S&W M&P9L Pro Series C.O.R.E.

Smith & Wesson M&P9L Pro Series C.O.R.E. with Vortex Viper Red Dot


Right out of the box, the Smith & Wesson M&P9L Pro Series C.O.R.E. comes ready to play with. I purchased mine at Gunnies for $575 (that was after a $50 instant discount they were running through the end of the day I bought mine), so needless to say I was very pleased from the beginning. This pistol has a 5″ barrel, which is a little longer than your average barrel length on a handgun which provides a longer sight radius. The gun feels very nice in your hand, and comes ready for a red dot optic, and/or flash light or laser beam or a combination of both on the picatinny rail to your preference.

Specs: Here are the specifications as per the manufacturer:

  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Capacity: 17+1
  • Safety: No Thumb Safety
  • Barrel Length: 5″ / 12.7 cm
  • Overall Length: 7.5″
  • Front Sight: White Dot Dovetail
  • Rear Sight: Fixed 2-Dot
  • Action: Striker Fire
  • Grip: 3 Interchangeable Palmswell Grip Sizes
  • Weight: 28.0 oz / 793.8g
  • Barrel Material: Stainless Steel
  • Slide Material: Stainless Steel
  • Frame Material: Polymer
  • Slide Finish: Armornite┬«
  • Frame Finish: Black
  • Purpose: Competition Shooting, Enthusiast, Recreational Shooting

Grip: The grip on the M&P9L Pro Series C.O.R.E. is large enough to accommodate the shooters full hand on the gun, and it feels very nice. Unlike a Glock pistol, the base pad on the M&P is just about flush with the bottom of the frame, giving it a nice, clean look.

The M&P9L Pro Series C.O.R.E. model comes with 3 different textured palmswell grip sizes so you can adjust the grip size based on the size of your hand for optimum comfort and practicality. Changing the grips is easily done by turning the grip plug a quarter turn, and then using the bottom of one of the magazines to apply a downward pressure to the turned grip plug. Once the grip plug is removed, then grip just slides right off easily, allowing you to change it out with another grip that’s provided. The medium grip is the one that’s pre-installed on the frame.

Magazines: This pistol comes with (2) 17 round magazines, made from steel. It’s not extremely easy to load the first round into the magazine due to the design, but rounds 2-14 load pretty easy, and the last 3 rounds take a bit more effort to get loaded (but pretty much what you could expect from a magazine that holds that many rounds!). I would recommend a speed loader to assist with this.

One thing that I would have made slightly different is the location and style of the magazine release button. I am sure that some would argue that this button is perfectly adequate for the pistol, and I am sure that is probably true to some people. Maybe I just have small hands, but I have found that I need to ever so slightly adjust the position of my hand to be able to quickly and effectively press the button to release the magazine from the pistol. It’s just a slight hand adjustment that I’m making, but I believe that the style of the button, and the position of the button could have been made differently to accommodate more shooters. I CAN’T be the only person that feels this way!

Sights: The fixed iron sights that come on the pistol are about twice as tall as other pistols, which allows for a co-witness with a red dot optic. Right out of the box this pistol includes 5 adapter plates and screws to be able to accommodate several different red dot sights available on the market. Smith & Wesson indicates that the C.O.R.E.’s pre-cut slide can accommodate 6 red dots including the JPoint, Doctor, C-More, STS, InSight MRDS and the Leupold Delta Point, however, I should note that it can also accommodate the Vortex Viper using plate #5 with the B screws that come with the gun. The Vortex Viper 6 MOA red dot is the reflex sight that I currently have installed on the gun.

One issue that should be noted, is that with the Vortex Viper, and the Leupold Delta Point from what I’ve read, is the placement of the locking screws that keep the windage and elevation settings locked in place. In order to unlock and re-lock these screws after making your windage and elevation adjustments you need to remove the rear iron sight. This is an inconvenience, but whether to blame S&W or Vortex or Leupold, it’s anyone’s guess.

Trigger: The standard trigger that comes with the S&W M&P9L CORE is a single-stage, approximately 6 pound pull trigger. It’s a polymer trigger, and it features a very smooth articulating section that has to be pressed down approximately an eighth of an inch rearward to allow the main trigger to move and the gun to fire a round. This lengthier, double-action trigger movement resembles the feelings of a more expensive two-stage trigger. The trigger also has a fairly short reset, and I have found that to be ideal for rapid fire, or even just firing two shots at any given target. Since this trigger was designed for competitive shooters, I have found it to be pretty good right out of the box without any need for reconfiguration or replacement. There isn’t a safety on this pistol, so keep your finger away from the trigger until you’re at the range in the firing position!

Note from the author: Hi! My name is Matt Johnson, and I write reviews for firearms and firearm related products that I have personally used and have become familiar with. While I understand that some individuals may disagree with some of my thoughts/feedback, I welcome you to leave comments and I will make adjustments as I see fit based on concerns and comments from my readers. I do hope, however, that everyone can keep commenting respectful and understand that my reviews are solely my opinion, and in no way do I consider myself to be the “end-all” when it comes to firearms. Continue your research here, and on other websites to gather as much information as possible before making your purchase. I am not endorsed by any companies or products, so my opinion is completely of my own volition. Thanks for reading!

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