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M&P 45 Review | A Reliable, Accurate, and Affordable Gun From S&W

The Smith & Wesson M&P45 is one of the most popular handguns on the market and for good reason. It has consistently proven itself to be a reliable, accurate, and affordable gun. Whether you are a beginner or a grizzled veteran, the S&W M&P will leave you impressed with all that it has to offer.

As you'll soon discover, there are plenty of applications for this pistol, making it a versatile addition to anyone's arsenal. With so many upsides to the S&W M&P 45, is there anything to be concerned about before you invest your money into it? Let's take a look.

Specs

  • Grip: 3 Interchangeable Palmswell Grip Sizes
  • Rear Sight: Steel Low Profile Carry
  • Front Sight: White Dot Dovetail
  • Barrel Material: Stainless Steel
  • Magazine Capacity: 10-Round
  • Slide Material: Stainless Steel
  • Overall Length: 8.0 inches
  • Frame Material: Polymer
  • Barrel Length: 4.5 inches
  • Slide Finish: Armornite
  • Safety: Thumb Safety
  • Weight: 29.3 ounces
  • Frame Finish: Black
  • Action: Striker Fire
  • Caliber: .45 ACP

Where It All Began

The M&P series dates all the way back to the early 1900s. From the beginning, these compact polymer frame guns were built and marketed for the police and military. As such, M&Ps were designed to meet the demands of law enforcement, with features that were either required or requested.

Fast-forward to modern times, and the present series of M&P pistols is no different. Today, we see new and improved takes on the old classic, ensuring that our armed forces are equipped with the essentials needed to uphold law and order.

When first introduced, the M&P was responsible for setting the bar in what should be found in a handgun. It had removable backstraps that allowed for better ergonomics and customization, excellent accuracy, and the option to equip a striker-fired pistol with manual thumb safety.

An Affordable Alternative

MP 45 gun

But what really made the pistol stand out was the fact that it was competing against the pricier HK45. Not only did the M&P offer all of the same great features that made the HK45 a hit, but it did so at a much lower price. If anyone was looking for an affordable alternative to the Glock, the M&P welcomed them with open arms.

Although the M&P was first introduced with a .45 ACP cartridge, you can find it available in many other popular cartridges, such as .40 S&W, 9mm, and .357 Sig. You can even find variants of full-size, sub-compact, and compact models.

What's more, the M&P is one of the few polymer-style pistols available in a competition configuration directly from the manufacturer itself. As such, you can find a reduced-weight competition trigger that offers a better overall shooting experience.

You can even find fire control mechanisms that serve to bring the M&P closer to the single-action trigger pull of the classic 1911. Although this configuration is recommended for competition use, it works well on a concealed carry in conjunction with manual thumb safety. In addition, while here, check out our top pocket pistols recommendations and concealed carry picks in this review.

On the Range

When I first shot the Smith & Wesson M&P45, I made it a point to try firing it with all three backstrap variations. I found that the slimmer width resulted in giving me the most comfortable fit in my hand. Plus, I really appreciated seeing a takedown tool included with the pistol.

This tool doubles as the pin that locks the backstrap in place. More to the point, this tool/pin makes swapping out on the field much easier, especially when compared to the HK45's roll pin setup. Not only that, but it serves to reduce the number of tools you'll need to carry with you.

After getting myself acclimated to the gun right out of the box, it didn't take long for me to come to the realization that the trigger group needed to be changed. Stock shooting in rapid-fire with this pistol is of no concern whatsoever.

Trigger

But if you have even the slightest struggle with the trigger pull, you're going to have some issues with accuracy. Measuring in at around six pounds, I could see this being an issue for some people, especially those who are new to guns.

I feel it's worth mentioning that when I had trouble breaking the shot without a lot of pressure, I found myself wanting to keep checking on the safety to make sure that it wasn't accidentally engaged. So after some hesitation, confusion, and minor frustration, I ordered a few different trigger kits and got down to business.

pistol detail

After finding a trigger that suited me, things really picked up. Keep in mind that there are a lot of options to choose from, so it might take you some time to find one that fits your skill level and shooting preference.

Duty kits triggers work well for me, as do the competition series. There are some two-piece options out there, as well, but I found that the one I tried didn't sit too well with me. As such, I reverted to the duty series and never look back.

Now, onto the actual shooting. I'm not the first person to say that a Smith & Wesson service pistol is reliable and accurate. This is common knowledge at this point. But with that said, if you're a real stickler for precision aiming, there are better guns out there.

However, as a concealed carry, self-defense, duty, or competition pistol, you're going to be more than happy with the results. You're going to hit your targets within an acceptable range, and it's all thanks to the stellar craftsmanship found in M&P pistols.

The recoil is minimal, it's comfortable to shoot, and the grips are on point. The balance of reliability and service is excellent, ensuring that you're getting your money's worth.

Barrel: Up Close

pistol detail
pistol features

The stock barrel that comes with the Smith & Wesson M&P 45 is more than capable of plinking from 20 yards and hitting within two inches of your target. If that's unacceptable to you, there are options out there to upgrade your barrel so that you can tighten things up a bit.

For me, I'm more than happy with hitting targets at that distance and within that range, but I can certainly see where other shooters might demand better from their pistols. At the end of the day, the barrel is a well-made, well-designed component that rivals a Glock.

To my understanding, this was a point of contention early in the M&P's life. But it has since been ironed out and I found there to be no issues with it. The stainless steel construction ensures that you're getting a reliable, durable barrel that will withstand plenty of use, abuse, wear, and tear.

How Many Rounds Does the M&P 45 Hold?

Chambered in 45 ACP, the M&P comes with a magazine with a 10-round capacity. If you need more, there are extended magazines that give you 14 rounds. Personally, I only typically get an extended magazine when I find the grip to be too short.

But the stock grip length of the Smith & Wesson M&P45 is more than enough for me. In fact, I find it to be quite comfortable. What's more, the balance of the gun is right on the money as it is, so I'm not sure an extended magazine is necessarily essential in this regard.

Why Are M&P Shields So Cheap?

m&p gun

They are cheaper due to being the base model of the pistol. You can certainly get variants that have upgraded features, such as night sights, grip, colors, a different trigger assembly, and other modifications. Just expect to spend more on such additions compared to the base models.

I'm relatively happy with the base model. Granted, I had to switch out the trigger to get the best performance from the Smith and Wesson 45 ACP, but that was only a minor inconvenience. I could have easily gotten by with the stock version.

But I like to try and get the best experience possible. Plus, you can find trigger kits for reasonable prices, so it's not like you're going to be out a lot of extra money to get the gun you're happy with.

Wrap Up

For the price, the Smith & Wesson M&P45 is a home run. Yes, there are more accurate handgun options on the market. But if you're not concerned with absolute precision and need a reliable gun for concealed carrying, home defense, plinking, or a whole host of other applications, this one will serve you well.

What's more, it's an excellent alternative to a Glock. You're getting respectable accuracy, durability, longevity, and excellent handling. And best of all, it's affordable.

You can pick up these gun models for a fraction of what similar handgun options cost. Whether you're just starting out or you've been shooting for years, Smith and Wesson's M&P 45 is a great buy.

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