David C. Reed reviews the Smith & Wesson M&P VTAC (Viking Tactics Edition)
CCW Guardian. Train. Shoot. Log. Details matter.
Hello again, I’m David Reed with Reed and Ward, the makers of CCW Guardian – the premier smartphone app for CCW permit holders. This is a review of the Smith & Wesson M&P VTAC or Viking Tactics Edition.
Let’s clear, lock, and show safe. No one’s behind the camera. We have a safe training area.
Let’s take a look at the gun. Right here’s the port side. This gun is 5½ inches high, it is 7.63 inches long which means it’s a full-sized Smith & Wesson. The weapon has a four and a quarter inch barrel. It weighs 24¼ ounces. So is about the same size as a Colt Lightweight Commander, but slightly lighter as those Lightweight Commanders weight about 27 ounces. Okay, right here’s the starboard side. You can see it has an ambidextrous slide stop, not slide release. Picatinny rail for hanging your lights, lasers, etc. A very ample trigger guard so that even a gloved hand can easily get in here to in wintertime carry.
It does have a reversible mag release and of course the interchangeable backstrap system that has become the rigor with these polymer frame striker-fired pistols. This one has what I consider to be the industry’s best. It is easy to change. You pull the pin out; you’ve got three different backstraps that come in the box: small, medium, and large; and then stick the pin back in. Literally you can change backstraps in five seconds, Although, once you find one that is most comfortable for you, go with that. This is the medium one that comes on it, the small is a little flatter, the large one even has some extra beavertail material right there for large hands.
The frame is very thin right up here at the top. Thinner than the competitors for this pistol which means that it’s been ergonomically designed so that large hands don’t really mind that, but small hands can reach the trigger a lot easier even with this full-size weapon.
Let’s roll it over on the top. you can see the sights are dovetailed in so you can drift adjust them for your ammo or your eyes. Or you can change them out for different sights. Although when I tell you about the VTAC Warrior sights you probably won’t want to change these.
You’ll also notice right here on the barrel hood is a loaded chamber indicator hol that is standard on almost all modern Smith & Wesson pistols, including my 1911 PD. The idea is that you can look right there and you can see a piece of chambered brass. As you know I’m not a big fan of loaded chamber indicators whether it’s a bar, or a pin, or a hole. You can get a false positive and a false negative. So, always press check like Gunsite teaches or I do one of these: a visual check or physical check, to make sure that I’ve got around in the chamber if I’ve got any doubts.
This is a striker-fired pistol. So let’s take a look at the trigger. Yeah, it’s got a definite 4 and ¾ to 5 pound trigger right out of the box. Reset is very short audible and tactile. it does have a long take up on it which is very typical of striker-fired polymer frame pistols. Actually though I wouldn’t change that. A lot of people want to mess with the trigger. For a CCW permit holder, don’t mess with the trigger unless it’s just really bad or broken. Because that long take up actually helps as a safety. If you shoot with your bare hand and then in the wintertime you wear gloves and shove your finger in there you don’t want to accidentally set off the weapon.
This is the VTAC edition. Let’s take a look at what are some of the differences. Obviously color is the first thing that you notice. This kind of reminded me of a Kimber Desert Warrior when I first saw it. Because it’s both flat dark earth frame and the flat dark earth colored slide. That is a PVD, physical vapor deposition process that applies this coating to the slide. Which means that it lubricates, self lubricating, and also won’t gall against other metal parts as near as easily as metal on metal. And also it’s more resistant to corrosion and chemicals. So you know that’s something good for CCW permit holders.
If you’ll take a look at the sights, now I’m going to try to show them to you. I’m not pointing a weapon of myself, there is no Rule Two violation. It’s just the camera angle, right. Right here you can see two sets of dots on the on the rear and two on the front sight. What you’re seeing is fiber-optic and tritium sights that come on these. VTAC Warrior sights they’re called. Now something to think about, I’ve never been a big fan of fiber-optic sights just because I think they’re potentially a little delicate for hard defensive use. But look at these. These are steel sights. Those fiber-optic tubes are armored inside those metal sights. So I don’t think there’s any problem with these being delicate or breaking. But you know fiber-optic and I’ll tell you even under the light I’ve got in this room those sights are lighting up like ignited neon. You can really, even these old eyes can see that front sight very well in the daytime. But fiber-optic doesn’t do any good at night. So when you take a look right there you’ll see the second set of dots, the lower set, are actually tritium inserts. So at night you go from daytime. You can literally, in the daytime you’ve got bright neon. If you run indoors all of the sudden those the tritium sights right there will pick up. Also the front sight is tapered bottom to top and there’s a very ample cut out on the rear so these sights like I said even with my old eyes I can see these sights very well.
Let’s take a look at how this weapon scores on the Reed Ergo Power Ratio Tool. It’s just a subjective tool to help you decide whether this is the right gun for you. First it’s a 40 Smith & Wesson, so in section A, caliber, it’s a four out of five that is pretty good. in section B, which is total defensive capacity, it comes with 2, fifteen round magazines. So 16 rounds of total defensive capacity. That’s five out of five. So even before we fire this weapon in section C and D, you’ve got nine out of 20 points before we’ve even shot it. So that makes it a very viable candidate for your everyday carry weapon.
The one complaint I would have for carrying this as a CCW weapon is it is a full-size weapon. It doesn’t feel overly large, kind of like in my mind the Glock 22 is just a holster gun, it feels to large. This gun does not feel that big in the hands. That’s just a perception thing. You may have a different opinion. But it’s very slick. I can see carrying this on the inside of the waistband.
Alright, so let’s go ahead, take it outside. Let’s take a look at what comes in the box, field strip it, reassemble it, and shoot it.
Okay, we’re outside with the Smith & Wesson M&P40 VTAC Edition. Let’s take a look at what you get in the box. Of course you get the warranty card so you want to make sure to fill that out. You get your owners manual which is very well illustrated a lot of photographs it shows you how to field strip disassemble and care for your M&P. Keep that. And the obligatory piece of brass for those jurisdictions that require it. I happen to believe that if you live in such a jurisdiction you need to move. Federally required padlock good idea. And the Brown corrosion resistant paper that it says Smith and Wesson’s been around since 1852. I think somewhere in 1853 they probably started issuing that paper. It comes with two 15 round magazines, a chamber plug, and three backstraps. Medium’s installed. You get the small. I have medium-sized hands but actually like the small grip because it makes it feel a lot like a 1911. It’s thin and practically straight. The large one for people with larger hands, you’re going to like this a lot because it even has a little bit of additional material up here in the beavertail. For those with really big hands in this area. But also you’ll notice how fat it is right there. okay. so that’s what you get in the box with the Smith & Wesson M&P.
Now let’s take a look at the weapon itself and let’s clear lock and show safe again. Now I want to take you get a good look at these sights and see how bright those things are shining out here in the daylight. If you, hopefully the camera kind of shows that, because man those things are like neon on fire. Like I said very well executed. We’ve cleared lock and shown safe. Let’s go ahead and take the pin out. Now you rotate this pin to you know 90° off of center and just pull it out. Now this pin helps you disassemble but it’s also how you change the backstraps. So let’s say I want to put the large backstrap on all I have to do then is fit it on there. Make sure she’s all the way on. And Insert that pin. That’s how long it takes to change a backstrap from small medium or large. Again I don’t like the large so I’m going to pull that off. Put the medium back on. Medium one back on. Make sure it’s all the way on there, okay. That’s how you would do that. But let’s keep the pin off for now because we’re going to use it when we get ready to field strip this pistol.
Let’s lock it to the rear and take a look. Now what I want you to look at, and I’ll make sure the camera shows this. If you look in this area right here, you see the one pin that’s sticking out there. But what you don’t see is the sear disassembly lever. It is in the ‘up’ position and it is a doglegged gold or yellow colored pin that’s right here on the rear of the frame. I’m going to take this pin and what am I to do, trying to make sure you can see this. I’m going to go in here, and I’m going to pull that pin up and put it into its full upright position. Now you should be able to see it. It is a gold dogleg shape pin right there. When that pin is down, it rotates out of the frame and a slot in the frame straight down, that means this weapon is ready to disassemble without having to pull the trigger – such as with the Springfield XD or a Glock.
Next, you’ve got the disassembly lever right here on the side. I want you to rotate it from three to six o’clock right there. And then the slide is ready to come off. So pressing the slide release. Pull the slide right off. Set the frame right there. Now pull out the recoil spring. It is under pressure. So be careful. What I don’t want is for it to shoot off and hit your television, computer, or yourself if you’re aiming it at yourself. So make sure you wear eye protection. Lastly pull the barrel forward and then back out. And you have field stripped the Smith & Wesson M&P for purposes of cleaning, changing the backstrap, doing whatever you need to do.
Now let’s reassemble it real quick. First thing I would do is take the barrel. I’m going to insert into the slide. And then lock it backwards. Kind of put it in tilt the rear of it up and slide it back. It actually kind of locks it in there little bit. You’ll notice that these recoil springs are a captured spring set. The spring does not come off of the guide rod. So what you want to do is take the one that’s kind of six sided right there. You want to put it into the frame like so. Now take a look here. There’s a notch right here on the front this recoil lug. Recoil spring just slides right into that. The system is now locked. The slide is fully assembled. Then what you do is you put the slide right back on to the frame. Bring it back and by pressing up on the slide stop you push it up into the slot. You lock the slide to the rear. Rotate the disassembly lever from 6 back to 3 o’clock and then before you close the slide again or go out to shoot the weapon we want to get that dogleg shaped pin up. Back up into the frame. And press check or dry fire the weapon a couple of times. That is how you field strip and reassemble the Smith & Wesson M&P VTAC edition. And that’s what all comes in the box. Final step, of course, almost forgot many of you out there going, “What about the pin?” Right here it is. You insert the pin like so. Then just twist it. That locks the backstrap on. We’re good to go. Alright, now let’s take it over to the range. We’ll drive over the range and will see how she shoots.
Okay, we’re out here on the range. We’re going to shoot the Reed Ergo Power Ratio Tool, sections C and D. Section C is Recoil Management. How well can you manage the recoil of your chosen weapon and ammunition. The test is two shots on a 3.5×5 inch index card at 7 yards. If you can get both shots on within two seconds we get max points, five. If it takes you three seconds, well then you get 4, and so on. Keep shooting until you get 2 shots on. But, if it takes you more than five seconds you might want to back up and try again. Section D is Practical Accuracy. You’re going to fire five shots on a 3×5″ index card at 7 yards in not more than 15 seconds, and not more than three seconds between shots. What this tests is your ability to manage the trigger and see the sights effectively at combat distance.
Let’s go ahead and go hot, eyes and ears. And let’s take a look at the target. I want to take the Pact timer and we’ll will go on the ‘beep.’. We’re shooting section C, recoil management.
(Two shots fired.)
Okay on the timer. The shots look there. It’s a little wider than I’d like. Kind of rushed it a little bit, but we got two shots in 1.69 seconds. It looks like both of them are on the paper. So it looks like a pretty good job there.
Now I’ve just reloaded with five rounds. Next I’m going to shoot section D, the Practical Accuracy. So, I’m going to reset the timer and will go on the beep.
(Five shots fired.)
Okay. Those look pretty good. Take a look. 7.66 seconds with the average split time of 1.36 seconds. So, well within one shot every three seconds and no more than 15 seconds. Let’s go ahead and take a look at the targets.
Okay let’s take a look at our targets. This is section C, Recoil Management. As you can see, both shots low, bit bigger group and I would prefer, but it’s two shots on the 3.5 x 5″ piece of paper at 7 yards in under two seconds. Obviously we get five points for that. Section D, Practical Accuracy, I’ve got all five shots on. So we get a five out of five on this one, too. Once you take a look you see, two groups right here. These first two shots were fired using the fiber optic sights which are higher on the sight blade than the tritium ones. And as you can see they’re about, I don’t know, maybe half an inch low. So I adjusted and I started using the tritium sights which are lower on the blade. As you can see the final three shots were right there in the middle. So all five shots in there. The difference between the groups is somewhere between half and three quarters of an inch. Not really important in defensive shooting at 7 yards. But it gave me a little bit of a curiosity. But, obviously I still get five out of five points right there for that. So I came over here off-camera and I fired a couple of groups on this piece of paper. And you can see you’ve got a high and low. And a high and low shot. The top rounds that you see over there are using the fiber-optic sights. The two bottom rounds that are, well, either a half or three-quarters of an inch low, are fired with the higher with tritium sights. So the fiber-optic sights tend to shoot little bit low. The tritium sights on this particular weapons tend to shoot a little bit hight. Is that significant? No. But it shows that I did the analysis as a responsible CCW permit holder.
So what I’m going to do, is I’m going to take out CCW Guardian on my smartphone. And, I’m going to document this training. Not only that I fired this weapon, but also the differences in the sights and that I did this level of analysis over here. So that as a hedge of protection against allegations of recklessness or negligence during a real-world engagement, I can show that I’ve done some analysis and I’ve professionally documented my training as a responsible CCW permit holder.
You know overall that means the Smith & Wesson VTAC edition right here gets 19 of 20 points on the Reed Ergo Power Ratio Tool. Hey, that easily qualifies it as an everyday carry weapon or certainly suitable in my hands for personal defense weapon. My one caution on it is that it is a full-size weapon. Now that full-size grip meant that it was very easy to control the recoil and shoot this weapon accurately even under a timer. But you maybe that’s why they make the compact version of the M&P, right. It’s a little easier to conceal. This weapon would be perfectly easy to conceal. This is a Safari Land 5378 holster. A paddle type holster, be very easy to conceal in jacket and coat season. But in the summer time, with shorts, you’re probably going to want to use an inside the waistband holster or a light outer garment over a T-shirt. And this full-size butt certainly might ‘print.’ And depending upon your jurisdiction and what your rules are, that’s going to be up to you. Depends on your body type and your method of concealment. But as far as being able to shoot, an outstanding sights, great recoil management, I can’t help but endorse the Smith & Wesson M&P 40 Viking Tactics edition.
Also want to take a second and give a shout out to AmmoAnimal.com, our sponsor. They provide the ammunition for these reviews and all of our shoots. And as you can see the ammunition is very high quality. I’ve never had any kind of jam or failure to fire based off the ammunition since I’ve been using their product. I’ll tell you I’m also a consumer of the product as well as getting some ammo for these purposes. Let me tell you, they’ve got a broad range of ammo particularly target or practice ammunition on the the site. They’ve got very inexpensive shipping rates as well. So take a look at AmmoAnimal.com and “feed your ammo animal.”
I’m David Reed with Reed and Ward. That’s a wrap for the Smith & Wesson M&P VTAC. And now all I need to do is find all this brass.
Ah, there it is.