REVIEW: WE M&P9 / Big Bird / Toucan
Bang For Buck9
Granted it has been out a little while now -long enough for a second revision unbelievably- but we actually have a lot to say about this pistol so without further ado – let’s get it on.
It is worth mentioning that at this very point in time I am indeed listening to Marvin Gaye and while this initially would have zero relevance, something came to me and as with all instances of such rarity; I had no other alternative than writing it down. For the sake of a (semi) interesting read, I will revisit this thought later on.
I am a big fan of this pistol in almost every respect so you could say that bias is a certainty however I will try to explain why. For the sake of clarity, this pistol has a few names; it is replica of the Smith & Wesson M&P9 and as such is referred to as the M&P9. However in the East it is called the Toucan and in the West, the Big Bird. Lastly, the barrel has been sanded and polished as it had become a little scratched in use and well, we all love a splash of bling.
System – Green Gas / Propane / CO2 (Extra)
Hop up – Standard WE Hop Unit, Adjustable
Build Material – Polymer Lower / Metal Slide
Magazine Capacity – 22 Rounds
Length – 195mm
Weight – 700g
Muzzle Velocity – approx. 280FPS with 0.2BB
As a Designer I’m obsessed with ergonomics or rather constantly frustrated as this seems to be an afterthought more than a crucial point in the design of most products. The WE M&P9 is very subtle in its design when it comes to fitting in your hand. Contrary to popular belief, finger grooves do not make something ergonomic at all; in fact, they force your fingers to reside in a place that they might not naturally. The WE M&P9 uses a combination of subtle curves at the front and comes with three back strap grips to choose from which not only change the rear curve of the grip but also the width or ‘swell’ of the sides. While the grips are referenced as small, medium and large it is more of a case of what you are most comfortable with than hand size. Overall, it can make for an extremely natural and comfortable grip.
While you cannot use this as a perfect example of an ambidextrous pistol, lefties will have zero issues unless your index finger is freakishly long. It features an ambidextrous slide stop and the magazine release is a shift of the thumb for righties and a retraction of the index finger for lefties.
What is interesting is that the real steel M&P9 allows the magazine catch to be switched over for lefties. While the Airsoft variants don’t allow for this out of the box, there is nothing stopping someone like WE, RA-Tech or anyone with a 3D printer making reversed magazine catches as the magazine catch spring can be simply taken out and put back in reversed.
Ergonomics were a large driving force behind the design of the pistol and it really shows especially when you learn that the trigger guard was specifically designed and appropriately sized to work perfectly with gloves.
The overall design shares many similarities to the Glock range but it is a much more modern and ergonomic rendition. The internals are very similar to the WE Glocks too which means most new adopters of the WE M&P9 will feel right at home.
The slide features a slanted four-point contact system, which supposedly aids the pistol when it comes to self-cleaning. This does not mean that cleaning and maintenance can be avoided but it will help when it comes to getting debris between the frame and slide. Smaller debris will end up in the lower recesses of the frame, which means less jams and friction.
The trigger is a real treat. It’s a jointed trigger with built in safety. There’s not many true squeeze triggers in Airsoft – there is usually play until you hit a part of the trigger pull with increased resistance but the M&P9’s trigger pull is consistent straight through the shot which is impressive to say the least as that’s exactly what you want out of a trigger.
When you’ve eventually got the hop just right, it’s really accurate and that accuracy along with range is amplified with heavier weight rounds. I am currently getting a solid 30m range out of it on 0.20g.
A few extras; it has a nice little bit of ‘rail estate’; perfect for those lasers and torches. It also boasts luminous, glow-in-the-dark sights and a 22 round magazine. CO2 magazines are now also available too which makes this a great all year round pistol.
Don’t let it deter you too much but the hop unit does need opening up and adjusting ever so slightly. It is a case of bending the hop arm ever so slightly just to give it a little more force. Out of the box my hop didn’t even work at all, even on 0.20g BBs. The hop needs bedding in anyway which means the hop will change and settle over a few dozen magazines worth. I experimented with negligible results until I decided to up the ante and bend it by a few millimetres. As expected, I bent the hop arm too much and it was over-hopping 0.28g BBs in a spectacular fashion. However, after going through another five or so magazine’s worth and leaving it for a week it seems to have found its sweet spot. Luckily the hop unit is a very simple design and can be disassembled and reassembled by anyone with eyes and thumbs.
The outer barrel is a little bit of an issue too. There is a hook on the underside of the outer barrel, which is prone to snapping straight off as it’s clear it takes the brunt of the force.
The flaw is in its design and can be easily prevented or at least its life can be prolonged. If this part of the barrel is one of which takes a fair bit of force then the illustrated joint is a major weakness. The fix is relatively simple: the joint needs to be radiused. RA-Tech, as usual was straight in there and even opted for a steel barrel rather than Aluminium – this upgrade isn’t going to break any time soon!
You could quite easily radius the joint yourself with a Dremmel or something similar. Alternatively, you could do what I did. Just pretend it never happened and use the pistol normally as it does not seem to affect the performance at all. I cannot guarantee that it isn’t putting extra, undue stress on other parts that aren’t designed to take it though. It is also worth noting that if you are considering buying the Ace 1 Arms Salient Arms International Slide and Barrel Kits then those barrels will also suffer the same fate eventually unless they are radiused.
Oh yeah. Marvin Gaye.
Like any hugely successful artist, they usually start rocky but regardless the soul shines through and they end up popular. Nowadays Marvin Gaye is used as a benchmark and there are plenty of artists that are essentially a nod to his work. I think the same will eventually be said of the WE M&P9 in terms of design, ergonomics and (eventual) reliability – I genuinely feel this will either hold par with or take over the popular favourite Glock 17/18c. This is now my go to workhorse; many others have adopted it too and even through its shortcomings – I absolutely love it and would recommend it to others.
I apologise profusely for the terrible Marvin Gaye reference.