Smith & Wesson M&P (Gen 1) Upgrades


By BAP45

While the M&P has never garnered the widespread acceptance of the Glock it is a fine handgun. I find it a much more comfortable gun to shoot that the comparable Glocks. As well at the time it was one of the only guns with the interchangeable backstraps which was nice. The recoil impulse also felt smoother surprisingly. But it’s not all rainbows with the M&Ps, by not being as wide spread as the Glock finding magazines was a really bear for a number of years and getting standard holsters to this day is like finding a needle in a haystack.

But that’s not why you’re here, you’re here to hear about upgrades. Over the years I’ve do a few. I’m pretty boring with my stuff. I usually like to keep things mostly factory. Or at least I’m plenty happy with factory stuff. But being raised on Gold Cups made all the polymer triggers feel plain gross to me. So the little I did was in that arena. I’ve used Apex parts for these drop in up grades mostly and they are definitely worth it.

First I installed their “Fully Machined Sear” and “Ultimate Striker Block.” Those two alone made a noticeable difference in the smoothness and take up of the trigger.

Next I worked to ditch the magazine safety. Unfortunately they were required on all the California models for the time before Smith & Wesson gave up on the market. Can’t blame them really. Originally I just bought a complete sear block off of Midway I think. Easy enough to just pop out and swap. Only to find out that there are two versions of the sear block. An early large hole version and the later small hole. The large hole didn’t last very long so you are almost guaranteed to have the small hole. Rather than reorder a new block I just swapped the parts I needed out of it.

I had always meant to get one of their triggers for it but always got sidetracked but other things. I’m about as bad as the Doug the dog in Up. The stock M&P trigger is pretty nasty. S&W must have been leery of another lawsuit from Glock so instead of making a trigger with a little thing in the middle like Glocks they made a split trigger. Same basic function of acting as a trigger block in a different form factor. But man oh man does it feel spongy. Though considering the Sigma debacle I understand the reasoning.

This picture is from a 2.0 but is shows the split nature of the trigger well

Here you can see the block that is moved out of the was when you pull the trigger.

The main weakness of the split trigger besides the spongy-ness is that if you tend to grip the trigger high it’s possible to have it hang up on the frame. If you are used to shooting revolvers or DA/SA’s the you probably will never notice but if you are used to things like 1911’s you maybe snag it. Part of this is muscle memory. I have the reverse happen when I’ve been using this a lot then switch back to a 1911.

So I finally got around to installing the Apex “Action Enhancement Trigger” I planned to install in the beginning. It is a little bit wonky getting all the pins to line up. Sort of a 3 handed operation. The little blocks are a big help but since I’m only doing this once I’m not going to spring for that. Even without it wasn’t that bad. Then just gently used a vice to press the pin in.

The pin I pressed is that raised one there. You could use a punch but the press seems better as you can gently squeeze it.

It really makes a difference. Everything feels so smooth now. Pull is light, shorter, smoother and the reset is shorter too. You can either but a complete kit of all the components or you can do what I did and piece them out over time. Works well for Christmas or Birthday gift ideas for people. $40 (we usually try to set a $50 max) for a trigger is an easy one for people to swallow even if they aren’t really gun people.

Unfortunately I didn’t think to take any video of the trigger before. And my trigger pull gauge is in another state. I think it is around 5 or 6 pounds now. I’m pretty ham fisted so I prefer them a little on the higher end. Here’s some footage of the Apex trigger installed. The reset is hard to hear so I tried to stop my finger when it reset.

Now that Smith & Wesson as come out with the M&P 2.0. I thought I heard they they now use a lot of these parts from the factory. I could be wrong but I seem to remember hearing that when they came out. I do know that people have said the new 2.0 triggers feel really good right out of the box. Unfortunately I can’t get a hold of one to compare. But if you have one of the older first generation ones I highly recommend the Apex parts.


  1. S&W did some things right since the M&P is the second most common service pistol in the US. I found magazines were common and not too expensive for 17 round full size 9mm and 8 round Shield magazines. Part of the problem is that while the factory magazines are made by Mec-Gar, their contract forbids Mec-Gar from selling directly. ETS has started making both standard and 30 round magazines. Holsters are also more common now, which is good because I am left handed.


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