All Hail the Newest, Oldest Hot Caliber: Smith & Wesson Jumps into the 10mm Pool


The grip is slightly larger than the 9mm version, and you still have a choice
of four backstrap adjustment inserts.

What’s old is new. Or is it, what’s new is old?

We’re seeing a resurgence of the 10mm; this during the same era when the 9mm is raging against .40 S&W in all the “most-tactical-est” circles. Maybe people are tired of compromises? The 9mm is hard to beat in the capacity-per-cubic-carry-inch competition, and calibers starting with a “four” represent the big, fat bullet bloc. Go big — in either capacity or power — or go home!

Like the .40 S&W, the 10mm represents a happy middle ground in the capacity spectrum, offering another round or two over .45 ACP in the single stack category and several additional cartridges in double-stacks. Considering today’s example, the new Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0 10mm packs a whopping 15+1 capacity into a “normal-sized” package.

Remember the last time Smith & Wesson produced a 10mm semi-automatic pistol? It was way back in the 1990s with the 1006 line and several variants. So, 10mm aficionados fret no more; you can get a modern service pistol, complete with all the latest bells and whistles.

The M&P 2.0 10mm includes the C.O.R.E. configuration and ships with seven

Optics Ready

The new M&P 10mm 2.0 features the C.O.R.E. optics system, meaning the slide is cut and ready to mount a wide variety of optics. Before my first range trip with the new M&P, I went ahead and installed a Trijicon SRO. The process was easy peasy using the Type 1 adapter plate. The 10mm model comes with seven different mounting plates to fit a plethora of red dot sights. You’ll also get a slide cover plate if you want to run with irons only.

When peering through the gun-top TV, I noticed how the folks at S&W had kindly equipped this pistol with tall sights. With no tinkering on my part, the irons co-witnessed perfectly and were visible in the bottom 10% of the Trijicon SRO window.

Note the new flatter trigger and extra-wide safety “leaf.”


I’ve got a 9mm M&P 2.0 sitting here on my desk and the newest trigger system on the 10mm is a bit different. The original trigger was far more curved, offering a hook-like feel on the finger. It also used a hinged trigger mechanism for the trigger safety instead of a leaf in the trigger face. The new model takes an all-new approach. It’s a “leaf” design, but instead of a thin blade, it’s about 3/8″ wide and flat on the front, so you really feel it on the trigger finger. It’s also aggressively spring-loaded. I like the overall geometry of the new trigger design better as it’s a lot flatter. I never really cared for the aggressive hook trigger of the original 2.0 model.

The pull weight measures 5.5 lbs. The take-up segment is a bit gritty, presumably from a bit of roughness on the striker block or its channel. I do notice it smoothing out with use. Being a bit of a trigger snob, I’d likely replace the whole trigger with an Apex Tactical set anyway.


You will notice a slight size increase in the grip area to accommodate the larger 10mm rounds. Doing some rough measuring using my reloading calipers, I see the grip is longer front to back than the 9mm model: 2.185″ vs. 2.115″. This translates to a bit of trigger reach difference: 2.62″ for the 9mm compared to 2.87″ for the 10mm.

My hands are size large according to the gloves I buy and I find I have no trouble reaching the trigger with the center of my index finger pad on the face. I still have a healthy gap between the length of my finger and the frame, so I’m definitely not stretching. S&W includes four different backstrap replacements to tweak the pistol to your hand size. I left the default Medium in place.

It’s hard to argue with 15+1 rounds of 10mm in a standard carry-capable pistol.

10mm Ballistics

Over the years, the 10mm has been called many things, most notably a ballistic match for the .41 Magnum. That’s not exactly true. The .41 Mag readily digests heavier bullets and launches most of them quite a bit faster than a 10mm auto pistol. Sure, there are some low-end .41 Magnum rounds in the 500-ft.-lb. range, but many exceed 1,000 — a number somewhat out of range of 10mm loads.

However, the 10mm sure is peachy for a “normal” semi-automatic pistol. Discounting gas-operated monstrosities like the Desert Eagle, the 10mm delivers quite a bit more kinetic energy and momentum than any of the big three of 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP. How much more? A spunky 9mm defensive round like Federal’s HST launches a 124-grain bullet at 1,150 fps or so, depending on the pistol. That yields about 365 ft.-lbs. of energy. A .40 S&W might get us into the 440-ft.-lb. neighborhood with a 180-grain bullet at 1,050 fps. A .45 ACP shooting a lighter and faster 185-grain projectile at 1,030 fps delivers 435 ft.-lbs.

The 10mm, on the other hand, handily adds 100+ ft.-lbs. to those numbers with many 200-grain loads exceeding the 1,100-fps mark and generating 550 to 580 or more ft.-.lbs.

From the new M&P, I tested several factory 10mm loads. At the lighter end of the scale, the Doubletap Lead-Free 155-grain averaged 1,227 fps, delivering 518 ft.-lbs. at the muzzle. SIG’s V-Crown 180-grain defensive load left the M&P at 1,166 fps, generating 543 ft.-lbs. Speer’s 200-grain Gold Dot moved at 1,042 fps, cranking out 482 ft.-lbs. Last, Federal’s 200-grain HST reached 1,109 fps for 546 ft.-lbs.

Accuracy from 25 yards, shooting five-shot groups from a Ransom Multi-Caliber rest was peachy. The SIG, Federal HST and Gold Dot loads measured 2.7″, 2.49″ and 1.59″.

This pistol ships with extra-tall white dot sights, co-witnessing naturally through the lower part of a red dot sight.

What’s It For?

The deciding effectiveness factor isn’t caliber or energy since all standard viable defensive calibers have little trouble penetrating humans. Thousands of data points from actual shootings show little statistical difference for metrics like one-shot stops and the number of shots to incapacitate between different calibers. So, while 10mm is clearly more powerful, this won’t necessarily translate personal defense invincibility.

However, it’s hard to argue with “bigger” with one huge caveat — one has to be able to control the pistol, putting shots on target rapidly. So, this new M&P 2.0 certainly presents an interesting carry, duty, or home defense option.

I’d also place this gun in the “super handy for general outdoor use” category. If you camp, hike, four-wheel, or hunt in wild critter territory, having a gun with more “oomph” might be just the ticket. While few would choose a 10mm pistol over a big lever gun in bear country, having 16 shots of blazing-fast hard cast slugs sure does present an attractive option. Having this readily accessible on your belt in a standard holster is even better. Add a red dot sighting option into the mix, and you’ve got easy shot placement under stress at a distance. Hmmm.


You can order the new 10mm with either a 4″ or 4.6″ barrel, both with a 1-in-10 twist rate. You can also choose a model with an ambidextrous manual thumb safety. MSRP ranges from $654 to $665.

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