S&W M&P 9mm: Part II

A critical component of any competition pistol is the trigger. No matter how nicely the gun fits your hand, no matter how well the sights work and no matter how expensive or cheap the gun is, without a good trigger the wheels will come off quickly. When pulling the trigger it is essential that as few muscles as possible be used to effect the necessary movement. Any additional involvement of other muscles will cause undesirable movement of the gun, resulting in poor shots. The challenge then is to make the trigger as light and smooth as possible while maintaining complete control of the pistol.

This brings up another topic: what is the “right” amount of trigger pull? Conventional wisdom says that for duty carry a gun should have a fairly heavy trigger pull. Some police departments in the US actually require armorers to set the trigger at over 11 lbs. Most folks would say that 6-7 lbs. is best for typical concealed carry applications. However, I’ve also seen it argued that as long as you follow the basic trigger safety rule (never put your finger on the trigger until yours sights are on the target and you intend to shoot) the trigger weight can be much lighter. This debate can go on ad infinitum and I really don’t want to weigh in personally. What I will say is that for competition applications, having a trigger that is much lighter than 6-7 lbs., is smooth and has a clean, predictable break is essential.

The M&P9 comes from the factory with a 6.5 lb. trigger pull. It is smooth and predictable but with a lot of take-up and a fair amount of over-travel. This means that once the shot breaks, the trigger continues rearward for some additional distance before hitting a stop. I will say that the nice wide trigger face makes it feel lighter than it actually is. That and the absence of the trigger safety “blade” makes this one of the nicest stock striker triggers I’ve seen. Nevertheless, I knew it could be much better.

After digging around, I discovered Burwell Gunsmithing. If you are looking for a gunsmith for your M&P you will be hard pressed to find folks with a better record than these guys. They also have made available this excellent guide to M&P Trigger Work. I applaud any vendor that takes this approach. Here they have provided a clear and complete guide to Armorer stripping and completely reworking the trigger in your M&P. For those with the skills, tools, time and patience, this is all you need to super-tune your trigger. For the rest of us it shows us just what we are paying for when using Burwell’s services. Kudos.

As you can imagine I realized fairly quickly that this was not a project I wanted to take on myself. It doesn’t take much to ruin a trigger part by changing an edge or profile in the wrong way. Lucky for me I also found Apex Tactical who have thrown themselves heavily into the S&W aftermarket. In late 2009 AT began shipping hardened sears for the M&P. This eventually grew to include Action Enhancement Kits (AEK) for both duty/carry and competition applications. These kits include the following:

  • Apex Hard Sear

    comp_aek_600-300x189

    Apex Tactical Competition “Action Enhancement Kit

  • Apex Ultimate Striker Block kit
  • Apex Competition striker spring
  • Apex Competition sear spring
  • Apex Competition trigger return spring
  • Apex Aluminum Slave pin for installing the Trigger Return Spring

I ordered my competition kit last night and have been watching the videos today. I expect this will take an hour of deliberate work to install. Experienced armorers can do it in 20-30 minutes. Given the rave reviews these kits have received I expect this to be a dramatic improvement in terms of over-travel, reset, smoothness and pull weight. In fact the finished trigger is guaranteed to be sub-3lbs. That’s getting into 1911 territory!

Next up in Part III: grip tape and new mags (while I wait for the Apex kit!)

About William Daugherty

William Daugherty is a firearms enthusiast, competitive shooter and Second Amendment advocate living in the Upper Connecticut River Valley region of Northern New England.
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