Smith & Wesson M&P9 C.O.R.E. Pro Series Pistol Review
December 23, 2013
Many believe that "competition improves the breed." Certainly in terms of the action-oriented shooting sports, we have seen many features that were first introduced for competitive advantage that have continued on years later to become state-of-the-art for both duty and self-defense firearms. That is certainly the case for red-dot sighting systems on small arms; whether the red-dots are powered by batteries or a radioactive element like tritium.
Smith & Wesson recognizes this as it has introduced the "C.O.R.E." M&P pistol in the 'Pro Series' product line. It comes with a number of factory features designed from the beginning for use with a red-dot sighting system. Yet, even if you are not a competitive shooter, a handgun featuring a red-dot sighting system offers multiple advantages over the traditional iron sight system.
Presbyopia is a medical condition affecting eyesight that is usually found in people past the age of 40. It is characterized as one ages by the diminished ability to focus on near objects and often results in the need for reading glasses or bifocals.
The advantage with any red-dot sighting system for older shooters is the same as that found with a scoped rifle. The eye only has to focus on a single focal plane where the red-dot is superimposed over the target, which is the main focus.
There's no struggle with focusing on the front sight, then focusing on the rear sight for good sight alignment and then changing the focus to the target, however far away it may be. For young shooters, the lens in the eye flexes so easily that all of this is done without a conscious thought and many young shooters swear they can see all three sighting reference points simultaneously.
In fact, they just focus on each point in extremely rapid succession. Focusing on these three reference points is so fast, they don't even think about it and do it subconsciously. For older shooters, very seldom does it work that well.
Many shooters in their mid to late 60s absolutely must have some sort of optical sighting system to shoot accurately despite these optical deficiencies.
A pistol like the Smith & Wesson M&P 9 Pro Series C.O.R.E. is perfect for such shooters, whether or not they ever shoot competitively.
C.O.R.E. stands for "Competition Optic Ready Equipment". This Pro Series pistol comes with a slide already cut, just in front of the traditional rear sight, for the following optics; the Trijicon RMR, the Leupold Delta Point, the Jpoint, the Docter Optic, the Insight MRDS and the C-More STS.
It's equipped with traditional iron sights, but they are taller than normal to co-wtiness with the optical sight. This is an obvious attempt to build redundancy into the sighting system.
If for some reason the red dot fails or disappears, the shooter just naturally transitions to the iron sights. I found they were still a tad short on my sample, but more on that in a moment.
The iron sights themselves feature the usual trinity of three white dots; one on either side of the wide U-notch in the rear sight and a single white dot on the back of the tall front sight. Both the front and rear iron (a term used to denote traditional sights as opposed to optical and not meant to denote their metallurgy) sights are mounted to the slide using dovetail cuts.
The sample pistol featured the longer slide and 5-inch barrel. I requested it because I wanted to see just how the longer slide and barrel combination affected the balance of the gun compared to the standard Commander-length 41/4-inch barrel. I like the longer version better because of its balance and pointability, if I may use such a hokey term.
The M&P 9 comes with three different size palm swell grip sizes. Despite Madison Avenue advertising, one size does not fit all. It doesn't work in overshoes, panty-hose, or the grip area on handguns. This ability to fit the gun to your particular hand size is one that should be copied by all in the industry.
The Smith & Wesson C.O.R.E. Pro Series M&P 9 pistol is designed from the beginning for small red dot sights like the C-More STS unit shown mounted on the sample pistol.
The C.O.R.E. Pro Series has an empty weight of only 26 ounces and features a hinged trigger. It offers several features that will endear it to a wide range of shooters.
James chose the M&P 9L model with a 5-inch barrel. The standard M&P 9 features a Commander-length 41/4-inch barrel and is probably the choice for belt or concealed carry.
James likes the M&P's hinged trigger, in contrast to the central safety lever of other brands. He found it far easier to manipulate and more comfortable in extended firing.