July 11, 2014
On the bench in front of me was a customer's M&P Shield he'd dropped off complaining about the heavy trigger. It seems like everyone complains about heavy triggers to the gunsmith. For some reason normally rational men think a polymer combat pistol is going to come equipped with a 2-pound trigger that breaks like the proverbial glass rod.
Well, let me see what we have...checked the chamber, pulled the trigger...and pulled...and pulled("holy Christ this is heavy")...finally my efforts were rewarded with the striker falling. Disclaimer: I am a fan of M&P pistols. I have been lugging around an M&P .45 for years and put thousands of rounds through it with nary a malfunction. Unlike Glocks, they fit my small hands really well and if a gun doesn't fit, you wind up fighting it every time you shoot.
There was obviously something wrong with this Shield. S&W advertises a 6-pound pull and this one registered 10 1/2 pounds on my scale. A little research revealed this particular pistol left the factory as a "Massachusetts Compliant" model. Apparently, the gun control Nazis in the Bay State even decree what springs are allowed in pistols sold there. Great. Luckily, there is a solution to this political silliness.
Apex Tactical Specialties, Inc. markets a variety of trigger "enhancement" kits for M&P pistols allowing the armorer to tune triggers for carry or competition. For the Shield, I chose the Carry Kit that includes springs, a polished striker block and a new machined sear for less than a hundred bucks.
The kit came with no instructions and referred to a tutorial on youtube.com featuring Scott Folk, an Apex employee, presenting a step-by-step installation of the Duty/Carry kit in the Shield. This Shield video is quite good, and I believe anyone with a modicum of mechanical ability should be able to install the kit without any problems.
An Apex trigger kit installation really involves three separate operations: replacing the striker block and spring, replacing the sear and sear spring and replacing the trigger return spring.
To accomplish these tasks, you'll have to strip the frame, removing the locking block, trigger assembly and sear block. Also, the striker block is under the rear sight so the sight will have to be removed. None of this is difficult.
Tools? You'll need a 1/8" roll pin punch to drive the two large spring pins out of the frame and maybe some tweezers to install the sear plunger, but that's about it. Apex makes a cool armorer's block to support the frame when driving out the spring pins, but I just used a roll of tape.
The end result of my efforts on the Shield yielded a trigger pull reduced from 10 1/2 to about 6 pounds, although it felt lighter. The customer was delighted.
This past week I ran into another hideous M&P trigger on a full-sized .45 that weighed close to 10 pounds out of the box. As I prepared to install another duty/carry kit, I reviewed the three Apex instructional videos on YouTube, covering standard M&P pistols. These older videos are disappointing compared to the much more recent Shield tutorial.
In the first one, Apex employee Randy Lee says he is going to replace the striker block at 3:24 and at 3:26 he is holding the sear block assembly in his hand with no mention of how it was removed from the pistol. Perhaps the original video was chopped at this point to create the separate striker block episode.
Aside from this major glitch, the 2010 videos are plagued with poor lighting and camera focus, but are generally useable. I really think Apex should re-shoot them simply as a matter of company pride.
Video quality aside, the kit reduced the trigger pull on the .45 from 10 pounds to 5 pounds. It almost felt too light. I dug out my personal well-worn and unmodified M&P .45 to compare trigger pulls. My 2007 pistol with 3000+ rounds down the pipe dropped the striker at 6-1/2 pounds, with considerable creep. The new gun with Apex kit installed was 1-1/2 pounds lighter with a crisper release and a slightly shorter reset.
The reset appeared to be about 1/16" shorter in the modified gun. Do I need an Apex kit in my old .45? Well, not really. I've done some great shooting with the stock gun, but I can think of worse things to spend a hundred bucks on.
On the other hand, the new gun with the 10-pound trigger really needed help, and the kit was a bargain considering the results. It will be interesting to shoot these two .45s side-by-side with live ammo.
The Apex kits are quality products that function as advertised. If you feel uncomfortable installing them yourself, Apex will do it for you or any armorer familiar with M&P series pistols will have no problem with it.
Duty kit: Rear sight tool, striker block and spring, trigger return spring, sear and sear spring. It easily improves S&W M&P
trigger pull weight.
Drive out the spring pins with a 1/8" roll pin punch. Norcross says a roll of masking tape makes a cheap substitute for an armorer's block here.
Here's the sear housing with the sear, sear spring and plunger and sear pin removed.
Trigger assembly is shown with the old and new return springs and a slave pin used for re-assembly.
A MGW sight tool is used to remove the rear sight. If you do much pistolsmithing, a sight pusher is well worth adding to your collection of tools.
The cover plate over the striker block is exposed as the rear sight is carefully removed.
Here are the factory striker block and spring removed from the slide.