Review: Smith & Wesson M&P 5.7

I’ve always like the use theories behind 5.7x28mm. A small, fast, low recoil round for a handgun and PDW that can bridge a performance gap between the 5.56 and 7.62 service rifles and the 9x19mm handguns and submachine guns

What most use theories ignore, unfortunately, is logistics. Supply, training, time, sunk costs, etc.

So I had written off 5.7×28 as a caliber for serious use and placed it into the neat box of thought and proof of concept projects. It would be simply be that cool round for a couple cool guns FN designed back in the day. Looked really cool in Stargate SG-1 too. No harm, no foul, but also not an EDC for me.

Then for some reason a bunch of companies picked up and said let’s make 5.7x28mm guns. Smith & Wesson was among them.

I have a happy and positive history with the M&P line and it was honestly strange I didn’t own a few anymore. I had settled into comfort with my P226/229 and the AXG P320 that followed their profile. I loved the original M&P 45 and 9L, the 2.0’s have continued my appreciation for the guns too with their excellent list of improvements. I simply didn’t own one myself.

But, that concerned only 9mms.

What happens when offered the chance to look at a brand new M&P pistol, in a caliber I’ve liked in theory but written off as impractical, that is being more often produced by several affordable ammunition companies?

Well, I end up with an M&P 5.7 in my hands and giving the gun (and caliber) a try.

Huh, weird… Uncanny even…

The Smith & Wesson M&P 5.7 has some attractive stats. It is a full size duty pistol with 22 rounds of ammunition per magazine and the full suite of M&P 2.0 features. This including optics and suppressor compatibility.

But it looks… odd. Almost offputtingly so. It’s a tall pistol, but the slide is very squat. It’s a long pistol, but slim like a P365 or Shield. The circumference of the grip is both correct and incorrect simultaneously. It inhabits this uncanny valley of handguns where both the closeness of it to normal sows a discomfort rather than familiarity and trust, but everything is precisely where it should be for a pistol in such a dimensionally different caliber like 5.7x28mm.

In short, its weird and I didn’t know what to think in unboxing and handling it.

Adding to the oddity, the M&P 5.7 is a gas operated. Its barrel is sleeved and the barrel acts as both the locking lugs for its chamber and the gas piston to cycle the slide. It is a fascinating design rarely seen employed in handguns.

So next I thought the practical thing and figured I’d shoot it and see. It came with two magazines and a load assister, I won’t call it a speed loader but it does help get cartridges into the thin semi-rimmed magazines. The magazines, like all new magazines, got difficult near max capacity.

Those magazines are also where I experienced my first and only failure of anything on this pistol. One of the mags was a from the factory dud and was binding at about the 19 round mark. You could load it but the spring and follower would not more than two or three rounds before it became stuck. I called into CS, replacements from S&W quickly, and those ones feed fine.

Doin’ it live

Live fire showcases the truly exceptional difference this pistol exhibits, here’s a video showing the field strip.

Again this is a gas operated pistol, like the Desert Eagle, but chambered in 5.56 NATO ‘Short’ for all intents and purposes. The barrel and barrel extension/chamber are also the “gas piston” and the locking lugs. I didn’t know what to expect but it certainly wasn’t the smooth recoil impulse that the M&P delivered. I’d say it is more pleasant to shoot than the FiveseveN from FN even, and that is an absurdly pleasant pistol to shoot in its original form.

The single action trigger with the trigger blade style safety delivers a consistent take up and a predictable wall to wait at and roll through when you want to deliver the shot. The results downrange were telling. I was able to keep every round I sent inside the headbox of a USPSA target with ease at 25 yards… with the iron sights. I hadn’t put the Holosun EPS Carry onto it yet, I was just testing function.

For reference, I can’t do that with a 9mm reliably enough to make the claim. The mass generated recoil of the 9mm produces more disruption and I can’t pace it as quickly as I was able to pick up and manage the M&P 5.7.

This pistol shoots. It is a very pleasant pistol to shoot with tactile feedback that benefits the user. The trigger breaks when you want it to. The slide is easy to manipulate. The sights were on from the factory and a dot like the Holosun EPS goes right on too and extends the effective range neatly.

The recoil is extremely soft and is easily managed, you quickly recover a sight picture, the trigger predictably resets and preps for another shot.

Everything about shooting the M&P 5.7 is easy to direct.


Feeding the M&P 5.7, or any 5.7x28mm is going to be your hurdle.

Ammunition sourcing is probably the pistol’s greatest limitation at the moment. Now 5.7 is more available than its been, but it isn’t and certainly will likely never be 9mm available or 9mm cost. At best it will likely hover around what we pay for .45 ACP and we aren’t at best right now. We can find it above 10mm and .45 but below .308/7.62 NATO.

1,000 rounds of 9mm can be found very quickly for under $300 right now. $700 is what I would spend for 5.7x28mm. It’s almost 3 to 1 in favor of 9mm for the cost.

Cost isn’t everything though and $700 isn’t unreasonable for a case of ammunition in general, it’s just high for a “pistol” round. For 5.56 in any sort of special round (like 77gr) or 7.62×51 that price per round is pretty normal. We’re just accustomed to 9mm, and this isn’t 9mm.

If the benefits of the pistol, specifically capacity and ease of use, outweigh the ammunition cost swing it is well worth considering the gun.


Yes, I’ve carried this pistol EDC.

And yes, I will recommend it for that roll. If you like the comfort of a 1911-esk slim/fullsize the M&P 5.7 fills that profile and nearly triples your capacity. It can also easily index a slim light like a Streamlight TLR-7A without ballooning that profile. The slim design makes keeping the M&P 5.7 close to the body a breeze and comfort of carrying this pistol is on par with a Sig P365 X-Macro.

It’s still a large pistol to carry, however it is on the most comfortable end of large pistols to carry. It also brings 22 rounds with it wherever you do carry it.

Will it replace my X Macro or my most preferred P365X with its WC frame as my EDC? No. But I did carry it for several months consistently, comfortably, and confidently and will probably do so with some regularity moving forward. The M&P 5.7 is an exceptionally comfortable full frame pistol.

Use Case – Compromised Hand Strength

Having a quality firearm available for that a physically compromised person can use is far more important than having one I can use. I’m a reasonably fit infantry veteran in my mid-30’s, I would lose a hand to hand bought with anyone who significantly out strength/masses/reaches me or who is a substantially more studied and practiced fighter than I am. But that list isn’t that long.

Compare that to the fact that any given male between 15 and 45 years of age physically outclasses most females in that age range and nearly all males and females in the retirement 60+ age range and we get the reminder that physics and physical power will not be on my side forever even if they are at the moment.

Add onto this disparity the men and women with actual manifest physical disabilities. They are missing a limb or limbs, have significant damage to their arms or hands, or in any other capacity cannot generate the normal control forces required to operate a traditional semi-automatic or double-action revolver. These people have an additional possibility with the M&P 5.7 and similar pistols. It is high capacity, low recoil, and the slide is easy to manipulate.

All of these factors make the pistol a joy to run for the normal shooter too, but where the ammunition price may not justify our mainlining the M&P 5.7 over a comparable 9mm it could be exactly what someone else needs in a handgun to make it function for them and the ammunition cost is easily justified by the person’s ability to make the pistol perform.

All in all, the M&P 5.7 is shaping up to be a quality if niche addition to the Smith & Wesson line and it is worth considering both for the fun of it and if you have a need that 9x19mm handguns are not fulfilling properly or to your satisfaction.

You can also just pick it up because you want to. I recommend 4 extra magazines and an EPS Carry from Holosun to top it off.

Keith Finch
Keith is the former Editor-in-Chief of GAT Marketing Agency, Inc. He got told there was a mountain of other things that needed doing, so he does those now and writes here when he can. A USMC Infantry Veteran and Small Arms and Artillery Technician, Keith covers the evolving training and technology from across the shooting industry. Teaching since 2009, he covers local concealed carry courses, intermediate and advanced rifle courses, handgun, red dot handgun, bullpups, AKs, and home defense courses for civilians, military client requests, and law enforcement client requests.