Among the various Glock and Springfield Armory models on the market, Smith & Wesson’s Military & Police line has certainly become a close contender for one of the most popular semi-automatic handguns in the United States, both among civilian and Law Enforcement markets. It didn’t used to always be this way though. Smith & Wesson went through a long process of trial and error when it comes to introducing a reliable and likable polymer framed, striker-fired handgun to the market. Models such as the Sigma and Bodyguard come to mind in this regard. However, today we have the modern M&P line, and most recently the 2.0 revision. This review will focus on the M&P Compact 2.0 that was recently released this year. For readers that want a much better visual or video view of the handgun, James has an excellent overview of the Compact 2.0 on TFB’s Youtube channel.
Full disclosure, this is a personally purchased handgun and wasn’t sent to me by Smith & Wesson. The only discount used on the handgun was a Military Veteran discount at the local shop in which I purchased it from. The intent of the handgun is for self-defense, concealed carry, and action shooting competitions.
My choice of the M&P Compact 2.0 in 9x19mm was influenced by my previous experience with the M&P line of handguns. I have a Shield in 9x19mm that serves as my sub-compact handgun when my Glock 19 Gen 4 isn’t the best of options. I’ve been carrying the Shield for several years now and have never found an issue with it. Right now the Compact 2.0 isn’t going to replace my Glock 19 for everyday carry, but if I needed to carry the 2.0, I would have zero qualms about it. But back to the Shield, what drew me to the Shield, and just the M&P line in general is purely the ergonomics of the grip. I’ve always liked how the grip fits in my hand, as if I’m wrapping the handgun in my hand instead of my hand around the handgun. That said, this isn’t going to be an overly glowing review of the Compact 2.0, I’ll specifically mention what I don’t like about it and what I think the design could have done better with.
A brand new M&P Compact 2.0 will come with: 2 fifteen round magazines, 2 magazine grip wraparounds so full-size magazines can be used, an orange chamber flag, 4 grip panels, manual and gun lock. I like that it doesn’t come with any of the polymer magazine holsters or pistol holsters like some handguns come with these days. Although the case itself can be locked, I’m pretty sure it isn’t TSA certified so don’t travel on an airplane with a TSA lock.
First off, the obvious changes to the line with the interchangeable grip panels, ambidextrous slide locks, steel frame in the polymer handguard, reversible magazine release buttons, among others have all been welcome changes in updating the design. For a detailed description of changes, check out this list from a very dedicated M&P enthusiast on an M&P centric forum, as he goes into excruciating detail about everything that has changed. Specifically, the 2.0 is much more of a Glock 19 sized handgun than the older Compact 9c, which was a shortcoming when comparing the two competing design. Mine also came with Tritium night sights, although I’m not sure what company makes them, or if Smith & Wesson makes them. It does increase the cost when purchasing the handgun with them already installed. Do they work? Well, they glow at night or when covered up, but I wasn’t able to do any low-light shooting with the handgun. I will say that the rear sight isn’t sloped and has a 90-degree front corner. I find this very useful if one needs to rack the weapon one-handed against a similarly curved surface.
The interchangeable grip panels are a welcome addition. There are four options, two without a beaver tail marked as Small and Medium. Then two with a beaver tail and larger grip swells marked as Large and Medium Large. They attach to the grip via hooking onto the upper portion of the grip, then being shoved into the bottom portion. Locking the panel in place is by a sort of key that runs through the inside of the panel via aligned holes. It “turns” into place and wedges shut on the bottom of the grip, thus also forming the lowest level of the magazine well in which the magazine butts up against when loaded. I’m highly impressed with the level of stippling on the exchangeable grip panels. This amount usually comes standard from custom stippling jobs instead of factory grip panels. The grip panel I went with was the smallest one without an extended beaver tail because it allowed my hands to wrap around the handgun better.
I have two points of contention with this particular grip panel attachment system. The largest issue is that there isn’t really anything securing the “key” to the bottom of the grip apart from the wedge and lock that it forms through the grip panel. On this very “key” is a lanyard loop. I wish the design had been able to put the lanyard look on the actual grip, rather than a “key” that could be yanked off in a rapid fashion when the magazine isn’t inserted. Even for everyday activities, this key could be pushed out of place when the magazine isn’t inserted.
The rear slide serrations are very slight and only take up the bottom portion of the slide itself on both sides. Sure, they are there, but they aren’t large enough to provide any real gripping surface.
During the course of this review I took some video of the Compact 2.0 while being shot by a friend of mine and an inexperienced shooter I took to the range. My friend had average to large sized hands while the inexperienced shooter was a young woman with small hands so this will give readers a sort of comparision of the grip.
When it comes to accuracy, my opinion is that handguns are bullet throwers at best in terms of the self-defense ranges they are typically employed in as a Law Enforcement or civilian setting. With that being said, the Compact 2.0 is as accurate as the shooter can be. I had one group at 10-15 feet where all three rounds were almost touching, most groups were very acceptable. An inexperienced shooter I took to the range did fairly well with proper instruction and mentorship, but her groups were by no means a final measurement. My particular Compact 2.0 was impacting to the left of the point of aim, but after some proper rear sight adjustment with a rear sight tool, this was quickly rectified and rounds started hitting point of aim.
But for those who insist on that pinpoint/keyhole/Bob-Lee-Swagger accuracy, here is the expected and certified standards from the manual-
However, I will say that the trigger leaves some to be improved upon. The reset is very long and somewhat tolerable. I could live with it, but if this were a carry gun or something I shot very often, this would be the first thing I would switch out. If anything for the reset itself. I like the trigger safety itself, being the curved design that the M&P has always been iconic for, providing a safe trigger without completely coming out as unsightly and uncomfortable as a Glock trigger.
Something I noticed on the rear of the slide was that the rear slide plate was slightly raised compared to the rear portions of the actual metal slide. This might not bother most people but as a slightly OCD inflicted person myself, this was annoying and I constantly wanted to push it forward and into place although it won’t go any further. The Marine in me is yelling at the M&P design team for not making this one piece flush with the slide.
The slide lock is ambidextrous as mentioned previously, and is excellent for it is designed for, being a slide lock and not a slide release. This model did not come with a manual safety, which I am not a fan of when it comes to the M&P line due to the companies current design of it.
My particular model didn’t come with a loaded chamber indicator because I bought it in a free state that doesn’t need such childish reminders that my firearm has a round in the chamber. It also doesn’t require a 10 round magazine limit, thank God. For those that do live in such restrictive states Smith & Wesson does have variants that harken to their laws.
Ammunition used for testing the Compact 2.0 was around 350 rounds of Winchester 115 gr FMJs, and around 80 rounds of Freedom Munitions 115 gr FMJs. More of a diversity of ammunition would have been tested, had we had more time on the gun and range availability. I wish I could have extensively tested hollow point ammunition but wasn’t able to.
The manual does have this to say about Plus-P and Plus-P-Plus ammunition.
Testing was done with a custom molded Kydex OWB holster set up that included a handgun holster and two magazine holsters. Myself and a friend ran through numerous drills that included drawing and reloading under stress. I didn’t run into any issues with the firearm or the magazines for that matter.
I wished I could have included a test of hollow point ammunition, ran the handgun at night to see how the night sights functioned and for that matter stuck a light on the handgun. However for what I accomplished with the handgun I’m very happy with the results.