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Smart Bombs: Military, Defense and National Security

Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm: The Gun the US Military Missed Out On?

Smith & Wesson M&P 9
Smith & Wesson M&P 9. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Smith & Wesson M&P 9: The Gun the US Military Passed On – Smith & Wesson had the star-studded brand and history to make it competitive for the U.S. military’s XM17 Modular Handgun System trials to replace the Beretta M9. Smith & Wesson chose to enter its M&P 9 model – with M&P standing for military and police – apropos for the testing. Smith & Wesson also teamed up with General Dynamics which gave it more cachet with the defense community. Smith & Wesson was cagey about why it got eliminated from the competition. As a publicly-traded company, they revealed they lost the bid in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing, but did not disclose why. But in another unofficial test, the M&P9 shined with a surprising first-place finish.

About that Smith & Wesson M&P 9

The Smith & Wesson M&P 9 is a polymer-framed, striker-fire pistol with ambidextrous controls. It has a Picatinny rail for accessories and it offers an optional manual thumb safety. The barrel and slide are stainless steel. Overall length is 7.6-inches and the weight is just under 8-ounces.

Smith & Wesson had some confident words to describe their entry:

“In the design of the M&P, we considered the needs of military and law enforcement from every conceivable angle. No other polymer pistol offers this combination of versatility, durability and safety.”

M&P 9 Loses

But the Smith & Wesson M&P 9 lost the competition – probably because it was not completely modular. After SIG Sauer won the bid for its M17/M18 models based on their P320, gun enthusiasts wanted to run their own trials to see which maker had the right stuff.

How About a Different Competition?

So, Personal Defense World Magazine decided to run a contest to replicate the XM17 Modular Handgun System tests in 2019. They selected the Beretta APX, CZ P-09, Glock 19X, SIG Sauer P320-M17, and the Smith & Wesson M&P9 M2.0.

Here were the ground rules:

Reviewer Paul Scarlota and his partner “zeroed each pistol from an MTM K-Zone rest at 15 yards, and we were pleased to see that all were capable of producing groups 2 inches or less in size.”

“We then field-stripped, cleaned, and lubricated each pistol—the only maintenance they received. If one malfunctioned, we would attempt to correct the problem at the range. If we were unable to do so, the pistol would be scored up to that point and then put aside while we finished testing the remaining handguns.”

The Informal Testers Looked At Numerous Traits

The guns were tested on the steel plate drill, the paper/popper drill, and the speed drill. The pistols were scored for reliability, ergonomics, trigger control, recoil control, sights, off-hand accuracy, and reloading ease. Minimum score was 1 and maximum score was 15 for each category.

Guess who won? It was the Smith & Wesson M&P 9 M2.0. The S&W got a score of 100 (the perfect score was 105). It blew away the Beretta APX which finished last with a disappointing score of 79. SIG came in second place at 88, followed by the Glock 19X in third, and the CZ P-09 in fourth.

Glock 19X

Glock 19X. Image Credit: Original Image from 19FortyFive.

The M&P9 got “perfect” grades on ergonomics, recoil control, off-hand accuracy, and reloading ease. It also scored well in reliability and trigger control.

So, there you have it. Smith & Wesson passed an independent test with ease. To be sure, this was by no means an “official” military trial with thousands of rounds fired. But it is illustrative to see how well Smith & Wesson performed on what appeared to be a level playing field. Maybe it was closer to bringing home the gold than previously thought.

Now serving as 1945’s Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood.

Written By

Now serving as 1945s New Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer.