Smith & Wesson Military & Police

Smith & Wesson M&P .45 ACP
The perfectly machined muzzle and impressive hole of the .45 caliber

The M&P (Military & Police) handgun line includes guns with various calibers and size that are based on modernly designed actions that adapt to the various preferences and habits of the shooter. The tested handgun has a manual safety latch that allows those used to 1911 Government guns to not have to “reprogram” muscular memory during shooting in stressful conditions.

The absence of the hammer, due to the trigger system that uses a semi launched percussion pin, protects against possible errors when inserting into the holster after use or administrative loading of the weapon.  

Smith & Wesson M&P .45 ACP
The front sight, with a protected white dot, is mounted in a dove tail and is actually adjustable

Regarding the caliber used, we do not want to start a religion war on the .45 ACP chambering and pick a side between detractors or supporters.

Statistics show that when the FMJ bullet is used, the large cartridge designed by Browning is comparable to the stopping power of the 9 mm Luger antagonist. The “one shot stop”, namely the quality of the loading to disable an opponent with one FMJ bullet is statistically around 63% for both cartridges (Sanow/ Marshall data).

Smith & Wesson M&P .45 ACP
The rear sight is machined with a slanted cut so to reduce glare and also features two white dots to help aim in bad lighting conditions. The rear sight is also adjustable

In our opinion, discussions regarding terminal ballistics on cartridges for handguns should be based more on the point of impact placement than on an increase of a few millimeters in diameter of the bullet or more or less kinetic Energy.

However, we can give into the psychological factors of the .45 ACP.

Surely, anyone who thinks that a larger cartridge is more effective for personal defense and feels safer with it in the gun magazine will surely do well to adopt it.  

Smith & Wesson M&P .45 ACP
The handgrip allows for a good grasp, that can be improved, depending on the userʼs hand size and preferences, by exchanging the back strap

On the M&P, the grip, thanks to the plastic polymers that limit the thickness, is comfortable and has a good grip.

Smith&Wesson provides, in addition to the one mounted on the gun, two back-straps to meet the additional needs of shooters with small to medium hands.

The fact that a successful shot starts with a correct grip on the handgun, when the weapon is still in its holster, shows how useful it is to intervene on the size of the weapon.     

Smith & Wesson M&P .45 ACP
The disassembly lever, the slide stop lever and trigger are ergonomically accessible

All controls are easily accessible and, like the rest of the weapon, do not have sharp edges that may cause hindrance during the extraction phase. The slide catch lever slightly protrudes from the stock.

Smith & Wesson M&P .45 ACP
Modern looking, but also quite functional, the wavy grip surfaces milled both in the rear and front of the sides of the slide

The slide catch lever slightly protrudes from the stock.

At first, this solution may not seem functional but modern defensive/operational shooting doctrines suggest to use this lever only to manually lock the slide back open and never to close it on a loaded magazine, because stress and sweaty hands could prevent the execution of this “fine” movement to be performed with the thumb.

Smith & Wesson M&P .45 ACP
The generous expulsion window. Note the hold open lever control duplicated on the right side, protected by a raised ridge of the polymer frame

Current statistics indicate an increase of left-handers in the world. In line with this data, the Smith&Wesson M&P pistol allows you to reverse the magazine release button on the right side, while the weapon is equipped with a bilateral slide catch lever. 

The M&P has a stainless steel slide finished with a super tough phosphate coating (Black Melonite), a finish compatible with stainless steel, giving the metal considerable surface hardness (68 Hardness Rockwell Cone).

The polymeric frame (Zytel) is rounded; the milled slide grips are wavy in shape and are also presented on the front.

Smith & Wesson M&P .45 ACP
The trigger is actually formed by two separate and hinged sections; the lower section has to be pulled back for a few millimeters to disengage the automatic safety

The trigger mechanism does not have an external hammer. On the dust cover beneath the barrel there’s a rail to mount electronic devices such as lamps and aiming lasers. The weapon is sold in a rugged polymer case, good for transportation and storage, with two magazines, two additional back-straps, a colored firing pin protection, a padlock used to limit improper use of the weapon and the comprehensive handbook.

It is recommended that users read the handbook in order to understand the mechanics of the weapon and to review safety standards.

Smith & Wesson M&P .45 ACP
The three backstraps included with the Smith & Wesson M&P .45 ACP and the dedicated tool

The M&P is part of a group of guns that use the pre-armed firing pin system. Glock brought this system into vogue and Springfield has called it the “Striker Fire Action”.

For those who think this is a recent invention, they need to be reminded that a similar trigger mechanism, implemented in a project dating back to 1895, designed by the distinguished light weapon engineer Karel Krnka, was used on the 1907 model of the Roth-Steyr gun.

Smith & Wesson M&P .45 ACP
The M&Pʼs magazine, presented to the mag well in the hand grip of the pistol

The Smith&Wesson M&P adopts the very effective modified Browning short recoil locking system that locks the action with the use of a prismatic profile breech block, adapting it in the ejection port.

During the shooting cycle, the barrel and slide move back together a few millimeters until the barrel, lowering thanks to a inclined ramp, stops and frees itself from the slide that continues in its backward travel.

Once the kinetic energy, on the slide body, is depleted, the recoil spring ‒ captivated type ‒ stretches out and brings the slide forward locking it again. During the retraction phase, the slide will partially load the firing pin.

Smith & Wesson M&P .45 ACP
The Smith & Wesson M&P .45 ACP handgun, left side view

In the return to lock phase, a feeding block milled at the bottom of the slide, will strip a round from the magazine and push it into the barrel chamber.

Squeezing the trigger will complete the arming of the firing pin that will release itself after having gained the energy needed to strike the primer of the cartridge.

In this phase, the automatic safety latch of the percussion pin will be deactivated.

Those who do not have confidence in this type of action should note that in case of an accidental release, a “pre-loaded” percussion pin does not have the strength needed to effectively strike the cap of the cartridge.

Smith & Wesson M&P .45 ACP
The feed ramp angle is reduced, to present correctly the round to the chamber, for a flawless feeding cycle

The disassembly of the weapon requires a special, but appropriate, procedure.

After checking that the weapon is unloaded, the tool contained in the bottom part of the frame must be removed by rotating and pulling it out. With this tool, the yellow trigger lever can be lowered.

This lever can be reached through the ejection window of the slide completely open. This will avoid dry shooting the gun.

If repeatedly performed, dry shooting may result in accidental discharge during the handling of the weapon due to the ill acquired muscle memory.

Smith & Wesson M&P .45 ACP
The weapon during test shooting. Note the perfectly aligned muzzle

After releasing the slide, the rotation of the disassembly lever will allow you to pull the latter out by sliding it toward the front of the frame. Following the removal of the spring guide rod together with the prisoner recoil spring, we can then remove the barrel by pulling it out of the breechblock slide.

Smith & Wesson M&P .45 ACP
The lower trigger pack bar allows disassembly of the handgun

The Springfield handgun is equipped with an automatic percussion pin safety latch.

There is a hole between the rear of the barrel and the front of the breechblock slide that allows visual control of the cartridge chamber. In compliance with the 1911 on the model tested, there is a manual safety that can be activated to prevent the trigger pull.

A further safety is applied to the trigger, which is divided into two sections.

The trigger is free to move back only if it is pressed in the lower part of the trigger lever. There is no magazine safety latch, which is available on other models made by the same production line. This “providential” absence is well evidenced in writing, on the right side of the slide.

Smith & Wesson M&P .45 ACP
The Smith & Wesson M&P .45 ACP handgun, field stripping

The gun is supplied with two double stack sheet metal magazines. The capacity, given the caliber used, is only ten rounds. Considering the size of the cartridge that can be inserted into the barrel, the eleven .45 ACP caliber rounds should be enough to meet any eventuality.

The sighting system makes use of a front sight inserted in a dovetail milling that can be adjusted in drift and a Novak rear sight also adjustable for windage. The white dots present on the gun sights facilitate target acquisition under specific lighting situations.

Smith & Wesson M&P .45 ACP
Inside the handgunʼs slide, towards the rear end, we can see the automatic safetyʼs button

The target groups shot at a distance of 15 m, despite a trigger pull weight of the tested model that was around 3.5 kg, is amazing. The weapon turned out to be very accurate and manageable during firing even when used in fast strings. We tried to empty the magazine in a few seconds, having the pleasure of finding all the shots concentrated on the target in a tactically effective area. The ergonomics of the weapon and the slide that travels low on the hand that holds the weapon, helps mitigate recoil generated by a generous caliber that usually requires “a few” cartridge boxes to learn how to master it.

It should be noted that there were no jams whatsoever with any loading used, proving the reliability of the weapon.

Smith & Wesson M&P .45 ACP
Large hands may accidentally engage the manual safety on the M&P, the user must pay attention on the correct way to handle the weapon

The size of the weapon is recommended for open carry, wherever this is allowed, or for professional/law enforcement use. The sturdy caliber, reliable and simple action that does not require special handling and the ability to customize the handgrip as desired to adopt it to hands of any size, make it the ideal weapon for personal and house protection.

Because of its optimal characteristics, the Smith&Wesson M&P .45 ACP is suitable to be used in shooting competitions, in categories suitable to the action of the weapon.