I have been in the shooting sport since 2009 and have acquired a number of firearms for my collection. I have shot and tested numerous pistols and have found what I really like and work best for me. If you have read my articles before, I have mentioned that my very first gun was a Glock 22. Chambered in the .40S&W, it has a violent recoil. As time goes by, I have acquired more handguns, the Kimber 1911 TLE/RL Custom II, and the Smith and Wesson M&P 9mm. After shooting the M&P 9mm for a few weeks, I fell in love with the gun and the caliber, and eventually sold my Glock 22 and purchased a Glock 17, which is also chambered in 9mm.
This article is not about the Glock 17, or the caliber 9mm. It is about the M&P. The Smith & Wesson M&P hit the market in 2005 and in 2010, because of the publicity of the Magpul Dynamics DVD; nearly every gun store (around my area) has sold out of M&P handguns. Eventually, I was able to pick up an M&P 9mm at my local gun store. After the 10 day waiting period, I finally picked it up and immediately took it to the range. Although the manufacturer stated the trigger pull is about 5.5 lbs, which is same as the Glock, I noticed that the M&P has an easier trigger pull comparatively. As a Glock owner, I consider myself as a decent shot. Not many people like or are able to shoot Glocks efficiently.
When I went to the range with my newly acquired M&P 9mm first time, I immediately fell in love. Although the weight of the trigger pull is same as the Glock, the M&P trigger feels lighter and easier to pull back. With the M&P, I was able to shoot a better grouping comparatively. I took my friend to try it out with me, and he could not shoot the Glock at all. But once the M&P landed in his hand, his grouping was improved ten fold. The M&P trigger safety system is very unique, where only the lower part of the trigger can be pulled. If something got inside the trigger guard and start pulling the trigger, it is unlikely for the gun to go off because of this trigger safety feature.
Ever since I have owned the M&P, I always wanted an airsoft version. However, there were no airsoft companies that made the M&P at that time. Later, there were companies that made the M&P but they were unavailable in the US due to licensing issues. I wanted to have an airsoft version so I could practice weapon manipulation safely at home, since I go to shooting competitions with the M&P. However, luck was not on my side, until now. Thanks to my boss I had another chance to go to S.H.O.T. Show again. This year at the Spartan Imports Booth, I was looking around when suddenly; something caught the corner of my eye. It was the Smith & Wesson M&P Compact. I thought it was the real one, but common sense kicked in, and I asked myself why they would have a real gun in an Airsoft Booth. At that same moment, Sean from Spartan Imports walked over and told me that this is their new gas blowback airsoft gun. My jaw dropped to the ground immediately.
After talking to Sean, I found out that the Smith & Wesson M&P Compact is manufactured by VFC. I was surprised that this pistol was manufactured by VFC, because VFC is famous for their AEGs. To my knowledge, this fully licensed M&P compact is the first gas blow back airsoft gun by VFC. My first impression of it is one word, impressive.
To start off, the fully licensed VFC M&P Compact has all the trademarks of the real M&P Compact. On the left side of the slide, it has the M&P 9C marking, the word stainless (indicating the real firearm slide is made of stainless steel), and the Smith & Wesson logo. On the right hand side, it has the words “Smith & Wesson” and the company’s headquarter location “Springfield, MA USA”. On the bottom, it has the phrase “Caution- Capable of Firing with Magazine removed”. In the real M&P firearm, some models are capable of firing without the magazine in the gun. However, all M&P models sold in California are not. This is a safety feature that prevents the gun from going off when there are no magazines in the gun. In the airsoft version, obviously it cannot be fired without the magazine in.
The detail of the VFC M&P is also extremely similar to the real one. The texture on the grip and the cocking serration feel exactly the same. The weapon controls are the same too. Since this is a “striker” fire system, there are no external hammers. Therefore, the external controls are fairly simple. There is an ambidextrous magazine release, so the slide can be released both by left and right hand. The take down lever is not ambidextrous, but it is not really critical on the battlefield. One interesting fact about the magazine release button is the fact that it could be set up for the right hand or left hand. The button is set up for a right hand shooter, which is on the left side of the gun. However, by simply reverse the button, the magazine release button is on the right side, which is perfect for left handed shooters.
Just like the real M&P, the VFC version does have a removable back strap. The real M&P comes with 3 different sizes of back straps, fitting almost everyone. Since this is only the production sample of the VFC M&P, it is unclear if VFC will include different size back straps. To remove the original back strap, first remove a hidden tool behind the magazine well. In the real M&P, that tool serves as the take down tool. However in airsoft, it is just a pin holding the back strap in place. Once the “tool” is removed, the back strap can be lifted and changed.
To field strip the VFC M&P, first pull back the slide making sure the gun is empty, then rotate the take down lever downward. After releasing the slide release, the slide will move forward and can be removed from the lower. The internals of the M&P is extremely similar to the real M&P, with a slight difference near the back. This shows that VFC is very attentive to details, and proves that this is going to be a great airsoft gun to use in the field.
One of the unique features on the real M&P is the fact that the operator can release the slide on a reload when inserting a loaded magazine. When the operator fired the last round, the slide automatically locked back indicating the gun now is empty. Normally, the operator would have to insert a new magazine, power stroke or hit the slide release in order to get back into the fight. However, what Smith & Wesson did was incorporate inserting the magazine and releasing the slide into one motion. To achieve this, the operator just needs to insert the magazine into the magazine well in a slightly forward motion. When the magazine is fully inserted, combined with the slightly forward motion, the slide release will automatically deactivate, and strip a fresh round into the chamber. This will decrease the time of reload and increase the operator’s survivability.
Since the VFC M&P is extremely realistic, it has the same function as the real M&P. When the gun is empty, like all other airsoft guns, the slide will lock back. When inserting a loaded magazine into the gun, along with a slightly forward motion, the slide will be released and a BB will be loaded into the chamber. The gun is now ready to be fired. Although it only shaved off a fraction of a second, it is still a cool feature, but more importantly, when second counts, this could potentially save you from getting shot in the airsoft battlefield.
Another unique feature which only the VFC M&P has is the full automatic function. Obviously the real M&P does not have full auto, but the airsoft version does, which makes it extremely fun and versatile. To activate the full automatic function, simply pull the slide back and lock it back with the slide release, underneath the slide and near the rear, there is a button. By pressing the button to the left, the gun will fire in full automatic mode. This will come in handy when you are trying to clear a room full of bad guys.
At the range, this gun is absolutely a dream to shoot. The VFC trigger feels even better than the real M&P trigger. The pull and break of the trigger feels the same, however, the reset on the VFC trigger is much better. On the real M&P, there is a “false” click which I called a “ghost” or “false” reset. Numerous times on the range, I was trying to rapid fire, but could not do so because of such reset. Eventually, I took it to my gunsmith and had him install a new trigger system where the reset problem was fixed. Also, a stock M&P trigger reset sounds weak and is not noticeable, but again after the new trigger system was installed, it became much more positive. On the VFC M&P, right out of the box, the trigger resets beautifully. The trigger is crisp, and it resets very positively.
The VFC M&P Compact magazine holds 14 rounds. The gun was chronoed at 270 FPS. I expected this FPS range because of its barrel length. It is a very small gun, and I would actually classify this gun as your back up airsoft gun. I mean this by carrying a primary AEG or Gas Blow back rifle, a secondary (a normal size handgun), and I would carry this just in case my other 2 guns fail. If I was not as fat and tall as I am, I would use this as my secondary, it just depends on your philosophy and how you want to deploy this gun.
Overall, I highly recommend this gun, not because I work for Airsoft GI and want to sell this gun, but it is because this gun “got it right”. Although I think this gun is too small for me, I am seriously considering buying one of these because of the extreme similarity it has to my real M&P. On top of that, Spartan Imports told us that later on this year, near early winter; they will release the full size version. The VFC M&P Compact and VFC M&P will probably be the pistols that I will buy; even the compact and full size versions are virtually the same gun. I am Andrew, stay safe, get out and play airsoft!