The Best M&P 2.0 Triggers

What are the best M&P 2.0 triggers?

Smith & Wesson’s M&P (Military and Police) pistol has been on many best-of lists since its inception in 2005. This polymer-framed, short recoil-operated, semi-automatic pistol has the reliability of a Smith & Wesson coupled with newer tech like a polymer-frame and ergonomic improvements from the combination of two other S&W pistols — the Smith & Wesson Sigma (their first foray into polymers) and the Smith & Wesson SW99 (S&W’s version of the Walther P99). 

The learnings from the Sigma’s use of polymer and SW99’s ergos were brought over to the M&P, which are major contributors to the pistol’s usability, success, and adoption by everyone from Australian Police Forces to the Vermont State Police.

Of course, like any gun, there’s room for improvement and personalization, and even some of the mid-shelf M&P 2.0 models have triggers that can leave something to be desired. Luckily the M&P is both relatively easy to work on and there’s a robust market for M&P 2.0 triggers — many of which are worth considering. 

While the “best” of anything is highly subjective, some are without a doubt heads and shoulders above the rest and will instantly upgrade your trigger pull.

Apex Tactical

The Action Enhancement Trigger is just the trigger unit itself, but this replacement does a lot of good. The trigger shoe is an anodized aluminum flat trigger, with a centered trigger safety tab (making it more Glock-like) and set screw for reducing overtravel. Apex claims a reduction in pre-travel and over-travel by 20 percent, which is a drastic improvement. 

The center mounted pivoting safety is retained; the trigger tab actuates it instead of a hinged trigger. 

While this component is literally just the trigger, without any of the other parts, installing it reduces pretravel and overtravel considerably from factory M2.0 Shield pistols. You can either replace the trigger itself or upgrade to an entire trigger group kit, but swapping out the trigger is quick and relatively painless, giving you a better shooting experience in under 30 minutes.

Apex Tactical

If you like the Shield’s trigger and just want a smoother, lighter pull, the Apex Duty/Carry kit leaves the trigger shoe in place but upgrades the internal components including the sear, sear spring, trigger return spring and striker block pin. A Talon Tactical tool and slave pin are included for installation. 

Because the sear and sear pin are part of the kit, Apex recommends installation by a gunsmith. 

These drop-in parts smooth trigger travel while reducing pre-travel by shortening the trigger return spring, dropping the pull weight a full 2 lbs in the process, giving you top end, service pistol trigger performance.

Apex Tactical

If you wanted to completely upgrade a standard M&P M2.0 trigger configuration, look no further than the Apex Tactical Drop-In Forward Set Trigger kit. The 9mm/.40/.45 ACP set is compatible with M&P M2.0 double-stack pistols. 

It’s a complete kit, consisting of a forward set, anodized aluminum trigger with a far shallower curve than the factory pedal as well as a centered trigger safety tab, actuating the center mounted pivoting safety. 

The kit also includes the components of the Duty/Carry Kit, including the springs and pins, and gunsmith installation is recommended. This upgrades every component of the trigger system except the trigger bar. Pre-travel and over-travel are minimized for a smooth, consistent pull and reset.

Apex Tactical

A companion to the Drop-In Forward Set Trigger is this trigger kit, which exchanges a curved trigger shoe for a flat trigger. However, all other components (and the general idea) is the same. 

Pre-travel and over-travel are reduced and the trigger travel is smoothed for a more consistent pull. The kit adds Apex Tactical’s anodized aluminum flat trigger and trigger safety tab as well.

Apex Tactical

Much like the above kits for the M2.0 double-stack models, the S&W M&P M2.0 Shield Action Enhancement Trigger kit is an upgraded trigger and trigger component kit, including the springs, sear and firing pin block. 

The included trigger is the Action Enhancement Trigger, a black anodized aluminum flat blade with a tabbed trigger safety. The trigger is smoothed, and pre-and post-travel reduced or eliminated. 

So far, almost no trigger accessories – as mentioned – have come out from other manufacturers besides Apex Tactical for M&P M2.0 Shield or standard M&P M2.0 pistols, so their products dominate the space. 

Why an M&P 2.0 Trigger Upgrade?

One of the major selling points of the 2.0 M&P iteration was a reshaped trigger & lighter pull. Pull weight was cut down from the 1.0’s 6.5 lb to 6 lbs of pull in the 2.0. It also offers shorter take-up, and a quicker reset — but when compared to a Glock 17 the 2.0 still requires a half-pound more pull. True, it’s a little less gritty, a little smoother, but still leaves much to be desired compared to other striker-fired pistols. 

The Walther PPQ and H&K VP9 triggers have been long established as some of the very best factory striker-fired pistol triggers and their reputations in that regard appear fairly safe. 

The M&P 2.0 trigger, like the original, has a considerable amount of  pretravel (as most striker triggers do) and doesn’t track the smoothest to the rear. Many people have described the feeling as “numb” or “mushy” due to the rocker-safety. It could also stand to have a more tactile reset, which is relatively forceful out of the box.

Most people are looking for a smoother trigger, reduced pre-travel, a shorter, more pronounced reset and a cleaner, more well-defined break above the standard go pedal.

How the M&P Trigger Works

The M&P trigger works much like any other striker-fired system, with slightly different components.

The trigger on the M&P is prevented from engaging the trigger bar until the trigger safety is deactivated by pressing the trigger and the center-mounted pivoting safety aligns the trigger shoe to the trigger bar.

As the trigger is pressed, the trigger bar moves to the rear until it contacts the set sear.

The basic function of the factory M&P 2.0 trigger. That central pivot on the safety can create a mushy feel.

The sear holds the firing pin and striker assembly — which is under spring tension — in place. As the trigger is pressed fully to the rear, the sear is dropped out of the way and the firing pin assembly goes forward, striking the cartridge primer. 

Where the factory trigger falls is first the pivoting action of the trigger itself, which lengthens pre-travel and requires careful pull placement to ensure the safety is fully engages. Some people have complained about achieving consistent pull with the orientation of the safety on the lower portion of the trigger.

The pull itself is struggles due to the metal-on-polymer contact. By contrast, a 1911 trigger doesn’t have this problem with polished metal on metal as well as the straight rearward travel. 

The sear itself is typically unpolished, giving the factory trigger an uneven travel, and the entire system – essentially just a lever – has a lot of mechanical play in it for the relatively short travel distance.

Benefits of a Trigger Upgrade

The primary goal is a smoother pull, which is far more useful than a lighter pull as a smoother motion lends itself to more consistent shooting. Reduction of pre-travel is also a typical benefit to avoid unnecessary delay in firing.

Beyond feel, some people complain that the trigger safety can be a challenge to activate fully.

The constant refrains about M&P 2.0 factory triggers having gritty travel and too much takeup are all too common. An upgraded Shield M&P 2.0 trigger or M&P 2.0 trigger will help work these issues out of your pistol and have you shooting more comfortably and consistently.

What To Look For In A Replacement Trigger

One design feature that helps with feel is a shallower curve to the trigger body. This can help reduce pre-travel on its own, which is part of what makes flat triggers so popular. Of course, flat triggers are also a useful upgrade. 

Instead of a hinged trigger, a trigger with a safety tab instead of Smith and Wesson’s hinged design. This, again, helps reduce pre-travel and eliminates the numbness that some people feel with this design.

A trigger with adjustable over-travel (the distance a trigger moves after the break) is also beneficial, to shorten reset.

If upgrading the entire trigger pack instead of just the trigger shoe itself, look for springs that are shorter and stiffer than the factory set. The old revolver trick of removing a turn of the spring to smooth travel and reduce pull weight…still works. 

Since the issue with the M&P trigger is mostly that of pre-travel and smoothness of travel, any aftermarket trigger that addresses these issues is a useful, and welcome, upgrade. 

Given that the 2.0 was introduced in 2017, much of the aftermarket hasn’t caught up to the M2.0 models just yet so the space is dominated by Apex Tactical at the moment. The good news? Their products are excellent.

More May Come, But These M2.0 Triggers Are Excellent Upgrades

Apex Tactical has been the dominant supplier of aftermarket M2.0 triggers and trigger packs, and few have found fault with their products. Any one of these products will improve the trigger pull of your M2.0 Shield or double-stack M2.0 pistol, which makes it well worth the investment.

Sources

  1. Police Mag, Mass. and Vermont Troopers Get Smith & Wesson M&P Pistols, December 16, 2011
  2. The Age, Paul Millar, Victoria Police switches to semi-automatic weapons, April 29, 2010
  3. The Firearm Blog, David Kiz, Gun Review: Smith & Wesson M&P,
  4. The VSO Gun Channel, Smith & Wesson M&P Trigger: Value Added or Deal Breaker, July 16, 2014
  5. Peter von Panda, Why I hate the Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm Shield’s trigger, February 6, 2016
  6. Burwell Guns, M&P Trigger Work
  7. Police Mag, Smith & Wesson M&P Pistol with Safety – Weapons

MICHAEL CRITES is el jefe around here. He writes about guns and gear.

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