If you ask three different people what the ideal combat pistol caliber is, you will likely get three different answers. If you ask me, it’s the .45 ACP. I love the .45 for many reasons as a combat caliber, but mostly because it makes a big hole in a bad guy. Smith & Wesson has known this for a long time, and knowing this, they produced a version of their M&P pistol in this awesome caliber.
The M&P line of pistols have been in production since 2005, as a direct improvement over their Sigma line of handguns. When the M&P series was released, it was called the Smith & Wesson version of the Glock. The M&P was also called the Glock Killer by some. The M&P series of handguns did not run away with the polymer pistol market or kill the Glock, but it has made immense gains in popularity.
The M&P 45 is just what it sounds like; it’s the .45 ACP version of the M&P series of handguns. It shares the same injection-molded polymer frame and black oxide forged stainless steel slide. It also comes with 3 sizes of palmswell (small, medium, large) for those of all hand sizes. The M&P 45 also comes with 3dot fixed sights and a reversible magazine release button.
The M&P 45 is an excellent choice as a combat pistol for many reasons. The M&P 45 is a double stack 45, meaning that its magazine holds 10 rounds. That’s two more than the modern 1911. Like the Glock and XD, the M&P magwell is plenty wide for quick and positive magazine changes. The M&P 45 sports forward and rear cocking serrations that aid in press checking the gun to see if it’s loaded and getting it back into battery after a slide lock reload. The M&P also comes with a factory ambidextrous slide release to help the 10 percenters out there.
The M&P 45 has a 4.5” barrel for increased accuracy, though the test gun used a 5” threaded barrel. The M&P frame has a molded-in beavertail that allows for a high grip. This high grip helps with the recoil of firing 230 grain rounds. There have been complaints of the gun being “snappy” due to its 29 ounce dry weight. With a proper grip, the recoil is very manageable by shooters of many sizes. When I added a Streamlight TLR1s weapon-mounted light to the accessory rail, adding 4.2 ounces to the front of the gun, any snap I felt before was gone.
One of the biggest complaints of the M&P series is the trigger. It comes from the factory very gritty and heavy, with an inconsistent break. I believe they do this to keep the retail price down. The good thing is that there are aftermarket trigger kits available for the M&P series. The test gun had an Apex Tactical Duty/Carry AEK trigger kit. The trigger is now a smooth, 5 pound trigger with a clean and predictable break. With the improved trigger, the M&P 45 is very accurate for a polymer pistol. It isn’t quite my duty 1911, but it is, in my hands, much more accurate than a Glock 21 or XMm 45.
The M&P 45 is very reliable. With over 500 rounds shot, I had zero malfunctions. I used an array of ball ammo, duty ammo, and even a few rounds of reloads that my 1911 wouldn’t feed. Every time I pulled the trigger, it fired.
So to break it down, the Smith & Wesson M&P 45 is comfortable, accurate, and carries an acceptable amount of large caliber ammunition. These are all things that are desirable for a combat/self defense handgun. With the only drawback being the factory trigger, The M&P 45 is an excellent choice of a factory, polymer-framed handgun.
Caliber: .45 ACP
Weight: 29.6 ounces
Frame: Injection Molded Zytel
Slide: Forged Stainless Steel
Finish: Black Oxide