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At the NRA convention in Nashville, RF learned that Smith & Wesson was replacing the existing trigger on their M&P pistols with a new “enhanced” trigger. (Currently sold as standard on Shield semi-automatics). Already ecstatic at Smith’s decision to take over the entire pistol range at Best of the West Shooting Sports for the 2015 Texas Firearms Festival, TTAG’s main man was thrilled by the news. Smith sent TTAG two M&Ps to sample the difference between a Performance Center trigger and the old trigger, ahead of the new, enhanced trigger. He passed the guns on to me . . .

I immediately discovered that the Competition Optics Ready Equipment (C.O.R.E.) Pro Series version of the Smith and Wesson M&P40 is about twice as good as the stock version. In other words, what a difference a trigger makes.

It has always surprised me that the company I have come to use as a model for smooth factory triggers in revolvers sold their M&P semi-automatic handguns with what has to be one of the worst stock triggers on the market. It’s not that the M&P triggers are too heavy or too long. They’re just sloppy and gritty, with no consistency through the pull. Unless you count consistently bad.

The C.O.R.E. version is a different beast altogether. The Performance Center trigger feels a little lighter. But that’s not the key difference. The PC trigger feels much smoother and breaks much more cleanly. The grit and catch found in the previous stock trigger is gone. The reset is much sharper. I can feel exactly where the trigger is during firing, where the stock version provides nothing more than a squishy guess.

It bears repeating: the two triggers are worlds apart apart. And it’s not just me saying it. Three different shooters ran both the C. O. R. E. gun and the standard M&P. Everyone was surprised there could be that much difference between them. To a man they all agreed that every one of S&W’s M&Ps should come like this. And they will – kinda. As stated above, Smith & Wesson is gradually putting a new [what they call] enhanced trigger into ALL of its M&P pistols. This Performance Center trigger is not that trigger.

TTAG will be testing the enhanced trigger vs. the standard trigger ASAP. And pitting an Apex drop-in M&P trigger against BOTH the Performance Center and the new enhanced trigger and (what the Hell) the soon-to-be-old trigger. Confused? Don’t be. The most important point: trigger quality is key to accuracy. How important? I shot about 4.5 inch groups from the stock M&P40 at 25 yards off a bag, versus 2.75 inches for the C.O.R.E. Pro Series M&P40. I fired the exact same PPU FPJ factory ammo. That’s huge.



That settled, I had a look at other difference between the guns . . .

Smith equips the C.O.R.E. M&P .40 with more aggressive backstrap grips. Regardless of what size backstrap I fitted to the gun, it felt much better in my hand than the standard version. The C.O.R.E.’s slide also comes equipped with a mounting place for several different optics, it’s red-dot ready right out of the box.

The Performance Center model also arrives with high sights – almost twice as tall as the stock sights. The sights themselves are nothing special, but they are just high enough to co-witness with an auxiliary optic. If you fit the handgun with a threaded barrel the sights will clear your silencer (depending on the size of the chosen suppressor).

Sights this high also enable one-handed racking on your pants, belt, boot, teeth, whatever. That said, the sights also kinda scream “SNAG ME!” That said, drawing the C.O.R.E. M&P .40 from an OWB holster with a shirt tucked-in was a snag-free experience.

According to the S&W website, the stock M&P40 costs $569. The C.O.R.E. Pro Series gun runs $769. That’s a pretty big price differential. I think it’s worth it. While I could do without the optics and the grip package, the PC trigger alone is worth the price of admission. And now the bad news . . .

The 9mm version we shot for comparison ran like a champ. We put about 300 rounds of mixed factory ammo through it with zero issues. I’d trust that gun. In .40S&W both the stock version and the C.O.R.E. Pro Series handguns had failures to feed on the first magazine. Both were brand new guns.


I have something of a [well deserved] reputation for being able to “break” any gun. To allay the inevitable criticism, I bore-snaked and lubed-up both guns – and still experienced repeated failures to feed. No first round failures, all after the first were remedied by re-racking the slide. It didn’t matter if it was fast fire or slow, off a bag or off hand, new shooter or experienced shooter, the gun failed over and over again.


I put 75 rounds each through both of these guns, feeding them the PPU and Winchester White Box FMJ ammo. Even so, maybe it was just ammo selection that hung-up the .40 cals. Again, the 9mm M&P pistol didn’t have any – as in none – of these issues. Back to the trigger . . .

The trigger on the C.O.R.E Pro Series elevates the M&P’s action to the quality that made S&W revolvers the sine qua non of wheel guns. So much so that you wonder what Smith’s Performance Center will do now to justify the price difference between the high-end models, once the lesser-priced guns receive the new enhanced trigger. So much so the improved M&P lineup will soon take its rightful place next to Walthar PPQ’s and FN’s models in the pantheon of pistols with accuracy-enabling out-of-the-box trigger excellence.

NOTE: Smith & Wesson will not be replacing old M&P triggers with the new enhanced trigger. Customers can commission the Performance Center to replace their current M&P trigger with the Performance Center trigger reviewed above.

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  1. Great, the trigger is fixed. When will they fix the magazine release so magazines will not be unintentionally dropped when it is bumped? If they took care of that problem, I would consider buying one again.

    • What magazine release problem are you talking about? If you bump and engage the magazine release button its doing what its designed to do, which is drop the magazine…

      • There has been an issue with unintentional magazine releases when M&P pistols are carried. I am not talking about the Shield models.

        • Right, but what Im saying is that sounds like a holster problem, not a gun problem. If you bump the magazine release and it does what it is supposed to do, how is that a design flaw?

      • It’s mostly as the mag release sticks out a bit more than normal. As a southpaw (and one who hit it frequently in my grip), I recontoured mine with an Exacto knife and never looked back. Best part is that it’s a $3 part, so if you screw up it’s inexpensive to replace or return to OEM.

  2. Nice writeup.

    If S&W would just get rid of that pre-broken trigger and the tiny pin that keeps it together, I might give one of these a serious try. That attitude is probably somewhat irrational, but I just can’t get past it. I’ve shot stock and CORE M&P models owned by friends, and they all shot well and functioned perfectly, but nothing I saw made them rise above my current stable of Glocks.

  3. Can you swap out the old triggers for the new ones? I have an extra M&P 40c that I have not changed out to an Apex trigger.

    On the comparison note, how does it compare to the Apex fix?

    • I have the Apex polymer trigger for my SD9VE, it elevates that gun into a whole new class with how it feels. I also have the spring kit…which was good for the stock trigger. But with the Apex polymer trigger, I removed it and replaced the stock springs and I’ll be damned if it feels better than my friend’s M&P9. We are both more accurate with my gun, also. The heavier pull of the stock spring plus the Apex poly belie how much I paid for it…IMHO one of the best buys for the money going in the gun scene.

      • I had the Apex Trigger springs for the SD40VE, and they were good for awhile, but I eventually had to take them out. For whatever reason, after firing each round the slide would lock back, and the trigger would fail to reset. I don’t know what caused it. At first I thought I was limp-wristing, so I switched to my M&P40 and I didn’t have the same issue. It bothered me enough that I put the stock springs back in and the issue went away.

      • I am glad you had such good luck with your Apex install on your SDVE

        I had the original SD40 (night sight/black slide) and and M&P 9. I installed the apex spring kit and trigger in the SD40, it lightened it slightly, but the reset was still non-existent and pre/over travel was still ridiculously long, Basically polishing a turd.

        I installed the Apex FSS and the polymer trigger on the M&P9 and wow, it was easily the best trigger in a non-1911 I have ever felt, including my PPQ M2 9mm. I have let a few others try it (One is a IDPA/MA) and the consensus is the trigger is as good as you can get on a non-1911 .

        • Should mention I also have a shield 9 and while the trigger is not bad, it is nowhere near as good as the Apex Forward Set Sear kit and replacement trigger.

  4. I just contacted S&W customer service about this and inquired about changing the triggers in my M&P .45 and 9mm to the updated version. The women on the line told me it was just a rumor going around that they feel like their stock triggers are fine.

      • I called S&W again. The gentleman on the other line stated that the only change is in the sear housing and that the only way I could get one was to send the firearms to the factory and wait two months, or have a certified armorer instal it for me. It might just be cheaper just to sell them and buy new ones.

    • Maybe they don’t want to be inundated with warranty work. Especially when it’s just an improvement, and the stock version still works. I’ve heard of other people getting through though. Just try until you get someone that might be sympathetic.

      • The new trigger apparently makes the pistol easier to shoot accurately, thereby making the pistol a safer product. I could argue that makes the old trigger a potential products liability issue which S&W should consider repairing under warranty by replacement with the new unit.

        If it saves just one life….

  5. I think I’m confused. The standard M&P will now be getting the same trigger that the CORE version has? When does that begin?

  6. I tried to mention this in the comments of Leghorn’s review of the M&P9c…. I have an M&P40c, and it has the improved trigger (assuming they haven’t improved it more since then). My sister bough an M&P Shield about the same time I bought the compact, and the two triggers were indistinguishable. Nice, clean break and very noticeable reset.

  7. I’d like to see a comparison between their new trigger and the Apex after market triggers than many (including me) have put into their M&Ps.

  8. I just bought a M&P 9mmC.

    The trigger is just as good as my 9mm Pro. Its also just as accurate.

    Very very pleased.

  9. The difference between my year-old M&P9 and my friend’s CORE 9 is huge as far as trigger feel goes. So much lighter, crisper, and smoother. The CORE is a joy to shoot. My Shield trigger is even nicer (if a bit heavier than the CORE).

  10. I have an 2 year old M&P Pro 40 with a great stock trigger (one of my best competition guns). Tried replacing the stock sear with the Apex unit and found that the stock one was actually better. HOWEVER, the Apex sear works great on my M&Pc, as well as Shield…

  11. I have an early production 9c and put a Apex carry kit in it. The stock trigger was gritty, had a long take up, heavy pull and long reset. It’s now a trusty carry piece for me.

    I recently bought a full sized M&P 9 figuring I’d have to do the same, but I was surprised how good the stock trigger was. I’ve put about 350 rounds through it and it continues to impress and get better. Much better IMO than my 9mm Shield with factory trigger.

  12. My full-size M&P 9 has a surprisingly good trigger compared to others I tried prior to buying it. I was planning to install an Apex kit, but the stock trigger has been good enough that I don’t really see the need.

    Mine has a tiny, almost microscopic “H” stamped on the trigger bar. I’ve read that this is the “newer” style (maybe not as new as the one RF is talking about?)

    Also, my late-2014 Shield 9 has a very nice trigger. Again, I don’t see the need to upgrade it.

    And I’m picky.

  13. My brother’s single stack carry is a shield. His groups with the gun aren’t near as good as his groups with glocks or my XDs. I shoot great groups with his shield (better than with my XDs), but I don’t like the way the trigger feels, and most importantly I tend to short-stroke it. I guess if this rambling has to have a “point” it’s that I don’t like that trigger, but if other people do then more power to them. To be fair I don’t like my post-recall XDs trigger either, but that hasn’t stopped me from carrying it and hasn’t convinced me to change anything about it…

  14. You can’t compare Gun A vs Gun B, each with a different barrel (and even different barrel length, if you compared a 4.25″ M&P with a 5″ CORE) and claim that 100% of the difference in accuracy was due to the trigger. The mechanical accuracy of the gun is determined by the barrel, the barrel fit, and the load, not the trigger pull. All that the trigger pull contributes is the user interface. The only way to truly compare one trigger vs. another is to keep all other variables the same (by putting trigger parts in the same gun) and run another test. Then the only conclusion you can draw from the results is that the trigger helps you shoot the gun better. Which I’m sure it does.

    Part of the M&P story is that the other big complaint of M&P users is poor mechanical accuracy, often blamed on bad barrels. Supposedly S&W quietly changed the barrel design a few years ago. I saw the difference between my original 4.25″ M&P and the second one (same exact model) I bought a few years later. With identical sights and Apex trigger parts and ammo, the old gun would barely make 5″ groups; the new one would hold under 3″ – for me and a few others I had shoot both guns. And my M&P Pro with factory barrel would produce sub 2″ groups with carefully loaded match grade ammo with Hornady XTP bullets.

  15. I took delivery of a full size M&P 9 on Sat and I can atest that they are NOT shipping with an enhanced trigger. I’m a long time S&W fan, with revolvers, rifles, and a Shield. The Shield and heck even the M&P.22 compact I picked up as a companion on Sat have better triggers by FAR. Really disappointed, but I knew I might be. I didn’t think I’d see the day when Ruger (!) would have better triggers than Smith!!

  16. One small note, the CORE is a Pro Series M&P, not a true Performance Center M&P. A PC gun is marked as such and has the same sights but is not cut for a red dot. It also has a non adjustable trigger stop and a ported/lightened slide. The Pro Series is a halfway mark between a stock M&P and a Performance Center built M&P. Just sayin.

    • They make an M and P Performance Center in both 5 inch ported barrel in 9MM and .40 and 4.25 inch ported barrel in 9mm and .40. The trigger’s have been given the performance center treatment. And both are cut to be RMR ready.

  17. This is what turned me off to the M&P line from the get-go. Who wants to buy a gun knowing full well you’re gonna have to upgrade the trigger system from the moment you open the box? So I stuck with Glocks… nothing really essential to upgrade out of the box. Sure the trigger pull may be on the heavy side if brand new, but that’s just a simple disconnector swap…. not a trigger system redesign.

  18. My shield has a better trigger than my full size 9.
    When did they start putting the new trigger in the shield?
    Not sure which one I have.

  19. So, since everything is still as clear as mud to me, do the COREs come with the upgraded triggers? I have a 9MM CORE, a .40 full size and a SW9VE, and am thinking of getting APEX triggers/reset kits on all of them, starting with the SW9 since if I screw it up, I won’t be too heartbroken.

    And while we’re on the subject of M&Ps, can somebody answer a question for me about them? Is the slide closing when firmly seating a loaded magazine indicative of a problem, or is that just something that they all do? Startled me the first time at the range when I reloaded and seated the magazine with the heel of my support hand vigorously. I used the same amount of force (and more) on my XD and P220 that same day just to compare, and neither of their slides budged until I pulled them to release the mag catch.

  20. Isn’t this old news? Hasn’t this trigger been out for well over a year or am I missing something? I have an older MP9 and a core 9. The core maybe a little smoother but it still is a floppy plastic trigger with a hing in the middle of it. They need to ditch that entire design. I replaced both of mine with the apex metal trigger kit and it transformed my pistols into fire breathing dragons. It’s ridiculous to have to go buy a new trigger group for a new gun, especially with how much the core costs.

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