The North Carolina Highway Patrol recently made a significant shift in their firearms by selecting the Smith & Wesson M&P pistols and rifles for their troopers.Â Previously carrying the Sig Sauer P229 DAK, the Patrol has adopted the S&W M&P pistols chambered in .357 Sig.
The initial order is 2000 pistols, which is enough to equip all of the troopers.Â According to S&W, “reliability, ambidextrous operating controls and three interchangeable palm swell grip sizes were noted by officials within the agency as key reasons for the selection of the new duty sidearm.”
Additionally, the NC Highway Patrol selected the M&P 15 rifle for the troopers.Â S&W states that 1000 rifles have been ordered by the Patrol.
The North Carolina Highway Patrol is one of many U.S. law enforcement agencies converting to the M&P pistols and rifles.Â S&W states that 570 U.S. agencies issue or approve the M&P pistols for duty use, and more than 250 issue or approve the M&P 15 rifles.
Smith and Wesson is now producing all of the M&P pistols with optional thumb safety.
The ambidextrous manual safety is now available on the full-sized and compact 9mm, .40 S&W, and .357 Sig.Â The manual safety was originally developed by S&W for the M&P 45, which was developed for the U.S. armed forces trials that never happened.Â Now the safety has been carried over to the rest of the M&P line as an option.
All specs on the M&P pistols with the thumb safety remain the same as the pistols without the manual safety. Â The thumb safeties are large and easy to manipulate. Â They are designed to mimic the 1911-style safeties but are easier to operate.
While the 1911 was an amazing military gun for its time, if the military is serious about upgrading sidearms, they need to abandon the 1911 concept and go after what works. Â Frankly, the most reliable handguns on the market today are the polymer-framed, striker-fired handguns that do not have a bunch of switches, safeties and doo-dads. Â The Glock line of handguns and the M&P (sans safety) help prove that point.
I’m not suggesting the 1911 is not a fine firearm because it is. Â I’ve got a Colt 1911A1 in my safe right now. Â But it is in my safe. Â The gun on my hip right now is a Glock 19. Â Why? Â Because the G19 is just more reliable. Â And in a violent encounter, I’m not looking for style points, I want a pistol that will reliably put holes in the target and stop the threat.
MSRP runs $719 for the full-sized and compact pistols, with the exception of the .357 Sig models, which list at $727.
2009 SHOT Show Update
At the SHOT Show, I got to see the new guns. Â I worked with several different M&P pistols and found the safeties worked very well.Â I wasn’t sure I would like them, but they were easy to manipulate, clicked smartly into place, and did not interfere with my grip.Â I don’t know that I would order an M&P with a thumb safety, but I certainly would consider it.
Smith and Wesson has encountered a great deal of success with their M&P line of pistols. These polymer pistols have taken the shooting world by storm, and 2008 looks like another good year for M&P sales.
Polymer duty pistols were once the exclusive domain of Glock, but no more. “To date, 276 domestic law enforcement agencies have purchased, approved for purchase, or approved for on-duty carry” the Smith and Wesson M&P line of pistols said Leland Nichols, president of Smith and Wesson Corporation.