The new Smith & Wesson M&P Competitor definitely turned heads with its release at SHOT Show earlier this year. The gun’s sleek lines, slide serrations and speed cuts to the top and sides of the slide make this M&P model stand out from all the previous variations of the M&P lineup. The Smith & Wesson M&P Competitor is loaded with features and comes in two distinctive colors, not to mention the metal frame.
The Smith & Wesson Performance Center Competitor is a high-performance handgun designed for competitive shooting, hence the name. This firearm is an upgraded version of the M&P 2.0 Full Size series, which has a proven track record for reliability and accuracy.
The Competitor includes a five-inch barrel with a 1:10-inch twist rate providing better accuracy and velocities. The bold new look of the stainless steel slide has impressive slide lightening machining and nice front and rear serrations. The aggressive lightening cuts on both the top and sides of the slide help reduce weight in front of the chamber in order to help improve the recoil balance when firing the gun. The slide comes with a front green fiber-optic sight and blacked-out rear serrated sight. The rear notch is a nice wide square and makes shooting with the bright green side easy to get a fast sight picture.
The slide is optics ready. Smith & Wesson was one of the first companies to offer an optics-ready handgun, the M&P C.O.R.E. (Competition Optics Ready Equipment), which was released in 2012 and engineered to accept the top six popular styles of competition-based optics at the time. The M&P C.O.R.E. also introduced the interchangeable palm swells. In comparison, the Glock MOS system was released in 2015.
The Competitor ships in an impressive size hard plastic case. Along with the firearm, you will get four 17-round magazines that have a hard polymer base pad already installed. There are four interchangeable palm swell grip inserts that allow the end user to tailor the fit of the gun to their personal preference. The kit includes seven different mounting plates and five different sets of screws for mounting all the popular red dots. If you are like me and impatient, just flip to pages 50-51 of the owner’s manual, (the last two pages by the way) to check out the guide for plate, screw and optics matching.
The Competitor is available in two different colors, a Tungsten Gray Cerakote or two-tone with a black Armornite slide finish. According to the Smith & Wesson website, “Armornite finish is a hardened nitride finish that provides enhanced corrosion resistance, greatly improved wear resistance, decreased surface roughness, reduced light reflection and increased surface lubricity.” On top of all that, the two-tone variant is a good-looking pistol.
All the controls on the Competitor are set up for being competition-ready right from the box. It has an extended slide release and reversible oversized magazine release. The magazine release button is nicely checkered and extended, but not too far as to cause any issues with bumping it and dumping a magazine. Along with the interchangeable palm swells, the aluminum grip has relief cuts on both the right and left sides of the grip. These are in the right place, just above the magazine release button, and make your grip feel more natural and easier to hit the magazine release. Speaking of more natural grip, the Competitor sports an 18-degree grip angle for natural point of aim, along with a low bore axis. Under the trigger guard it has a slight relief to also aid in getting as high up on the grip as possible.
The front strap has a polymer insert that has a grippy texture which matches the texture of the palm swells. It does a nice job of locking the grip in while firing the gun. The aluminum grip also features a Picatinny-style rail for accessories. The gun ships with a removeable flared magazine well. This is easily removed and comes with the tool and replacement piece to run the gun without the magazine well to be Carry Optics and Production division legal.
With the Competitor being a Performance Center model, you also get an enhanced sear for lighter and crisper trigger. The trigger on the M2.0 is flat-faced and allows for consistent finger placement. The average of five pulls of the trigger on the Wheeler Digital Scale measured three pounds, 15.8 ounces. The trigger has a noticeable pre-travel into a solid wall, with a crisp break and a little overtravel. The reset is positive with some travel to it. Companies such as Apex Tactical have been offering competition kits for the M&P models that do a great job for a competition gun.
At the range, I ran through several different types of ammunition, including Federal Syntech Action Pistol 150-grain, Eley Competition Pistol 147-grain and 124-grain, Precision Delta 147-grain and some SNS Coated 135-grain reloads. The M&P Competitor had no issues with any of the ammunition after about 250 rounds of shooting. All rounds were accurate out of the gun, with the 147-grain Eley being the tightest group of five shots at 15 yards and about two inches unsupported. While performing rapid-fire Bill Drills and engaging a group of four targets with two rounds each, the gun was controllable, easy to shoot, and both fast and accurate.
A Vortex Razor with six-MOA dot was mounted using the supplied plate and screws. After sighting in, I ran about 150 more rounds of the various ammunition. The dot was easy to track in rapid shooting on the four-target array with the Competitor. The gun with an unloaded magazine and extended supplied floorplate, plus the Vortex Razor installed weighed in at 31.5 ounces. As packaged with the four magazines, supplied parts and plates, the MSRP is $999 for either color variant and can be found online for a little less than right now.
If you are a fan of M&Ps and looking for a ready-for-competition model absolutely packed with features, or in the market for a competition gun that won’t break the bank and is ready to go, be sure to check out the Smith & Wesson Performance Center M&P9 M2.0 Competitor. Go to smith-wesson.com to learn more.
Article from the March/April 2023 issue of USPSA’s magazine.