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