Gun Review: Smith & Wesson M&P9 M2.0 Compact

photo courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com

Aside from the M&P Shield, I’ve never been a fan of M&P pistols. I was continually surprised to see knowledgeable shooters compete with M&P’s — but not surprised that they’d changed the grip, sights, trigger and barrel. And then I shot the new full-sized Smith & Wesson M&P9 M2.0 featured in RF’s recent review. For all intents and purposes it’s a different gun. A better gun. Is the Smith & Wesson M&P9 2.0 Compact as good?

The M2.0 Compact isn’t another GLOCK “generation” with little more than cosmetic changes (OMG Becky front serrations!). While Smith gave their GLOCK 19-sized M&P an aesthetic upgrade, they addressed all the major ergonomic and functional “issues” that hamstrung their handgun. First and foremost: the grip.

photo courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com

A lot of people complain about the GLOCK’s shooting angle; its “unnatural” point-of-aim. But you can train yourself to acclimatize to its “quirks.” What the naysayers neglect to mention: the shape and texture of the GLOCK’s handle. How a handgun feels in your hand, how secure it is, has an enormous impact on your speed and accuracy.

The new Smith & Wesson M&P9 M2.0 Compact’s handle is perfectly comfortable and extremely grippy. It helps make the Compact a true hand-gun (singular). Thanks to the pistol’s geometry — low bore axis and all — and the grip’s simple shape and texture, you can get a rock-solid hold in single-handed fast-as-you-can-pull-the-trigger fire.

Comparing the Smith & Wesson M&P9 M2.0 Compact head-to-head with the GLOCK Gen 5 G19 — as everyone will — the Smith’s superior ergonomics are never in doubt. In fact, I can’t think of any current striker-fired pistol with such a great human-to-firearm interface. [Unlike the full-size version RF reviewed, our T&E gun had no external safety. I’d prefer one. If you do too, Smith makes ’em.]

Bonus! The M&P9 M2.0 Compact’s slide is easy to manipulate on the frame — which was a little surprising considering the gun’s minimal recoil. Again, a bit of mass on top of great geometry carries the day.

The Compact’s sights are bright white traditional 3-dot style, well suited for a tactical pistol. This rear sight on this version has a slight vertical angle on the rear sight, but it’s fairly smooth and doesn’t catch on a pocket or my belt for one-handed slide manipulation. As of this writing, S&W doesn’t offer a tritium night sight for the M2.0 Compact, as they do for the M2.0 Shield. I hope they add that option and fit a much more vertical notch on the rear slide, instead of the Shield’s ramp-style rear sight.

M&P2 M2.0 Compact above, GLOCK 19 Gen5 below

One of the few places without improvement: the Compact’s magazine well. There’s no flaring, enlarging or funneling. Reloading problems are a thing; any miss and the magazine will catch on one of the handle’s angles, slowing you down. A slightly flared and funneled mag well wouldn’t have created any additional bulk, and would’ve helped blind magazine insertion. It took them a few decades, but even GLOCK learned to funnel and flare their magazine well (that’s the G19 Gen 5 on the bottom in the photo above).

photo courtesy of Jeremy S for thetruthaboutguns.com

For everyday carry, the Compact’s dimensions are much more friendly than the full-size version. That’s from a guy who thinks the GLOCK 19 is the perfect size pistol. If you like the G19’s dimensions, you can keep the G19’s dimensions. As you can see above, the M2.0 Compact and the G19 Gen 5 are virtually identical in size.

The S&W Compact’s fairly narrow frame conceals easily while providing enough sight radius and hand purchase for fast, accurate fire. I ran the Bill Wilson 5X5 test quite a few times with the M2.0 Compact. I’ve never quite broken 20 seconds with a gun I’ve never shot before, but I consistently got close with the Smith. A lot of that has to do with the Compact’s new trigger.

Lest we forget, the original M&P’s trigger was widely regarded as the worst of any in a modern striker-fired pistol. So the M2.0’s “vastly improved” trigger arrived with low expectations. Talk about a reversal of fortune; the M2.0’s trigger sets a new standard, only equaled by the Walther PPQ.

Smith & Wesson M&P9 M2.0 Compact (courtesy thetruthaboutguns.com)

The M&P9 M2.0 Compact’s trigger breaks at a little over five pounds, with a smooth pull and very little grit or stack. Like the full-size version, the new trigger is both a huge improvement and something of a disappointment. The trigger shoe is the issue. It’s simply too tightly curved and doesn’t allow comfortable finger placement. Nor does it give you many options on where you put your finger.

Because of the fairly small grip and my not small hands, I had to pull my trigger finger out of the trigger well to get any kind of consistent trigger pull. That left most of my finger outside the well, with only the last half of the tip of my trigger finger on the actual shoe. The pistol ships with no fewer than four backstraps. Swapping the standard backstrap for the largest one helped a bit. But a less extreme curvature of the trigger would have helped a lot.

Smith & Wesson M&P9 M2.0 Compact trigger (courtesy thetruthaboutguns.com)

If this were my only gun, as much as I appreciate the Compact’s new go pedal, I’d still fit the pistol with an aftermarket trigger. But I shoot a lot of different guns, so I can’t train on a single platform. If this was my EDC, and especially if it was my duty gun, I’d leave the factory trigger alone and let consistent training do its job. Bottom line: unlike the original M&P, an aftermarket trigger on the M2.0 is a nice-to-have, not a have-to-have.

As usual, after an initial lube of the gun, I never cleaned, lubed or disassembled the Smith & Wesson M&P9 M2.0 Compact. I shot over 500 rounds including IMI Di-Cut cartridges, FMJs and hollow points from various brands, in grains from 115 to 147. There were no problems of any kind at any time. Magazines always inserted securely and dropped with authority. I had no issues returning to battery with any round regardless of my grip.

photo courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com

The Smith & Wesson M&P9 M2.0 Compact presents the same problem I have with a lot of compact polymer pistols: my thumb tends to rest on top of the slide release, no matter what I do. I can’t bring my thumb lower in a two-handed grip because my other hand is there. I can’t bring my thumb higher because that’s where the slide is. And allowing my thumb to float above the slide is a bad idea on a lot of levels (so to speak).

Like the GLOCK 19 and the SIG SAUER P229, I just have to accept the fact that my thumb inadvertently presses the Smith & Wesson M&P9 M2.0’s slide release, causing intermittent failures of the slide-to-lock back on an empty magazine. I can live with that.

photo courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com

Disassembly remains as simple as it can be, but Suzie Safeties note: you will have to pull the trigger to get the slide to release from the frame. As always, make sure the gun is completely unloaded prior to attempting to disassemble the firearm.

photo courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com

After my trigger time with the full-sized Smith & Wesson M&P9 M2.0, I was looking forward to shooting the Compact version, mostly because I liked the full-sized M2.0, but I’m not really looking for a gun that can double as a diving board. I wasn’t surprised with how well its smaller sibling handled recoil. The Compact is a fast, flat-shooting gun that barely moves in my hand.

Shooting of a bench, the M2.0 Compact’s accuracy was very good, not stellar. Firing at 25 yards off a bag, I shot two to 2 1/2″ five round groups. The IMI 115gr Di-Cut round printed at 2 1/2″, as did other rounds of the same weight.

I was expecting the M2.0 Compact to replicate the full-size M2.0’s distaste for heavier grain bullets, but the Cap Arms 147 grain FMJ was my best scoring round, averaging a 2″ group. This is a particularly soft-shooting round, an oddity amongst the heavier grained 9mms. What this pistol didn’t like: any of the other 147gr rounds or 124gr+P rounds I put through it, all of which shot closer to the 3-inch mark.

photo courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com

Smith & Wesson have created (recreated?) an American-designed, American-made gun that competes with anything in its class. This is a great firearm that would be a good value at a higher price. I don’t know if large police departments who’ve bought GLOCKs and SIGs for decades would make the switch to Smith, but they’d be fools not to consider it. As would you.

Specifications: Smith and Wesson M&P9 2.0 Compact

Caliber: 9mm
Capacity: 15+1
Barrel Length: 4″
Overall Length: 7.3″
Front Sight: Steel – White Dot
Rear Sight: Steel – White Two Dot
Action: Striker Fire
Weight: 24.0 oz
Barrel Material: Stainless Steel – Armornite® Finish
Slide Material: Stainless Steel – Armornite® Finish
Frame Material: Polymer
MSRP: $569.00 (about $479 and up via Brownells)

Ratings (out of five stars):

Style and Appearance * * * *
I don’t particularly dig the look of any of the modern polymer pistols, but this one at least has some style to it, with matching slide cuts front and back.

Customization * * * * *
Backwards compatible with the aftermarket options available on the original, and multiple palm swells as well as magazine base plates are included. There’s not much you can’t do to this gun.

Reliability * * * * *
Perfection.

Accuracy * * * *
It didn’t drop below the 2-inch mark, but it hovered right there. For five-round groups at 25 yards with a couple of different weights and a wide range of brands, that’s good performance in a firearm of this size.

Overall * * * *
This is a great value on an American-made pistol. I’d carry it any day and be very confident in it’s performance. Smith and Wesson paid attention, and stepped up big time. The lack of renewed attention to the magazine well, no factory option for night sights (yet) and a less-than-perfect trigger geometry keep this gun out of the five star category.

comments

  1. avatar Horacemann says:

    Human to firearm interface. Walther ppq.

    1. avatar Gman says:

      I prefer the TP9SF Elite.

      1. avatar MiserableBastard says:

        Both the PPQ and TP9 came to mind after that interface line 🙂

    2. avatar ePoch270 says:

      VP9 anyone?

  2. Three times, you called the gun’s grip its “handle.”
    Please stop calling a gun’s grip its “handle”. That makes me wince, because people who refer to guns having a “handle” are usually the same people who call AR-15s “assault rifles”, magazines “clips”, 9mm “0.9mm” or “0.9mm caliber”, 5.56mm “0.556mm”, and 7.62mm “0.762mm”.

    For example, see this article, which says, “I had an SKS which is .762 millimeter, I had an AK-74 which is a .554 millimeter and I had an AR-15 which I just got for Christmas which is a .556 millimeter.”
    [Gee, did those microscopic guns come with a set of 3-inch tall toy soldiers? LOL]
    https://www.rawstory.com/2017/10/responsible-gun-owner-blames-theft-of-10000-in-weapons-on-stripper-dont-let-them-in-your-house/

    1. avatar RandallOfLegend says:

      Hande: the part by which a thing is held, carried, or controlled.

      soooooo….. yeah. Technically, grips are meant to be an attachment to a handle, like tape or rubber to aid in holding a device.

      You wanted to get technical, so we are doing so.

      1. avatar Sal Chichon says:

        I’d say you handled that, hahaha!

        1. avatar jwtaylor says:

          Whereas I think this got totally out of hand.

        2. avatar Rusty Chains says:

          Keep your hands to your self!

    2. avatar BLoving says:

      “Derringer Dave” might have been your CB radio handle in an earlier decade.

  3. avatar Vhyrus says:

    This is completely off topic but I am now getting images of Adolf Hitler among your sidebar ads. I am not going to go all snowflake and pretend to be outraged or offended but is this really necessary? Some of us like to read this at work and would rather not be visiting websites with hitler on them. I think gun owners are called nazis enough without crap like this.

    1. avatar -Peter says:

      Adblocker resolves most of these issues.

      And before people crawl up my butt for not supporting the site by subjecting myself to obnoxious ads, I DO support the site by buying the products of its sponsoring companies. So there.

      1. avatar Vhyrus says:

        I’m at work, adblocker is a luxury I do not have.

        1. avatar DJ says:

          Don’t you like need to be working, while you are “at work” or something?

        2. avatar joetast says:

          I want my cheese burger, and your playing on the computer. Your fired

      2. avatar Stinkeye says:

        Any site that has ads so obnoxious that it pushes people to use an adblocker is probably fucking up and hurting itself in the long run.

        1. avatar DJ says:

          Anyone with any acumen at all uses an adblocker, as well as other extensions or add-ons in their browser. Unless they are on an iThing.

  4. avatar Pablo says:

    I have a shield and a full size m&p 2.0. Honestly, yeah I squeeze the trigger to take down but there is a disconnector and my 2.0 has a tool in the grip for it but I’ve yet to use it. That’s the only thing I’ll choose to take issue with-not reading the directions. I can’t see it being any different than it’s brothers.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      You are right, it is possible to use a tool that is hidden under the back strap inside the handle that when used would mean that you would not have to pull the trigger to disassemble the gun. I discovered this, when I read the directions, in order to swap the back straps.
      so yes, it is possible. And because of its difficulty, no one is going to use that. As you have found yourself.

      1. avatar Snatchums says:

        That’s what I like about the Ruger SR line: just push the ejector down and it drops the trigger bar so it won’t engage the striker. No tools needed and no dry fire (but seriously you people that actually have a problem with that procedure just need to wake up and actually engage your brain in said activity. If you can’t safely dry fire a gun, I don’t think I’ll trust you with live ammunition either.)

  5. avatar Curtis in IL says:

    When evaluating the accuracy of a compact pistol with iron sights at 25 yards, the difference between a 2 1/2″ group and a 3″ group is not statistically significant. Just sayin’. In any real world situation, any defensive pistol on the market is going to be more accurate than the shooter’s ability to aim it.

    Otherwise, nice review! Good to see S&W stepping up and making real improvements.

  6. avatar Joe R. says:

    “A lot of people complain about the GLOCK’s shooting angle; its “unnatural” point-of-aim. But you can train yourself to acclimatize to its “quirks.” What the naysayers neglect to mention: the shape and texture of the GLOCK’s handle. How a handgun feels in your hand, how secure it is, has an enormous impact on your speed and accuracy.”

    ??? So if you practice a lot, you can train your hand to correctly point a GLOCK that won’t help you do it instinctively, and (once trained) you will have essentially beaten your way back to zero (the starting line)??? How a handgun feels in your hand should NOT = a GLOCK’s wrongly-canted dry bar of soap texture.

    Plastic guns suck in all things but weight, but the give-backs for that weight are lousy. IF YOU HOLD THE DAMN HANDGUN UP IN PROFILE VIEW AND CAN SEE LIGHT COMING THROUGH, BETWEEN THE SLIDE AND FRAME, THAT’S
    W R O N G (e.g., M&P, Diamondback, GLOCK, etc., etc., etc.).

    1. avatar Jim says:

      WTF are you babbling about? Seeing light between the slide and frame isn’t even a problem you old kook.

    2. avatar joetast says:

      I agree, and natural point ability is a real plus in a gunfight I would imagine. PLASTIC bag humbug.

      1. avatar joetast says:

        I agree with JoeR that is.JoeR I didn’t know you was old

  7. avatar chris says:

    Eh, no offense but S&W is not the quality it used to be. They resisted polymer frames for the longest time until glock stole the market and their ceo demanded they deliberately copy the glock 17 by throwing one on the table during a meeting and screaming at everybody about it. So, yeah they’re not on my list of companies to support.

    1. avatar Jim says:

      Hahaha, what?! When did that happen? Sounds entirely made up to me.

      1. avatar Chris says:

        It was discussed, in depth, in the book “Glock: The rise of America’s gun”, references were attached I had to look into it for myself.

      2. avatar Mmmtacos says:

        It’s an infamous industry story that I believe was recounted from a first-hand experience.

        The CEO became frustrated and slammed it down on the table telling them that if they can’t beat it then just copy it.

        Thus we get the S&W Sigma, which became the S&W SDV9E. It looks like the bastard child of a Glock and an M&P. They were pretty craptastic pistols too, and S&W even got sued by Glock and lost for obvious reasons. This was a further embarrassment after they introduced their new .40S&W round… that Glock summarily beat them to the market on with the Glock 22.

        S&W was a different company then. They kowtowed to the anti-gun crowd and were resistant to change. At least when the M&P finally came out it was a breath of fresh air against the Glock, but for everything it got right it got something else… not wrong… but just not quite right.

        It took them a long enough time but when they finally refreshed the line with the M2.0 they have, in my opinion, created the best pistols on the market in their class. They definitely got the Shield right: it’s been the best selling pistol year over year, Glock breaks in at number 10 with the G19. Now that S&W finally listened and put out a G19 sized gun I think they may usurp Glock’s only position in the top 10.

        1. avatar Warren says:

          When they give the Shield all the same ambi features the Compact has, I’ll buy it. It doesn’t seem like it’d be that hard to do.

  8. avatar J says:

    Instant skepticism when anyone compares any striker-fired handgun trigger to the PPQ. Now I’ll have to go find and dry fire one.

    1. avatar Rusty Chains says:

      I have both and the PPQ trigger is better. I quit carrying my PPQ because I couldn’t get through half a magazine firing with my dominant hand only without dropping the Mag! My thumb is too long and the mag release spring too soft to prevent dropping the mag.

      The 2.0 Compact will replace my Glock 19 as my cool weather carry, once I run a few hundred rounds through it.

      1. avatar J says:

        I’ve heard others have similar problems with the mag release on the PPQ M2. I was hoping someone who’s tried both would chime in about the triggers, so thank you.

  9. avatar David says:

    How about an article about this: How to Shoot a Handgun Accurately- Massad Ayoob .
    http://www.backwoodshome.com/how-to-shoot-a-handgun-accurately/
    You could do 5 or six articles from this info. And you could avoid your thumb activating or preventing to activate the controls of your handgun whomever makes it.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      Unfortunately Mr. Ayoob’s thumbs down grip works well one handed on an automatic, but not well two handed, at least not for me. It leaves very little contact on the gun with my support hand. I’ve tried it over and over again and I can’t control recoil as well as the more traditional thumbs up grip. This problem is magnified with any gun with a wider grip.

      1. avatar David says:

        In all sincerity, why does your support hand have to touch the grip? A handgun is one of the few things we hold in two hands with an overlapping grip. I can’t think of any other object we hold with an overlapping grip. Broom, hands are separated. Axe same thing. Baseball bat, Sword – and the list goes on… With a sub-compact gun only my support index finger touches the bottom of the trigger guard. On larger guns the heel of my palm might touch the grip. The support hand to me reinforces the dominate hand grip and helps move the gun around in space. My support hand thumb can also lock down on my dominate hand thumb. With both thumbs locked down with a crush grip that gun isn’t going anywhere. I’ve seen so called experts on video having to readjust their grip every time they fire a gun with their thumbs up and complain about the slide locking or not locking because their thumbs are up. Or worse, get a FTE because their thumbs are in the way of the slide. It seems to me that thumbs locked down gives a stronger grip, more control of the gun and absolutely no chance of causing a malfunction. Which on the range is just annoying, but in the case of a DGU can make our gun not work. I want my gun to work then, especially then!

        1. avatar joetast says:

          Whow, that’s a lot of stuff, overlapping grips n all that thumb position. I shoot one handed because it’s easier to throw the gun when it runs dry or jambs. I’m going to have to take a course on Ax slinging so I can throw a pistol with two hands.

  10. avatar Ralph says:

    I have a magic tool that I use to take down my S&W by depressing the sear release — it’s called my pinkie! It’s a miracle!! My pinkie can press the sear release lever!!!

    When my pinkie isn’t handy, I use a different magic tool. It’s called a pencil! A pencil!!!

    Don’t pull the trigger.

  11. avatar Functionoverform says:

    Excellent review. Thank you.

  12. avatar Hoyden says:

    How’s the full dissassembly compared to Glock (3 pins, 1 tool)?

    Do the steel inserts make a big enough difference vs V 1.0?

    I’m really not sure why I’m asking when CZ P-10 has stolen my boogerhook.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      I don’t know, I didn’t detail strip the gun, but when I think about it, I’ve never detail stripped a Glock either with the exception of when I wanted to Cerakote them. That’s really the only time I ever detail strip a gun. Otherwise there’s just no need.

      Yes, the steel inserts make a big difference. Side by side you can definitely feel it.

  13. avatar sifter says:

    Curious how it compares to a FNS 9COMPACT.

  14. avatar Docduracoat says:

    I don’t know how America accepted the idea that pulling the trigger to take apart a gun was a good idea
    People can talk about “ using your brain”, etc but that is an invitation to a negligent discharge
    We in Anesthesia are trying to improve safety and we have found that wngineering safety into the equipment has huge benefits
    A gun should not require a trigger pull for routine field stripping !

  15. avatar Warren says:

    If and when I upgrade my 9c 1.0, this’ll do nicely.

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