Keeping This M&P – Western Firearms Inc.
Back when I first got into firearms, I purchased a HK USP 40sw with a factory stainless slide as per my uncle’s advice. After years went by and guns started falling off the DOJ roster (the BS list of approved handguns for sale in Commiefornia), that HK made me realize just how desirable some guns are. I already knew the value in Colt but this HK kept drawing attention and people kept offering to buy it. I hesitated for years until one day, 11 years later, a friend of mine offered me almost twice what the gun was worth new. Now its in his hands, well cared for and seldom fired. I have since had firearms come in and out of my possession for that purpose, profit – but then again, I am a firearms retailer.
Fast forward a few years and Smith & Wesson introduces the M&P line. Possibly to date one of S&W’s best semi-auto pistols they have produced out of the box and luckily approved for sale in, well you know where. Ergonomically this pistol is just about perfect. High tang to get that high grip on the frame, beaver tail to prevent slide burn, the ability to swap out grip back-straps to get the best width possible, and the front serrations on the slide to make press checks easier to perform. When I found out that S&W was going to let this pistol fall off the roster, I had to get my hands on one with the intent of selling it down the road.
After acquiring the gun and running it through its paces, getting familiar with it, the more I started to fall in love with it. Ultimately, I decided not to sell it but instead to improve it, make it better. So the adventure began and first with the trigger. The factory trigger for the most part is okay, but there is always room for improvement. That came by the way of an Apex Tactical trigger. I used their flat faced forward set sear and trigger kit. This trigger features a 50% reduction in travel, brings the trigger pull down to about 3-4 lbs, depending on the spring used and with the flat face, mimics a 1911 style trigger pull. This by far was the best modification done to the pistol. The trigger felt less spongy and the reset is a lot shorter than factory, allowing quicker follow up shots. The only down side is when it resets the “click” isn’t profound enough like on a Glock.
After going through a few sights sets, I settled on AmeriGlo’s Hackathorn sights. The set includes a front sight with tritium insert and a bright orange ring, but the rear sight has nothing – no dots, posts, bars, lines, anything that would indicate to line up the front sight with the rear. All it has are some serrations to prevent any glare that might interfere with your sight alignment or sight picture. After using these sights and performing so well on the M&P, I replaced all my other firearms with the Hackathorn.
Once again finding the need to improve on a design that already, out of the box is a good platform, I decided to upgrade the barrel to a KKM. Even after having done my research and reading countless articles of how great the factory barrel is and that there was little to no need to change it, I did, I couldn’t resist. I did see an improvement in my groups, they went from tight to tighter. Two things I noticed from comparing both barrels were the locking block on the KKM seems more positive and a slight larger outside diameter from the muzzle for better lock-up. To have the firearm look its best I decided to have the barrel TiN coated. This coating gave the barrel a “goldish” hue without actually gold plating the barrel.
In conjunction with the barrel I replaced the factory recoil guide assembly with Sprinco’s Recoil Management System. This system consists of two parts. First is a factory weight recoil spring, the second is a secondary spring assembly incorporated onto a heat treated stainless steel guide rod which cushions the slide to frame impact which, per the manufacture, extends the life of the firearm. Plus, it looks cool and when people see it, their minds get blown.
One of the final modifications I did to the Smith & Wesson M&P 9 pistol was to get the slide modified by Wetwerks USA, located in Southern California. Eric from Wet Werks performed what he calls his “Cobra Cut” finish. This finish consists of a concave cut at the muzzle end of the slide along with some window cut outs on each side and slightly more aggressive serrations. Not only does it look amazing but sheds some weight off the slide which allows it to cycle faster do to less mass. After the work was performed, the slide was covered in Duracoat’s Cobalt Grey coating.
All in all, the build of my custom Smith & Wesson M&P 9 was a success. This one will be a keeper. Not only does it have the look I was trying to achieve but it performs really well to boot. Everyone that has shot the pistol has given positive feedback. It really makes you a confident shooter. Seeing that target in the distance, drawing from your holster, the ergonomic grip allows you to get a firm purchase on the gun, pressing out the sights make sight alignment and sight picture effortless, squeezing the trigger to the rear and hearing the bang of the round go off sending the lightened slide to rear accurately propelling the projectile through the barrel out the muzzle striking the target in the A zone and feeling the slide lock in place ready to send another round down range, with the smell of gun powder in the air. I think I need to hit the range…