Test & Technics: Smith & Wesson M&P45 in .45 ACP

Produced as a joint project with Walther, the American company did not fare particularly well with its previous SW99. But the M&P series has been built without interruption to this day and now includes all kinds of feature options in addition to a variety of frame sizes and barrel lengths. 

Smith & Wesson’s website lists a whopping 117 pistol models in the M&P series. The team at Massachusetts has continued delivering the goods in recent years, adding new models to keep pace with shifting fashions. 

For instance, the M&P series now includes pistols with adapter plates for reflex sights or models with ported slides and fiber-optic sighting elements. The trend toward colored frames has not gone unnoticed, either – as we see in this Smith & Wesson M&P45.

The pistol is engineered as a regular M&P chambered in .45 ACP. It also has a striker lock with partially pretensioned trigger and blade safety. The weapon uses a tilting barrel system whose chamber block locks in the ejection port as an upgraded version of the Browning locking system with control cam facing downward. The recoil spring sits encapsulated on the steel guide rod.

Smith & Wesson M&P45 in .45 ACP

The Smith & Wesson M&P’s striker lock
Hamerless service pistol: the M&P is striker-fired, like many modern polymer pistols.

The controls on the Smith & Wesson M&P45 are neatly arranged and easily accessible for all fingers without reaching around. It has an ambidextrous slide stop lever and thumb safety. 

The magazine release pokes out the frame on the left side only, but can be switched alternatively to the right. The buttons move and lock with reasonable smoothness. Only the slide stop lever could be a tad more ergonomic, as it was not always possible to work the mechanism with just the thumb (–1 point). 

The receiver rests comfortably in a normally sized hand, which is mainly due to the slightly slimmer magazine with just ten rounds. The angle of the grip is good. Combined with the low-slung slide, this rather squat look produces a deep line of sight. The textured grip adds purchase, although it could be more pronounced (–2 points). Models from Germany-speaking countries are apparently more advanced when it comes to texturing the grip. 

The slide of thr Smith & Wesson M&P 45
Grippy cycling serrations with a wave structure are sliced into the front two flanks of the M&P slide as well.

In total, three replaceable backstrap modules are available for the Smith & Wesson M&P45. They also exchange the side panels on the grip. 

The trigger was a mixed bag. Despite its nice shape and trigger characteristics, the test revealed a pull of around 3,300 g, which is too hefty (–3 points). The trigger pull should be several hundred grams lighter, even for a service pistol. 

There was nothing bad to say about the cycling/safety (–0 points). The extremely flat sights with their three white dot inserts ensure a highly contrasted picture and contribute to the low line of sight. 

The sights are what you would expect of a service pistol (–0 points). The Smith & Wesson M&P45 takes a hit in terms of finishing. The steel parts are neatly fitted and machined almost without traces. But the polymer frame and the backstrap modules especially look irregular. 

There are distinct gaps between the slide and the frame (–2 points) and there’s lots of plastic residue on the polymer and the backstrap modules as well (–3 points) –  that can be done better. The precision of the M&P45 is upper mid-table. It scores 45 points (–5 points) with a 55-mm group size.

Evaluation of the Smith & Wesson M&P45 in .45 ACP:

Evaluation Points
Accuracy (max. 50 points)45 points
Cycling/safety (max. 10 points)10 points
Trigger characteristics (max. 10 points)8 points
Trigger grip design (max. 5 points)3 points
Controls (max. 10 points)9 points
Sights (max. 5 points)5 points
Workmanship (max. 10 points)5 points
Total points (max. 100 points)85 points
Test rating
5 of 6
The Smith & Wesson M&P45 stripped down
The .45 version has precisely the same assemblies that are fitted to the M&P9 (from the top): Slide, barrel, recoil spring with guide rod, frame. On the right of the picture is the ten-round magazine.

Smith & Wesson M&P 45: characteristics and technical data


S&W M&P45

.45 ACP
Capacity:10 + 1 rounds
Size (LxWxH):205 x 37 x 142 mm
Barrel length:
114 mm
Trigger weight:
3.300 g
825 g (with empty magazine)
909  Euro

Features: Striker-fired polymer pistol, Browning-Petter locking system, partially pretensioned trigger, ambidextrous thumb safety, tactical accessories rail.

Round-Up of the pistol test for the Smith & Wesson M&P45 

The polymer frame is nicely ergonomic, but the finishing lets the gun down. The Smith & Wesson M&P45 catches the eye with its simple, almost intuitive operation, modern features and respectable accuracy. 

Its price is in the upper range for polymer pistols in Germany. It comes with a blue S&W case, two magazines and three backstrap modules.

Visit the manufacturer’s website for more information about the Smith & Wesson M&P45.

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