Thursday, August 04, 2005

The Great Leap Forward!

Have been seriously on the road, but I have a few tidbits you can ONLY READ ON THE MICHAEL BANE BLOG! First, with the military trials for a new handgun looming, I made the decision to dedicate an episode of SHOOTING GALLERY to EACH of the Big Players...we started out with venerable Smith & Wesson today, and, boy, have I got the goods!

I've also gotten special dispensation from the Powers-That-Be to publish this quickie report, so I'm not breaking any confidences or embargoes!

Today I shot the new S&W M&P (Military & Police) .40 S&W semiauto, and I am profoundly impressed! The gun has been announced, but it's not yet in true production and to the best of my knowledge, this is the first published report of shooting what (in .45 ACP) will no doubt be S&W's entry into to the military sweepstakes.

I don't have the formal specs, but the gun is a full-sized semiauto (compact models will be available) available in .40 and 9mm (15 rounds in .40; 17 rounds in 9mm). It's a polymer-framed gun, striker-fired, with the now familiar trigger and firing pin safeties. The frame itself features a stainless steel subframe (for lack of a better word) for rigidity and durability — it sort of reminds me of athe current aluminum bedding systems in tactical rifles these days. Novak sights (natch); really neat fully ambi slide released placed far enough forward that your thumb isn't going to catch it and either dropt he slide on a empty round or figured out a thumb-y way to accidently lock the slide back when you'd rather be shooting. Magazine release can be swapped from right to left in seconds using only a ball-point pen.

Fire control system is one of the slickest I've ever used. It's a long DA first stroke, but it is SUPER smooth and light. The trigger has a VERY short reset, which allows you to pretty quickly work the trigger as fast as any SA around. The S&W system, when combined with the gun's STONE COLD DEAD NUTS ERGONOMIC GRIP and low bore axis, allows the .40 to be run as quickly as my two primary 9mms. I've never been a huge fan of the .40 (although for cops, it's de riguer), but the M&P could change my mind. I could not detect more recoil with the .40 than what I would expect with a 9mm of the same size. I was able to easily double tap (okay, controled pairs!), and dumped a couple of magazines flat out without the slightest bit of trouble.

Let me repeat that:

This gun is so well designed that recoil becomes a secondary issue.

Why aren't all guns this well designed?

The grip angle also makes the M&P point exceptionally well. Nationally recognized law enforcement trainer Dave Spaulding, who had a lot of input into this gun and who we decided to bring to S&W for this episode, did a lot of demo work showing that it's a pointer. If you've got hand issues, the M&P has a replaceable backstrap, a la the Walther P-99. The gun will come with three different sizes for Papa Bear, Momma Bear and the little Baby Bears. Even I could figure out how to replace the backstrap, since it has to do with removing a really neat tab on the bottom of the gun that does double duty as a guide for inserting the magazine. BTW, between that guide and intelligent shaping of the magazine well and the metal magazines, BLISTERING FAST reloads are the norm.

The only thing that gave me pause was the disassembly procedure, which involves using the tool (or a pin, or handcuff key, or...and this is unauthorized...probably your little finger) attached to the above neat tab to trip the sear WITHOUT PULLING THE TRIGGER. Then a well-designed disassembly lever is thrown, the slide stripped off and there you have it. I don't like requiring the additional tool for disassembly (and don't you DARE mention 1911s to me!). HOWEVER, this was a MAJOR requirement from law enforcement, who are tired of patching holes in their walls and ceilings. The huge plus is that with the gun locked back to easily trip the sear (and I have to confess it was an extremely simple and extremely easy procedure), the shooter can easily see that a magazine is not inserted and that the chamber is empty. I heartily admit that is a GOOD THING.

If the S&W M&P is an example of the kind of ground-breaking innovation the military trials can help create, I'd say we're in for a whole new generation of world-class pistols.

MY CONCLUSION? I'd buy one of these guns at MSRP!


Anonymous said...

Tantalizing, so can you say when we are likely to see them in the market? Will there be a version with a slide or frame mounted safety?

That will be a great series for Shooting Gallery, thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like it might be a good IPSC/USPSA Production gun.

Michael Bane said...

Potentially, this could be the bomb in USPSA Production. The trigger is designed to be tuneable, with an easy 3-pound pull. That,along with the M&P's ergonomics (along with a shooting team that includes Doug Koenig, Ernest Langdon and Jerry Miculek) will make this gun a quick powerhouse in USPSA and IDPA.

I think the formal announcement of the pistol's availability will be the first week of September. To the best of my knowledge, you won't be seeing a slide/frame mounted looks to me like the police/military establishment are moving in a different direction.


PS: Now all I've got to do is convince the other companies to allow me in with cameras!

Anonymous said...

I have recently purchased a s&w m&p in 40 cal have put 500 rounds through at range no problems at all recoil is light for a 40 and is just as or more accurate as any other hand gun on range that day including glocks