Smith & Wesson’s M&P Performance Center Ported Model Is One Flat Shooter

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Smith & Wesson's M&P Pro Series C.O.R.E. - now ported!

Smith & Wesson’s M&P Pro Series C.O.R.E. – now ported!

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.


There are four variants of the new M&P Performance Center ported models – two each in 9mm and .40 S&W caliber. Each caliber offers a 5-inch and 4.25-inch barrel choice. All other features are the same including capacity and frame size. The differences in barrel length translate into a one-inch overall length difference with the 5-inch barrel models measuring 8.5-inches overall and the 4.25-inch barrel models measuring 7.5-inches.

The ported barrels aren't just for looks. As you'll see, this gun shoots flat.

The ported barrels aren’t just for looks. As you’ll see, this gun shoots flat.

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.

The gun includes five different mounting plates that will accomodate six different red dot optics.

The gun includes five different mounting plates that will accomodate six different red dot optics.

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.

Smith & Wesson M&P Performance Center Ported shooting-2
Smith & Wesson M&P Performance Center Ported shooting-3
Smith & Wesson M&P Performance Center Ported shooting-4
Smith & Wesson M&P Performance Center Ported shooting-6
Smith & Wesson M&P Performance Center Ported shooting-7
Smith & Wesson M&P Performance Center Ported shooting-9
Smith & Wesson M&P Performance Center Ported shooting-10
Smith & Wesson M&P Performance Center Ported shooting-8

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.

About the author: Tom McHale Literary assault dude writing guns & shooting books and articles. Personal accountability rocks!

{ 15 comments… add one }
  • Ira Wilkerson February 22, 2017, 3:54 pm

    I have a Smith and Wesson .40 Core will the DeltaPoint Pro optic fit this? If not what is a option?
    Thanks in advance!

  • Ralph G. November 24, 2015, 9:41 am

    What caliber/load was Matt shooting? I’m thinking about getting one and that one was a flat shooter!

  • Jake February 16, 2015, 9:04 pm

    The author of this article doesn’t know what the E in C.O.R.E stands for?


  • Jake February 16, 2015, 8:18 pm

    The Apex trigger is useless on this as it has the Performance Center Sear and an adjustable over travel. And hearing you guys argue over Glock & S&W is funny. Give it a break. If you love guns you find the one right for you. To act like a child and say mines better just proves you have NO Idea what the heck you are doing. It’s kinda sad but I’m sure you’ll still post something due to your bruised ego. Oh well. I owned the 1st CORE & just traded it for the new ported MODLE. Amazing shooter!! So much fun with my Trijicon RM07 Red Dot. Is it needed, Nope but Krazy Fun!!

  • DaveGinOly December 22, 2014, 4:39 pm

    Because some of the gas/energy is being used to keep the muzzle down, it’s not being used to throw the bullet. What effect does the porting have on muzzle velocity/energy at the muzzle? Obviously, porting must reduce both, but by how much? Is there any rule of thumb about this, or has anyone done any practical testing between S&Ws with and without porting?

    • Jackson November 26, 2016, 2:05 am

      The rule of thumb would be a ported gun with a 5in barrel would have the velocity of one that had a 4in barrel thats about it.

  • Russ December 22, 2014, 4:02 pm

    Looks like a daytime fun shooter.
    Or for 9: to 5: work.
    Guess if you get used to shooting with a red dot, it could be great.
    I’ve got no use for it.

  • What I Know December 22, 2014, 3:02 pm

    You are very true, when you shoot a comp. gun at night you will never do that again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Smith just cant get a real idea.

    and quit acting like GLOCK

    • aaron January 16, 2015, 5:07 pm

      “quit acting like GLOCK”…lol…thats like telling a corvette to stop acting like a civic

  • Lee Woiteshek December 22, 2014, 10:26 am

    Wish the PC guns would include an installed high end red dot of your choice, and the Apex trigger upgrades. Finally, why isn’t this offered in 45 ACP?

  • Lt. Donn December 22, 2014, 10:02 am

    Curious…Glock is dropping production of their “C” models, while S&W is adding them to their line…I suspect Glock dropped theirs due to lagging sales and the fact the ported models are louder and the flash is unsuitable for night-use. For competition, I can see the advantage, but for the “average” CHL holder/civilian, the standard models seem more suitable…but, obviously, S&W must know something I do not….

    • Tom B January 6, 2015, 11:16 am

      I bought the .40 5L version within a week of the announcement. I’d been wanting a CORE model and was about to order the ‘regular’ one and pay someone to port it.

      Timing was good 🙂

      My local outdoor range had a ‘night shoot’ for halloween. It had both a lit & unlit handgun course with >25 steel targets.

      not once did any kind of muzzle flash illuminate/blind me. I was shooting American Eagle .40 180 Grain target rounds. I *wanted* a cool ass muzzle flash in a V out the top mind you, but not once did I get one. I fired roughly 90 rounds that night.

      So I’m not sure what ammo makes that flash, but it’s not american eagle .40 180 Grain.

    • Justin January 23, 2016, 8:33 pm

      The flash increase is negligible. I’ve compared the ported vs non-ported and they have the same effect on vision. The loudness was also negligible. You should be wearing hearing protection unless you are in a self-defense shooting. If you shoot either gun without protection, the result is the same. The only REAL difference is the faster follow up shots and higher price of the performance center gun.

    • Alex June 21, 2016, 6:31 pm

      Jerry Miculek disproved that.
      Watch at 15 minute marker.

    • Paul February 9, 2018, 8:48 pm

      I thought it was about getting the job done. If your in my sights day or night my job is done . Every gun is going to show flash…..Snipers deal with sound …they still make the kill and move out quickly….sounds like you can’t let the Glock go

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