery which was solved with proper lubrication. The slide release works great now. I’m at 1,500 rounds and love it. Also, the trigger reset is audible with live ammo. Maybe not as nice as a glock, but I’m a new shooter. Ignorance is bliss.

  22. Ive had a 45c for almost a year. Gun shoots low with most ammo and haven’t been able to fix this even with different sights. A 200 grain bullet @800 ft/sec shoots to point of aim (pretty close) but anything hotter and it starts going low, sometimes real low.

    Trigger was a nightmare when I first got the gun and I was thinking about the APEX kit. However, with several hundred rounds the trigger has really smoothed itself out. It’s not great but it sure isn’t bad either.

    The changeable backstraps are nice, I just can’t find one that really fits. They all feel like the are trying to push my hand down from the bore axis of the gun, don’t like that feel.

    After all this I still like this gun. It is so accurate, not uncommon to cut one ragged hole from 15 to 20 yards….just shoots this great group really low. The gun, even with hotter ammo feels great, it absorbs recoil much better than my Kimber Crimson Pro Carry, I just wish it shot to POA. This is a very reliable pistol, no hiccups, nice and light, like the polymer frame, it would be a great gun if it shot to POA. I wouldn’t mind if it shot high but I hate a gun that shoots low. Still, I think Smith has a winner here.

    • If it’s shooting low but still producing a tight group it is more than likely sights. Had the same problem with a Pro 9mm.

  23. After shooting Smiths pretty much exclusively for 50 years, I ready to swear off of them. I’ll keep all my old revolvers and 69/59 series autos but no more new ones. I bought a 640 pro (for the sights) and it was terrible, but S&W replaced the gun with a slightly better one. I decided to get a 45 for social purposes and settled on the M&P 45c(old habits are hard to break, until now). Trigger was gritty and extremely heavy and got really bad just before let off. Sent it back to Smith and it came back the same way with a check off sheet, with nothing checked off as to the problem. I really don’t think you should have to pay for an Apex tactical trigger to be able to shoot a new gun. S&W has just switched my loyalty to Ruger. Repair guys told me anything with barrel 4″ or less is targeted for 10 yds. I never heard of that before. It wouldn’t have been very handy in my cop days or PPC shooting days.
    I will not purchase, anything with Smith&Wesson on the side plate again. To bad 50 yrs of customer loyalty being flushed down the tubes.

  24. Not one to give up easily, I installed an Apex trigger in my 45c. As above, the trigger was the absolute worst trigger I have ever had, period. I installed the kit and the gun now is a “shooter”. Very pleased with the Apex trigger and Smith would do well to install it at the factory. I put a trigger scale on the original trigger and it would give a reading. Scale only went to 10lbs. Now it is much like a 1911 trigger. Apex is at 4.5 lbs. The original was measured after a trip to S&W for repairs.
    I keep this one but am still un happy with Smith. Apex triggers are great but expensive.

  25. In response to M. Meade: It is without doubt the sights. My problem is I can’t find any that will shoot POA-POI. Just put another set of adjustable sights on it and with the rear sight cranked all the way down it shoots a full 11 inches high. I guess you could say I solved my low shooting problem. I love this gun and want to keep it but don’t know what to do about this problem. I think it’s time to send it packing, I’ve sunk enough time and money into the sights already. Normally like a little challenge but this is enough.

  26. I recently obtained a full size M&P 45, must have received the WHITE ELEPHANT. out of the box the trigger was horrendous, way over 8# and full of gravel not just gritty. the break was like pulling a log out of the mud,10″ groups at 30 ft. were questionable. after 3 days of fluffin, buffin and cussin and an APEX Duty/Carry kit the trigger is finally acceptable. 2.5″ group at 30 ft. no grit almost no over-travel and a clean break and reset, still has a long take-up but it’ll do. 4.75# trigger pull consistently, S&W needs to put the same attention towards their autos as they do their wheel guns. I will probably never get another M&P. on top of the whole trigger deal the barrel ramp looked like it was cut with a chisel, it took a 120 grit wheel and a DREMEL to clean it up. they need put in a TIME-OUT.

  27. Old habits are really hard to break. I’ve complained about the new S&W guns, but was at a gun show and saw a new S&W mdl 351c. I’m a sucker for .22 mags. I have an old 651 and never had a bit of problems with it. I picked up the new 351c just to check out the sights and try the action. The trigger pull was terrible and grabbed just before let off. I will not HANDLE, look at, fondle, or lust over anything new with a S&W emblem on
    it. What has happened to quality control at S&W. I started out shooting great guns from S&W, will end my shooting career with reliable guns from Ruger, not smiths. To bad!

    • I’m with ya Sgt. Bubba, Smith and Wesson and quality only seem to play well when a wheel gun is involved. Shouldn’t have to work on a brand new pistol to get it to work as it’s advertised . I’ll never buy another NEW Smith and Wesson.

  28. I just read Ralph’s post regarding the legality of the M&P .45C in Massachusetts and was surprised. App. 1 1/2 years ago I had no problem buying a brand new S&W M&P .45C here in Massachusetts. This one-line excerpt is taken from the Massachusetts Approved Firearms Roster:

    Smith & Wesson M&P45c .45ACP

  29. I pick-up a NIB S&W .45ACP compact at 1100 today. Paid $438.75 out the door. Wife got $400.00 in-store certificate, accompanying 25% discount for a 20 year service award and another $20.00 debit card award for a positive comment about her customer service. She did not want to purchase anything in the store with it and so I took a hit for the team and with her blessing I am using it for the pistol. So, literally, I will end up paying $18.00 out-of-pocket for this handgun purchase. We already own a S&W M&P .22 compact, an M&P .380 Bodyguard semi-auto, the M&P Shield in .9mm and .40 Caliber. This should end the M&P series purchases for us. The wife carries the .380 Bodyguard or .9mm, and the .22 compact and .40 Caliber are mine. I hope this .45 compact is as good a purchase as the other calibers and models were. We trust our lives to them, literally. I have nearly 37 consecutive years in law enforcement and corrections. I believe the M&P series of handguns are economical, reliable and suitable for self-defense carry. I have never replaced a trigger or sights.

  30. author should look into slide release vs slide stop.
    i prefer, for consistencies sake, to rack the slide when reloading instead on depending on the small slide stop to release the slide.

  31. No problems here no failures bought 500 rnds of Hornsdy fmj been using 45cal for 40 yrs all new auto need to be broken in have 5 total each one was crap till broken in Hang in there it takes a lot of ammo to wear in right

  32. Tyler, I’d love to hear how your M&P45c has run to this point. It has been some time since your original review and in assuming many more rounds through it since then. Thanks.

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