Hard-C.O.R.E.: Smith and Wesson’s Convertible 9mm Handgun

Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson joined forces in 1852 to produce the lever action Volcanic rifle, itself designed around Walter Hunt’s Rocket Ball cartridge. In 1856 Smith and Wesson allied themselves with Rollin White, the father of the bored-through cylinder, and started churning out handguns. Now 150 years later Smith and Wesson is still producing state of the art combat handguns. Their M&P9 Ported C.O.R.E. (Competition Optics Ready Equipment) is one of the world’s finest tools for throwing 9mm rounds downrange.

S&W CORE with Suppressor

The S&W M&P9 Ported C.O.R.E. can be run with a ported barrel or a threaded tube to accommodate a sound suppressor. The gun is compact, reliable, and effective.

The heart of the C.O.R.E. is the S&W M&P (Military and Police), the Americanized offshoot of Gaston Glock’s original plastic gun. The M&P sports an indestructible polymer frame, blackened stainless slide, striker-fired action, bet-your-life reliability, and the standard array of automatic onboard safety systems. The M&P also delivers a 1911-style grip-to-frame angle that nicely suits those of us who cut our teeth on Mr. Browning’s timeless 1911.

Tight Groups with suppressed CORE

Here is a typical pair of 20 yard groups fired unsupported and fast. The headshots are through the ported barrel while the chest group was printed through the Gemtech GM9 suppressor. There is minimal point of impact shift and the guns runs like a champ both with the can and without.

The Ported C.O.R.E. incorporates a pair of dorsal slots in the barrel that correspond with vents in the slide to counteract muzzle flip. The slide is cut to accept six different miniaturized electronic sighting options. An array of mounting plates to accommodate all this variegated glass comes with the gun.

The fixed steel sights are elevated to allow them to remain visible within the optical field of an electronic sight or facilitate use with a sound suppressor in place. There is a threaded barrel that readily interchanges with the ported version. An adjustable over-travel stop allows the shooter to fine tune the trigger’s personality. The trigger incorporates a pivoting safety component in its tip that leaves the weapon inert until you are ready to fire.

Turning Ammo Into Noise

The M&P9 Ported C.O.R.E. represents the state of the art in modern polymer 9mm pistols. With the ported tube in place follow-up shots are faster and muzzle flip is nicer than is the case with a comparable unvented gun. Interchangeable palm swells accommodate various hand sizes. The tight adjustable striker-fired trigger makes for snappy double taps. The dust cover is naturally railed for accessories.

Swap out the ported barrel for the threaded tube and screw on a can and you can nourish your inner MI6 agent. The resulting package is lightweight, fun to run, and thoroughly awesome. With the ported barrel in place the gun runs fast and shoots straight. The slots cut in the top of the frame accommodate the effective barrel porting system when installed and make the gun look like something out of a science fiction movie. Magazines hold 17 rounds and drop away cleanly.

S&W CORE is Secret-Agent Approved.

I defy you to ring steel with the suppressor-equipped S&W C.O.R.E. without absentmindedly humming the James Bond theme in your head. The suppressed package is lightweight and maneuverable without sacrificing accuracy.


Stripped down and sporting iron sights and the ported barrel, the C.O.R.E. runs smoother and better than your stock service pistol. A proper IWB (Inside the Waistband) holster will pack the gun effectively and covertly beneath an untucked shirt. With a nice bit of electrified glass installed the platform competes with the newest customized race guns. Hang a can on the muzzle and you are set to infiltrate behind enemy lines to rescue a lonely Swedish supermodel. If you wanted a single combat handgun that could best be all things for all applications then the S&W C.O.R.E. would serve nicely.

Smith and Wesson builds undeniably great smoke poles and the C.O.R.E. is the very pinnacle of their tactical offerings. Sound suppressors and electronic sights represent the future in combat handguns. With the S&W C.O.R.E. you get all that cutting edge capability along with the capacity to pack the gun covertly for personal protection if need be.

With two barrels and a can the gun really does offer everything the discriminating gunman might need all in a single racy package. The gun fits my hand nicely, shoots straight, and looks cool to boot. You can spend a lot more on a comparable combination package from other manufacturers, but you could just set your money in a tidy pile and set fire to it as well.


9mm Factory Ammo Performance

Load Velocity (fps)
Group Size (inches)
Hornady Critical Defense 115 gr JHP 1193/1127 3/5.25
Sellier & Bellot 124 gr FMJ 1179/1068 3.25/3.5
Federal Hydroshok 147 gr JHP 1050/788 3.75/2.5
Winchester White Box 115 gr FMJ 1200/1111 2.75/5.5
Winchester USA Forged 115 gr FMJ 1207/1131 2/3.25
Winchester Train 147 gr FMJ 1031/731 2.5/4.25

Notes: Shooting Chrony F-1 Chronograph set 3 feet from muzzle. Accuracy is the product of 5 shots at 20 yards. Interestingly, velocity really fell off with the ported barrel and heavy bullets while lighter rounds remained fast.

The Smith & Wesson M&P CORE

Think you’d give the Smith & Wesson C.O.R.E. a try? Have you already tried it? Let us know in the comments below!

3 Comments On This Article

  1. I don’t know I heard some Pro and cons on. Ported barrel I don’t think you really need it much it looks good that’s about it