Combat ready: Smith & Wesson's M&P .45 ACP.

Author:Taffin, John

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The .45 ACP version of the Military & Police dubbed the M&P45 is available in all black or with a dark earth brown colored frame. The latter is the one I opted for, as I do prefer the combination of colors over all black. Since the many polymer-framed pistols with integral grip panels can't be fitted with custom stocks, the colored frame is the next best option (at least for me). Unlike previous Smith & Wesson .45 pistols, The M&P45 has a capacity of 10+1 rounds, no visible exterior hammer, and a barrel length of 4-1/2".

The dark earth brown Zytel polymer frame of the M&P45 is matched up with a stainless steel barrel and slide, with the latter being coated with Black Melonite. The two colors go very well together and they also blend well with nature's colors as well as camouflage clothing. The backstrap design is rather ingenious as it is easily removable by rotating the handle of the frame tool 1/4 turn and pulling it out of the frame. The contoured handle of this tool blends in neatly with the bottom of the backstrap and the base of the magazine.

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Once it is removed, access to interchangeable backstraps is allowed. Three sizes are provided, small, medium and large, and for my use I installed the small version. It/'eels very good to me and with this size I can easily reach the trigger. These backstraps fit so well it is not easy to discern they are actually interchangeable--a most excellent idea. The grip frame is especially comfortable, not the least bit bulky with a width just over 1" and the pebble-grained surface feels good in the hand while providing a secure grip with no sharpness.

This particular M&P45 came with an ambidextrous safety, models are also available without an external safety. Instead of being pushed up to fire as on the old 4506, the M&P45 has a most familiar 1911 feel and operates the same way--up for safe and down for tire. This not only seems more natural it is also much easier for me to operate than those working "backwards." I guess it is all about what we are used to.

There is also a most inconspicuous loaded chamber indicator which is a very small hole at the top of the slide/ejection port. Some folks become very upset at the thought of a loaded chamber indicator, however, this one is barely detectable unless you know what to look for. There is no key activated internal safety lock on this M&P45, however I do believe they are provided for sale in states which require...

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