Mike Morton slaps his hand round the backstrap of Umarex’s latest blowback BB gun – the Smith & Wesson M&P 9 M2.0
Smith & Wesson’s powder-burning M&P 9 M2.0 was created for the military and police market, hence “M&P”, but it attracts plenty of interest from civilian handgun enthusiasts too, and airgun shooters have now been added to the list thanks to this fully licensed CO2-powered blowback from Umarex.
The original M&P dates back to 2005, with the 2.0 series on which the replica is based being introduced in 2017, one of the main improvements being a rough textured grip, which is present on the CO2 version.
The powder-burning M&P is available in several calibres, including 9x19mm Parabellum, with the specific calibre appearing in the gun’s designation – hence the “9” for 9mm on the Umarex replica.
Smith & Wesson M&P 9 M2.0 – key specification
Gun supplied by: John Rothery (Wholesale) (www.bisley-uk.com)
Model: Smith & Wesson M&P M2.0
Calibre: 4.5mm (.177)
Ammo Type: Steel BBs
Capacity: 18 rounds
Sights: Fixed front and rear
Barrel Length: 97mm (3.8”)
Action: Single- and double-action
Powerplant: 12g CO2 capsule
Instead of 9mm bullets, this M&P 9 M2.0 fires 4.5mm steel BBs and uses a drop-out magazine with a capacity of 18 rounds, which also houses the 12g CO2 capsule.
Like the original pistol, there’s a Picatinny rail for accessories such as a torch or laser, as well as the ability to change the backstrap to fit hands of different shapes and sizes. A medium backstrap is included with the handgun, with a full set of three sizes available to purchase.
While many shooters will probably be content with the standard backstrap, it’s nice to have the option to tailor gun fit. Being the rearmost part of the grip, the backstrap fills the web of the hand and rests against the fleshy base of the thumb.
It’s not necessarily the case that a shooter with small hands will need a small backstrap, as the bones in our hands form a concave shape when we take hold of a pistol grip, and it may be necessary to use a larger backstrap to better fill that space.
Like the original, this gun is a mix of polymer and metal, the most obvious metallic component being the slide, which features an authentic wave pattern at the rear, which makes it easy for the 9mm shooter to operate with finger and thumb.
The gun is equipped with two safeties. There’s a catch on the right-hand side that blocks the movement of the trigger blade, but it works a little differently to a standard safety as it sits in a gate, requiring you to slide it both forwards and upwards to shift it from ‘safe’ to ‘fire’. Then there’s what Smith & Wesson calls the Passive Trigger Safety.
The trigger blade is composed of two parts that are hinged together, and only when the lower portion of the blade has travelled a certain distance will the upper portion move. Only a deliberate pull of the trigger will send a round downrange, not just an accidental brush against your clothing, undergrowth or holster.
As with many blowback pistols of this type, the heart of the handgun is the drop-down magazine which accepts the gas capsule and the BBs. It will literally drop out of the grip when you depress the release catch on the left-hand side, so make sure you’re ready to catch it.
In order to insert a 12 gram CO2 capsule, the floorplate of the magazine must be pushed forwards and the supplied 6mm hex wrench used to slacken off the piercing screw. The capsule can then be inserted nose-first and the screw tightened just enough to get the carbon dioxide flowing.
With the floorplate back in the closed position, the magazine can now be loaded with up to 18 BBs. You need to pull down the follower and lock it temporarily in place in the gate.
This is a feature I really appreciate as you can then concentrate on loading the BBs from the top of the magazine without having to keep hold of the follower under spring tension. In my opinion all magazines of this type should have this extremely useful feature.
The open sights on the blowback mimic those on the standard powder-burning M&P, being a notch and post type supplemented by three white dots. On the original pistol, the sights can be drifted with a punch, while they’re fixed on the Umarex design.
I’m right-handed, but left eye dominant, and found the gun shot very slightly to the left, but once I’d worked out where and by how much to adjust my point of aim, I had the M&P 9 M2.0 shooting really well.
Using my Lyman digital gauge, I measured five pulls of the trigger and got an average trigger-pull of 6lb 7oz, just a touch heavier than the 6lb 5oz of a typical M&P 9mm powder-burner.
The trigger doesn’t feel overly heavy because most of the blade travel is taken up by the Passive Trigger Safety, which admittedly feels a little strange at first as there’s so much travel in the blade, but you do get used to it eventually.
- Different sizes of backstrap are available as an option so you can tailor this pistol to fit your specific shooting hand
- The safety on the M&P is very different to a standard catch, requiring the shooter to slide it both forwards and upwards to shift it from ‘safe’ to ‘fire’
- You need to slide the floorplate of the magazine forwards then use the supplied 6mm hex key to seat and pierce the 12g CO2 capsule
- Both the front and rear sights are fixed, relying on a simple U-notch and front post to get a good sight picture, supplemented by some white dots
Once I was comfortable with how the pistol handled, I set out a series of targets at 10 metres and six metres, and shooting standing with a two-handed grip averaged centre-to-centre groups of 5.5cm at 10 metres and 4cm at six metres, not bad at all for a BB-firing blowback. As mentioned before, I had to aim off slightly to the right, but elevation was pretty much bang on at both these distances.
Part of the enjoyment in shooting a handgun is the accuracy, but a big part of shooting a blowback is also the tactile sensation of having the gun jump in your hand as if it’s alive, and the M&P was no exception.
Another thing I really love is the last round hold open feature which keeps the slide in the rearwards position when you’re out of ammo. Once you’ve reloaded the magazine you just need to slap it back in then thumb down the slide catch lever on the left-hand side of the pistol.
I’ve been shooting this gun in pleasantly warm weather, with the first two magazines’ worth of pellets from a fresh CO2 capsule delivering the levels of accuracy described above. The gun will certainly deliver a third mag’s worth of shots, but group size deteriorates rapidly, so if this gun was mine I’d restrict myself to 40 shots per capsule.
Umarex is very good at making replicas of powder-burning firearms, and the S&W M&P 9 M2.0 is right up there with the very best of them.
The Airgun Shooter Verdict:
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