Many people know that I am an avid hunter. Meaning that most of the time that I am in the woods, I have either a rifle or shotgun slung across my back. However, fewer people know that I also enjoy hiking and many other wilderness activities. And a long gun isn’t part of my typical loadout. However, when trekking the wilderness, a 10mm isn’t a bad idea, and Smith & Wesson has just the thing with the M&P M2.0.
The Smith & Wesson M&P M2.0 in 10mm
To this day, I have been getting by with smaller carry pistols and the occasional 1911. But truth be told, I am not 100 percent confident that they could effectively protect me from some of the serious natural threats that inhabit the northern woodlands in which I roam.
After being introduced to 10mm Auto just a few short years ago, I was instantly hooked. So, I put a gun chambered in this round high on my “to-buy” list. As time went on, I found myself getting involved in more and more 10mm projects. And with that, my knowledge base grew.
One of the things I learned is that if you aren’t running 10mm through a full-length barrel, you are only getting .40 S&W velocities from the cartridge. My first clue was when I ran an evaluation on a 5-inch 1911 chambered in the big 10. The velocities paled in comparison to what was printed on the box (gathered from a 6-inch barrel).
This caused me to pump the breaks on my purchase a bit. In the interim, I attended the Athlon Outdoors Rendezvous event in October of 2021. There, I became one of the first people in the country to handle Smith & Wesson’s latest M&P M2.0. It was chambered in, you guessed it, 10mm Auto.
My first impression of the gun was that it was ridiculously easy to control. This addressed the most frequent complaint of the 10mm when it was first introduced. My second was with respect to the barrel length, just 4 inches. Now, this move might get S&W in some trouble with those who are only educated on the round and not so much on their guns.
Allow me to explain. A few years ago, I tested a company’s subsonic loads through a variety of pistols with the same barrel lengths. Chronographing was going well until I loaded up both of the Smith & Wesson pistols. One in 9mm and one in .40 S&W.
Each round out of both guns broke the sound barrier. Both the chronograph readings and the telltale crack confirmed this. Fast forward a few months, and I experienced the same phenomenon. Except now, with a third Smith & Wesson pistol and some custom handloads that I was building for suppressor use.
The best conclusion that I reached was that either the chamber, barrel, or both are built just a bit tighter. Thus wringing out more velocity than the next gun chambered in the same round. Using that knowledge, I decided that this new 10mm warranted further investigation. So, I decided to get one back home for some testing.
The 10mm Comes Standard with the M2.0 Trigger
For those familiar with the M&P 2.0 line, the 10mm isn’t a far departure. It is built to the same exterior dimensions as the .45 ACP version. So, there are already plenty of holsters and accessories out there for it.
One thing that does set the 10mm version apart, though, is that it is the first M&P to come standard with the M2.0 trigger. This is head and shoulders above that hinged sponge that the initial M&Ps were introduced with. Don’t get me wrong, they were amazing for their time. But the standard has risen, and it’s great to see Smith once again exceed it.
The M2.0 trigger features a blade-style safety and is built with a flat face. This makes it much easier to pull straight back under stress, like, say, if a bear is chasing you up a tree. I also liked that it had a perceived wall and broke exceptionally clean without much overtravel to speak of.
Additionally, the 10mm comes with the C.O.R.E. (Competition Optics Ready Equipment) package. Meaning that you can mount the optic of your choice with nothing more than the included hardware. Other features include the toolless interchangeable backstraps, ambidextrous slide catch, and reversible magazine release.
Getting Red-Dot Ready
After picking the gun up from my FFL, I had just about everything that I needed for some range time. However, for 2022, I vowed to get with the times and never test a pistol that can take a red-dot without one ever again.
So, my first stop wasn’t the range but back home to mount the best optic that wasn’t currently in use. One of the things I like about pistol optics is that it only takes a few minutes to put one on or take it off. Therefore, I have about half a dozen that rotate through my test pistols.
This time, I chose the Riton 3 Tactix PRD. It’s a beefy, robust optic that was down to ride an abusive 10mm’s slide. I was able to mount it with the screws that Smith & Wesson included with their kit.
I opted to skip the adapter plate to get it as low as possible. This allowed me to co-witness the dot with the elevated iron sights that also come standard with the M&P 2.0. The only downside was that the screw heads obstructed the top-mounted battery compartment. But that wouldn’t be an issue until after around 40,000 hours of use.
Either way, if it really bothered me, I could stop at the hardware store on the way to the range and solve the problem for less than a buck right in the front seat of my car.
Holstering the M&P M2.0
Once I squared away the optic, I slung on a DeSantis Thumb-Break Scabbard holster that I had left over from an M&P .45 M2.0 and started filling a magazine. The DeSantis holster was an easy choice. It offers both a straight and a canted carry position and classic retention. Not to mention, it supports my neighbors just a few miles west.
After loading up, I grabbed my range bag and headed east to my favorite proving ground.
At the range, I set up a Caldwell G2 chronograph and unpacked ammunition from both Federal and Winchester. My goal here was to see exactly what I would get out of the 4-inch barrel. Likewise, I wanted to see if it was going to serve as a true 10mm or is a complete gimmick.
Admittedly, the polymer-framed pistol was way nicer to carry than an all-steel 1911. How Smith & Wesson packed 15 rounds into that flush-fit magazine without making the grip stupid fat is beyond me. I mean that, too.
My hands are dainty, with a 92F being too large for me to acquire a proper grip. With the small backstrap installed, the M&P 10mm (and .45 ACP) lands the fingertips of my shooting hand dead center on the grip. This gives me a complete purchase and leaves me the proper amount of real estate for my support hand.
Running the M&P M2.0 10mm
Before formal testing, I broke the gun in with a box of each round that I had on hand. Break-in went smoothly without any sort of stoppages or failures to feed. During this period, I ran a few plate racks and double-tapped a handful of IPSC targets just to remind myself how much I enjoyed shooting this thing.
After playtime was over, it was down to business, and that meant group shooting over a chronograph. Up first was the Federal 180-grain trophy bonded ammunition. These produced an average velocity of 1,137 fps, making them the fastest rounds of the day.
They fell short of the velocity listed on the box (again, likely a 6-inch number). However, they were well over 100 fps faster than what the same bullet would be if stuffed into a .40 S&W case. And more than 50 fps faster than when fired out of the longer 5-inch 1911 that I tested previously.
Within 10 rounds, I confirmed my hypothesis. Smith’s barrels are “faster” and get more out of a cartridge than the next guys. Next, I moved onto the heavier 200-grain Federal offering and then eventually Winchester’s Defensive load. I found the same theory to hold true and even punched some terrific groups.
Sitting down with a pen and pad, I drew my conclusion. Simply put, the new Smith & Wesson M&P M2.0 10mm might get me less velocity than, say, a 6-inch 1911, but it still outperforms a 5-inch. And by no means is a .40 S&W masquerading as a bear killer.
After crunching some numbers, I also realized that if I were to get the full advertised velocity (unlikely) out of a 6-inch pistol, it would only mean about a 27-percent increase in kinetic at the cost of reduced capacity, excess weight, and/or inferior ergonomics.
After looking at the cold, hard numbers, the choice became abundantly clear. I just finished firing my new woodland carry pistol.
For more information on this gun and to get your own, visit Smith-Wesson.com.
Smith & Wesson M&P M2.0 10mm Specs
Barrel: 4 inches
Overall Length: 7.2 inches
Weight: 28.5 ounces (empty)
Sights: Optic-height three-dot, drift adjustable plus slide cut
Action: Striker-fired semi-auto
Capacity: 17, 15, 10 +1
|Federal Trophy Bonded 180 JSP||1,137||1.95|
|Federal Solid Core 200 TSJ||1,082||2.76|
|Winchester Defender 180 JHP||1,124||1.55|
Bullet weight measured in grains, velocity in feet per second (fps) by chronograph and accuracy in inches for best five-shot groups at 15 yards.
This article first appeared in the July-August 2022 issue of Tactical Life magazine. Get your copy today at OutdoorGroupStore.com.