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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.