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Smith & Wesson Revives the M&P With the M2.0

Sleeping Beauty

Photos by Kenda Lenseigne and Nick Saiti

A feeling of satisfaction comes when taking something bone stock and making it better Before finding shooting I considered myself a car guy. This isn’t an official title; it just meant most of my weekends were spent tinkering, tweaking, polishing, and maybe street racing (don’t tell my mom). The car culture is separated into two categories: the “all show and no go” crowd and the true enthusiasts. There’s a satisfying appeal in something fast that doesn’t look fast. A sleeper is a car that aesthetically looks no different than a stock car until you pop the hood, or dump the clutch. More go than show.

A paramount aspect of being a car guy/girl is that there’s no wrong way to do things. Every car is like a fingerprint — you can use it to identify its owner, and no two are alike. There are gearheads, old-school hot rodders, tuners, ricers, petrolheads, or whatever name enthusiasts label themselves with. Did you just assume my automotive identity?

For me, functionality has always taken precedence over aesthetics. Shooting guns with no surface finish isn’t really a big deal here in Arizona, but trips to Florida always result in a rusty gun. In the handgun world there has been a trend of extensively (and expensively) modifying polymer-framed striker-fired pistols, a practice that used to be reserved for high-class 1911s, competition handguns, and other guns you must shoot with an extended pinky. Gold-colored titanium-nitride parts, crazy textures, re-profiled grips, and slides that look like Swiss cheese identify these pistol gearheads. Some will liken this to a modified Honda Civic. Sure, you can make it fast, but it’s still a Civic. (I hope my tuner friends don’t get mad.)

Half the fun of being a car guy is doing it yourself, and sometimes getting in over your head in the process. My goal was to put together a car that could go, but still be tame enough for everyday driving. Setting up a gun that could be used for carry, range trips, and competition is another ambitious goal. Each component has to have its place and a purpose based on performance, then they have to work together to create something more than the individual parts. There’s no way to create a gun that’ll do all this perfectly, but you can put together something that’ll handle most situations proficiently. This is the way to create a street racer.

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A Strong Frame
When starting out, its always important to have a strong base. The Smith & Wesson M&P has been around since 2005. It plowed through the rough roads to establish itself at a time when Glocks dominated the streets. After more than a decade, S&W decided to overhaul the striker-fired pistol, and the M&P M2.0 is the result. At first glance it looks more like a version 1.1 than 2.0, but after some research and inspection, 1.5 is probably more accurate.

It seems the revision came just in time for the military’s modular handgun system (MHS) competition. Visibly, the new version features an aggressive grip texture, an extra interchangeable palmswell, profile changes on the frame, and front slide serrations that are as useful as high-performance parts on a Prius. The extended beavertail has been hacked off to allow a higher purchase on the gun. The gun basically looks the same, and that’s where we almost lost interest.

The fact of the matter is S&W has done more internal modifications than aesthetic ones. They added rigidity with longer internal front slide rails, metal reinforcement for the guide rod, and beefed-up the polymer frame. They also fixed a problem that wasn’t a problem. The slide release has been reengineered with a heavier detent. When forcefully inserting a loaded magazine from slide lock with the original M&P, the slide would travel home; this is no longer the case with the M2.0. I’ve never inserted a loaded magazine in any handgun and not wanted the slide to fly forward. While some argue that was a flaw, I just can’t see it that way.

S&W claims that the M2.0’s new trigger is crisper, lighter, and tighter, and sports a firm, audible reset. The actual mechanics of the trigger system have been updated and made more durable.  The test gun’s trigger pull measured just over 6 pounds, pretty close to the original. The only noticeable difference in the trigger function is the positive reset. Our biggest beef with the first-gen M&P’s trigger is its physical shape. As pressure is exerted during the pull, the trigger itself changes shape due to the pivoting trigger safety. How can this be a good thing? S&W essentially answered a shift lever problem by fixing the transmission.


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