The Smith & Wesson M&P pistol was developed as a more modern version of the Sigma series, which had been in production since 1994. The Sigma was initially introduced with a design and several features that were extremely similar to Glock pistols. So similar that Glock sued S&W. S&W was forced to change several of the design elements and the Sigma series became known as a “budget” pistol rather than the high-quality polymer frame pistol it was originally designed to be.
In 2005 S&W introduced the M&P – a new design that borrowed some older features from the Sigma, such as the hinged trigger and ergonomics developed from the multi-million dollar hand study S&W conducted during development of the Sigma. The M&P had significant differences though. The M&P was one of the first polymer frame pistols to feature removable grip inserts which allow adaptation to different hand sizes. It had a usable light rail, lower bore axis, a lighter and shorter trigger pull, and the ability to disassemble the pistol without pulling the trigger.
My official introduction to the Smith & Wesson M&P came over a decade ago when I heard that my department was testing the M&P for possible approval. I bought one and had some reliability issues in the little shooting I did. The problems could have been due to ammunition, but I didn’t take the time to find out. I got rid of the M&P and ended up shooting Sigs for a while.
My next experience with the M&P involved the compact model I purchased as a back-up and off duty gun. This was in Spring 2011. I liked the pistol and its size to capacity fit a niche for me, especially with my department’s limited list of authorized pistols.
In early summer 2011 I purchased an M&P9 and started using that on duty. October came and I was promoted as a full-time firearm instructor for my department. That fall I shot over 15,000 rounds through my personal M&P. During the entire time, as an experiment I neither cleaned nor lubricated the pistol and experienced only a couple malfunctions, all of which appeared to be related to our training ammunition.
In December we were issued M&Ps to use for instruction so we wouldn’t destroy our personally owned pistols. Two years later in November 2013, as the department was transitioning current personnel (in addition to academy recruits who had been issued M&Ps since around 2010) to the M&P, our older range guns were replaced with new pistols. Shortly after receiving the new pistol I decided to start a new test. I would simply shoot the pistol without any cleaning or lubrication until it stopped working.
That was over five years ago. The next three posts will discuss what has happened during that time, and why that M&P is my favorite pistol to abuse.