Smith & Wesson M&P9, Version 1, What to Look For

One of the best and a very reliable firearm you can decide to buy is a new, police trade-in or used Smith & Wesson M&P9, if you know what to look for. When looking at one of these used M&P9’s there are important things you need to look for.  In this short article, I will breakdown some of the key things to look for and/or avoid. A gun store may not let you field strip the gun to insure you are getting what you want, so if they don’t, pass on it. This will cover only M&P9s in a certain date range, before the M2.0 versions. Nothing in this article is applicable to the Shield models.

Advantages:

First let’s talk about the advantages of buying an M&P9 in today’s market. When you understand what to look for in a new or used M&P9, you know if you are buying the most updated version. Since Smith & Wesson has made rolling updates to their M&Ps over the years, it is hard to know what years all of these updates were implemented. Rest assured, if you buy an M&P9 that was produced after 2015, you are more than likely good to go.

S&W M&P9

Since the M2.0 versions has been released the previous versions of the M&P9s have significantly dropped in price. This makes picking up an older used or new stock M&P9 a great purchase for someone on a budget, or wanting to add to their collection. The M&P9 handguns are a long serving and very reliable design. On average you can get the trade-in /used M&Ps in the Mid to High-300 dollar range. I recently came across a new in box, M&P9 for 349.00 dollars. That is such a screaming deal I could not pass it up. When checking the production date on the new M&P9, it was June of 2017.

Barrel 

Older M&P9s had a twist rate of 1:18.75 with the barrels. When checking the used or new M&P9, look for two things.

First; the barrel should have a visible bull/flair at the end. My understanding is this was a fix to address the early unlocking of the barrel and slide in the M&P. There are some 1:18.75 barrels with and without the bull/flair.

Bull/Flair Barrel

Second; on the underside of the barrel, just in front of the locking lug, there should be a small dot. There may sometimes be two dots. Either way this indicates the barrel is the upgraded 1:10 twist rate.  My understanding is all 1:10 barrels in the M&P9 will have the bull/flair at the end. These changes happened sometime between 2012 and 2015, to address accuracy issues.

Dot mark at locking lug

Slide Stop

In approximately Mid 2013, Smith & Wesson upgraded the ambidextrous Slide Stop on the M&Ps. This was to address issues with the auto forwarding of the slide, when inserting a new magazine.  While the upgrade may have addressed the issue in some M&Ps, it did not in my new example.

Ambi Slide Lock

S&W beefed up the build of the slide stop. You will notice a distinct square build-up on top of the slide stop lever.

Ambi Slide Lock

Trigger Reset

There have been several upgrades to the M&P trigger components over the years.  I do not know what all these individual component upgrades are, nor do I have older M&Ps to compare them to. Upgrades have been made over the years to the sear, trigger bar and various springs, to address the lack of audible trigger reset.  The particular M&P9 I purchased has a clear, audible and tactile, reset.  I have a new M&P9 M2.0 Compact and the trigger reset on the Older M&P9 is better, but the trigger break is lighter & smoother on the M2.0.  Spend a little time pulling the trigger and checking the reset.

M&P Trigger
Trigger Pull

Trigger Note:

There is no way around it, the stock M&P trigger shoe/geometry sucks, compared to all other striker fired firearms. There is a huge, simple, inexpensive fix to the trigger. I would highly recommend checking out the Apex AEK Trigger. This replaces the Sear Spring (with a Heavy Duty spring) and Trigger Shoe.  The polymer version is 37.95 and the aluminum version is about 73.00 dollars.  This gives you the flatter Glock type trigger face and is a vast improvement on the S&W curved trigger face.

Apex AEK Polymer Trigger.

Sights

Sights may play a factor in pricing when you have found a good deal.  All M&Ps come with steel sights, which is a good thing. The M&P9 I purchased came with standard three dot white sights.  Some may come with S&W night sights, and if they do at the 349.00 dollar price, that is a major plus.

Rear Sight
Front Sight

Conclusion:

Look for all of the updates in the M&P you are looking at. Remember, if you are buying an M&P M2.0 version, all of the updates are already in those firearms and more, (but that is a separate article).

I purchased a new S&W M&P9 M2.0 Compact about six (6) months ago and I love it. I have never been a huge M&P fan. I have liked the Shields and I really like my M2.0 Compact. I believe the M2.0 Compact is the best S&W M&P pistol ever made and it is giving several of my other 15 round capacity firearms a serious run for the money. Having said all that, for the money and reliability, an older M&P9 or even a .40 would be an excellent firearm, at these current low prices.

M&P9

You should not hesitate to purchase an M&P9 at under 350.00 dollars. I have reviewed several budget defensive firearms, like the Sig SP2022, used/trade in Glock’s and the Canik TP9SF. I would choose the M&P9 over all of them at the current market prices. If you remember to look for the key things talked about here, you will be walking away with  the latest upgrades, an extremely reliable firearm, that will be very dependable and reliable for years to come.

Duncan

Optic of the week – SU-231/PEQ Eotech 553

Around a decade ago it was common knowledge that Eotechs were faster to use and better than Aimpoints.  Just like how not very long before that it was common knowledge that the Earth was flat.

The Eotech sights use a laser to project a hologram of the reticle in the optical window.  This allows for a greater variety of reticle patterns then a diode sight like the Aimpoint.  Most common in Eotech sights are a 1 MOA dot with a 65 MOA circle around it.  A downside to holosights are shorter battery life.  Battery life on the Eotech is advertised to be about 1000 hours.

There are other variations with additional dots to function as a drop chart.  There are also machine gun reticles.

For the life of me, I could not get the reticle to show up nicely in a picture.  Despite how it looks in the photo, the reticle is bright and easy to see.  If you focus on the reticle, you will see that it is comprised of a bunch of dots, it will appear to be fuzzy if you have the brightness cranked up.  That is just due to the nature of how it works.

Windage and Elevation is easy to adjust using a coin or similar tool.  Both adjustments have positive clicks and are easily accessible on the right side of the sight.

Brightness is adjusted using the up and down arrow buttons on the rear of the sight (there are some models where the adjustments are on the left side of the sight).  If the sight is off, hitting one of these buttons will turn on the sight.

The Eotech will automatically turn it self off it preserve battery life.  Turning it on by hitting the down button will have the Eotech turn off after 4 hours.  Hitting the up button will have it off after 8 hours.  Holding both buttons will turn the Eotech off immediately.

Some models, like this 553 have a NV button that will dim the optic for night vision use.  While you can sorta get away with using most optics with night vision by using a dim setting, that can damage nightvision over time.  NV setting reduce the brightness enough so that you will not damage your expensive night vision device.

I did some shooting with this Eotech and with a Aimpoint T-1 on the same rifle.  Shooting from the bench, or rapidly engaging multi targets off hand was quick and easy with either optic.  Both were fast and easy to use, but I would not say the Eotech was any faster or easier than the Aimpoint.  The only real noticeable difference in use was that this Eotech 553 felt much heavier on the rifle than the T-1.  Looking at the stats on them, the Eotech is about 3 times heavier.  That is an additional half pound on the rifle over the weight of the T-1.

I used to be a major fan of Eotechs.  But over the years I saw multiple Eotech Holographic Weapon Sights fail in various ways.  Battery terminals would break, I’ve seen the prism break loose.  Lenses delaminate, and reticles dimming.  The biggest issue was that many Eotechs would drain their batteries even when off.  I found that my Eotech 512 would drain the batteries even when off.  I had to store it with the batteries removed.  I felt the high failure rate of Eotech sights was damning on its own.

Turns out it gets worse.  L3 was aware of issues with their like of Eotech sights, and were covering it up.  L3 paid a settlement of 25.6 million dollars over this.  The biggest issues they were covering up were that the sight wasn’t actually parallax free and that there could be massive zero changes if the optic was exposed to temperature changes and it turns out that Eotech sights also were not as waterproof as they are suppose to be.

Despite these persistent issues, you still see fans of Eotech sights defend them online.    The most often statement in Eotech’s defense is that the Navy SEALs are using Eotech sights.  I point out that the SEALs use what they are issued, are the individuals are not purchasing these out of pocket.  They also have far more range time and funding so doing stuff like rezeroing before a mission or replacing batteries each mission is a non issue.  But even NSWC Crane had to issue a Safety of Use Message about the Eotech warning about a 4 MOA Thermal Drift problem, fading and disappearing reticles, and 4-6 MOA parallax error.  SOCOM acknowledge these sights have issues.

So if you want a known substandard sight, buy Eotech.

Larue Tactical OBR 7.62MM Rifle .. Troubles..

Over the past few weeks, I have been helping a friend determine what the issues are with a rifle. The subject of this article is one of 8 Larue rifles purchased by a local Police SWAT Sniper team for their use. Upon receiving the 8 rifles, they experienced a lot of issues with those rifles. I was told the unit contacted the maker and explained the issues and was supposedly told something to the effect that they need to use another loading. That is, to use a 175-grain match load as opposed to the 168gr match loads they had been using. I did not make the call, nor was I even in the room to hear it. But a trusted source reports that was the guidance given to them by someone at Larue. Supposedly.

Since the switching to 175gr match ammo did not cure the issue, one of the rifles was handed off to my friend who asked me to join him in seeing if maybe it was the end user’s fault as opposed to the gun itself. Below is a reporting of what we saw for ourselves first hand over a two-week period of testing and evaluating one of the 8 rifles.

Below is a picture of the subject of our testing. The rifle was fired with and without the suppressor and with careful noting of the setting of the gas system.

After shooting the rifle, it quickly became apparent that the issues the guns were having were not user error.

About every 3rd round would get stuck in the chamber. The extractor would rip through the rim in its effort to extract and then pick up a fresh round to chamber causing a double feed.

Once the case was removed with the help of a rod, signs of pressure were obvious. Primers would be blown, or nearly blown out of the primer pocket. Even those that cycled and fired normally had signs of pressure. Brand, type and lot of ammo used made no difference.

The Larue caught in the act.

In the picture above, you can see the primer coming out of the case and the rim sheared off by the extractor.

More examples of cases that had to be cleared by a rod.

There was no predicting when it would happen except to know it would be about every 3rd or 4th round. Sometimes 7th or 9th. There was no apparent pattern or sense to it. Changing ammo brands, type or lot made no difference.

In addition to the stuck cases, the ejection pattern of the OBR was odd. Kicking cases out from 13 to 53-degrees with some going a yard away and other barely clearing the shooters firing arm when right-handed.

On the second week, we then noticed this while getting ready to put the suppressor on for another day of testing.

The staking had come loose. Obviously, this allowed the receiver extension to rotate. Not a good way to start the day.

During the 2nd week, the gun was carefully cleaned again and lubed with Slip2000EWL. Same problems. However, I did like how easy it was to clean the Larue BCG thanks to its coating,

Besides the feeding and extracting issues, the gun was every bit as accurate as I expected it to be. Using 168gr Federal Gold Medal or 175gr Gold Medal, the gun was sub-minute. The two groups below are from 100 yards. The shooting was conducted prone with bipod only while firing very rapidly. Well, as rapid as you can shoot when you must have your friend knock every 3rd or 4th case out of the chamber with a rod.

Otherwise, accuracy is exceptional. Just what I would want and expect from a Larue. I have seen many precision bolt guns that would not sustain the same level of accuracy. You can see why the Larue OBR became a favorite of sniper competitions and tactical precision rifle matches.

Thoughts on the suppressor. It was effective enough that I found it comfortable to stand behind the shooter without ear protection while in the wide open. Without the can, the Larue muzzle device was VERY blasty and loud. It is a muzzle brake after all, so that should be no shock. I found the brake to be very effective with recoil.

We did not have the ability to precisely diagnose the issues with the rifle except to know it is beyond simple user influence to fix. Add to that the 7 other guns are behaving the same way and the only conclusion is that they need to go back. I don’t want to hear any comments about “Why didn’t you call Larue?” etc. I do not work for the police agency who purchased these. I did not order them, nor do I even live in the same state as the PD who bought these sniper rifles. I was only there to take a look and to add my opinion on what could be wrong, so our betters could then determine what they wanted to do after that. The rifle’s working or not is not my problem. My tax dollars were not even used to buy them. I am writing about this only for the general interest of others and to show that even the best can turn out something with a problem every so often. So thoroughly test and check your weapon.

I hope to update on these rifles and their fate for those interested as the story continues.

If you read this and your panties are in a real twist because I dared report something I saw happen to a brand you think should have been mentioned in the Bible and you feel the need to insult me or start any ARFCOM general discussion level bullshit in the comments, I can save you the trouble right now and tell you any personal insults or attacks on my honesty or intentions will not be approved and will be deleted.

If you want to comment like an adult instead of a liberal on Election Night 2016, you are always welcome.

Precision Shooting Magazine

PS magazine  has been dead and gone since 2012 and its sister publication The Accurate Rifle even longer.   It was a real shame these magazines and the info they provided are now long gone.   I don’t know what happened to most of the writers who had monthly articles.  No doubt they are floating around somewhere.  Probably in places like Benchrest central  etc.   Most were known competitors in bench rest, high  power/service rifle ,varmint hunters  and small bore and others are professional hunting guides ,  custom gun makers and ballisticians.  A few were just unique guys who did some pretty far out experimentation.   There was a lot of great technical info and shooting historical info  in those magazines. For a long time they were close to a technical journal but as the years passed and most of the generation of fellows who contributed to it and bought it died off, you could see the topics soften for a more general audience.

While looking for something the other day I dug out a large amount of my old subscriptions from years ago and flipped through them for old time sake.    One thing about an issue of PS or TAR was you could count on cover that was art in its own right.  With that in mind I thought I would share some of those covers with visitors of this website since most probably never read or even held and issue of PS.

 

If you enjoy these let me know and I will share more of them.

zine

Review: Maglula Mag Loader

Maglula

Last Saturday I was loading some 5.45 into mags and realized I should say a few words on this product.

So, here is a quick unsolicited product endorsement.  The Maglula Mag Loader is great.  The one in the picture above I bought a good many years ago and has loaded at least 20,000 rounds.  It is especially handy when I have loaded 5.45 into C-Products AR mags as they loading them is no where near as smooth as loading .223 into an AR mag.

Operation is as simple as it gets.  Slide it on the mag, and rock the lever back and forth as you drop rounds in the front.  You can also use it to quickly unload mags by holding the mag tilted down and rocking the lever.

If you load and unload a bunch of AR mags, this really saves wear and tear on the thumbs and fingers.  I highly recommend it.

Funny story.  I lent the Lula loader in the photo above to my dad for a rifle class he was attending.  When he returned from the class, he didn’t want to return the loader.  He stated he used it a good bit, and wanted to buy me a new one due to how much he used mine.  At that point I let him know that I had used it for over 10,000 rounds of 5.45.  Wear is not an issue with this loader.  I let him buy his own.

A LOOK BACK: VINTAGE LYMAN RELOADING TOOLS

As you know I am  big on vintage firearms paraphernalia. I am always on the look at for anything  gun related from days go by. From  back when even simple things were made to a higher quality.   And sometimes as a reminder of a better time in our country.

After a good friends recently passed away I have been helping his family deal with his gun related estate.  One of the things I bought  from the estate for myself was this Lyman tool for handloading.

Like most serious shooters I am also a hanloader.  Nearly everything I learned about precision handloading was taught to me by my mentor who is from an older generation.  Tools like this would have been more familiar to him than to most newer hand loaders.  Having spent so much time with my mentor being taught the finer points of hand loading for precision and bench rest , I acquired big appreciation for things from those years gone by, so I am always on the look out to accumulate and save items from being lost to history as so much of what was known is being lost or dying off   now in the time of ballistic engines and Horus reticles.

The box is a complete tool set to re load 30.06 Springfield.   It has everything you need minus the components for the ammo itself of course.  You still need case ,bullet, primer and powder.    Obviously there are a few things you would need to do before using this.  You would need to set your dies for seating dept and  a few things and you would need a way to measure case over all length to set the bullet with.  I will spare the details so as not to bore the non-reloaders reading.

Box is classic vintage Lyman  graphics and artwork/design.  With helpful descriptions of what each tool  is for.

Above you can see all the tools laid out.   One the right are the dies for things such as decapping fired primers,  the resize die , bullet seater etc.   On the left is the hand tool you use to force the cases into the dies or to set the bullets.   This takes the place of the bench mounted presses you are used to seeing or in the case of hand loaders, using.     I haven’t tried using it yet and likely won’t but I can imagine the effort it takes  by hand compared to the stroke of the arm of a  RCBS  Rockchucker.

This kit would be something you would buy if you wanted to dip your toes in handloading without going whole-hog.  Or if you wanted to reload while away from home. Maybe it was  even meant for the cheapskates who are the equivalent of the modern shoot who buys  NCstar red dots and tapco parts for their AR.    I am not really sure on this account but I do know Lyman has always been a name associated with quality when it comes to  hand loading tools and related items,

I hope you enjoyed this little bit of nostalgia as much as I do.

Gun History and Blogging with Daniel Watters from Loose Rounds – TacticalPay Radio Ep. 17

Brett of TacticalPay Radio recently invited Shawn and I to appear on one of their podcasts. While Shawn was ultimately unable to record the show, I carried the flag for Loose Rounds and The 5.56mm Timeline.

Topics included:
A discussion of the state of the online gun community during the early 1990s;
Online and offline resources for researching historical firearm topics;
The US military’s adoption of the M16; and
The background of the famous 5.56 Timeline

https://www.tacticalpay.com/017-watters/