Smith & Wesson M&P Series: A Guide

— Kat StevensCADRE Dispatch

Smith & Wesson has been designing and manufacturing firearms for generations of shooters. And while their foundation can be traced to the American Revolutionary War, it’s not their older guns that garner the greatest interest. The Smith & Wesson M&P line of firearms is perhaps the company’s best seller, but how much do you really know about it?

This is a quick overview the M&P family, from the original model that came out well over a century ago, to the modern lineup.

smith & wesson m&p
The line includes optics-ready models. (Photo credit: Smith & Wesson)

What’s the Smith & Wesson M&P?

Although most gun owners associate the name of the M&P line with polymer-framed handguns, there’s more to their history than that. The M&P moniker used in the Smith & Wesson line stands for Military & Police. This speaks to its original intent for duty use, but thanks to just how well made the first model was, it caught on among the general populace as well.

The first Smith & Wesson M&P was actually a revolver that was introduced in 1899. that’s right, this family of firearms has been around for well over a century. That first M&P, also known as the Model 10, was chambered in 38 Long Colt.

Smith & Wesson M&P model 1899 revolver
The first M&P, also known as the Model 10, was chambered in 38 Long Colt. (Image Credit: Smith & Wesson)

After the popularity of the first M&P took off, Smith & Wesson decided to improve on their original design. That led to the creation of the .38 Smith & Wesson Special which we typically refer to simply as the .38 Special, today. The new .38 Special chambered M&Ps did even better than the first gun. By 1936 the renowned gun maker had launched a complete line of M&P revolvers.

It was 1942 when the revolver saw military action. In fact, more than 800,000 of the M&P revolvers were used by the Allies in World War II. After that, the M&P line began to morph into something a bit more like what we know now.

The Smith & Wesson Model 39 didn’t bear the title of M&P, but it’s still part of the line’s progression. The Model 39 was the company’s first semi-auto to hit the American market in 1954. It was chambered in 9x19mm Parabellum and was a double action.

By 1968, the Illinois State Police had made the Model 39 their new duty gun. This is noteworthy because it was the first double-action semi-automatic to be used by a state law enforcement agency. Even so, duty use of the .38 Special M&P revolver continued to outpace the use of the Model 39.

So, when did the current popular line of M&Ps come into being? Not until 2005. That’s when Smith & Wesson officially launched the polymer-framed line of pistols. Today the M&P line encompasses numerous firearms including those polymer framed, striker-fired pistols, some rifles, and revolvers.

vintage advertisement for smith & wesson m&P revolvers
The first M&P was a revolver. (Photo credit: Smith & Wesson)

guns in the Smith & Wesson M&P line

If we’re talking about the polymer-framed M&P line’s first generation, it narrows down the available guns somewhat. There are quite a few calibers and sizes in the original polymer M&P line. More M&Ps are being designed and manufactured, further expanding the family of firearms. This can be a bit complicated, given the distinction between first and second-generation M&Ps.

Under the M&P name, these guns are included:

  • M&P 5.7 FDE
  • M&P 22 Magnum with Thumb Safety
  • M&P9 Pro Series
  • M&P40 Pro Series
  • M&P45 Full Size
  • M&P9c (Compact, 3.5-inch barrel)
  • M&P9L (5.0-inch barrel)
  • M&P9 (Full-Size, 4.25-inch barrel)
  • M&P45c (Compact, 4.0-inch barrel)

This gives you an idea of the guns included in what could be considered the first polymer M&P line, although certain models are relatively new. The line includes guns chambered in 22 LR, 22 Magnum, 9mm, 40 Smith & Wesson, 45 ACP, and 357 SIG.

the Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0

smith & wesson m&p m2.0
The M&P M.20 is the second, enhanced generation of the line. (Photo credit: Smith & Wesson)

The Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0 — also called the M&P M2.0 — is the enhanced second generation of the M&P line. The M&P M2.0 had changes made to several features including the trigger, grip, frame, and finish. Also new with the second generation is an extended stainless steel chassis and a low bore axis. The former improves rigidity while the latter mitigates muzzle rise and improves target acquisition during follow-up shots.

The M&P M2.0 is designed for self-defense, duty use, and sporting applications. It’s truly versatile. Guns in the Smith & Wesson M&P M2.0 line include:

  • M&P M2.0 45 Full-Size (4.6-inch barrel)
  • M&P M2.0 9
  • M&P M2.0 9L
  • M&P M2.0 Metal
  • M&P M2.0 40c
  • M&P M2.0 9c (Compact, barrel length varies)
  • M&P 10mm M2.0 Full-Size (4.6-inch barrel)

This isn’t an exhaustive list but it gives you an idea of the second generation’s models. Other guns are offered in various barrel lengths and calibers such as 9mm, 45 ACP, and 40 Smith & Wesson.

Does the Smith & Wesson M&P M2.O have a safety?

The Smith & Wesson M&P M2.0 is available with an external thumb safety. However, it’s also offered without an external thumb safety, giving gun owners the option of whether they want one on their gun. It’s important to understand that the gun has internal safety mechanisms that are at work with or without an external safety. Furthermore, it’s wise not to rely heavily on an external safety. Following the four rules of gun safety is a must no matter what.

the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield

The M&P Shield is a micro-compact designed for concealed carry. (Photo credit: Smith & Wesson)

Another variant of the M&P line is the Shield. These pistols are made for concealed carry and are more compact than other models. This means they retain all the great features of the other M&P polymer-framed pistols, only with smaller dimensions so they’re easier to carry for self-defense purposes. The M&P Shield line includes:

  • M&P M2.0 Shield
  • M&P Shield EZ 9mm (Designed for shooters with arthritic or weak hands.)
  • M&P 380 Shield EZ (Also designed for shooters with arthritic or weak hands, but in 380 ACP.)
  • M&P Shield Plus (Greater capacity and a flat-faced trigger.)

The Smith & Wesson M&P Shield line of carry guns is available in 9mm and 40 Smith & Wesson.

the Smith & Wesson M&P Bodyguard

Bodyguard 380
The Bodyguard is great for deep concealment in non-permissive environments. (Photo credit: Smith & Wesson)

The Smith & Wesson M&P Bodyguard is a micro-compact pistol chambered in 380 ACP. It has a 2.75-inch barrel, an overall length of 5.25-inches, and an empty weight of 12.3 ounces. This pistol is made to be lightweight and user-friendly. It’s great for deep concealment or if you simply want a much smaller pistol for carry. The M&P Bodyguard is currently available as the standard model or with a Crimson Trace laser. There’s also an engraved model offered.

Should you get a Smith & Wesson M&P?

The M&P line of guns is diverse and offers options for concealed carry, home defense, and more. It’s likely you’ll find a gun to suit your needs and preferences within this family of firearms. These guns have proven to be reliable, durable, and accurate, meaning they’re well worth checking out.

What’s your favorite Smith & Wesson M&P? Tell us in the comments.

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