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Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9 Review

The Smith & Wesson Shield was unleashed onto the market a couple weeks back with much hype and hoopla. I participated in the hype, and yes, I liked it. Hats off to the Smith & Wesson marketing team for creating such a buzz around the release. I think we can expect other manufacturers to copy S&W in the future.

Two days after the Shield was released, I bought one in 9mm, and by that evening had already shot several hundred rounds through the gun. A couple days later, I posted a first impressions mini review, promising a full review to follow. Well, here you go.

Specifications

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Capacity 7+1, 8+1
Action Striker
Barrel Length 3.1″ / 7.874 cm
Overall Length 6.1″ / 15.5 cm
Frame Width .95″ / 2.413 cm
Overall Height 4.6″ / 11.684 cm
Weight 19.0 oz / 538.7 g
Front Sight White Dot
Rear Sight White 2 Dot
MSRP $449

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Features

The Smith & Wesson Shield has quite a few interesting features, including some that people have had questions about.

Trigger

A common complaint with the full-size M&P is the somewhat long trigger reset distance, and lack of a distinct reset point. Personally, I’ve not had any issues with the reset on my M&P40. It’s not a Walther PPQ trigger, but it’s not bad either.

The Shield departs from the M&P line and has a redesigned striker action trigger, and I think it’s excellent. The trigger pull is rated at 6.5 lbs, and for a pistol this size, it’s fantastic. There’s just a little take-up, a very clean break, and a short, audible reset. Out of all the pistols in this category that I’ve shot (Kahr CM9, Beretta Nano, Ruger LC9, etc), this trigger is the best. Well done Smith & Wesson.

Magazines

The Shield comes with two high quality magazines, a flush fitting 7 round magazine and an extended 8 round magazine. This gives you the best of both worlds in my opinion, and I wish more pistols this size came this way. I carry the Shield with the flush fitting 7 round magazine and carry the 8 round magazine as a spare, for a total of 16 rounds.

The magazines are mostly single stack, but not completely. The rounds are staggered slightly, making it a kind of single and double stack hybrid. The magazine floor plates are solid and have a good fit against the grip.

No Magazine Disconnect

The gun WILL fire without the magazine. As well it should. :)

Loaded Chamber Indicator

You may not notice, but the Shield has a loaded chamber indicator. Yes, I still think they are worthless, but this one is done right. No silly levers with obnoxious red paint sticking out when a round is chambered. Instead, you have a tiny opening on the top of the slide that allows you to see the case of a chambered round. Well done.

Manual Safety

One of the more argued features of the Shield (and handguns in general) is the manual safety. Some argue that a manual safety is superfluous, others feel that it is absolutely essential, whereas others still don’t care either way and just want people to stop whining.

I fall into the crowd that prefers a gun without a manual safety, but this safety doesn’t bother me. It’s very low profile and recessed against the frame (as is the slide stop), so there isn’t anything to snag on. I also haven’t had a problem with accidentally engaging the safety when I didn’t want to.

The bottom line is if you like a manual safety, it’s there. If you don’t like manual safeties, this one won’t get in your way.

Ergonomics

As I said in my first impressions mini review, the ergonomics on the Shield are superb. I really love the feel of the gun. It does not come with interchangeable backstraps like the full-size and compact M&P models, but that hasn’t been a problem for me. The slim grip fits my hand very well, and honestly doesn’t feel like a micro pistol. This is especially true with the extended 8 round magazine, but even with the flush fitting 7 round magazine, the Shield feels more substantial than its small size suggests.

Some people will find that the grip doesn’t have enough traction for their liking. If that’s you, then you’re in luck because Talon Grips are now available for the Shield. I have some on the way for review, and will post a follow up once I’ve tested them, but I’ve had Talon Grips on my Kahr CM9 for quite a while and love them.

Shooting Impressions

Shooting is where the Shield really shines. It’s not the smallest or the lightest pistol in its class, but it is one of the best shooting. Recoil is mild compared to the competition, and it shoots like a much bigger gun. I was going to post a bunch of numbers stating group sizes at various distances, but I can sum it up this way: this gun isn’t going to hold you back.

What I mean is that with a lot of guns, especially small guns, there’s something that holds back accuracy, like the sights, trigger, recoil, etc. That just isn’t the case with the Shield. If you are capable of 2″ groups standing at 25 yards (I’m not in case you were wondering) I feel confident that this pistol will do it.

Reliability

So far I have over 600 rounds through the Shield and have yet to have a single problem. Not much to report – it simply went bang every time with every type of ammo I threw at it, with zero cleaning and zero lubrication.

Concealed Carry

The Shield is obviously targeting the concealed carry market, and in that role, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better gun. So far I’ve carried the Shield two different ways: appendix carry and inside the waistband (IWB) at about the 4:00 position. I have yet to carry the gun outside the waistband (hopefully this changes soon), and I found that this gun is just too big for pocket carry.

Appendix Carry

Regular readers of Monderno know that I recently started carrying in the appendix position. I use a PHLster Skeleton custom Kydex holster to appendix carry my Shield, and it works great. The Skeleton is a minimalist holster, but is rigid enough to still allow for one handed reholstering.

IWB 4:00

I’ve also carried the Shield IWB at about the 4:00 position in a Theis Holster, which is a leather and Kydex hybrid holster. While this isn’t a minimalist approach, it’s an extremely comfortable carry combination that conceals very well.

As you would expect with a gun this size, concealment isn’t an issue, and with these holsters, neither is comfort.

Quality and Value

As is the case with every Smith & Wesson product I’ve ever owned, the Shield’s quality is excellent. The gun has great fit and finish and attention to detail, from the recessed slide stop and manual safety, to the excellently redesigned trigger, to the Melonite finished stainless steel slide and barrel. All in all there is an overall feel of quality with the Shield.

I paid $399 for my Shield, putting its price on par with most other guns in this class. Considering the quality and how good the Shield is, I would actually pay more (though don’t tell S&W that haha).

Wrapping Up

If you couldn’t tell reading this review, I love my Shield. If you’re in the market for a small and slim concealed carry pistol, you have many good options, but do yourself a favor and don’t overlook the Shield.

We have been comparing the Shield with the previously reviewed Beretta Nano and Kahr CM9 and will soon be posting a detailed comparison, so if you liked this review, stay connected with us by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter!

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16 Responses to Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9 Review

  1. Chad April 30, 2012 at 2:46 pm #

    Interesting that it has a loaded chamber indicator, I hadn’t heard that before. Glad it’s not annoying.

  2. Dan April 30, 2012 at 10:05 pm #

    Thanks for the Talon grip hint! What texture did you use on your Kahr, rubber or granulated? Thanks Dan P.

    • Brandon May 1, 2012 at 7:25 am #

      I have the rubber grips on my Kahr (very comfortable), but I have both types on the way for review, so I’ll be sure to let you know which I prefer.

  3. Andy May 1, 2012 at 8:33 pm #

    I have read just about every review on the M&P Shield 9mm , because I own one and love it. Surprised there are just 3 comments on this excellent review . Very informative and complete.
    Just a great firearm and has super carry and consealment caractristics ! Melts into your hand with very little recoil (and I have small hands )

    • Brandon May 1, 2012 at 8:36 pm #

      Thanks Andy! Feel free to share ;)

  4. Dean May 2, 2012 at 8:14 am #

    Wow, AWESOME review. I had no idea about the LCI either. I’m picking one up this weekend if I can find it in .40. Are they going to make a .45?

    • Brandon May 2, 2012 at 8:16 am #

      Thanks man – I haven’t heard anything about a .45 ACP Shield, but it wouldn’t surprise me. It will probably be a while though.

  5. John Scott May 8, 2012 at 4:04 am #

    I just bought mine (9mm) this weekend from Sportsmans Warehouse for $399. I went straight to the range, put 120 rounds (20 of them Zombie rounds) with zero problems. I am waiting for more mags to come out and I love this little gun. I have 4th Gen Glocks 19 and 26, and this will compliment them nicely. thank you for your review. I’m interested in a better IWB setup than what I have, I’m just now using an extra Uncle Mike I had laying around for now.

  6. Frank May 8, 2012 at 9:54 pm #

    I’m a newbie to handguns or at least owning one and I’ve been looking at the Ruger SR9c and the M&P9c. Then I noticed the Shield. It looked really promising until I found out that it’s not really designed for lefties like myself. Unlike the M&P9c you cannot change the magazine release to the right side. I’m sure I could possibly work around this, but I want something better suited for a lefties ergonomics.

    I guess I’m going back to either buying the Ruger SR9c or the M&P9c.

    • Brandon May 8, 2012 at 9:57 pm #

      Yeah it’s unfortunate that they didn’t make the mag release reversible. We have a review of the SR9c if you’re interested. Both the SR9c and M&P9c are great guns, you can’t go wrong with either, though you’ll find more aftermarket accessories for the M&P.

  7. John May 10, 2012 at 7:26 pm #

    I am looking for a new CCW and I am down to the Berreta Nano or the Shield. I look forward to your comparison.

    • Brandon May 10, 2012 at 7:29 pm #

      Monday!

  8. Dan Sanford February 25, 2013 at 8:33 pm #

    Great review, I recently bought a shield in 40S&W and its a blast to shoot! I am a lefty myself but since most pistols I’ve ever shot were not ambi. mag releases, I’ve gotten quite good at dropping the mag with my middle finger. Plan on ordering a couple more of the seven round mags and a good conceal carry holster.

  9. Malcomb November 7, 2013 at 12:16 pm #

    Any idea if this weapon can handle +P rounds? I like having that little but of extra punch in my CCW

    • Brandon November 8, 2013 at 8:26 am #

      I can double check the manual, but I’m pretty sure it’s rated for +P rounds.

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