March 02, 2023
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Smith & Wesson has an interesting new Pistol Caliber Carbine called the FPC. Chambered in the hugely popular 9mm Parabellum cartridge, the M&P FPC is interesting as it was specifically designed for covert carry. Rather than being a conventional design, it folds in half similar to the Kel-Tec’s hugely popular SUB-2000. While an interesting design, is the new S&W M&P FPC actually something to consider buying? That’s an excellent question, so let’s take a look at the pros and cons of Smith & Wesson’s new 9mm folding carbine when it comes to personal protection and covert carry.
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To begin, let’s first consider the design of Smith & Wesson’s FPC. It is a compact and fairly light Pistol Caliber Carbine. It weighs just five pounds and has an overall length of 30.3 inches. Press a lever and it folds in half reducing its length to just 16.3 inches. This is the FPC’s main virtue; it’s very compact overall length for storage. Operation is simple blow-back and it feeds from standard M&P 9mm 17- and 23-round magazines. So, you can feed it using the same magazines for your carry pistol, if your carry pistol is a Smith & Wesson M&P. As it’s chambered in the universally accepted 9x19mm, it will fire a wide variety of modern defensive loads as well as economical target/training loads.
Examining the FPC you will note a few nice features. At the muzzle, you fill find 1/2x28 barrel threads covered by a thread protector. So, mounting a muzzle device or sound suppressor is simple. The 16.3-inch barrel is surrounded by a polymer M-LOK handguard which facilitates easy mounting of modern accessories. The handguard being polymer is a bit out of the norm, but fits in with the intended purpose of this piece. The M-LOK slots facilitate sling mounts and mounting a white light. A M1913 rail along its top allows mounting of iron sights and optics.
At the front of the receiver we find a stout hinge on the left side and a large latch on the right. Pressing the latch allows you to swing the entire barrel/handguard assembly to the left side of the carbine. This effectively cuts the overall length in half. Unlike a Kel-Tec SUB-2000 though, by folding horizontally to the side rather than vertically, optical sights do not get in the way when you fold it. This is a huge advantage for the Smith & Wesson FPC over the Kel-Tec SUB-2000 in my opinion. When folded the FPC’s barrel assembly is held in place by a friction fit between the charging handle and handguard. To unfold, simply grasp the handguard and tug it, and unfold until it locks back into place. Simple. Also, you cannot fold it with a round in the chamber.
The receiver consists of an M&P style pistol grip and there is an ejection port on the right side. Controls consist of a reversible magazine release, ambidextrous bolt catches, and a well-placed cross-bolt safety. Behind the action on the receiver extension you will find ambidextrous charging handles. The trigger has a pull weight of approximately 5.5 pounds. The butt is designed to hold two magazines. This allows you to carry two spare mags right on the gun, plus a third in the pistol grip. That should be enough to handle any realistic personal protection scenario which can be handled with a pistol caliber carbine. MSRP is $659 and it comes with a discreet carry bag, 17-round and two 23-round magazines.
Now, let’s consider what role Smith & Wesson designed their FPC to fill. As a pistol caliber carbine, it can share ammunition and magazines with your concealed carry pistol. The advantage it has over a handgun is simply being easier to make rapid hits with. It’s much easier to shoot a carbine accurately, especially at speed, than a handgun. This accuracy advantage becomes more pronounced as the distance to the target grows. Pistol Caliber Carbines like the SUB-2000 and FPC are at their best at ranges out to 100 yards. They tend to be quite accurate at 50 yards and will ring an eight-inch plate at 100 yards. While I have shot recreationally out to 300 yards with 9mm carbines, that is not what they are intended for. 100 yards and in is where they excel.
Click Here to read about the Kel-Tec Sub-2000 Folding Carbine
Keep in mind, despite its longer barrel it is still a 9mm. While you will see a small boost in velocity from the longer barrel, please do not mistake the FPC for a true rifle. It is not. It lacks the exterior ballistics and especially the terminal ballistics of a true rifle. For personal protection at realistic distances though, the FCP is well capable of placing rapid aimed shots onto an aggressor to stop the threat. Plus, it will do it with less muzzle blast, flash and a milder muzzle report than a 5.56mm AR or 7.62x39mm AK. However, it will lack the penetration of intermediate barriers and soft body armor of a rifle. If you need a 5.56mm M4 carbine, get an M4 carbine. The point of the FPC is it is a much smaller package than an M4 and can easily fit in a smaller and more discreet package.
What is a bit different about Smith & Wesson’s FCP though is its ability to fold in order to greatly reduce its overall length. This indicates that it is intended to be carried covertly in a bag, and rapidly deploy if the need arises. Remember though, as with all “bag guns”, they are intended to complement, not replace, the concealed pistol on your person. If the threat is immediate, draw and engage with your carry pistol. You should only attempt to deploy a piece like the FPC from a bag if you have the time and opportunity.
If you are planning on carrying a firearm like the FPC covertly in a bag, you will quickly notice a few things. Not only is overall length very import, but so is the weight and width of the firearm. Typically, it is not that hard to get a firearm down to about 22 or 23 inches in length. Getting below 19 inches becomes much more difficult. Getting below 16 inches becomes extremely difficult. The 16.3-inch overall length of Smith & Wesson’s FPC makes it able to be easily stashed in most messenger bags and packs. While Smith & Wesson ships the FPC in a nice discreet looking bag, I would find something mundane to carry it in.
Backpack Gun Considerations
So, what are some things to look for in a firearm intended for covert bag carry? Here is a list I made a few years back when I was pondering this very question. In my case, I was looking for a firearm which was:
- Very Compact - This was the most important part, it needed to be small enough to easily carry stored inside a small bag.
- Reliable - The design needed to be well proven, robust and reliable.
- Common/Effective Cartige Chambering - It needed to be chambered for a cartridge which was economical to buy and practice with yet terminally effective.
- High Hit Probability - It needed to have a higher hit probability than a handgun, which dictated the need for a shoulder stock.
- Accessories Compatability - A red dot sight, white light and other modern accessories are required as they can increase survivability.
- Adequate Reach - A minimum effective range of 100 yards was needed.
- Well Supported - I wanted spare parts and aftermarket support readily available.
- Light Weight - A maximum unloaded weight of 4.5 pounds was desired.
- Blue Collar Price - The price needed to be within reach of a blue collar worker.
- High-Capacity Mags - It needed to have magazines with a capacity of 20+ rounds readily available at an economical price.
Basically, I was looking for a very compact firearm I could carry discreetly in a small bag, in addition to the pistol on my hip. By small, I mean a bag so abbreviated a typical person would not expect it capable of concealing a firearm with a stock.
One solution I tried is Kel-Tec’s SUB-2000 in 9x19mm. This is a handy little pistol caliber carbine which folds into a package measuring just 16x7 inches. Doing so allows it to be easily carried in a small, low profile bag most wouldn’t expect to be able to conceal a carbine. The ability to fold into such a compact package along with its use of standard pistol magazines, in my case Glock-pattern, is what makes the SUB-2000 so desirable. Since it entered production in 2001, it has achieved a cult following among a certain segment of shooters. However, the SUB-2000 is not perfect and one legitimate complaint lodged against it is the difficulty of mounting optics onto it without interfering with its ability to fold. Plus, the build quality is a bit on the cheap side.
Click Here to read about the Kel-Tec Sub-2000 Folding Carbine
Smith & Wesson’s new FPC 9mm carbine is an obvious challenger to Kel-Tec’s SUB-2000. Toss them in a ring and you know they are going to fight. So, how do they stack up against each other? When it comes to overall length folded and unfolded they are almost identical. The Kel-Tec is lighter at 4.25 pounds versus the Smith & Wesson’s five pounds. The Kel-Tec has integral sights while the FPC does not. However, you can easily mount an optical sight onto the FPC and fold/unfold it. This is possible to do with the SUB-2000, but you need a specific Midwest Industries mount, which places the optic very high.
Currently, the FPC only accepts Smith & Wesson M&P pattern magazines. This will be a big “NO” from many readers. The SUB-2000 can accept many magazines depending on which grip module is installed; Beretta 90 series, SIG 226, S&W 59 series, S&W M&P, and of course Glock. Both the SUB-2000 and FPC have M-LOK fore-ends and easily accept accessories. The FPC has a better trigger pull. The SUB-2000 is less expensive, and you can lock it in the folded position for security. All in all they are well matched for their intended purpose.
I purchased a Kel-Tec SUB-2000 over ten years ago and have been pleased with it. It is reliable, simple to operate and has given me no problems. With loads, it likes it averages two to three inches at 50 yards and four to five inches at 100 yards. There is not a significant velocity gain with most 9mm loads going from a pistol length to a 16-inch barrel, perhaps 100 fps. I acquired and use it for a specific task and it performs that task very well. In addition to riding around discreetly in a rather plain looking shoulder bag, it is a fun recreational shooter. Remember, shooting is fun. Plus, since it is so light and handy it is a welcome addition on hike. Kel-Tec has since brought out an improved model over my older one seen here.
With this in mind, I am very interested to see how well Smith & Wesson’s new M&P FPC performs. I love the fact you can mount an optical sight and white light and still fold/unfold it. It’s a well-thought-out design developed for a specific task. Plus, with an MSRP of $659 it’s not overly expensive.
Do you need a folding 9mm carbine to discreetly carry in a messenger bag as you go about your day or to toss into the bag of your vehicle? Ponder this. In the days following its introduction, you’ll be bombarded with YouTubers unfolding their shiny new FPCs with a one-handed snap as if they were John Wayne in True Grit spinning a Winchester. Ignore the hype and think, do you need or want a folding carbine? Does it bring something to the table for you? If the answer is yes, then I would seriously look at Smith & Wesson’s new M&P FPC.
If you would like a detailed look at the FPC’s performance on the range, look for my colleague James Tarr’s full-comprehensive review coming in the pages of Firearms News magazine. Tarr and I speak every day and we have been discussing his testing of the FPC. It is a review you will not want to miss.
Smith & Wesson M&P FPC Specs
- Type: Blowback-operated, semiautomatic
- Caliber: 9x19mm
- Capacity: 17- and 23-rd. S&W M&P pistol magazines
- Barrel: 16.3 in.
- Overall Length: 16.3 in. (folded), 30.3 in. (fixed)
- Weight: 5 lbs.
- Stock: Tubular steel with 13.2 in. LOP
- Finish: Blue
- Trigger: 5.5 lbs.
- Sights: none, MIL STD 1913 Picatinny rail
- MSRP: $659
- Manufacturer: Smith & Wesson, Inc.
About the Author
David M. Fortier has been covering firearms, ammunition and optics since 1998. He is a recipient of the Carl Zeiss Outdoor Writer of the Year award and his writing has been recognized by the Civil Rights organization JPFO. In 2007 he covered the war in Iraq as an embedded journalist.
If you have any thoughts or comments on this article, we’d love to hear them. Email us at FirearmsNews@Outdoorsg.com.