Glock vs. M&P…or why I shoot an M&P

I’m coming in a bit late to the recent flurry of blog posts about this debate, but figured I’d weigh in with my own unique technical point of view.  Our friend Shelley at kicked this off with her take on the M&P vs. Glock, which was then followed up by a rebuttal on Vuurwapenblog, and finally by my good buddy Tim on his 10-8 Training blog.

Readers of this blog and the 10-8 Performance Facebook page are no strangers to my affection for the M&P.  I was one of the earliest adopters of the platform, and was hooked ever since I fired one of the prototypes in the basement of the S&W factory back in 2005 or so.  I have also been shooting Glocks since the 90’s, and have a number of them in the pile as well, so I can speak with experience on both.  With so many compelling empirical arguments in favor of the Glock 17, why am I shooting a M&P 9mm?

For purposes of discussion below, I will be comparing the Glock 17 vs. the M&P 9mm full sized model.  If we were comparing the Glock 21 to the M&P 45, then let’s just stop here and declare the M&P .45 the winner and move on.  Superior ergonomics by far, good accuracy, and availability of thumb safety to help transition 1911 shooters make the M&P 45 the clear winner in my opinion.  Add a viable and reliable factory 14 round magazine, and you pretty much have the whole package wrapped up with a bow.  Same with .40 – the M&P was designed for the .40, with steel chassis for increased rigidity and none of the  durability or function issues of the Glock 22.  Oddly, the 9mm was shoehorned into the M&P platform rather than the reverse which is true for Glock, and it is therefore the weakest model of the M&P.  So why do I shoot one all the time?

  • The main downfall of the M&P 9mm is the wildly varying accuracy thanks to some QC issues and design flaws.  The M&P 9 barrel uses a tragically slow 1:18.75″ twist, which does a poor job stabilizing heavier bullets.  To add insult to injury, the M&P also unlocks extremely quickly.  This early unlocking tends to negate any conventional wisdom on what bullet weights should shoot well with the M&P, and you’ll want to do a bit of experimenting.  The Glock is inherently more accurate than the M&P, and will shoot 3″ or better at 25 yards with a wide range of ammunition.  I feel that 3″ or less is a good measure for service pistol accuracy at 25 yards.  My 3 primary M&P 9mm’s will all shoot 3″ or better at 25 yards with any 147 grain ammunition that I feed them, and two of them have printed 2 5/8″ standing offhand at 25 yards with 147 grain.  That works for me.  However, all three of the guns shoot about 6-8″ at 25 yards using 115 and 124 grain ammo.  My solution at this point is just to stick with 147 grain.
25 yd standing offhand groups with M&P 9
  • I feel that the M&P ergonomics are far superior for a 1911 guy, and better thought out overall than Glock (even the Gen 4).  The availability of interchangeable backstraps and thumb safety make the M&P a very logical polymer substitute for a 1911.  I love my M&P 9’s light recoil and lack of maintenance and setup requirements, making it a great vacation from high maintenance/setup 1911s.
  • Reliability?  The 3rd Gen Glock 17 is an extremely reliable gun, but it’s a real crapshoot right now with the Gen 4.  The M&P 9mm tends to be quite reliable across the board, and my 3 guns have not had any weapon related malfunctions in about 9000 rounds since the end of October 2011.  I have isolated some real bad primers in some of my ammo that have given me failures to fire, and had a total of 2 magazine related failures which were tracked down to a bad follower and worn spring in one mag.  That mag has been rebuilt and has since been 100%.
  • The factory Glock trigger is usable and consistent, which is one of its other strong points.  However, my Lyman digital trigger pull gauge tells me that the advertised standard 5.5 lb Glock trigger pull must not include a free bonus weight of anywhere from 1-3 pounds on various samples I have on hand.  Aftermarket parts may yield a lighter pull, but with an indistinct break that is still somewhat spongy.  My M&P’s are mostly set up with the awesome Apex Tactical components, making for a true 4.0 lbs even on my digital gauge.  Stock M&P’s often have a crunchy take-up due to stamping marks on the trigger bow, but tend to smooth up well with use.  The quality of the sear/striker engagement is typically pretty decent, and I have a couple guns that I shoot with the stock engagement (about 6-6.5 lbs) with no detriment in performance.  Even with aftermarket parts in both guns, the potential for an excellent trigger has the M&P far exceeding the Glock’s potential.  The Glock trigger has a superior reset, but I feel that the value of a big clicky reset is overstated.  Remember that the break is what lets you shoot well, not the reset.
  • I like the M&P’s steel mags, they are easy to disassemble, and the current polymer finish on them is very good.
  • The M&P is faster and more consistent to speed reload, with no ledges or cavities to catch the incoming magazine.
  • The grip angle issue is moot, I switch between my SIRT training pistol (which is basically a Glock 17) and M&P without even noticing.  I will even do this in live fire, alternating dry runs with the SIRT, then immediately running a live fire run with the M&P.  Whatever grip angle you prefer is the correct answer.
  • S&W customer service is exceptional.

So that’s why I shoot the M&P.  I am not blind to its faults, but I have figured out how to work around all of them, and really enjoy the platform.  With aftermarket enhancements, the M&P jumps ahead by leaps and bounds.  In time, I see the production M&P gaining even more ground on the Glock and getting the various weaknesses corrected.  With the M&P, I am also pleased to see an American made gun from an American manufacturer start to work its way into the holsters of American law enforcement.

Which gun do you prefer?  Let us know in the comments section.

This entry was posted in Modern Service Pistols and tagged by Hilton Yam. Bookmark the permalink.

About Hilton Yam

Hilton Yam is the founder of 10-8 Performance, LLC. He is a full time law enforcement officer in Florida with extensive experience working robbery and violent fugitives. He is currently assigned to firearms training and SWAT. He is a team leader as well as the lead instructor for his team, responsible for providing training in firearms, CQB, rappelling, defensive tactics, and team tactics. Hilton is also responsible for RDT&E of equipment. He has carried a 1911 extensively on duty, and has spent a great deal of time examining what makes the guns succeed and fail.

21 thoughts on “Glock vs. M&P…or why I shoot an M&P

  1. I prefer Glocks because:

    Easier to source parts and work on them myself; and they are cheaper in general.

    I really enjoy shooting M&P pistols and they do tend to be easier to pick up and shoot (im a 1911 guy also) but the Glocks i shoot arent much less accurate than i find acceptable in a “combat” style pistol and (for me) they are alot easier to service without having to hand them over to a gunsmith.

  2. I have the Apex trigger on my M&P 9mm and I have put my Sig in the safe.
    Ran the 229 in .357 Sig this weekend with a student and it still feels good… but the M&P is my go to weapon system now.
    I agree with all your points, great article.

  3. Great article Hilton. I was a Glock guy until I took a M&P on trade in .40. After shooting 1 magazine thru it I decided it was a keeper. The grip angle is very 1911 like and the 1911 is what I shoot the most. Add an Apex kit, 10-8 sites F/R and Arredondo magazine extensions and it’s an awesome IPSC gun. I have converted mine to 9 mm with a Storm Lake barrel to shoot less expensive ammo. I now have 3 of the M&P and there’s not a single Glock in the house.

  4. Boy… Having owned half a dozen GLOCK’s and both a 9mm and .45acp M&P, I still have a hard time replying.

    I think the M&P is MUCH more comfortable then GLOCK but GLOCK’s are a dime a dozen and accessories can be had cheap both new and used.

    I think if I were in the market for another full size 9mm I would pick the M&P 9 over the GLOCK 17 though.

  5. I have several M&P’s. Ergonomics are great. I had a trigger issue with one, and magazine issues with several, where if dropped partially full, rounds will eject and jam. And the base plates are way less then desireable. I have replaced all baseplates with 10-8’s (GREAT!), Trigger pull in a combat situation is fine, it goes bang. That being said, as an pold stubborn cop, I carry a Gen4 21 and 36 in 45acp on duty, and Gen4 19’s and Gen4 26’s off duty. They have been proven for 25 years of service, I have NEVER had anything go wrong with a Glock, ever. Maybe in 15 years, the M&P’s will have the same length of service and reliability as the Glocks do now, and maybe, just maybe I’ll switch.

  6. I have an M&P 9 and 9 compact. I love them both! For the full size, I swapped out the sites for a set of Warren Tactical which are awesome! And I swapped out the trigger system for an Apex Forward Set Trigger system, which is also like night and day! My M&P’s have been incredibly reliable, accurate and fun to shoot. Maybe an M&P .45 is next on the list?

  7. I have two M&P45. One full size, one compact. The full size has the Apex FSS. What an amazing difference. It should come from the factory like that. I shoot it much better than the compact. I guess that means I need another FSS. I find it interesting no one talks about the 357 SIG version. I’ve never shot this caliber. I’m very interested though. Anyone here spent much time with one? Could you share your experience?

  8. Enjoyed the article. For the last three years I have carried a 10-8 Performance 1911 on duty. Up until March 2012, my department issued handgun was a Beretta 96FS. We have a lot of latitude in firearms which are authorized so long as you’re buying it yourself. So March 2012 rolls around and the department has decided to replace the aging Berettas. (I was part of an extensive T&E prior to making the switch.). We now issue full size M&P 40s. I could not be happier. So happy in fact, I have retired my 1911 to the gun safe (hopefully to be refinished soon). The M&P, for me, was head and shoulders above the gen 3 and 4 glocks we tested. In the last week I have augmented my M&P stable to include a 40c for daily carry in Detectives and a 9mm Shield for my CCW /off duty rig.

    On a side note, if you have not shot a shield yet, you don’t know what youre missing.

    Anyway, it’s all opinion and YMMV, but for me, SW M&Ps are superior in many ways to Glock and an excellent transisition pistol for 1911 shooters.

  9. I don’t care for the M&P’s myself, though I am aware of their successes. My local PD carries G21’s and M&P45’s. I carry a Gen.3 G17 and Gen.3 G26, and I will never make the switch.

    I enjoyed hearing everyone’s thoughts.

  10. Getting in on this late, but thought I’d throw in a few things about this article that readers may miss as they get excited over the title. I know this is an opinion, but it seems the M&P only makes sense if you plan to shoot 147gr bullets and spend an extra $100+ on an aftermarket trigger to make it as accurate as a Glock. So to say one is better than the other is a stretch.. it’s all personal preference. I like a heavier trigger, you prefer a lighter. I like the solid reset on the Glock vastly over the M&P. The M&P does have nice ergos and more robust sights.

  11. The only thing I like of the M&P is the ergonomics. I have repeatedly switched between Glocks and M&P’s at the range, and I have always had better accuracy with the Glocks. Stock Glock triggers are much better than stock M&P triggers, IMO.

  12. I shoot the M&P .45 because our sheriff issued it to me and told me to use it. I put away my beloved 1911 and learned to shoot the plastic fantastic. I may be the only cop in the US who has never pulled the trigger on a Glock.

    At first it was quite a transition. Smith and Wesson managed to combine grit, overtravel, and sponginess into the trigger pull, although it has smoothed up after several hundred rounds. I like the grip adapters, although I use the medium one that came on the gun.

    I have managed now to qualify with the damned thing three times and I’m getting used to it. My scores aren’t yet what they were with my revolvers or my 1911, but this is the pistol I have and the pistol I’ve got to learn. It’s getting better. Who knows, in a couple of more years, I might even learn to like it?

  13. I really like the M&P, but I have issue with its strikers failing during dry-fire. I’ve only owned one, but have shot several. Everything is better than the Glock except the striker. My brother is one his fourth striker with his M&P9, and just switched to the Glock 34 to save money on spare parts. Not that strikers cost tons of money. I know others that have put up to ten strikers in their guns. That issue alone is a slam-dunk for Glock, at least in my book.

  14. The Glock is not a very good Close Quarter Battle Pistol. The venerable Glock has no metal-on-metal contact in the magazine catch-recess area, causing magazines to wear out faster and sometimes drop out of the gun.

    • I’ll call BS on that comment! I’ve seen hundreds of thousands of rounds through multiple hundreds of glocks at my department alone using Gen 1 – Gen 4 mags. I have never seen an issue like you are stating, that is unless you’re using a cheap knock off Glock mag. Maybe you’re having user issues instead of Glock plastic on plastic issues. I’ve never heard of this as common place unless it was a bad set of mags/mag releases which would be few. I’m still using Gen 2-4 training mags I’ve never cleaned or changed out followers or springs. I run them until they die then buy new. Most individual mags in my training sets have seen over 10K of use each. You better check your indians before you call blame on the bow. I seen plenty of mag issues in my day, especially with the first couple of runs of M&P’s. Those guns had troubles from ammo issues, to feeding and extracting, etc. They got it right after a few runs but I’ve yet to even see much less hear what you’re commenting takes place with the Glocks. Everything wears out but 95% of most shooter won’t even come close to wearing out a Glock mag once in their shooting careers or professions. I’ve worn plenty to the point the follower was destroyed but never had a mag recess or mag catch fail. EVER!!!!!!

      I’ve shot and used Glocks since they hit the market. I know there are QC issues with every gun made today and Glock has its share of issues. Luckily I keep mine stock on the inside, Vickers slide and mag release and Warren as well as 10-8 sights on the outside. I have placed over 20K through my current duty Gen 4 17 without one issue, ever. 30K through my duty G21 Gen 3 not one issue. Now I might just be the one lucky SOB on the planet but I doubt it. I call most blame on the shooter and not the gun.

      I am a very big fan of the M&P guns. I carry a 9 and 40 shield and love their triggers better than the Glocks. I have shot the Glocks on duty, Swat, Swat comp and comp more than any other gun I have ever owned or used and do well with the Glock and its stock trigger so I won’t change until it breaks and I can’t fix it. I wish Glock would do more like S&W with their line of pistols but Glock definitely doesn’t pay much attention to their competition in the firearms industry or the shooters needs. They’ll find out the hard way when S&W passes them in sales and starts supplying LE, Fed and Military with more than Glock does.

      But that’s a long time coming S&W fans!

  15. I’ve been carrying a 1911 since getting my license and shot them competitively for a few years. I bought an M&P in 357 Sig and got a ,40 barrel for it. I also added the Apex parts to it and the trigger is great now. The transition to the M&P was seamless and the pistol has been very accurate in both calibers, I couldn’t be happier with it. It has been totally trouble-free, no FTF, FTE’s ever. I have the 10-8 base plates on my mags and have dumped them in the dirt often with no problems. I love this pistol! Next one I buy will be the .45.
    I have shot a borrowed Glock 19 and have found the M&P fits me better and I can shoot it better too. I know Glocks are dependable and fine pistols, but I’ve found the polymer pistol that works for me…..the M&P.

  16. I have always preferred 1911’s until I was forced to get a non single-action weapon for duty use.
    I tried the Springfield XD45 and didn’t like it at all.
    I bought a Glock21 3rd Gen and
    I was amazed by the accuracy, but absolutely hated the ergonomics.
    It was seriously like trying to shoot a gun with a 2×4 for a grip!
    I now have a M&P45 Full-size and MUCH prefer the ergonomics!
    In my opinion, the M&P with an Apex FSS trigger has better trigger performance than the Glock with a Trigger Job.
    The only advantage I can see to Glocks right-now,
    is that there are more custom parts available for the time being.
    I think of the M&P as the logical evolution of the Glock,
    that Glock SHOULD have done by now, but didn’t…

  17. only noticeable complaint i have of MP is the stock trigger. haven’t tried any trigger on the MP. I’m not impressed. being that I’m sensitive to reset, i feel a click in the trigger prior to reset that threw me off when i initially shot it. it was something that one has to get used to. not good when you’re used to your duty weapon having one click and that click being reset. it was good for tap/rack drills and unnecessary loss of a round but that’s about it. there’s also a lot of take up. ergonomics are good to go. only complaint is trigger and if I had my choice of stock trigger between the Glock and MP, I’d take the Glock hands down.

  18. I’ve got an M&P .40FS and it feels like it was made for my hand. It did have a gritty trigger at first, but after about 500 rounds it is as smooth as can be. It probably shoots better than I’m able too. Under 3″ @ 25yds. I’ve never held a Glock much less fired one so I can’t comment on that. The only thing that I am planning on changing at this time is to install the New Apex Poly Trigger. I’ve not had any problem with the original trigger but I just don’t trust the design of the Safety aspect of it. I like the design of the Apex Poly trigger a lot more, and it will make me feel a little more secure. It’ll never be a 1911, but it’s design as a service and range pistol is great. Thanks for a great article.

  19. I bought my first Glock in 1989. I have been shooting Glocks for over 20 years and I am amazed at their reliability. The only after market accessories I’ve added are night sights and a Hogue slip on grip.

    A few years, ago a friend of mine who is a firearms instructor asked me if I wanted to try his M&P .40. At the time I was not a fan of S&W semi-auto’s. I accepted his offer and stepped up to the firing line with the M&P. Holding the gun, I was impressed with the ergonomics and how comfortable it felt in my hand. I really liked the fit, finish and feel of the gun. The texturing on the grip was just right. I also like the serrations that were cut into the front and rear of the slide. The M&P was also fitted with quality, metal 3 dot sights. These touches were not only cosmetically appealing, but they made the gun easier to handle.

    While on the line, I raised the M&P and slowly squeezed the trigger. The trigger was smooth and relatively short. The trigger broke clean, it was nothing like some of the really long trigger pulls of early S&W semi autos. When I focused on the target, the round hit at the exact place that I was aiming. I remember that I instantly smiled and thought “This is the gun that the Glock should have evolved to”.

    Needless to say, a couple of weeks later I purchased my own M&P .40. Since then I have put thousands of rounds through it. I have found that the M&P to be just as reliable as the Glocks I have been shooting for years.

    I am really surprised that Glock has not done more to increase the ergonomics of their guns. Even the new Gen-4’s are a little slippery in your hand.

    I believe that the Glock and M&P are equal as far as dependability and reliability, but when it comes to ergonomics and style the winner is the M&P.

    I carry the Glock at work because it is what I am issued, but for home defense and recreational shooting I choose M&P.


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