Another innovative design element is that the M&P fits any holster intended for Glock 20 or 21 pistols. Thus holsters are immediately available for the M&P from a variety of manufacturers. We chose BlackHawk Industries’ CQC SERPA Technology holsters for our evaluation. These are basically Level II retention holsters but with an unusual twist that—in our opinion—makes them superior to all other Level II retention holsters. SERPA technology holsters incorporate a unique retention system that is among the best we have ever seen.
The first time we saw a SERPA Technology holster demonstrated, the holster was attached to an overhead rafter, a pistol inserted and then a burly man grasped the pistol and lifted himself off the floor without the pistol coming out of the holster. The bottom line is that unless one knows the secret of releasing the pistol, it isn’t coming out of a SERPA Technology holster.
Yet releasing the pistol is as simple as pressing a button and is completely natural and intuitive without any special twisting, pressing or fine motor skills that are likely to be lost under stress. Drawing a pistol from a SERPA Technology holster is as fast as if there were no retention at all. All SERPA Technology holsters come with belt and paddle mounts and are fully adjustable for cant, ride height and belt width. CQC SERPA Technology holsters are available for most popular handguns.
The M&P trigger incorporates a passive safety that prevents the striker from moving unless the trigger is pulled fully to the rear. The trigger guard incorporates an over-travel stop. Trigger is a two stage type with a short take-up, a tiny bit of creep and a crisp release at just over 5.5 pounds without backlash, thanks to the over-travel stop. Overall, we give the M&P trigger excellent marks.
One aspect of the M&P deserves a special note. A tool of some sort is required to disassemble the pistol. This is neither good nor bad in our opinion, simply a fact. A factory-provided tool is carried in the grip, retained by a stud and is used to press the sear deactivation lever down into the magazine well, which must be accomplished before the slide can be removed.
Of course, this forces the user to clear the pistol and remove the magazine prior to disassembly, which is a good thing in and of itself. The tool is removed by turning a quarter turn in either direction and pulling it out. However, the factory tool isn’t really required. We successfully pressed the sear deactivation lever down with our pocket knife, a pen, a small screwdriver and a handcuff key, so just about any object of sufficient length can be used to depress the lever.
Once one figures the process out, M&P disassembly is no more difficult than any other handgun. If we were carrying an M&P on duty, we’d leave the tool in the grip and use something else to press the lever down because removing it invites losing it. The lever automatically returns to the “up” position when a magazine is inserted.
Shooting the M&P was a real pleasure. The Novak combat sights are excellent, and here again, S&W has made use of state-of-the-art components in its latest handgun. We tested the M&P from a rest at 15 yards, within which the distance most gunfights begin or end. Recoil management was excellent, and there was minimal muzzle flip. There was not a single malfunction or stoppage of any kind in 120 rounds of formal test firing and about 200 rounds of informal shooting. We got about 2-inch groups with a variety of JHP and FMJ ammo.
The bottom line is that Smith & Wesson has designed an excellent pistol for law enforcement use. We predict that the vast majority of sales will be in .40 S&W that dominates the law enforcement community. The M&P is a truly modern pistol, which was designed, developed and is manufactured right here in the good old USA. That alone would call for a serious look at the M&P.
As the third oldest firearms manufacturer in the United States, Smith & Wesson is a historic American icon that is once again one of the world’s premier gun companies. With its new M&P, all we have to say is, “Welcome back Smith & Wesson!”
Charlie Cutshaw is a small arms, ammunition and infantry weapons editor for Jane’s Defense Information. He served as an Army infantry, ammunition and intelligence officer before retiring in 1996. His military assignments included a tour of duty in Vietnam as an adviser. He currently lives in Alabama, where he is a full-time writer and reserve officer. He can be reached at CQCutshaw@aol.com.