Firearm: Smith & Wesson M&P9 M2.0 Metal (MSRP: $899)
We’re taking another look at the Smith & Wesson M&P9 M2.0 Metal, because it may very well be the best iteration of the M&P yet. Adding a metal frame to the M2.0 variant yields a pistol with greater stability along with an excellent trigger, superlative grip texture and multi-optics-capable CORE system. While polymer vs. metal may come down to personal preference in the end, it’s another choice, and one that isn’t offered by many other manufacturers.
In any case, the metal version of the full-size M&P maintains all the same dimensions as the polymer save weight (it’s about 5 ounces heavier), so it will work with all gear designed for the polymer M&P, including magazines. One big advantage to the M&P platform is its ubiquity: Smith & Wesson has had the M&P on the market for nearly 20 years at this point and has landed many law enforcement contracts, so there’s plenty of gear available. The greatest handgun in the world is of little value if you can’t find a good holster for it, so having plenty of choices is a significant checkmark in the M&P box.
Another area where the M&P M2.0 shines especially bright is in Smith & Wesson’s CORE optics-mounting system. Each optics-ready slide has two sets of screw holes corresponding to the two predominant optics systems, and contains seven different plates that allow a huge variety of optics to mount directly to the slide. Find the correct plate for your optic’s footprint, set it on the slide, and only one set of screws is needed to secure things together. This is advantageous over other systems that require a plate be bolted to the slide, then the optic attached to that plate. Two screws to tighten rather than four means half the number you have to check on. About the only ding I can give the CORE system is that the plates are plastic rather than metal—but that’s not a critical concern as long as you check your optics mount regularly (which you should be doing regardless of attachment method).
Metal or polymer? That’s a personal choice, really—there’s minimal differences between the two M&P versions, so it comes down to individual preference. Are those 5 ounces a hindrance to carry, adding unnecessary weight? Or, are they welcome when you’re at a class or extended range practice? Again, that’s a personal call that we all make on our own. For me, the added rigidity of the metal frame is a big plus, and the extra weight isn’t a significant factor. But, in any case, the metal-frame M&P is another option, and more options are good.
Holster: KSG Armory Lexington IWB holster (MSRP: $80, $90 as tested)
We’ve opted for the KSG Armory Lexington ambidextrous holster to carry the M&P9 M2.0 metal in today’s kit. We’ve been impressed with the fit and finish of other KSG Armory offerings, and the Lexington continues this tradition with a holster that is customizable, comfortable and affordable. In the list of options for the Lexington, you can select a variety of color options including the blue carbon-fiber option we have here, the height of the sweat guard, the method of belt attachment, add a wing for appendix carry and even add in a foam wedge for greater comfort.
Add this to a taco-style, single-sheet Kydex holster with adjustable retention, and the ability to set it up exactly like you want is a major plus. Available for a wide variety of handguns, the Lexington is even compatible with the Enigma system from PHLster for deep concealment. There are plenty of options should you choose the Lexington, and I think we’ve made it clear that we view more options as a very good thing.
Optic: Holosun EPS Red2 red-dot sight (MSRP: $388.22)
Since the M&P M2.0 metal maintains Smith & Wesson’s CORE optics-mounting system, we wanted to showcase that with one of the new EPS red dots from Holosun. The EPS—Enclosed Pistol Sight—offers a completely encapsulated emitter, offering protection from the elements that open emitter sights lack. Unlike other enclosed-emitter sights, though, the EPS allows direct attachment to RMR-footprint plates. It’s still a two-step process: Bolt the EPS plate to the RMR footprint, then attach the EPS itself to the EPS plate. What’s not needed, owing to the construction of the EPS, is a side-mounted attachment system similar to carbine-mounted red dots common to other enclosed emitter types.
However, there is a note of caution: Not all RMR footprints are created equal. Certain aftermarket cuts are incompatible with the EPS plate, particularly those that use thin screws and extended posts on the slide. Multi-optic systems like the CORE and Glock’s MOS are the best bet for a secure fit, although with the current state of the market it wouldn’t be the least bit surprising to find new plates developed to cover this issue by the time this video goes live.