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Review of the Apex Tactical Forward Set Sear and Trigger Kit

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Having recently purchased three Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm Compacts, you might be surprised to learn that I was not initially a fan of the M&P.  Admittedly, I had something of a bias against S&W semi-autos, going back to when S&W tried to make and sell their first Glock-like gun;  the ill-fated and almost universally panned S&W Sigma.  But my biggest complaint with the S&W M&P was the ergonomics and shooting characteristics of the trigger.  When I was gun shopping a couple of years ago, I tested out a range-owned M&P full-size and just didn’t like the hinged trigger, the pre-travel it had, and the gritty feel.  So when I recently made the decision that I wanted to go with a single platform solution to my firearms I use for training, competition, and home defense, I gave the S&W M&P another look, and liked what I saw.  But I particularly liked that fact that had third party support for improving on that trigger – namely the Apex Tactical and their Forward Set Sear and Trigger Kit.

Apex Tactical has made several replacement components for the M&P platform and the Forward Set Sear and Trigger Kit (most often referred to as the FSS Trigger) is one of their newest products.  The goal of the FSS trigger is that once installed it will set the trigger break point farther forward than the factory trigger assembly as well as reduce the uptake and over travel,  mimicking a 1911 style trigger.  This sounded exactly like what would cure me of my M&P aversion, so I ordered one to try out:

Many of Apex Tactical replacement part kits are designed such that installation is fairly simple and don’t necessarily require a professional armorer.  However, the rear sights on my M&P 9c are very difficult to remove so I paid $30.00 for my local armorer to install it,  and I had my gun back in two day.  Here’s a couple of photos of my pistol once I received it back with the new trigger installed:

Gone is the plastic hinged trigger, and in it’s place is a new aluminum trigger with a Glock-style safety.  Once installed, I took my M&P 9c to the range to test the new trigger.  I ran about 200 rounds through my gun, trying to get a feel for the new trigger.  Here’s one of my targets, having shot 10 rounds from 25 ft.:

Here’s a couple from 15 ft. – 12 rounds:

This one is ten rounds at 15ft.:

Those groups from 15 ft. are among the tightest I’ve ever shot with a pistol, and the the 25 ft. performance wasn’t too shabby at all.  I imagine my grouping from 25 ft. will tighten up considerably with more practice.

In terms of feel, I’m extremely impressed with the new trigger – pre-travel is negligible, and trigger weight is down considerably with a clean, crisp break.  It’s exactly what I was looking for and is now similar to, if not better than the trigger on my previous competition gun, the Springfield Armory XD(m).  My M&P 9c now feels like the gun Smith & Wesson should have made if their lawyers would have let them.  😉

I did however run into an unforeseen problem during this initial testing of the trigger – I experienced about two “failures to fire” (click-no-bangs).  This surprised me given the rock-solid reputation that both the M&P and Apex components have for reliability.  So I inquired with the M&P online community about the issue, and determined that at some point earlier this year S&W updated the M&P sear block with the larger sear plunger, and that the smaller sear plunger is notorious for not catching the striker with the FSS trigger installed.  In an attempt to determine the age of my M&P 9c, I got out my the box it came in, and checked the information written on the envelope which contained the empty shell casing from the test round fired at the factory.  Sure enough, it was from Oct. of 2010, which means my pistol had the smaller sear plunger.  Fortunately, Brownell’s carries the updated sear and plunger ( Item number 940000958) and I order one.  Once installed, I expect that I won’t experience any more failures.

If I have one criticism of the Apex Tactical FSS trigger it is the lack of a perceptible reset.  Once you pull the trigger and the pistol fires, you should be able to feel the reset point on the trigger with a perceptible “click.”  With the FSS trigger installed, it is all but impossible to perceive the reset point.  Apex Tactical does sell a separate component called the MP RAM (Reset Assist Mechanism) designed to improve tactile trigger reset of the M&P pistol – an additional $23.00 purchase that should in my mind accompany the $160.00 FSS trigger kit.  Nonetheless, I do plan on getting the MP RAM for my pistol.  In for a penny…..

Assuming you either have or are willing to install the upgraded sear block on your M&P, the Apex Tactical Forward Set Sear and Trigger Kit is a very worthwhile upgrade over the stock M&P trigger.  I’ve ordered a second to install in my other M&P 9c, and if my wife wants it installed on hers, we’ll get a third.

UPDATE:  1/15/11

Well, after several trips back to the M&P Certified Armorer I used, both my M&P 9c pistols were not functioning properly with the FSS trigger kits installed.  So, with little other options available to me, I sent both pistols to Apex Tactical.  They serviced the pistols, and shipped them back.  The good news is, I’ve put 100 rounds through both and they both function flawlessly.  The bad news is, This cost me an additional $300.00 (that’s the total price I paid for the work done on two guns) over and above the price I paid for the triggers, and the money I paid to the local armorer to install them.    Apex Tactical sent me a detailed report of their findings, and clearly laid all the blame for the problems I had experienced squarely with my local armorer (they told me this wasn’t the first case of an M&P Certified Armorer making mistakes which lead to customers experiencing failures with their parts installed).  When my local armorer saw their report, he indicated that he installed all the parts they had included with the kits, and suspected that some of the parts Apex Tactical installed were perhaps now in their 2nd generation, correcting problems with parts which may have been in the kit I had.  Who was right?  Who was wrong?  I may never know for sure.

So, do I still recommend the FSS trigger kit from Apex Tactical.  Absolutely – I paid a higher price to get the trigger feel I wanted then I thought I would, but I’m extremely happy with how both my M&P 9c pistols perform.  If I had it to do over, I probably would have sent my pistols to Apex Tactical to begin with for installation.  That would have saved me a lot of time, and some of the expense I paid.

About John B. Holbrook, II
John B. Holbrook, II is a freelance writer, photographer, and author of ThruMyLens.org, as well as LuxuryTyme.com and TheSeamasterReferencePage.com. *All text and images contained in this web site are the original work of the author, John B. Holbrook, II and are copyright protected. Use of any of the information or images without the permission of the author is prohibited.

  1. Great review! I am looking into to getting this trigger system and the night sights when I purchase the S&W M&Pc 9mm. My question for you is what do I need to do to make sure I don’t run into the problems you experienced and have a handgun that shoots flawlessly?

  2. Honestly? Unless you’re dealing with a local armorer that has extensive experience installing the FSS (not just other Apex triggers) send your gun to Apex and have them do it.

  3. Thanks. Got the trigger done on the pistol with the RAM. Will be taking it out to shoot soon 🙂 I had two questions for you

    1) What is the weight of your trigger pull for the Apex? Is there a recommended minimum weight that smith end Wesson suggests? I’ve just heard prosecutors can nail you for lightening a trigger pull even if you were totally justified shooting someone in defense.

    2) does your pistol have a mag safety? Mine does (model 209004) and I’m not sure if im the biggest fan but I’ve found there are pros and cons to it. Just your own preference.

    Thanks!

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