Gun Review: My S&W M&P Pro Custom Build

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A few months ago I was fortunate enough to purchase an M&P Pro from a friend who attended the S&W armorer course for M&Ps. This pistol was the one he built in that class. Knowing how particular he is about his guns I had no qualms about buying this Pro model.

I did have plans for it when I bought it, wanting it to be both a defensive pistol and a competition gun, which is not really not as hard as it may sound. After firing a few hundred rounds through it it was time to purchase the parts I had in mind.

Since I had Apex Tactical springs left over from a previous build I still had to order the Apex Forward Set Sear & Trigger Kit (flat trigger), a 5.01″ match grade barrel from Wilson Combat and Vickers magazine baseplates for the magazines.

Wilson Combat Match Trigger

Wilson Combat Match Barrel

Apex Parts Kit

Apex Parts Kit

Installing the barrel turned out to be a drop in with no fitting needed. The Apex parts took about an hour to install. After completing the mods I took the pistol out to the range and checked for function, trigger pull weight. The initial setup had a trigger pull of 2.8 pounds. Of course this is for competition. I changed one spring out in the trigger mechanism and got a 4 pound trigger pull. Both felt wonderful as Apex intended it to feel much like a good 1911 trigger. This video from Apex explains the purpose of the design and how it came to be.

This was the easiest improvement I’ve ever done to any pistol. The cost was $169.00 for the Apex kit with the flat faced trigger. The Wilson barrel was $169.95. The base plates for the magazines were $19.95 for five.

These modifications turned an average pistol into a great pistol for competition or defense with the change of one spring. This flat faced trigger is great and feels better than any trigger I’ve ever used period. It was certainly worth the money!The barrel change also made my groups shrink by approx. 50%.

Wilson Combat

Apex Tactical

Smith & Wesson

Flat Faced Apex Trigger

Flat Faced Apex Trigger

Wilson Combat® Match-Grade Barrels are known for their unsurpassed quality and accuracy. Now your M&P handgun can have this superb accuracy without sending your pistol off to a master pistolsmith and waiting for months.

Wilson Combat® match barrels are fully machined from aircraft grade stainless steel blanks and heat-treated to R/C 40 for maximum service life. Critical manufacturing tolerances are held to less than .0005″ (one half thousandth of an inch!).

To give you phenomenal accuracy, extreme care has been taken to assure that the chamber is glass smooth and perfectly concentric with the bore. In our barrel test fixture we routinely obtain test groups of 1/2″ @ 25 yards!

Throughout the manufacturing process each barrel undergoes multiple quality-control checks, with a detailed final inspection prior to receiving the Wilson name. You can be sure that if your barrel bears the Wilson name, it’s the best there is!

Match-Grade – Superb Accuracy (2″ Or Less At 25 Yards With Match Ammo is typical)
Polished feed ramp, bore and supported chamber
1 in 16″ twist conventional broach rifling
Fully Machined From 416R Stainless Steel
Heat-Treated To R/C 40 For Maximum Service Life
Critical Manufacturing Tolerances Are Held To Less Than .0005″ (One Half Thousandth Of An Inch!)
Glass Smooth Chamber And Perfectly Concentric With The Bore
In Our Barrel Test Fixture We Routinely Obtain ½” At 25 Yard Groups
Detailed Final Inspection Prior To Receiving The Wilson Name On The Hood
Critical Lock-Up Contact Areas Cut To A Dimension That Provides A Good Lock-Up in most guns
Compatible with Smith & Wesson M&P Pro Series handguns in 9mm caliber



Phil White

Retired police officer with 30 years of service. Firearms instructor and SRU team member. I still instruct with local agencies. My daily carry pistol is the tried and true 1911. I’m the Associate Editor and moderator at TFB. I really enjoy answering readers questions and comments. We can all learn from each other about our favorite hobby!


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  • Funny thing, we see this all happening for glock and M&P, and already in the glock world, the race-tuning and aftermarket part swapping has caused guns to become unreliable. In 10-20 years when this has become common, even passe as it did with the 1911, I wonder if we’ll hear all about how crappy and unreliable they are? 😉

    • It’s been 100% reliable both before and after the mods.

      • Not suggesting *yours* wasn’t. I’m stating the fact, though, that even such guys as Hilton yam are seeing people installing aftermarket parts into glocks and M&Ps and then seeing those parts starting to affect reliability of the firearm.

        The point of the comment wasn’t to deride or otherwise denigrate your skills or the gun’s function, but instead to make the point that while aftermarket customizations and builds on guns are good when they’re done right, the current gen of a lot of people that slap in parts to guns like the glock and M&P to enhance them then turn around and with a straight face deride the 1911, which suffers a reputation brought about by guys who…well…started slapping aftermarket parts into their guns.

        More specifically, I was tongue-in-cheek poking fun at history beginning to repeat itself (and meant no disrespect to you).

        • I didn’t take it as disrespect at all. I just meant that mine hasn’t had any problems. I have no doubt there are those without the knowledge or experience who take a gun apart for the first time–slap in new parts then gripe when the gun stops working as it should. Most often you do have to do some fitting especially on a 1911. I’ve seen people change parts on a 1911 mess it up then blame the gun.
          My daily carry is usually a 1911. I don’t fall on plastic guns are better than a 1911 or vice versa.:-)

        • n0truscotsman

          ARs are kind of the same way. I always believed there is no reason to use any other butt stock and grip besides the military specification one.

          Parts get to be the same way. I’ve seen no increased performance or reliability from nickel-boron, NP3, etc treated parts.

          The only things that do make a difference is triggers I suppose. Geissele makes awesome stuff. That and BCMs charging handles.

          Keep it simple. Adding weight and complexity without the tradeoff in accuracy and reliability is stupid.

    • Christian Hedegaard-Schou

      I used to shoot steel (SSA) matches pretty often, and there was a guy in our group who was pretty new to guns and shooting in general. He started shooting steel with us with a box-stock Glock and did pretty well. So one match he comes in and he’s excited because he swapped out the 5″ stock barrel with a 6″ match barrel (can’t remember the mfr). Anyways, that match he’s getting all kinds of function problems. To be fair, he was running the gun pretty hard… But anyways we tell him to put the stock barrel back in and sure enough the gun starts running like a champ again for the rest of the stages.

      Match barrels are for precision, NOT reliability. People tend to forget that quite regularly.

      • True and the last barrel I would change is on an 1873. You have to line it up so precisely to get it accurate. Then file down the sight sometimes.

    • John

      Modding a Glock can make it explode.

      Modding an M&P, on the other hand, can make it NOT explode.

      Therein lies the difference.

  • n

    How is the accuracy from the Wilson barrel?

    • Very good. It pretty much cut my groups in half compared to the stock barrel. Of course using several brands and types of ammo will give you results that can be better or close to the same. Don’t expect much from steel cased ammo but shooting SIG 9mm worked the best and that’s when the groups shrank.

      • I’m curious as to whether the improvement was more due to the barrel, or due to the trigger group leading to better control and accuracy of the shooter?

  • Ajax

    Get a MRDS on that thing! But still a cool, cool build. Very jealous!

    • Hey thanks I appreciate it. I have considered doing just that. I have a Trijicon so I just need to send it off and get the slide milled.

      • Ajax

        If you do, please post pics!

        • I promise I’ll do a follow up and post it for sure:-) I actually became interested in the M&P Pro and the Trijicon sight when attending an event at Gunsite that Remington and Trijicon hosted. They handed us Pro’s with Trijicon sights. It was a lot of fun to shoot and accurate. It did take some time to get used to but once you do 100 yard hits on 8 inch steel plates was fairly easy.

  • Mufasa

    Since when does swapping out ready made, drop in parts constitute a build? Let’s save the term build for scratch built guns.

    • Picky picky 🙂

    • Nicks87

      build
      verb
      1.
      construct by putting parts or material together over a period of time.
      Sounds applicable to me.

      • Budogunner

        We can compromise:
        “Custom build*

        *no gunsmithing required”

    • Paul Dawson

      I also thought the term “build” was an exaggeration. I was expecting to see some custom work done to the slide or frame instead of a couple quick drop-in parts that anyone at home could do in a few minutes. I would scratch my head if someone wanted me to look at their new “AR Build” and all I saw was a run of the mill M&P15 with a drop-in Geissele trigger and a Spikes Lightweight BCG.

  • ManBear

    Nice pistol … I just use a stock Glock 17 – I shoot SSP in IDPA and its my CC gun.

  • dave

    Be advised, those wilson barrels for the m&p don’t improve accuracy at all.
    I bought one and they wouldn’t take it back after I tested it.

  • Andrew Hobby

    “Critical Manufacturing Tolerances Are Held To Less Than .0005″ (One Half Thousandth Of An Inch!)”

    …or as the rest of the world calls it, “Five ten thousands of an inch.”