Review: Ed Brown Fueled M&P

Ed Brown has added its own type of fuel to a Smith & Wesson workhorse and takes the platform to another level.

posted on May 8, 2024

Nothing stays the same. Tastes change, forgotten things are remembered and pendulums swing back. Nothing but quality, that is. When polymer pistols hit the market, everyone seemed to forget that metal—especially aluminum—had advantages. Some are re-learning that, others have never forgotten.

Ed Brown, a pistolsmith who didn’t forget, has taken one of the newer, metal-frame (you can have a polymer-frame one, but why?) Smith & Wesson M&P9 M2.0 pistols (Smith & Wesson is another company that didn’t forget) and transforms it. Out go the slide, barrel, locking block, extractor, sights, trigger, trigger pins, slide backplate and magazine baseplates, and they are all replaced with Ed Brown components. That’s a lot of parts on an already-excellent pistol that are exchanged for improved parts.

You see, the new ones are not simply drop-in replacements, but rather are designed and fitted to improve accuracy and function. This being the 21st century, the new slides are fitted with new, suppressor-height sights, and each slide is also machined to accept a red-dot sight, should you wish one.

Ed Brown Fueled M&P features
A suppressor-height rear sight is devoid of bars or dots for an intuitive sight picture • The tall front blade features a fiber-optic post that is quick to acquire • In addition to its Ameriglo iron sights, the Ed Brown Fueled can also be outfitted with select Trijicon RMR optics • Lightening cuts in the slide shave weight, while a Picatinny accessory rail makes mounting accessories hassle-free • The frame’s locking block has been machined to offer accuracy-enhancing lockup • The pistol ships with two 17-round magazines, one of which has a +2-round baseplate attached, to suit a variety of needs • Trigger pins have been precision ground for a superb trigger not typically associated with striker-fired pistols • A integral , flared magazine well aids in quicker reloads.

The slide is machined from 17-4 stainless steel with custom cuts, and the sharp edges are knocked off, with the final product being given a black-nitride finish. The locking block is machined and fitted to produce a snug—but not binding—locking between the slide, barrel and frame to consistently align the barrel with the sights. Its precision-ground pins prevent trigger wobble, and the metal frame eliminates the “squish” in the trigger-parts movement that a polymer frame can sometimes produce when you press the trigger. What about the extractor and slide backplate? Smith & Wesson knows how to make those parts perfectly functional, but Ed Brown can still make them better, so it does. The extractor is fitted to the slide and the backplate is a serrated aluminum plate, anodized black, to emphasize the clean lines of the rear of the slide. Sights are Ameriglo’s Pro-Glo offerings with a tritium insert in the front blade and a serrated black unit for the rear. They are tall enough to co-witness with a Trijicon RMR, the recommended red-dot optic for your Ed Brown Fueled.

Inside the custom slide, Ed Brown installs a match barrel, made of 416 stainless steel, which is button-rifled and given a target crown. As both a cosmetic and functional step, the company machines flutes in the barrel, with the functional purpose being to provide places for grit, gunk and debris to be out of the way during cycling. One detail that Ed Brown keeps in the M&P—a detail that Smith & Wesson also maintains—is the rifling profile is compatible with lead bullets, so you can use reloaded lead bullets in practice to cut down on cost. It may seem a bit fussy to try and reduce ammunition costs given the price of the pistol, but these days, any savings is welcome. Finally, the barrel is threaded at the muzzle 1/2x28 tpi for use with a suppressor, and comes with a thread protector installed.

The trigger is composed of steel and aluminum, and while it retains the safety lever in the center of the trigger face, all the dimensions are inspected, checked and when assembled, made to produce a trigger press that you would not believe is associated with a striker-fired pistol.

Ed Brown Fueled M&P shooting results

On the bottom of the frame, the Ed Brown crew machines an aluminum mag well funnel, hard-coat anodizes it, and fits it to the frame for a fast reload. While being a full 360-degree funnel, it is still compact enough to not be too bulky for daily carry. With practice you will scar it up, but that’s the kind of use this gun was built for, and scars on the mag funnel are proof of practice. To complement the magazine funnel, Ed Brown machines and fits a pair of magazine baseplates for the pair of magazines. One is the standard size, meant to be a low-profile match to the magazine-well funnel, for daily carry. The second is larger, for extra capacity and to offer you a larger grasping surface to ensure a quick and certain reload, should find yourself in need of one. The Smith & Wesson replaceable backstraps? They stay, and Ed Brown doesn’t do anything to change the fit there, so you can swap them around and even modify them, to make your Ed Brown Fueled fit your hands.

In testing, the metal-frame Fueled was everything promised, and even more. The gun’s accuracy was superb, the trigger was not just nice, but nice even by 1911 standards and reliability was exemplary—as in there were no malfunctions. With a starting price of $2,295, the metal Ed Brown Fueled M&P might seem like a bit much. For what you get, and for the lifetime of service it will provide, it is one heck of an investment.

Ed Brown Fueled M&P
Ed Brown Fueled M&P specs


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