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7 Best Smith & Wesson M&P Models [Handguns + Rifles]

We take a look at some of our favorite models from Smith & Wesson's M&P lineup -- from duty size, to backup, to rifles...come see what we recommend.

Smith & Wesson is as American as apple pie, and one could even argue that they are an American tradition.

Micro Compacts Smith & Wesson MP Shield Plus
Micro Compacts Smith & Wesson MP Shield Plus

From revolvers to ARs to duty handguns, Smith & Wesson is definitely a jack of all trades. One of the company’s most successful lineups is the M&P series.

And today, we’re going to dive into the M&P line, look at its history, and walk you through some of the notable models you might want to consider.

Summary of Our Top Picks

  1. Best Top Tier M&P

    Smith Wesson Performance Center M&P 9 M2.0

    High end model with all the bells and whistles

  2. Best for Easy Racking

    Smith & Wesson M&P380 Shield EZ with Thumb Safety

    Great for shooters with weaker hand strength or health conditions

  3. Best for EDC

    Smith & Wesson M&P9 2.0 Compact

    G19 comparable, great for edc, comfortable to shoot

  4. Best for .45 ACP Fans

    Smith & Wesson M&P .45 M2.0

    If you need .45 ACP, this is your model

  5. Best AR-15

    Smith & Wesson M&P15 Sport II 5.56 NATO

    Great for home defense or hunting, easy to use

Table of Contents

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A Brief History

M&P handguns were introduced in 2005 as Smith & Wesson’s new line of polymer pistols. They were pretty revolutionary for the times.

With a rubberized grip, hinged trigger, fish scale serrations, and interchangeable backstraps, the M&P was definitely on the cutting edge of handgun technology in the early 2000s.

Handgun Women SW Shield 9
M&P Shield 9

In its first year, the M&P gained over 100 Law Enforcement contracts. Unfortunately, it never quite gained the foothold needed to surpass Glock in popularity.

Enter the M&P 2.0. It was better than the first generation in almost every way.

The next-gen quietly broke the “you get what you pay for” mold. In reality, the second iteration of S&W duty handguns delivered your money’s worth and then some.

M&P 9 M2.0 texture
M&P 9 M2.0 texture

Some upgrades included: a steel frame insert, front slide serrations, improved slide stop, improved fire control group, and a significantly improved grip texture.

Each upgrade the M&P 2.0 brought added tons of functionality to an already great gun.

With a full lineup of over 22 variants (and rifles) to choose from, there’s plenty to pique your interest. So let’s get to it!

Best Smith & Wesson M&P Models

1. Performance Center M&P 9 M2.0

This is a no-brainer. The best M&P offering is, without a doubt, the Performance Center M&P9 M2.0.

As the name suggests, the Performance Center M&P9 M2.0 is built for performance.

(Photo: Smith & Wesson)

This is the top shelf of M&Ps. It has a ported slide and barrel, fiber optic sights, and a finely tuned trigger. Most importantly, it’s optics ready out of the box.

Now, these guns are not what anyone would call popular among competition shooters, but they are not looked down upon either.

Best Top Tier M&P
464
at Guns.com

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Instead, they are – sort of — just forgotten. Occasionally, you might see some people running these here and there.

What really makes the PC M&P9 M2.0 a force to be reckoned with is that it takes a gun that’s already great out of the box and tunes it to be phenomenal.

It’s modernized and optimized something that was already “good enough.”

2. M&P .380 Shield EZ

At first glance, the M&P .380 Shield EZ can seem a little underwhelming. Like many other shooters, I dismissed it. I thought it was useless.

Boy, was I wrong!

After helping a friend teach a few handgun classes and going to the range with a few of my friends, I saw the glory that is the Shield EZ.

S&W M&P Shield EZ .380
S&W M&P Shield EZ .380

Our bodies are all different. This is the one challenge that all shooters face sooner or later. Most of us immediately relate this to mechanics.

Rightfully so, but one mechanic many shooters overlook is racking the slide. There is no way to shoot without doing it, and you’ve got to do it at least once. It comes so easily to most folks that it often goes undiscussed.

Sadly, this can be extremely discouraging for shooters with weaker grip strength or health conditions. In fact, they’re pretty much forgotten by the majority of the gun industry.

S&W M&P Shield EZ shooting

Smith & Wesson to the rescue!

The M&P Shield EZ was specifically designed with this demographic in mind. Redesigned from the ground up, the M&P Shield EZ is, in my opinion, one of Smith & Wesson’s greatest ideas to date.

With a grip safety, tactile loaded chamber indicator, and easy load magazine, the Shield EZ is definitely the odd man out. It sure doesn’t look like its brothers and sisters, but that’s because it serves a different purpose!

Best for Easy Racking
399
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

On top of serving people who might have trouble racking slides or managing recoil, the EZ serves a secondary group…those that like a manual safety.

The M&P Shield EZ fills that niche perfectly with both a grip and manual safety.

Added bonus? No hinged trigger to deal with.

Shield EZ 9mm Vs EZ380 and tomatos
Shield EZ 9mm and EZ380

Even if you don’t fall into the target audience, the Shield EZ is a logic-defyingly fun gun to shoot with a very soft recoil impulse.

Next time you hit the range, try one out and see if it’s worth a second look. It certainly changed my mind.

For a full look into the Shield EZ, read our review here or check out the video review below!

What do you think of the EZ? Rate it below!

Readers' Ratings

5.00/5 (30)

Your Rating?

3. M&P9 M2.0 Compact

Glock 19 Killer? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

The compact M&P9 M2.0 is plain jane. That is not necessarily a bad thing, though.

It is the Smith and Wesson equivalent to the Glock 19. A true workhorse…range toy, concealed carry, competition rig, whatever — this M&P variant will get the job done, often cheaper than its competitors.

M&P 9 M2.0 texture
M&P 9 M2.0 texture

One thing is certain; the M&P9 M2.0 holds its own with the big dogs like Glock and Sig.

As previously mentioned, the M&P 9 M2.0 has tons of functional upgrades from its prior generation. Boasting its aggressive grip, great trigger, metal (as opposed to Glock plastic) sights, and fish-scale serrations, the M&P M2.0 is a beast for the price.

Best for EDC
487
at Primary Arms

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Compacts can handle pretty much any situation that needs to be handled between “needing a gun” and “needing a rifle.”

While this model doesn’t come with a ported barrel and slide or an optic-ready slide, the namesake M&P9 with an upgraded trigger is hard to beat!

Want to read more? We got you! Check out our review of the M&P9 M2.0 here.

4. M&P 45 Shield M2.0

Two WORLD WARS! IT CAN STOP A BEAR! 9MM, BUT FOR MEN!

Now that we’ve lost the interest of literally everyone else in the gun community, here is one for the .45 fanboys.

M&P Shield 9 Plus two hand
It’s like this….just in .45 ACP.

The M&P 45 Shield M2.0 is a beast of a concealed carry gun. It’s slightly larger than its 9mm counterpart and only holds one less round.

This little pocket gun can carry six to seven rounds of .45 ACP. That’s pretty substantial! Not to mention, its grip texture is more aggressive than the 9mm shield variant.

Best for .45 ACP Fans
573
at Kygunco

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Designed and optimized for concealed carry, the Smith & Wesson M&P 45 Shield M2.0 is the perfect concealed carry gun for boomers and 45 fanboys alike.

5. M&P Bodyguard .380

We’ve all experienced times that we wish we had a little something extra. Walking down a dark alleyway, going for a nighttime jog, or even just taking out the trash on a particularly dark night.

Smith and Wesson Bodyguard carry gun

Maybe a gun? No, too inconvenient for such a minor task. A bodyguard? No, too expensive. Well, what if you could have both? (Sorry for the dad joke.)

The Bodyguard .380 may look like a toy, but it’s a seriously potent firearm. If you say you’ve never fantasized about an ultra-concealable gun for high-speed and imaginary spy missions, you’re lying.

It can fit in the palm of your hand or a pocket. Hell, it could even fit in your socks (although I don’t recommend this). The bodyguard is perfect for summertime carry or shooters with small hands.

319
at Kygunco

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

The trade-off to having such a concealable weapon is that it will take some extra training to acclimate yourself to shooting such a small firearm.

You can, however, shorten the learning curve a bit by getting a Crimson Trace Laser model.

For more deets, read our review here!

6. The Hushpuppy

If you ever plan on suppressing your handguns, this M&P variant should definitely be on your radar.

When a gun fires, there are a few different noises that are emitted. Obviously, you have the sound of the bullet breaking the sound barrier, but you also have the sound of the slide cycling, as well as port noise.

749
at Capitol Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

The Hush Puppy Project remixed the M&P to have a slide lock feature that effectively eliminates the two other noises.

This means that, with a can, this M&P is the quietest handgun on the market. It also comes with a threaded barrel, so… you already know what time it is.

Sneki Snek Mode: Activated.

7. M&P Sport II

The M&P Sport II is one of S&W’s more budget offerings, but don’t let that be a knock against it!

This 5.56 chambered AR-15 is worth your attention. It features a 16-inch barrel length with an overall length of 35-inches. Weighing in at 103.2 ounces, the Sport II is great for home protection, hunting, and just plain ole shooting.

S&W M&P Sport II in a stump
S&W M&P Sport II

There isn’t really anything that stands out about the Sport II — good or bad. It’s a very basic mil-spec AR-15, but S&W made it well.

If you’re looking for a functional, reliable rifle that will leave enough cash in your account for lots of ammo and a sling — the M&P Sport II is absolutely a rifle you should consider!

Ergonomics, accuracy, and reliability are good for the price, and you can always upgrade.

Best AR-15
715
at Kygunco

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Read our full thoughts on it, or check out the video below!

Final Thoughts

Smith & Wesson did a bang-up job with the M&P line. It’s a shame that it hasn’t quite achieved the level of popularity as other duty guns in the marketplace.

M&P 9 M2.0 kneeling
M&P 9 M2.0

Personally, I think it is about time that the M&P gets its flowers. I mean. Let’s be real. The M&P checks off all the boxes, and it does it well.

The bottom line is that M&P is good to go out of the box.

What’s your favorite M&P model? Let us know in the comments below. Interested in another Smith & Wesson, that’s not an M&P? Check out our review of the Smith & Wesson CSX.

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22 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    BrianB

    Purchased a M&P EZ Shield 2.0 in .380 for a lady friend to use. Sold my M&P9 1.0 and purchased the M&P9 Metal. I like them both.

    September 26, 2022 6:44 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    CLAUD B

    It is of course a matter of opinion. S&W has applied the M&P logo to so many different products that they are devaluing their historical logo S&W. I don't think it is brand loyalty but in pistols I own an MP9C, a 380EZ, a 9EZ, a 686PLUS and a Taurus Spectrum. Why so many? Frankly I won the 380EZ, I tried to exchange it for the 9EZ and was told they would take the new gun in as used and sell me the 9mm. At the time the dealer had no 380 ammo in stock to sell. Like winning a car and no one has gasoline. It is hard to justify 380 as 9mm is more powerful, less expensive and getting impossibly as small.

    September 16, 2022 6:31 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    jeff

    The sport 2 was my first AR Ive owned. Bought it back in 2019. Got it for $580. How times have changed. Anyway, the gun is solid. Its basic. Phosphate bcg and the trigger is really gritty. But to get started its a fine gun. Ive shot probably 1000 rounds so far and had zero issues.

    September 3, 2022 4:59 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Will

    I really like the trigger on the Performance Center M&P 9 2.0, and I've yet to see any failures after a few trips to the range. I'm not sure I can even notice the difference the ported barrel makes, but it does *look* cool.

    August 31, 2022 9:18 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Gary

    Watching my wife trying to SAFELY rack her weapon wasn't happening until the EZ Shield came along. Happy wife, happy shooter. Then arthritis claimed my hands and I ended up trading my Sig for an EZ Shield. Something to seriously consider if "brass and lead" therapy sessions are a part of your life.

    August 30, 2022 8:58 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Doug G

    When I was choosing a carry gun, my first, I had decided that I needed a min. of 12 rds, .40 cal. That was my benchmark. So I looked at the M&P compact and then the Beretta PX4 compact, both in .40 cal. and both held at least 12 rds, but the Beretta was cheaper. That first decision put me on a path to only have hammer fired handguns for carry, competition, and collecting. Beretta then CZ and boy am I glad I found CZ's! If not then I'd probably be looking at striker fired pistols like the M&P's and Sig 320, except for a few 1911's.

    August 30, 2022 9:48 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Claud B

      Choosing a pistol. It is like going to Dunkin Doughnuts-so many great choices. Some like chocolate, some vanilla then there is always that one on line for 20 minutes and then tries to decide like it was a surprise that a decision would need to be made.
      In terms of cheaper, considering engineering, manufacturing advertising etc pistols are an amazing value. What to buy? A 22 is lightest to carry. A 44 magnum might be best when is some situations. We search for the perfect answer for every situation and settle for some compromise.

      September 16, 2022 6:48 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Greg Hodge

    Always had Glock because that's what I started with. Decided a few years ago that a 9mm Shield looked like a better EDC option. Boy was I wrong! That gun failed within the first 2 weeks, on the 2nd trip to the range! I figured S&W would make it right, but I got home and realized the frame was cracked too. Brought it back to the dealer for store credit and will never own a S&W gun again! Their knives are OK though.

    August 29, 2022 7:18 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Mel

    With the disclaimer that I have changed the sights on all my Glocks, Glock does not have plastic sites. At least, they didn't used to (I can't speak for Generation 5). I have heard this a long time but when I replaced my sites I was surprised to find a metal frame with a plastic coating. Just my 2 cents worth.

    August 29, 2022 9:12 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Robbie T.

    How does the Shield Plus get a picture at the top, but not even a mention for EDC?

    August 29, 2022 7:14 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Sean P Carrick

    Bought the Smith & Wesson M&P9 MM Shield EZ with Thumb Safety for my wife and she loves it. She is a little spooked by guns and wanted degrees of safety built in to the one she carries. She now never uses the Thumb safety. I am trying to get a friend to sell me his MP 9 mm. I like it better than my glock mainly because of the size.

    August 29, 2022 6:06 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Gregory F.

    I recently joined the M&P fanclub with my purchase of a M&P 2.0 Spec Series 9mm. I love it - it is my new go-to. I absolutely had to support a company that wagged a giant middle finger in the faces of corrupt politicians.

    August 29, 2022 12:09 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    range rat

    I have a 10mm which absolutely rocks. I also have the 380 PC (wife has one too). They have the same amount of shooting fun as the 10mm but for different reasons. Once at the range I shot the 10mm then switched to the 380. Do you remember in little league using the iron donut on your bat in the on deck circle? Same effect.

    August 28, 2022 7:47 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Matthew L Gilson

    Summer carry is my M&P 9 Shield Plus Performance Center with day-glow sights, ported barrel and one slick trigger! Very easy to shoot even with a 3" barrel, ultra concealable. But S&W, no one can get that 13th round in the mag without major issues!

    August 28, 2022 5:51 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    JT

    Be careful when stating the M&P Sport II as “Mil-Spec” firearm. It’s not, not even close. From the receivers to the barrel to the BCG they use materials, finishes and QA that in no way match that or exceed Mil-Spec.
    For the price, it’s great bang for the buck. In fact its more than adequate for the majority of plinkers, and occasional shooters not to mention I’m sure it’s plenty adequate for most home defense scenarios. But would any police or armed force take these into battle? I highly doubt it unless they are simply purchasing on price.

    August 28, 2022 5:47 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Craig Davis

    Recently purchased a S&W 2.0 Shield. Selling my Springfield Armory XDS 2 3.3.
    Smith is a better pistol for me.

    August 28, 2022 5:19 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Dixie Normus

    I’ve got 3 of these models and am proud to support an American company. My Shield 45 is my go-to pistol when I have to get out at night and it has never had a failure. The M&P Compact is accurate and fun to shoot. I traded in an original Shield 9 to purchase the compact just for more capacity and 4” barrel. I’ve never had a problem with any of them.

    August 28, 2022 5:07 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Drew Arsenault

    C’mon, the new M&P 2.0 10MM deserves some recognition. Flat faced trigger is a definite improvement. Optic ready Sights. Fun to shoot.

    August 28, 2022 4:25 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Eric Perkins

    That’s really pathetic, you didn’t even bring up the Smith & Wesson M&P 10mm. For me I rather have a 10mm then a 9mm. Prove me wrong.

    August 28, 2022 4:18 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Robert S. Brooks

    I have the M&P Shield 9mm and .45, Love them both. I definitely got my moneys with these two beauties.

    August 28, 2022 4:15 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    DrPain

    Where's my 310 NightGuard :)

    August 28, 2022 12:50 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    DrPain

    Where's my 310 NightGuard : )

    August 28, 2022 12:49 pm
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