One day back in early 2010, one of the guys at work was talking guns and it caught my ear. It got me thinking about what I had for protection at home. I know any gun, put into service can be used to provide protection to some extent, but what I had at home at the time really wasn’t well suited to home defense. So I started looking on the Internet for the best home defense gun. Now, my Google-fu isn’t the best, but I managed to find the topic. So then, here came the flood of questions and opinions.
I thought the most versatile weapon would be another pistol. I knew a revolver was out for insufficient capacity and extremely slow reloads. So I wanted a semi-auto pistol. Well, the first semi-auto pistol to come to any noob’s mind is Glock. I’d shot one about 5 years earlier and wasn’t impressed. I had a hard time hitting a Coke can at 10 yards with it. I didn’t think it was me, because I could shoot the eyes out of George Washington on a dollar bill at 10 yards with my Python.
One day after work I went by the local gun store and indoor range to see what they had. I wasn't sure what to expect, and since I hadn't shopped for handguns in over 20 years, I had a severe case of sticker shock. The $800+ price tag on 1911’s had my jaw dragging the floor. Actually, it might have been the Kimbers that caused that. It’s hard to tell since they both happened almost simultaneously. The salesman behind the counter asked all the typical questions:
- What do you want the gun for? Home Defense? Personal Defense? Competition? Plinking?
- What price range were you thinking about? What price do you put on your life?
- What caliber were you thinking about?
So I went home more confused than ever. I could answer the first question. I wanted to at least use it for defense and plinking was secondary. I’d never thought about carrying or competing. The price? Wellllllll, that’s not really a problem, but I knew I couldn’t afford $1400 on a new Kimber with all the bells and whistles. Caliber was a tough decision. I was familiar with the .45ACP round from the Navy and my brief stint with a Gov’t Model Colt, so that was my first choice. I knew ammunition wouldn’t be cheap, but it wasn't horrible. I looked into 9mm and .40S&W too. The .40S&W ended up being my secondary choice. I’d read that a lot of law enforcement and government agencies were using that round. Ballistics were respectable as well. It was cheaper than .45ACP, too.
So I went back to the store later that week, and Megan was behind the counter to help me. I must admit, I was a little apprehensive about a young lady selling guns, but she impressed me with her knowledge and she didn't try to sell me something I didn’t want. I asked about the differences between the .40 and .45. I held a few different makes, but the M&P felt the best. It gripped more naturally, and the sights came up to my eye better than the Sig (I forget the model #) or the Rock Island Armory compact 1911. I still wasn't sure about what caliber, though.
So I went back to work and talked to the gun guy there. I hit up a couple of other gun stores to feel up a few more guns, but I went back to the M&P. Megan was there again, and I told her I was thinking about the M&P but couldn’t decide on caliber. She said I could rent one of each, a .40 and a .45 and try them out. If I bought one, the rental would be free. If not, I was only out about $50. So you know I had to try them out.
The M&P40 felt good. It comes with two 15 round magazines, a lock, and a case. The 40S&W round has a pretty sharp recoil. I don’t think the .45ACP recoil is that sharp. The factory trigger is long and gritty with a fairly long reset.
The M&P45 felt just as good in my hand. It actually felt slightly fatter than the 40. It comes with two 10 round magazines. There are 14 round extended mags out there for this pistol. Recoil, though heavy, it was still manageable, and shooting it side by side with the 40, I don’t think the recoil was as bad as the 40.
I don’t know if it was me, or the guns, but the M&P40 didn’t seem as to be accurate as the M&P45. The M&P40 had a couple of failures to feed and one failure to extract. I think this might have been due to it needing a good cleaning. The M&P45 didn’t look any cleaner though.
I opted for the M&P45. They come in 4” and 4-1/2” barrel lengths. I got the 4”. I wish they made one in a 5”. M&P’s have bulky grips. I’ll say they don’t conceal well, but that depends on the person and their choice of clothing. I think they are better suited for open carry, but I’ll stuff mine under a shirt once in a while and I’m only 5’8” 170 pounds.
The M&P semi-autos all come with three different sized palmswells to accommodate hands of all sizes. They also come with a lock, two magazines, and a carrying case. S&W now sells kits with holsters and mag pouches for a complete ready to go set up.
This M&P will eat anything I feed it, from 230 grain ball to 230 grain hollowpoints. She’ll eat Corbon Pow’rBalls. And just for grins, I ran 2 mags of 200 grain semi-wadcutters without a hitch. I’ve never had a problem with the gun that I can blame on the factory. (Yes, there’s a story behind that statement, but that’s another day.)
I now have a reliable defense pistol with a decent capacity, outstanding reliability, and just a bit of power.