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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.


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


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.

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.


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.


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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21 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 #


  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.

  10. Kyle May 2, 2014 at 8:01 am #

    Is this still your primary concealed handgun in summer months? After testing out different holsters for this gun what’s the one you normally use?

    • Brandon May 2, 2014 at 8:44 am #

      Since moving to Montana, I haven’t carried my Shield once on body (it’s been in a backpack a few times though). For holsters I still prefer PHLster and G-Code AIWB offerings.

      • Kyle May 6, 2014 at 3:18 pm #

        Ok Thanks! I just picked up a brand new Shield last Friday. Did you or anyone else experience this when you first bought it? I noticed that the spring appears to be really tight. I mean it was all I could do to pull the slide back far enough to engage the slide stop. I’m able to “rack the slide” to insert a bullet, but going back just a quarter of an inch further to engage the slide stop was really difficult. I own multiple guns (glock 19 and 26, M&P 9 FS, Ruger LCP) and I’ve never had a gun that was anywhere near this difficult. I called S&W and they said with this gun the spring is tight brand new and I should just leave the slide open for a week or so to break it in. Just curious if I possibly got a lemon that needs to be replaced.

        And in case you ask I did break it down and cleaned it and it was just as difficult before and after I cleaned it (and I made sure the spring was seated correctly)

        • Brandon May 6, 2014 at 7:59 pm #

          I don’t recall having any trouble with my recoil spring being really tight.

  11. Dan October 14, 2014 at 3:59 pm #

    I have a 9 mm Shield bought new. Only shot it a couple of times and broke it down to familiarize myself with the break-down. I found having to push down the yellow sear release wire awkward but it was easy enough to do with a writing pin. Breakdown and cleaning went smoothly and got everything back in place. Today I tried to breakdown the pistol again. I locked the slide in place, pushed down the yellow wire and could not get the slide to come off. Tried to push the yellow wire back in place and it was stuck. Would not budge.

    Tried to push a mag in to push the wire up and it wouldn’t go in the grip. Called S&W support and explained what happened. The gentleman seemed to know exactly what the problem was : the yellow wire had become jammed next to the sear and required using a small screw driver to wiggle the sear in order to unjam the yellow wire. That worked and all back to normal. Support says I need to fire about 300 rounds to loosen things up.

    I am bothered by the ease with which the yellow wire became jammed making the pistol useless. Anyone else have this issue? You shouldn’t have to “wiggle the sear with a tool”.