Recently I had the opportunity to shoot the new Smith & Wesson Performance Center M&P Ported pistols. While optimized for competition, there’s no reason these models couldn’t serve as a home defense go-to gun. Some of the features that make it a great competition gun serve equally well on other capacities too.
Apart from the standard M&P lineup, you’ll find a number of features that support the need for speed.
Capacity is 17+1 for the 9mm models and 15+1 for the .40s. An adjustable trigger stop lets you come as close as you dare to eliminating over travel so you can get working on the reset faster. Like the standard M&P models, the Performance Center Ported models have three grip panels for a customizable fit, but you’ll notice a different and more aggressive texture on these. I shot them without gloves and found the gun secure, but not rough to the point of causing abrasion-facilitated blood letting at the range.
As part of the C.O.R.E. line, these are machined to be optics ready right off the bat. That’s what the whole C.O.R.E. thing means – Competition Optics Ready and some unknown word that apparently starts with an E. All models come with a machined-out slide that provides a slot to mount a red dot optic. Smith & Wesson includes five different mounting plates that allow you to use the following optics right out to the box: Trijicon RMR, Leupold Delta Point, Jpoint, Doctor, C-More STS, and Insight MRDS. You’ll also find that the standard white-dot sights are extra tall to they co-witness with your optic of choice. Of course, you can shoot this gun just fine with no optic at all if you like.
While we’re talking optics, all four of the test guns were equipped with Leupold Delta Point sights. Of the six currently supported red dots, the Leupold seems to have the most natural height for perfect co-witness with the elevated iron sights. Something to keep in mind.
For me, shooting a handgun with a red dot optic took a little getting used to. The first few times I tried it, I struggled a little to find the dot. A pointer from another group member at the event got me straightened out. “Just look for the front sight,” he said. And it was that easy. Trying to deliberately “seek” the red dot just slowed me down. Simply raising the gun with a focus on the front sight brought the dot right into position. After some repetitions, the optic sighting configuration was faster for me to acquire my target.
The real deal with these new Performance Center guns is the ported barrels. Yes, they look cool, but more importantly, they work. You have to love the “V-shaped” flames that exit the ports with each shot, but they have a legit purpose – to minimize muzzle rise from recoil. Eliminating or reducing muzzle flip helps the shooter get on target faster for follow-up shots.
To get an idea of the effectiveness of the ported barrels, I followed our photo model Matt through an indoor IDPA course and took more pictures of him than the Kardashian Klan at Oscar night. Hitting the burst mode shutter throughout his course of fire, I captured dozens of snapshots showing the gun before, during and after dozens of shots. Most of the photos have one, two and sometimes three pieces of brass still in the air as our boy Matt was shooting fast under time and serious peer pressure. As you can see by some of the photos I’ve included here, that gun stayed flat throughout. I wanted to duct tape a bubble level to his gun, but he wouldn’t let me, so I had to rely on an eyeball interpretation of muzzle flip. There was none. Matt is probably going to look at these and think he’s the new Jerry Miculek, but I know better – it was the equipment making him look good! Just kidding, he tore up the course, but I think he would be the first to tell you the gun was easy to manage.
You’ll notice that one of the photos shows that neat “V-shaped” flash coming from the muzzle ports. From the shooting position, I could detect flash, but nothing different than that of any non-ported gun. Depending on specific gun and ammo, a non-ported gun can easily generate a fireball a foot in diameter give or take, so to me, I see no disadvantage to a little extra flash directed upwards. Personally, I don’t think it’s relevant in low light conditions either. Unless you’re a professional door kicker using night vision, any target you shoot in the dark better be really, really well illuminated anyway, so, again, muzzle flash seems largely irrelevant for us regular folks. Maybe it’s just one of those internet “facts” that keeps getting passed on with very few folks actually trying it.
This was one fun gun to shoot. I’ve always loved the “feel” of the M&Ps as the rounded grip is very natural and comfortable for me. Addition of trigger improvements and porting makes both 9mm and .40 S&W pussycats to shoot.
MSRP of all four models is $812.