Despite a new crop of super compact pistols holding almost twice as many rounds, Smith & Wesson’s M&P Shield remains an outstanding concealed carry handgun. Check out our review of the 2.0 model.
S&W M&P Shield 9 Background
The M&P Shield is a polymer-framed, sub-compact, striker-fired, 9mm pistol. And thanks to an innovative, semi-staggered magazine, the Shield holds held an additional round or two over competing offerings.
For years it has reigned as one of the most popular pistols on the market. Not immune to the forces that effect everyone else, I, too fell for the M&P Shield.
I purchased one of these guns and spent some time carrying it as my primary.
The M&P Shield 9 is the carry gun that I have spent the least amount of time carrying, but through no fault of the Shield. It just happened to be a transitional gun for me, bridging the gap between a double-action revolver and my back-to-roots 1911.
Even though I don’t carry it I still retain my Shield and still consider it my first backup carry gun.
S&W M&P Shield Specs
|Sights||White 2-Dot (Rear), White Dot (Front)|
My Shield, and the subject of this review, is the 2.0 version.
The 2.0 version was introduced in 2017 and slightly refreshed the older Shield. The changes are honestly pretty modest, the most notable of which is an improved trigger.
The newer Shield also has a bit more stippling, and some texture at the muzzle-end of the slide that seems to be purely cosmetic.
There are some good reasons that the Shield has enjoyed such enormous popularity. Let’s look at them.
S&W M&P Shield 9 Features
Smooth, crisp trigger pull with short reset.
7-round flush-fit or 8-round extended magazines
3Great fit for CCW
Very slim profile.
4Quality Pistol Grip
Aggressively textured grip for optimum control.
S&W M&P Shield 9 – Our Take
The S&W M&P Shield 9 has got a lot of different things going for it. From it’s reliability to its accuracy or value, this pistol makes for a solid option for anyone looking for a CCW pistol. And here’s why:
Reliability is the most important factor a defensive firearm can possess. The M&P Shield 9 is well-renowned for being reliable, so it should come as no surprise that I’m going to call it reliable. Before I began carrying my Shield I ensured it was reliable. I have fired over 1,200 rounds through mine with zero malfunctions.
One-hundred and fifty of those rounds have been Federal’s 124-grain +P HST hollowpoint – a potent carry load. All other rounds have been FMJ ammo, but regardless that’s a pretty admirable track record. I have quite literally (and in recent months) owned Glocks that didn’t make it half that far without a malfunction.
Accuracy is extremely important to me in a concealed carry handgun. Nearly any handgun has the potential for acceptable accuracy, but not all handguns render that accuracy practical. The M&P Shield is the exception – it is capable of outstanding accuracy.
I love little guns that shoot like big guns, and the Shield is certainly one of those. I can fairly easily keep a full magazine on an 8” circle at 25 yards with the Shield. The Shield’s trigger – at least the 2.0 variant’s trigger – is far, far superior to the larger M&P pistols. After some initial take up you find the wall, and with very little perceptible movement it breaks. Even after dry practicing daily for almost two years with a custom 1911 I still really appreciate the Shield’s trigger. If only S&W could duplicate it on the other M&P pistols.
The Shield’s sights are good, too. They are full-size, dovetailed, steel, three-dot sights. I don’t have any strong feelings one way or another about the three-dots, but the sights themselves are rugged and of an appropriate size, and crisp. I have purchased a set of Heinie Straight-8s but have yet to install them. I guess I’ve been a bit lazy because the factory irons are actually pretty good.
The Shield’s ergonomics are good but not great. The pistol fits my small hand really, really well. I don’t even need the magazine extension to get all four fingers on the pistol, though I realize I might be an outlier. If the grip is too short, the user has the option of using the 8-round magazine, but at the cost of some concealability.
The stippling on the grip is aggressive and provides a really good grip. This is a small, lightweight pistol firing 9mm, and being able to hold onto it is important. I don’t find recoil uncomfortable but it is snappy and sharp. Because of this it may not be the ideal choice for brand new or recoil-shy shooters.
The wavy serrations on the rear of the slide are nice, and are functional for racking the slide. The “serrations” on the lower quarter of the forward slide are pretty much pointless. The Shield is also a righty’s gun – the magazine release, while well-designed, is not reversible. There is also no ambidextrous slide release, or any other appeals to lefties, something that S&W probably should have thought about, considering its recent vintage.
And speaking of the slide “release” …it’s functionally only a slide “stop.” With the slide locked to the rear the lever is extremely difficult to actuate. It would be difficult to overstate the difficulty of releasing my Shield’s slide with the slide stop/release lever.
The 8-Round Magazine Issue
There is one other minor problem with the Shield, and it lies in the 8-round, extended magazine. The longer mags have a sleeve that fits over the body and butts against the baseplate. It shouldn’t be removed because doing so would allow the mag to be inserted too far into the gun. Over-inserting the magazine risks bending the ejector.
The problem with the sleeve is that it tends to slide up the magazine. This is especially true when the magazine is carried upside down, as most magazines are, and as most magazine pouches are designed. Just slightly out of place the sleeve can prevent the magazine from being inserted – a potentially dangerous situation for the user.
Fortunatley there is a fix: the MagFix from Safety Solutions Academy. This is a replacement sleeve that interlocks with a replacement basepad. At $35 it’s a bit costly, but I think it is an absolutely imperative upgrade if you intend to carry your Shield – and an extended, 8-round magazine – defensively.
I really, really like the M&P Shield. Mostly I have been pretty tepid on the compact and full-sized M&P handguns but the Shield is an outstanding pistol. I’ve carried it, and I’d carry it again. It is extremely compact, extremely reliable, and extremely accurate. While 7+1 or 8+1 rounds is not quite up to “modern” standards, it’s also nothing to sneeze at. I haven’t had the opportunity to mess with the Hellcat or the P365, but aside from capacity I’m hard pressed to see how they’d best the venerable Shield.
S&W M&P Shield 9 Pros and Cons
- Extremely reliable
- Very concealable
- Limited capacity for size
- Snappy recoil
|I have yet to see a malfunction.|| |
|Short, crisp trigger and sharp, metal sights is a winning combination.|| |
|Just about every Kydex bender and leather worker make something for the Shield…to say nothing of sights, lights, etc.|| |
|Though snappy and non-ambi, this gun is a very nice shooter in the “subcompact” category.|| |
|You’ll pay about full price for a great gun…but you can often find it below MSRP|| |
M&P Shield 9 Starter Pack
You really can’t go wrong if you’re picking up a new M&P Shield 9–unless you forget to get the bare essentials. Don’t be that guy and be prepared for your new CCW.
- Magazines: Factory S&W M&P Shield 9 Mags at Brownells
- Gun Cleaning Kit: Gloryfire Universal Cleaning Kit on Amazon
- Eye Protection: Check out our Best Shooting Glasses review to see the best for your situation.
- Ear Protection: Finding the right ear pro can be tough if you don’t know what to search for. Determine the best shooting hearing protection for you in our Best of Shooting Hearing Protection review.
- Storage: Vaultek Lifepod Waterproof Case on Amazon
There are a bunch of great deals and accessories for the S&W M&P Shield 9, and we’ve highlighted a few below that we think are great!
S&W M&P Shield 9 Gun Deals
There’s nothing like picking a new gun at a great deal. And you’ll definitely find some listed for the M&P Shield 9. You just gotta be quick when snagging these. They are a popular choice–for obvious reasons–and sell quick.
Disclaimer: These prices are what’s available as of writing this article. Prices and availability may change.
Upgrades and Accessories for the M&P Shield 9
Just because the S&W M&P Shield 9 is a pretty great CCW, that doesn’t mean it can’t get better. Here are three absolute must-haves (or at least things to consider) to ensure that you get the most out of your new Shield 9.
Best Accessories for the S&W M&P Shield 9
|Upgrades and Accessories||Details||Check Price||Mobile Bottom Line|
Concealment Express IWB Kydex Holster
TRUGLO TFX Pro Tritium and Fiber Optic Extreme Sights
Shield Magfix Combo
Best Ammo for Your M&P Shield 9
You’re going to need ammo if you actually intend to shoot your gun. And let’s face it, if you aren’t actually going to fire the thing…There’s no point in you even getting one. But here’s the thing. Burning through your “working” or self-defense ammo gets expensive.
Sure, you’ll want to fire some through your gun to get the feel of the ammunition. But when you’re slinging metal downrange, you’ll definitely want to pick up something much more affordable.
Other CCW Pistols of Its Class to Check Out
I mentioned above that I hadn’t had the opportunity to get my hands on the P365 or Hellcat, but that doesn’t mean Gun University hasn’t fully vetted them. As a matter of fact, our very own Ryan Cleckner has the P365 as his personal carry gun. And as for the Hellcat, it scored extremely well around here as well.
This is easily one of the most popular CCW pistols on the market today and for good reason. The Sig P365 is one of those guns where it’s much easier to list what the manufacturer did right as this gun has very little flaw. It’s a favorite around Gun University because of its ability to…READ MORE
When Springfield came out with the Hellcat, we were super stoked to get our hands on it. And when we did, let’s just say…it didn’t disappoint. If you were ever unsure in Springfield’s ability to produce top-tier guns, go grab a Hellcat. You’ll be thanking us later…READ MORE
How to Care for Your S&W M&P Shield 9
Ensuring that you can properly take down, clean, and reassemble your firearm is all part of being a responsible gun owner. And taking down the M&P Shield is not as straightforward as you would think. Fortunately, Garand Thumb released one of the absolute best and simple to follow videos on how to disassemble the pistol. Yes, the video is a bit older but the principles are still exactly the same.
Important Links and Manuals for Your S&W M&P Shield 9
Need more info on the M&P Shield 9? Check out the manufacturer’s site, User’s Manual, and these other links to increase your knowledge base.
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