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Smith & Wesson Shield First Impressions


Update 4/30/2012

Check out our full Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9 Review.[/framed_box]

Last week Smith & Wesson released a new pistol for the concealed carry market called the Shield. Typically, when a manufacturer releases a new gun, it’s months (and sometimes years) before it actually hits the market. And sometimes even longer before you can find any decent accessories (like holsters).

Smith & Wesson thankfully bucked this trend with the Shield. The Shield was announced Thursday, April 12, 2012 at the NRA Annual Meeting in St. Louis as well as on the internet, and was in stores by the following Saturday, April 14. And on April 14th, I was lucky enough to pick one up in 9mm.

First Impressions

This will not be a full review, as I’ve only had the pistol for a few days, but I still wanted to provide a data point to those who are considering early adopting the Smith & Wesson Shield.


The Shield is a very ergonomic pistol. It’s under 1″ thick and is fairly light at 19 ounces. It is just a little bigger and heavier than the previously reviewed Kahr CM9 and the Beretta Nano, which is also undergoing testing.

I love the feel of the Shield, but then, I’m a big fan of the M&P line in general. The Shield does not come with interchangeable backstraps like the full-size and compact M&P models, but this wasn’t a problem for me as it fits my hand perfectly.

I didn’t notice at first, but after comparing the size to the Nano and CM9, I found that the Shield’s grip is noticeably longer. I think this contributes to making the Shield more controllable than both the Nano and the CM9.

Range Report

The Shield comes with a flush fitting 7 round magazine and an extended 8 round magazine. With the 7 round magazine, my pinky finger dangles off the grip. I don’t mind this, but I know some people hate it, so there you go. With the extended 8 round magazine however, I can comfortably get a full grip on the pistol.

Recoil is fairly mild compared to other pistols this size, possibly due to its slightly heavier weight. This is especially noticeable with the 8 round magazine. With the 8 round magazine and the full grip, it’s nearly as comfortable to shoot as the full-size M&P.

I spent several hours at the range the day I bought the Shield, shooting over 300 rounds through the Shield along with the Beretta Nano and Kahr CM9 to compare them. There’s no question that I shot the Shield better than the Nano and CM9. I shot all three pistols at 3, 5 and 7 yards, and the Shield was the easiest of the three to hit with.


Smith & Wesson has several holsters listed on their website for the Shield. While these may or may not be good options, I am most interested in a custom Kydex holster (or three) for IWB and OWB carry.

PHLster Custom Kydex Holsters

Well as it turns out, I’m in luck. I spoke with Jon from PHLster, and they are now offering several custom Kydex holsters for the Smith & Wesson Shield. At the time of writing, PHLster is the only custom Kydex shop offering holsters for the Shield that I could find. Check out a video overview of PHLster’s Shield Kydex holsters on YouTube.

Theis Holsters

If you are instead looking for a leather/Kydex hybrid holster, the previously reviewed Theis Holsters are also available for order.

Wrapping Up

The Smith & Wesson Shield is a great gun two days in. Unless there are major surprises coming, the Shield is going to be highly recommended. In our coming full review we will discuss the Shield in the role of concealed carry, further shooting impressions and range reports, detailed comparisons with the competition, and interesting feature details like the manual safety and redesigned trigger.

Questions about the Shield? Let us know in the comments below!

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22 Responses to Smith & Wesson Shield First Impressions

  1. tgif45 April 16, 2012 at 7:50 am #

    I tried to find one Saturday, but most shops I called hadn’t even heard of it…go figure. I want one!

    • Brandon April 16, 2012 at 7:58 am #

      I had the same problem, but finally found it at Academy for $399. I got lucky!

  2. Dr. L. April 16, 2012 at 8:48 am #

    You can find the Shield at Bassproshop, Cabela’s and Cheaperthandirt Retail store in my area. Academy has the best price. Also saw it on offer from smaller GS on

    • Brandon April 16, 2012 at 8:54 am #

      So did you break down and get one?

      • Dr. L. April 16, 2012 at 9:47 am #

        LOL!! Nooo, I was waiting on your first range report regarding ergonomics, trigger, and accuracy!! Now I know!

  3. Perry April 17, 2012 at 9:03 am #

    I got one Saturday at Gander Mt It shot as Nice as Any Other Smith & Wesson!!!

  4. TK April 17, 2012 at 9:31 am #

    Love my M&P 40, can’t wait to get my hands on one of these!

    • scott padgett April 17, 2012 at 9:50 am #

      I’m with you!

      • Brandon April 17, 2012 at 10:15 am #

        Me too, love my M&P 40. I know there have been many reviews on it over the years, but I’ll probably do one since I am reviewing the Shield. My OCD is winning out.

  5. jason April 17, 2012 at 10:25 am #

    Someone buy my PF9 so i can get one!

  6. Johnny April 17, 2012 at 4:50 pm #

    Got my holster from The Holster Store

    This one to be exact

  7. Paul April 20, 2012 at 10:32 am #

    I’m making holsters for the Shield. Custom molded to the gun for a perfect fit. IWB, AIWB, OWB, and tuckable versions available. 7-10 day lead time.

    • Brandon April 22, 2012 at 9:50 am #

      Thanks Paul!

  8. Alan Murdock April 23, 2012 at 9:03 am #

    I also really enjoy the M&P line. I think this looks like an excellent gun

  9. Dr. L. April 23, 2012 at 12:08 pm #

    As my dear Dad used to say, “She who hesitates is lost.” Now that I have cleared space in my budget, (read, sold another gun I don’t use) I can’t find a 9mm Shield anywhere.

    • Brandon April 23, 2012 at 12:12 pm #

      Hope you find one soon!

  10. damond May 2, 2012 at 2:18 pm #

    I just shot mine and I like it. This is my first M&P. Trigger pull and reset was nice. Fairly accurate and way more comfy than the PF9.

    I’m going to play devil’s advocate and ask what niche this gun fits? It’s too big to be a pocket pistol like the DB9 or Nano and too small to be a subcompact with 10+1 like the G26 or M&P9C. Then you have the safety….? Some say it’s so purse-carry is safe’r but…..we all know that’s bs.

  11. Aaron May 12, 2012 at 4:32 pm #

    What’s the hard line answer, Nano or Shield?

    • Brandon May 12, 2012 at 7:29 pm #

      Check back on Monday for our Nano/CM9/Shield comparison. Thanks!

  12. James May 19, 2012 at 12:54 am #

    I bought my M&P 40c in November of last year and I thought, at the time, that I would never buy another pistol. It’s small enough for concealed carry, yet very accurate and tough as nails. I’ve carried it almost every day since I got my permit back in December. It’s taken a lot of abuse, since then as I am a service tech for a local security company, but never once has it malfunctioned, or even hesitated to fire. If the Shield is anything like the M&P compacts, it’ll be worth every penny!

    • Brandon May 19, 2012 at 9:27 am #

      In some ways it’s actually better – I prefer the redesigned trigger. In most ways, it’s just the same great gun in a slimmer package.