Handgun Review: Smith & Wesson's New M&P M2.0 10mm
In a growing field of 10mm Auto pistols, this new M&P M2.0 10mm has ergonomics that are tough to top
By Tyler Freel | Updated Jan 28, 2022 1:07 PM EST
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The 10mm Auto has seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years and the new Smith & Wesson M2.0 10mm is among the latest additions to the 10mm lineup available to consumers. Many hunters, anglers, and backcountry travelers find a 10mm pistol to be an appealing option for self-defense carry off the beaten path. As a result, many gunmakers are extending their lines to include 10mm Auto chamberings. In times of the 10mm Auto’s obscurity there were few options for shooters who wanted to carry it, but not anymore.
This new 10mm is built on the M&P M2.0 .45 Auto frame and offers a 16-round capacity with a grip and ergonomics that set it apart from other 10mm pistols. Individual tastes in handguns are as diverse as those who shoot them, but anyone who likes the fit and function of the M&P line is probably going to be a fan of this pistol. The M&P M2.0 10mm isn’t breaking new ground when it comes to handgun design, but it gives shooters another quality option for backcountry-carry.
Smith & Wesson
This new M&P 10mm isn’t bringing new concepts or dramatic designs to the market, but it’s still a welcome sight. One of the most attractive attributes of the 10mm as a backcountry defense cartridge is that it’s easy to learn to shoot quickly and accurately when compared to large revolvers chambered in cartridges like the .44 Rem. Mag. Weight, ammo costs, and recoil all play a factor, but so does familiarity. When shooting a more powerful cartridge than normal, an average shooter will likely do better with a pistol platform that they are familiar with. By that I mean, a shooter who runs a Glock 19 or similar striker-fired pistol will have a shorter learning curve mastering a Glock 20 10mm versus a Ruger Redhawk in .454 Casull.
The M&P M2.0 10mm has a polymer frame with a relatively slim grip with interchangeable backstraps that customize the angle and palm-swell. There’s plenty of real-estate to allow for a good grip, but the grip isn’t excessively thick or blocky. The texture on the grip and backstraps is superb—a fine, slightly abrasive stipple-type treatment.
The M&P M2.0 10mm uses a steel 15-round magazine with a polymer base plate. There isn’t much bevel on the magwell, but the bottom of the grip features a thumbnail cut-out on each side to aid in removing the magazine if it gets stuck. On my sample, magazines fell freely when released, but it’s not a bad feature. The pistol also sports sturdy, easy-to-feel, ambidextrous slide stops, and the magazine catch button is reversible for left-handed shooters.
The controls were easy to operate with minimal hand movement for me, and the aggressive front cocking serrations made loading and unloading the gun a simpler task, especially with an optic mounted on it. The beveled edges and clean lines of the slide and frame made holstering and un-holstering smooth and efficient.
The M&P M2.0 10mm is a quick-pointing pistol that’s comfortable to handle, but there are some other things worth pointing out too. This pistol comes in two models, with barrel lengths of either 4-or-4.6 inches. The 4.6-inch barrel is standard length for a full-size 10mm, but the shorter 4-inch barrel on the full-size frame reduces the overall length to 7.2 inches and makes it a little more compact. The slide comes optics-ready with a removable abrasive-textured placeholder-plate installed. The gun comes with a variety of adapter plates and screws to mount many popular handgun red dot optics.
The top-rear of the chamber features a small cutout hole that serves as a loaded chamber indicator, allowing you to see brass if the chamber is loaded. The bottom-rear of the chamber is slightly beveled for reliable feeding, but the case head is still well-supported and surrounded—something that’s important with high-pressure defensive loads. Pistols with “unsupported” chambers can result in a smile-shaped bulge in the case head at higher pressures, or even a case rupture.
The slide rails are thinner and shorter than on pistols like the XD-M Elite Compact OSP 10mm and the rails are tapered down in thickness at the front and rear. This reduces the bearing surface between the slide and frame and reduces friction. One key thing to note when it comes to a polymer 10mm Auto, the M&P M2.0 10mm frame features a steel insert in the frame channel forward of the slide rails. This is the contact surface that the frame hits at the rear-end of the recoil cycle. I have seen polymer contact surfaces on some other pistols severely damaged over time by the sharp recoil of the 10mm cartridge. This steel insert should help prevent any deformation.
As expected on a full-size polymer pistol, this one features a 3-slot Picatinny rail accessory mount. Weapon lights are often overlooked when it comes to backcountry defense handguns, but should you run into trouble in camp after dark, you’ll be glad to have a light. I put a Surefire X300 Ultra on mine, which is one of the top weapon lights you can get.
Other internals are also what you’ll see on any other M&P M2.0, and very similar to other striker-fired pistols. The M&P M2.0 10mm also has a sear disconnector that when depressed, allows you to remove the slide from the frame without pulling the trigger. Disassembly and maintenance are easy with a rotating takedown lever. One thing that I didn’t like is that the front end of the recoil spring/guide rod assembly is painted orange. It’s obvious which direction it goes into the gun, so I don’t think the paint is necessary—and it flakes off everywhere inside the front of the slide, frame, and on the barrel when you shoot it.
Shooting a 10mm well has everything to do with recoil management. The factory profile and texturing of the grip on this pistol do an excellent job facilitating a secure grip. The smooth rounded contour of the front of the grip and relatively thin trigger guard allowed for a close-to-bore-axis, tight grip. Recoil on 10mm pistols is sharp, and a comfortable solid grip aids with speed, accuracy, and confidence. Most other polymer 10mm pistols can use a little custom grinding or stippling, but I wouldn’t change anything on the grip of the M&P M2.0 10mm.
Even with sweaty hands, the gun is easy to hang onto and I didn’t struggle to maintain my grip. When shooting weak-hand-only, I had no trouble keeping a solid wrap on the gun. Recoil will certainly knock you around more than a 9mm, but it was the most comfortable un-modified 10mm that I’ve shot.
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I fired approximately 300 rounds of various 10mm Auto factory ammo and handloads through this M&P and didn’t experience a single issue. I fired some factory defensive loads, but most of the shooting was split between 180-grain FMJ loads and heavy-recoiling 200-grain Lead Flat Nose. I found it to be plenty accurate and was able to keep Federal Premium 200-grain HST hollow points inside a Post-It note from a supported position at 50 feet. More importantly, the gun was relatively easy to manage, falling back on target quickly after recoil. I was able to get half-a-dozen A-zone hits on a USPSA-style target roughly twice as fast as I could with my .357 Magnum revolver.
I shot the pistol with iron sights first, then installed a Trijicon RMR with one of the included adapter plates. Installation was easy and the pistol worked well in both configurations. The optic-height sights are tall, but easy to pick up and I had no problem using them through the window of my RMR. They are a solid backup if the optic fails. As part of a popular platform line, the M&P M2.0 10mm should also be compatible with a variety of aftermarket sights if you don’t like what it comes with.
The trigger on the M&P M2.0 10mm has some properties that I like, some I don’t. It features a trigger bar safety that when depressed, gives a flat trigger profile. I like the flat profile because I feel that it lets me apply pressure to the trigger more precisely. The weight of the trigger is relatively light for a striker-fired poly gun—I measured mine at 4 pounds, 9 ounces. Many of my pistols have trigger pulls over 5 pounds.
The break of the trigger is clean and crisp—I love it—but the take-up isn’t as smooth as I’d like. Pressing through the trigger-bar safety and through the take-up felt gritty. The reset isn’t as distinct as I’d like either. It’s tactile and audible but can be easy to miss. If I let the trigger off beyond the reset, I could feel that grittiness as I began squeezing again. It didn’t affect my shooting in a perceptible way, but for such a clean-breaking trigger, the gritty take-up was annoying.
For a defensive gun in any category, being comfortable to carry, handle, and shoot is of critical importance—perhaps second only to reliability. With the 10mm Auto’s current popularity being mostly for the purpose of backcountry defense, the M&P 2.0 10mm provides exactly what shooters should be looking for in a backcountry carry gun. It’s ergonomics and grip texture are what set it apart. While that might seem like a whole lot of nothing, if a gun is even slightly more comfortable to carry and shoot than the next, you’ll be more likely to train with it more, carry it more often, and hopefully be ready to use it when it really matters.
Tyler Freel is a Staff Writer for Outdoor Life. He lives in Fairbanks, Alaska and has been covering a variety of topics for OL for more than a decade. From backpack sheep hunting adventure stories to DIY tips to gear and gun reviews, he covers it all with a perspective that’s based in experience.
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