Click pictures for a larger version.
Excellent three-dot sights are adjustable for windage correction.
Witness hole serves as a visual loaded-chamber indicator.
Manual safety pushes downward to fire.
Striker safety prevents firing unless the trigger is pulled.
Slide lock (top), magazine release (bottom).
Ever since Smith & Wesson introduced
their striker-fired M&P Series auto
pistol six years ago, it has been steadily making inroads
into the law enforcement market, proving itself a worthy
alternative to the ever-popular Glock autos. While the Glock is
a fine pistol, and I own several,
most shooters find the M&P to fit the hand better, and with
its interchangeable grip inserts, is easily customized to fit
the individual shooter’s hand. I still have the first M&P
9mm pistol that I ever fired, and since October of 2006, it
has served as my bedside gun, traveling with me only
occasionally. That M&P 9 is outfitted with a Crimson
Trace Lasergrip laser sight, as well as a Crimson
Trace Lightguard flashlight and a set of Trijicon tritium
night sights. It is a perfect handgun for reacting
to dangerous situation in the dead of night. It is, however,
a bit larger than I like to carry. S&W
introduced their M&P Compact a few months later, and it
is a fine weapon, but still a bit thick for everyday carry, at
least for me.
With many gun manufacturers introducing
sub-compact semi-auto pistols lately, folks have been hoping
that Smith & Wesson would introduce one as well. The wait is
over, and the new M&P Shield was worth the wait. No need to
keep you in suspense until the end of this review; in my
opinion, the Shield is among the best of the new breed of
sub-compact 9mm pistols.
Not quite a pocket gun, but smaller than most
compact autos, the Shield falls into that “just right”
category. While I carried this one around in my pocket for a
while, I prefer to carry it in a thin inside-the-waistband
holster, such as a Cross Breed
Supertuck, or pulled in tightly to my side in an outside
holster such as the Simply
Rugged Pancake, or a Galco
What makes the Shield so much better for
concealed carry as opposed to the M&P Compact is the
thinness of the Shield. The Shield uses a magazine design of a
semi-double-column arrangement, with the wider mag body tapering
at the top to a single column. The Shield comes supplied with
both a seven-round and an eight-round magazine, with the latter
extending .45 of an inch below the base of the grip, extending
the grip for a better hold. Unlike the full-sized and compact
M&P pistols, the Shield does not utilize interchangeable
grip inserts, nor does it need any. The grip feels perfect in my
large hand, and I also received positive comments on the pistol’s
grip from shooters with hand sizes varying from tiny to huge.
The trigger reach fits most any hand well, and the trigger pull
is among the best for a sub-compact pistol.
The Shield wears a very good set of three-dot
sights, adjustable for windage correction by moving laterally in
the slide dovetail. The sights are large enough to see easily,
yet neither obtrusive nor prone to snag. Perfect. Stripping the
Shield down for cleaning is very simple, requires no tools, and
will be familiar to anyone who has disassembled a full-sized
M&P pistol. The slide locks open on an empty magazine, with
the slide lock located in the familiar left-side position at the
top of the polymer frame. The Shield has an internal striker
safety which prevents the weapon from firing unless the trigger
is pulled, and there is also a manual safety for right-handed
shooters at the upper left side of the frame. In the upper
position, the safety blocks the trigger, and pushes downward to
the “fire” position. There is no magazine disconnect safety,
so the pistol will fire with the magazine removed. The magazine
bodies are, thankfully, made of steel, and are well-formed and
finished. The followers are polymer, as are the magazine bases.
The black Melonite-coated steel slide matches
the finish of the polymer frame very well, and the Melonite is a
very durable finish, protecting the hard parts from corrosion.
Critical specifications for the 9mm M&P
Shield are listed in the chart below. Weights are listed in
ounces. Linear dimensions are listed in inches. Trigger pull is
listed in pounds of resistance, as measured with my Lyman
digital trigger pull scale. Height includes sights and magazine
base with the standard seven-shot magazine in place. Maximum
width is measured across the top of the frame, and includes the
|Weight with empty
||7 or 8
I fired a variety of
ammunition over the chronograph to check velocities, with the
results listed in the chart below. Velocities are listed in
feet-per-second. Bullet weights are listed in grains. JHP is a
jacketed hollowpoint bullet. DPX, Buffalo Bore Lead Free, and
Double Tap Tac-XP are hollow nose homogenous copper bullets that
are made by Barnes Bullets. Guard
Dog is a FMJ with a soft plastic core to promote rapid
expansion. FP is a frangible, pre-fragmented flatnose bullet.
FMJ is a full metal jacket roundnose bullet. FMJ-FN is a full
metal jacket flat nose Buffalo Bore Penetrator bullet. PB is Pow’RBall,
a specialty bullet from Cor-Bon. Glaser is a pre-fragmented
bullet. Velocities were taken at an elevation of 541 feet above
sea level, with an air temperature of ninety degrees Fahrenheit.
Velocities were recorded at ten feet from the muzzle.
|Buffalo Bore Lead Free
|Buffalo Bore Lead Free
|Federal Guard Dog
|Double Tap Tac-HP
|Double Tap FMJ
|WCC NATO FMJ
|Buffalo Bore FMJ-FN
|Buffalo Bore JHP
|Buffalo Bore +P JHP
|Buffalo Bore +P JHP
|Cor-Bon +P DPX
The short barrel of the M&P Shield turned
in very respectable velocities. I fired twenty types of 9x19mm
ammunition through the Shield. Functioning was perfect. Every
round fed, fired, and ejected without fail. Ejection was to the
side, and no empty cartridge cases were flung towards the
shooter. Reliability is paramount in a fighting handgun, and
this Shield runs smoothly, reliably, and is easy to shoot. The
size and feel of the Shield is just right. Not too small, and
not too large. It is thin and lightweight, but shooting the
Shield feels like shooting a larger weapon, in that the design
of the grip handles recoil very well, with either magazine in
place. Accuracy was very good. I made no attempt to benchrest
the Shield, instead firing it as it was intended, at distances
from three out to twenty-five yards at a standard human-sized
silhouette target. It was easy to keep all shots in the kill
zone at those distances, and rapid-fire at seven and ten yards
produced fist-sized groups in the vital zone.
The M&P Shield would be an ideal backup
weapon for law enforcement officers who carry an M&P as a
duty gun. The only thing that this pistol needs to serve as a
good primary weapon for concealed carry is a Crimson Trace
laser, and Crimson Trace has a Laserguard in the works, to be
released for shipping soon.
There are many sub-compact 9mm pistols on the
market now, with more being released to the market regularly.
Some are better than others, and as I stated earlier, this
S&W M&P Shield is among the best. Balancing size,
weight, power, price, and ease-of-shooting, manufacturers have
to try and get the precise combination of features, getting
every detail as close to “right” as possible. With the new
M&P Shield, Smith & Wesson got it right. It is reliable,
accurate, and priced competitively. MSRP as of this writing is
only $449 US, and the Shield is in full production and available
now in both 9x19mm and 40 S&W calibers. As soon as I can
bolt a Laserguard onto this Shield, it will start riding on my
hip on a regular basis. The M&P Shield is built right,
priced right, and built in the USA.
Check out the extensive line of Smith &
Wesson firearms and accessories online at www.smith-wesson.com.
For the location of a Smith & Wesson
dealer near you, click on the DEALER LOCATOR at www.lipseys.com.
To order the Shield online, go to www.galleryofguns.com.
To order quality fighting ammunition, go to www.buffalobore.com,
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Click pictures for a larger version.
Shield comes with both a seven-shot and an eight-shot magazine.
Shield is very easy to disassemble without tools.