How much accuracy do you need?

If you’ve spent more than 2.5 seconds on internet gun forum, you’ve probably had someone tell you that M&P pistols aren’t accurate. I feel like a lot of it is overblown, because how many people are really shooting their guns at ranges where a real lack of accuracy would be noticeable? But, in the interest of science, I decided to pull at random one of the 5 M&Ps we have in the house and see. The gun selected was an M&P full size, with a 4.25 inch barrel and Sevigny sights. It’s an older gun, we’ve had it for at least three years.

M&P Fullsize 25 yard group

At 25 yards, using a six o’clock hold, the M&P put together this group. This was the best five shot group I could get out of the gun. I noted that point of impact for elevation was right at the tip of the front sight, and about 2 inches left. The group size is 5.1 inches, counting the flier at the top. Without that flier it’s 3.2 inches. Under ideal circumstances, that would make this probably a 4 or so inch gun with perfect conditions and trigger pulls every time. This was all slow fire, no time pressure, no nothing.


This target is from my first attempt shooting The Humbler. This is the Timed Fire target; shot freestyle at 25 yards. It’s two strings of 5 shots with a 20 second time limit. Under the pressure of a (very long) time limit using a very accurate gun, I was able to shoot a group that is better than the “ideal conditions” group I shot with the M&P. If you remember from the HK VP9 Review, it is an extremely accurate handgun, shooting sub two inch groups all day long.

Because the VP9 is more mechanically accurate than the M&P, I know that under less than perfect circumstances I’ll be able to get better hits with the VP9. But here’s the real question: does it really matter? The answer, of course, depends. But it depends on two things, your mission and you skills. If your mission is to win Production division at Bianchi Cup, it absolutely matters. Or if you want to shoot a 699 on the Humbler, it definitely matters. But if you want to be able to defend yourself? The difference between a gun that shoots 4 inch groups and 2 inch groups becomes a lot less important.

The other area is skill. Let’s be honest with ourselves for the moment. The average shooter/gun owner simply isn’t good enough at shooting to appreciate the difference between a 2 inch gun and a 4 inch gun. I don’t say that to be harsh, it’s just the truth. The average shooter is frequently incapable of keeping 5 shots on the paper at 25 yards, much less shooting something that resembles a group. That’s why you see people content to blaze away, shooting basketball sized groups at 7 yards. That guy is the average gun owner – he doesn’t take classes, and he certainly doesn’t compete, because he’s “minute of badguy accurate” at 7 yards.

If you’re serious about shooting, you obviously want the most accurate gun you can get for your purposes. If you have an M&P that runs great and shoots 4 or 5 inch groups at 25 yards, I wouldn’t toss it in the garbage just because it’s not accurate “enough.” For self defense work or USPSA competitions, that’s plenty accurate. Especially if you shoot your M&P well. If you want a more accurate gun, there are plenty of choices available.

I wrote this post primarily because I’m tired of seeing people on forums complain that “M&Ps aren’t accurate” when those people have probably never shot a 25 yard group in their lives. There are some people I’d listen to when they say that. But “9mmLvr4eva” on some derpes infested clown-show forum isn’t.


  1. Shhhhhhhhhhhh. I’m enjoying having an excuse for when I get a Delta on 25 yard targets.

  2. Something I have observed watching folks shoot. Most guns are more accurate than the shooter. Including me and my guns.

  3. I have a M&P that does 0.72″ at 25 yards with ASYM ammo. And 1.5″ with my AA&A match ammo. At least that is what the smith claims to have shot, as it is still sitting at my FFL in my home state.

  4. I find that if I carefully get a good first shot I can aim over the top of the target with the rest and claim they went through the same hole. Talk about a tight group!

  5. “The average shooter is frequently incapable of keeping 5 shots on the paper at 25 yards”……… how small is the paper!? I must over estimate a lot of shooters.

  6. I have 3 M&Ps. Two are the 4.25″ standard models. One shoots about 3″ groups at 25 yards, the other (the oldest one) is at best at 6″ at 25 yard gun. My 5″ M&P Pro has produced groups between 2-3″ with match grade Hornady XTP loads. I’ve read in several places the S&W quietly fixed the accuracy problem after the early models with some changes to the barrel design, and my experience with the newer guns seems to match that info, even if it’s rumor.

  7. The newer M&P’s are more accurate. But to the point of the editorial, the M&P is not the most accurate gun out of the box. But it’s a combat pistol and the bullet goes where you point the muzzle. I have a row of M&P’s, shoot them in competition, and while I have more accurate guns in the safe it’s my skill (or lack of) that is determining my classification. Bottom line is the plastic S&W’s are more than accurate enough for the task.

    1. Definitely true. I made Master in USPSA Production shooting my M&P Pro, and if my math is right, when they run the next classifiers I’ll have a GM card coming, earned with that same gun. I can shoot all A’s with it at 25 yards which seems to be sufficient for IPSC/IDPA type shooting. I did see an improvement in my Steel Challenge scores in years past when I got a Briley Steel Master that was a 1″ at 25 yard gun, when fed with the right ammo.

      1. Is this the KR of KR Training? If so, I saw you shoot at a USPSA match in College Station and school a handful of guys shooting race guns. For most shooters, basic combat accuracy is all you need. Shooting the wings off of flies at 25 yards isn’t a necessity, just a cool party trick.

  8. Good post.

    My inaccurate M&P is a 4″-6″ gun @ 25 yards, depending on the ammo and the phase of the moon…

    …which doesn’t mean you can’t clang 6″ steel plates 100% with it at 10 to 15 yards all day long.

    Assuming you can hit 6″ steel plates at 10 to 15 yards, that is, which is a rarer skill than one would think just from reading internet gun boards.

  9. I’m going to try this out with my M&P. Remember back in the, “old days,” when the gunwriters all had RANSOM RESTS? I only see those on Mythbusters, now.

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