Gun Review: Smith and Wesson M&P 2.0 Compact: The Magic Carry Pistol?

I have been using the Smith & Wesson M&P line of pistols since they were introduced, my first being a full-size 45ACP — followed by the mid-size 45 ACP. Both Pistols are still running today, one with a police officer who used it until his retirement a few months ago. My first M&P45 although altered a bit is still used on occasion for suppressor articles. Both were used for duty, concealed carry, and competition. My last two M&P’s — M&P9 Pro Series, and 9mm Shield are used regularly for EDC, training, and teaching at the Gunsite Academy. Both carry more than a few aftermarket alterations, neither has missed a beat. So when the 2.0 came out I was happy to see the modifications, just not happy enough to replace my existing guns. They fit me, were proven, and modified to my liking. That is until I got to shoot the new Smith and Wesson M&P 2.0 Compact at a recent media event.

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Smith and Wesson M&P 2.0 Compact – The Magic Carry Pistol

Consensus is rare in this industry, but there’s general agreement on the best size for a general use pistol, at least amongst instructors. Striker fired polymer, 4″ barrel, a grip you can get your hands on, 15 rounds, usable sights and a decent trigger. Universal enough it was the model for the Army’s new pistol. Things like interchangeable grip straps are nice, the idea being you will not practice with a pistol that does not fit your hand well, let alone shoot them properly. Subcompacts are comfortable to carry, convenient, and some pretty decent fighting pistols, most are not.

Every Gunsite 250 class attended or instructed has students switching their compact out either at lunch or the morning of day two. Just because it’s comfy in your belt does not mean it is to shoot, or necessarily adequate in a fight. It’s precisely why mid-sized (sometimes called compact) pistols are the most common. Smith & Wesson was pretty close with their 4.25″ barrels and standard 17 rounds grips, but the new Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0 Compact fits perfectly into the magic carry pistol size, and it is proving to be an excellent pistol.

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Surefire’s XC1 concealed carry light is easy to reach with either hand and bright enough without being overly large or difficult to conceal.

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Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0 Compact

Handling the new Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0 Compact pistols, they were clearly different. Many features added using aftermarket parts were included. The trigger is lighter and includes the tactile and audible reset so many prefer. More aggressive texturing is featured on the frame and interchangeable grip straps. Accuracy with the 9mm is much improved. The 18-degree grip angle is retained along with a shorter (compared to my Pro Series) beavertail for concealability. Cocking serrations are included at the bottom of the slide.

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Stippling on the front strap is aggressive enough to provide solid control under any condition yet remains comfortable even during extended shooting sessions.

Standard models hold 17 rounds using either a 4.25″ or 5.0″ barrel. The compact shortens the barrel to 4″ the grip is about .5″ shorter lowering capacity to 15 rounds. Listed weight is about the same, the compact showing .8 oz. lighter. Measured weight fully loaded (15+1 rounds) the compact weighed 32.2 oz. — my M&P Pro Series was 32.4 ounces (17+ 1). While the .25″ shorter barrel will likely go unnoticed, the shorter grip can make a difference in concealment, combined they provide what I consider the best compromise for ballistics, reliability, ease of operation, and concealment.

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Gearing Up

My only addition to the pistol was a set of Trijicon HDXR sights using an orange front. These work the best for me and sit on most of my carry guns. I can pick them up easily during daylight hours while providing some low and failing light assistance. Trijicon HD sights are strong, and the XR sights are a bit thinner for accuracy. Their rear sight uses a ledge for unconventional slide operation and two tritium inserts with no ring. Just like all previous M&P’s the factory sights are tight. If you care at all about your pistol’s finish or your level of frustration use a purpose-built sight pusher like the MGW. If you don’t have one borrow it, or have someone else with something similar do it, especially the front.

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Trijicon’s XDXR may be the perfect front sight for a fighting pistol. Clear and bright during the day, available in low light, yet not so large as to cover the target.
Smith & Wesson, compact 2.0, guns, shooting
Trijicon’s HD rear sight is available with tritium only and no ring making it very easy to focus on and pick up your front sight.

Two magazine spacers are provided for standard magazines they slide over the full-size magazine filling in the gap. Checking fit with my older 10-8 performance baseplates they work as well, and the looks remain pretty clean.  The Holsters I used were provided by RDR Custom Kydex in Salt Lake City. Given the popularity of AIWB carry one of their SCAR holsters was used with my Surefire XC-1 concealed carry light. A spare magazine holder is part of the holster and is designed to place the pistol for optimal AIWB carry. One of their Standard OWB holsters without the light was used on the range. Both were fit to a 4.25 M&P9 so both my pistols would work in them.

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RDR Kydex Holsters SCAR provides immediate access to your pistol and spare magazine for comfortable and secure AIWB carry.

Range Time with the Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0 Compact

Shooting the compact at a media event it was impressive, enough for me to ask for a test pistol. The shorter grip is nice in the car and does not tear up my seat. My large hand still fits the grip, and the trigger was noticeably nicer. Texturing was improved, my other pistols all had some more aggressive treatment, this one was good to go out of the box. Tagging 12″ round steel at 50 yards was pretty easy.

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Accuracy was not less impressive at home, as good as any of the aftermarket barrels used in my other M&P 9 pistols. My best group at 25 yards was just a tad over 1.5″ using Sig Sauer 115-Grain V-Crown. Everything else was around 2” with the Hornady 135-grain +P the closest to the best group at 1.75″. Most of my shooting was done in, around, and using my truck as a rest so this is pretty impressive. Running drills it was as accurate as any polymer pistol ever used.

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Although designed for concealed carry, the Compact 2.0 operates like a full-sized fighting pistol when working around vehicles and real-world obstacles.

Every M&P I’ve owned and tested has been reliable, it’s one of the biggest reasons have them, along with the grip angle and high bore axis, this was no exception. Most quality pistols these days work with just about anything you feed it, as did the compact. All my magazines worked fine, no failures. The spacer makes for a flush look and solid grip. Removing it feels a bit weird, but works fine, never had an issue with over insertion. Remington UMC 115-grain practice ammunition ran perfectly. Smatterings of other FMJ were used along with several self-defense loads, it all ran like a charm. Most were very soft, softer than my previous generation M&P 9, including Doubletap’s high velocity 115- grain Bonded Defense load at 1,340 fps. Snappy with the hot loads, but very controllable with no loss in accuracy.

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Flush fit magazines hold 15 rounds, add the supplied spacer and your full-sized 17 round magazines fit perfectly in the compact 2.0.

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Carrying The Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0 Compact

Carrying appendix inside the waistband has never been a favorite, at least not for a primary pistol. Standing is fine, in fact, it’s why I still have a few AIWB holsters around. Heading to the mall or some other event where sitting is minimal it’s comfortable, easy to conceal, and fast. It’s also easy to put on and take off if you are not carrying at the time. Having the magazine with it is pretty convenient. Having used a dozen different holsters the SCAR was like all the rest, comfy when standing, fast to the draw, and very defensible and accessible in close quarters hand-to-hand or ground fighting. Not so comfy for me in the car or sitting anywhere. Quality is excellent, fit is tight, the RDR is a very well built holster. Carried in the standard OWB holster and a couple of IWB holsters remains my favorite. Having this compact light on is growing on me, easy to operate, not too big, and very handy when you need it.

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Cocking serrations allow for a positive grip under

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Final Thoughts on the Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0 Compact Pistol

This trigger is noticeably crisper and lighter than the older versions. Reset feels shorter and the reset is tactical and can be heard easily. Take up, especially for a 1911 guy is long, took some getting used to after using the Pro Series 1911. Once accustomed it was fine, but its long compared to some of my other polymer pistols. Once there the wall is noticeable and trigger manipulation is fast as any.

Smith & Wesson, compact 2.0, guns, shooting
The Compact is setup with S&Ws proven ambidextrous slide stop and a vastly improved trigger — with an audible and tactile reset.

Differences between the Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0 Compact and previous versions are noticeable and likely worth the move especially if your pistol is unmodified. This is easily the best M&P configuration to date. When it comes to size, it depends on your method of concealment and holster. Shortening the barrel by .25” is all but unnoticeable, just like the difference between a 1911 Commander (4.25″) and a number of 4” guns. It’s mostly a number, all be it a popular one. Not sure I would move to the compact as a rule if I had an M&P 9, but if it was the first one purchased it is an excellent choice. Either way, Smith & Wesson has entered this magic carry pistol slot with an excellent choice, make sure you check it out if that’s what you are looking for.

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Subscriber Comments

Comment by:

I read this article because I'm trying to decide between two S&W M&P 2.0 pistols - the "Full size" with a 4.25" barrel & the "Compact" with a 4" barrel. Your review provides a lot of helpful information, but I left confused by what you reported about relative weights.

First, it appears that your M&P Pro is a 1.0, rather than a 2.0, and perhaps that alone is the explanation. Neveetheless, I'm still having difficulty understanding why the "Compact" with just 16 rounds would weigh only 0.2 oz. less than your "Full size" M&P Pro with 18 rounds. (For my own purposes, I've assumed the "Full size" M&P 2.0 weighs about the same as your Pro; but even if your Pro starts out weighing a bit less than a "Full size" 2.0 - it seems like 2 additional full rounds of 9mm ammo should have made the weight difference from the Compact more than just 0.2 oz., shouldn't it?)

Can you clarify this? And do you have any information on how the "Full size" M&P 2.0 / 4.25" compares in weight to the "Compact" M&P 2.0 / 4" barrel?


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