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The Smith & Wesson Performance Center M&P9 M2.0 C.O.R.E.

Each year, my publisher, Athlon Outdoors, hosts a gathering of gun writers in Victor, Idaho. The idea was to bring writers together with a number of select gun manufacturers to learn about their newest products. Specifically in a setting that was friendly and unrushed. One of those products was the Smith & Wesson Performance Center Ported M&P9 M2.0 C.O.R.E.

The Smith & Wesson Performance Center M&P9 M2.0 C.O.R.E.

During the event, we had the opportunity to socialize and dine with industry dignitaries. Likewise, we also had a chance to shoot the guns that had not yet been introduced to the shooting public.

The timing of the Athlon Outdoors Rendezvous gave us a substantial head-start to learn about guns early. These are firearms that would not be formally introduced until the SHOT Show in Las Vegas the following January.

Among the gun companies presenting at our Rendezvous was Smith & Wesson. The company’s Media Manager, Matt Spafford, is an old friend, and I’ve gotten to know him over the years at other industry meetings and events. Spafford works hard for S&W and is always quick to get me exactly what I need for my articles.

I’m sorry to say this is a rarity in our industry, where emails and voicemail messages often go unanswered. Thankfully, that is not an issue with Smith & Wesson. And the affable Spafford is always generous with his time and quick to help.

Among the new products being introduced by S&W was a Performance Center Ported M&P9 M2.0 C.O.R.E. pistol. Spafford took a few minutes to detail me on the gun.

(Photo by Alex Landeen)

The M&P9 M2.0 C.O.R.E. in Detail

This particular gun features a 5-inch stainless steel and ported barrel, chambered for 9mm. The barrel and slide extend past the end of the M&P9 frame. So, S&W engineers designed an extended rigid stainless-steel chassis embedded into the frame’s polymer. As a result, this reduces flex and torque.

Spafford noted that this gun was the first of the Performance Center offerings to incorporate the new M&P M2.0 upgrades. This includes the scale-style cocking serrations, enhanced grip texture, and improved sear geometry, giving the gun a crisper trigger.

Spafford notes the PC craftsmen spend a great deal of time judiciously polishing the sear’s engagement surface. First-generation guns possessed a trigger pull of around 6.5 pounds and the 2.0 guns run about 5.5 pounds.

But with the help of Performance Center smiths, our gun had a trigger pull that broke crisply at 4.5 pounds. In addition, it had a firm and audible reset. Quite frankly, the sample I fired in Idaho had one of the nicest triggers I’ve ever pulled on a striker-fired gun.

My test sample’s trigger broke crisply at 4.5 pounds without any overtravel.
(Photo by Alex Landeen)

Fit for Competition and Self-Defense

Building a gun that can fulfill the needs for competition and self-defense can be daunting. However, the PC Ported M&P9 M2.0 C.O.R.E. seems to accomplish that mission easily.

In keeping with the dual theme of competition and self-defense, the Performance Center ports the barrel and slide. This helps to minimize muzzle disruption. The Performance Center cuts dual ports on the barrel at the 11 and 1 o’clock positions about 5/8” back from the muzzle. In addition to the slide vent ports, there are also a number of other slide lightening cuts. This reduced weight results in proper slide velocity.

The PC Ported M&P9 M2.0 C.O.R.E. also possesses a railed dust cover for mounting a weapon light and or laser enabling low-light defense. It also has an ambi slide lock located on the right side of the frame.

The dust cover on the Smith & Wesson Performance Center M&P9 M2.0 C.O.R.E. has a three-slot Picatinny rail for attaching a light or laser.
(Photo by Alex Landeen)

S&W ships the pistol with two 17-round magazines as well as a Performance Center cleaning kit. Backed by S&W’s lifetime service policy the PC Ported M&P9 M2.0 C.O.R.E. should provide its user with a first-rate competition and defense gun.

Initial Impressions of the M&P9 M2.0 C.O.R.E.

Victor, Idaho, is beautiful and scenic, but the first week of October, we experienced the first snow of the season. Mixed with rain, hail, and biting wind, our shooting conditions were far from pleasant.

I think I ran about four magazines through the gun. During this, I noted that the Ported M&P9 5-inch gun’s recoil and muzzle flip were anything but snappy. In fact, it is a very soft-shooting gun!

The barrel is ported to help reduce muzzle disruption.
(Photo by Alex Landeen)

The combination of the long sight radius, suppressor height sights, crisp trigger, and firm reset made it possible to fire astonishingly fast and accurate double taps. As Spafford told me, Performance Center guns are made with competition in mind. So, they are designed to shoot fast and stay on target.

Before we broke for lunch in a heated tent, I formally requested a test sample of the PC Ported M&P9 M2.0 C.O.R.E.

Range Time Back Home

My test sample arrived in late March, and I drove out to my secluded shooting spot in Sonoita, Arizona. It’s about an hour’s drive for me from Tucson, but I don’t mind. Driving through the beautiful desert mountains is very relaxing. Plus, it gives me some time to clear my mind and just enjoy God’s great gifts.

I swear, every time I drive out to the rolling grasslands, just a 30-minute drive north of the border, my blood pressure drops, and my mood lightens. It’s my favorite place on earth!

It was about 60 degrees when I arrived at my shooting spot. But the winds were a little heavy at about 12 MPH, causing my target frame to rock in its stand. However, I set up my DOA Tactical portable shooting bench as well as my chronograph.

The author shooting the Smith & Wesson Performance Center M&P9 M2.0 C.O.R.E. from a bench rest.

I was curious to see how the gun’s 5-inch barrel affected its velocity. So, I also brought along my first-generation M&P9 with a 4.25-inch barrel. The results were surprising to me. Turns out the extra ¾ inch of barrel accounted for less than a 1% increase in velocity. In fact, of the eight loads I chronographed, 3 of them had faster velocities in the 4.25-inch barrel!

So, what’s the point of the longer barrel? There are actually a couple of benefits.

First, the longer barrel provides a longer sight radius which is always helpful in shooting a handgun more accurately. Plus, the longer barrel and slide also help dampen recoil. In my field notes, I wrote, “much less muzzle flip and felt recoil compared to the 4-inch gun.”

Finally, guns with longer slides and barrels also seem to point more naturally. For a gun destined for competition use, the 5-inch barrel is the way to go!

The author shooting the Smith & Wesson Performance Center M&P9 M2.0 C.O.R.E. from a standing position.

The Performance Center Difference

The PC M&P9 M2.0 C.O.R.E. 5-inch is a gun designed for competition use. So, I also included a column in my accuracy chart (below) that reflects the Power Factor of the rounds I used.

All of the loads listed make the minimum power factor for USPSA and IDPA competitions. This is with the exception of the Doubletap load, which uses a solid copper hollow point projectile. It is a load that is really designed for self-defense use and would generally not be selected for competition because of its expense.

3-Gun competition does not have a power factor minimum. However, it does list the 9mm cartridge as the minimum caliber for handguns. Here, a full-size gun is the best option for competitors. But this PC gun with the porting, like my test gun, places the competitor in the open division even if a red dot is not used.

In keeping with the dual theme of competition and self-defense, the Performance Center ports the barrel and slide. This helps to minimize muzzle disruption.
(Photo by Alex Landeen)

The good news is that S&W makes an identical Performance Center gun without the porting. And it would be perfect for the USPSA Carry Optics division and 3-Gun competition use.

The C.O.R.E. Slide

My test gun came with the C.O.R.E slide, which stands for Competition Optics Ready. Correspondingly, the pistol comes with numerous optic plates to mount popular miniature red dots. It took me just a few minutes to mount my Trijicon SRO red dot with a 2.5 MOA dot size.

The pistol comes with multiple mounting plates for various different red dot optics.
(Photo by Alex Landeen)

After zeroing the red dot, I re-fired all of the groups. About half of my groups were smaller, and the other half were just slightly bigger. All of the groups were fired at 25 yards, five shots to a group, from a seated rest.

My accuracy chart (below) reflects the best group fired with either sight system. The aggregate group size for all ammunition was just 1.37 inches, and that’s pretty darn impressive!

The gun’s trigger made shooting these small groups possible. My test sample’s trigger broke crisply at 4.5 pounds without any overtravel. Worth noting is the suppressor height sights are capable of co-witnessing through the SRO. That’s an important feature, whether you’re using the gun for competition or defense work.

A Budget-Friendly Option

As competition guns go, the Performance Center Ported M&P9 M2.0 CORE gun is relatively inexpensive! Priced at $819, the gun comes with two 17-round magazines, a Performance Center cleaning kit, and four palmswell grip adapters.

The Smith & Wesson Performance Center M&P9 M2.0 C.O.R.E. comes with three extra backstraps to dial in the fit.
(Photo by Alex Landeen)

Boasting Performance Center tuning, the pistol has a match-ready trigger, high-profile suppressor-style sights, and plates for most popular reflex optics. It possesses tremendous accuracy and functioned flawlessly during my evaluation.

Smith & Wesson’s Performance Center can build this gun in 9mm, like my test gun, or in 40S&W. It is also available with or without porting and with a 5-inch barrel or 4.25-inch barrel.

For more information, please visit Smith-Wesson.com.

Smith & Wesson Performance Center M&P9 M2.0 C.O.R.E. Specs

Model Performance Center®M&P®9 M2.0™Ported 5” Barrel and Slide, C.O.R.E.™ Sku: 11833
Operation Semi-Auto, Locked Breech, Striker Fired
Caliber/Capacity 9mm, 17 + 1, Two Magazines Included
Barrel 5” Stainless, Ported Match Grade, 1:10” Twist Rh
Overall Length 8.5 inches
Frame Polymer With Stainless Steel Inserts
Slide 5” Optics Ready, Ported Stainless Steel with Armornite®
Sights High Profile, 3-Dot, Drift Adjustable Sight
Weight 29.8 Ounces
Accessories Two Magazines, 4 Palmswell Grip Inserts, Performance Center Cleaning Kit and Cable Lock
Warranty Limited Warranty for Original Owner
MSRP Starting At $819.00


Aguila 147-Grain Fmj Flat Point 916 273 1.09” 134
Blackhills 115-Grain Jhp 1256 402 1.54” 144
Colt National Match 124-Grain Fmj 1058 308 1.34” 131
Doubletap 77-Grain Schp 1568 420 1.59” 120
Federal Syntech Action Pistol 150-Grain Tsj 903 271 1.24” 135
Hornady American Gunner 124-Grain Xtp +P 1159 369 1.40 143

All groups were fired at 25-yards from a seated rest with the pistol’s dust cover resting on a millett benchmaster for support. Five shots to a group. Velocities were recorded with a pact chronograph placed 10’ from the muzzle.

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