Smith and Wesson M&P9 Compact Review, Is This The Perfect Carry Gun?


I’ll let the cat out of the bag right here: The S&W MP9C works for me.  Here’s why, compact, concealable, accurate and reliable. Everyone has their favorite carry firearm. If the statement of “One size fits all” were true, there would be only one handgun on the market. Fortunately, that isn’t the case. When I was in the market for a new carry gun, I went to Carolina Gunrunners, my local gunstore with no preconceived notions. I made it clear I wanted a carry gun and was ready to buy. However it had to point naturally, have a good trigger and sights. They let me try everything in the cases however I kept going back to the M&P9C.  Natural point of aim, interchangeable backstraps and the trigger was good out of the box. I wanted to like the Glock, they make some great handguns. So does Springfield, I carry a full size 1911 some times. Also tried various models from Ruger, Taurus and Kahr, however nothing worked for me like the M&P9C.

First of all, this is not a firearm that S&W sent to me for a fluffy review. I paid for this one out of pocket, carry it everyday, this is an extended torture test. With that said, I field stripped it as soon as I got home. Ran a brush and a few patches down the barrel and lubricated everything that appeared to need it. Then, with the help of Tom Foster, I proceeded to abuse my new handgun. As in, 1,000 rounds in the next few range sessions at the proving grounds without cleaning. It was all FMJ stuff, some was factory ammo, some were reloads. The reloads would occasionally produce a hiccup.

Then it was time for a good cleaning , didn’t bother doing that during the 1K break in. Still had my 1911 as an EDC. There were no noticeable signs of wear, other than the usual stuff you expect to see. Once it was cleaned and lubricated, I was ready to make some more noise.

For this trip it was time to try my preferred load, Hornady 115gr Critical Defense.  The S&W MP9C digested every round without a single issue.

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Currently the round count is well over 4,000, I stopped keeping track. The only failures I have had thus far: The occasional failure to feed or fire with reloads. We shoot a lot, so we reload 9mm 1,000 rounds at a time. However with factory FMJ or self defense rounds, no problems.

Accuracy is better than expected for a compact handgun with a 3.5″ barrel. I have no problem getting a 3.5″ group at 10 yards. What more do you need from a carry gun? That’s MOB accuracy, Minute Of Badguy.

Thanks to the low bore axis, perceived recoil is less than expected. This allows for quick followup shots. Now, some people take exception with the trigger. S&W went with a hinged trigger design, the gun will not fire if only the upper portion is depressed. Glock uses a protrusion on the front of their trigger for the same reason. Similar idea, just a different twist. The trigger pull is smooth, however there is a little bit of take up. Now, where I hear the most feedback is the reset. It is vague, without a doubt. Some owners are not keen on that aspect, however it’s never been an issue for me. There are aftermarket trigger kits available, I prefer to keep mine stock.

The M&P9C ships with two 12 round magazines, limited to 10 rounds for certain states. One of the magazines is a flush fit, the other has a pinky extension. Also, the 17 round magazine from the full size M&P fits to provide another option, especially for winter carry.

A spacer sleeve is offered to fill the gap when using the 17 round mag, never tried it. In my opinion, it seems to be more of a liability, a potential hang up during a reload if it sticks in place. With the 12 + 1 capacity,  and a spare magazine you have 25 rounds. 30 rounds in the winter.

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Not bad at all. I carry my spare magazine in a Gerber Multi-Tool pouch. One trick I learned over the years, hidden in plain sight . The holster I use is the Guardian from, they turn out a great product.MP 012 300x200 Smith and Wesson M&P9 Compact Review, Is This The Perfect Carry Gun?






The M&P comes with three interchangeable backstraps and they are easily swapped. To do so, simply drop the magazine and insure the handgun is unloaded. Then, behind the magwell, there is a half moon shaped insert. Simply rotate it 90 degrees in either direction and the retaining pin will slide out. The backstrap will pull off at this point.  I use the medium backstrap, seems to fit me well enough.

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In conclusion, any handgun you carry is a compromise. They are the proverbial jack of all trades and master of none. Find what works best for you, fits your hand, points naturally and has a trigger you can live with. I always say with any firearm, master the trigger, master the weapon.



Capacaty: 12+1

Barrel length: 3.5″

Sights: Three dot, dovetail design

Overall length: 6.7″

Weight: 21.7 oz

Action: Striker fired

MSRP: $569.00

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About Author

I'm an avid shooter and firearms collector. Also, an NRA certified RSO and a part time handgun instructor. There is no greater compliment that a student can pay than passing along what I have taught them.

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