Over the years I have discussed the Smith & Wesson® M&P® Shield™ models on a couple of different occasions. Several months ago I purchased a Performance Center® M&P® 9 Shield™. I’ve had ample time to really examine, carry, and shoot this very capable little pistol and I’m now ready to give you a my opinions concerning one of the most popular CWP pistols; S&W® has sold over a million Shields™.
First let’s review the specifications of the Performance Center® 9 Shield™. The gun is chambered in 9MM; it comes with two magazines, one 7 round and one extended 8 round. The black frame is polymer with a stainless steel slide and barrel with a black Armornite® finish on the slide. Like all M&Ps®, the gun is striker fired, and this model has a manual thumb safety as well as an articulated trigger safety and a striker block the prevents firing unless the trigger is pulled fully rearward; this also acts as a drop safety. The pistol weighs 18.2 ounces empty, is 6.1 inches long with a 3.1 inch barrel, is a svelte .95 inches wide, and depending upon which magazine is inserted is about 4.6 inches tall. The PC® Shield™ has a ported barrel and slide, Hi-Viz™ fiber optic sights (front green, rear red), and an enhanced trigger. Suggested retail price is a very reasonable $519; the guns can be found for around $400.
Disassembly for cleaning is very simple and straight-forward. Remove the magazine and lock the slide in the open position. Make sure the gun is empty! There is a yellow lever inside and at the rear of the breech; use a small screwdriver to push it forward. Then rotate the takedown lever at the front of the frame 90 degrees downward. Hold the slide and release the slide stop; the slide and barrel will come off the front of the frame. Remove the guide rod and captured recoil spring assembly and then remove the barrel from the slide. This is all the disassembly required to give the gun a good cleaning and lubrication.
Now to the really important stuff. The Shield™ is a bit bigger than some other single stack subcompacts, but in my opinion it is one of the easiest to shoot accurately and rapidly. The enhanced trigger doesn’t rival that of a good 1911, but its double action pull is fairly light (mine is consistently about 6-6 ½ pounds) with a short reset. The 6 inch sight plane and fiber optic sights really aid my old eyes giving very acceptable self-defense accuracy. 9 MM ammunition loaded with 115-125 grain bullets are fairly soft shooting. My personal choice for this gun is
Hornady’s™ Critical Defense™ 115 grain FTX +P offering. This load in combination with the ported barrel and slide makes for a very controllable gun. The full-size M&P™ guns have replaceable backstraps; not so the Shield™. It comes with the medium grip which is the same one I use on my full size .45 M&P™. This works quite well for me.
Shooting the gun with either magazine gives me great pleasure, although the 8 rounder is a bit longer and really giver users with large hands a solid grip. I had some reservations about a CCP gun with a ported barrel. Flash can be a problem, especially in near total darkness. I have tested the gun in an indoor range where I was able to use just enough ambient light to barely illuminate a silhouette target. Using several different loads, I had no problems with vision or flash blindness. I’m confident this gun will perform if I ever need it to.
I’ve been carrying the little semi-auto in a Bianchi® all leather IWB holster. I wear this strong side and it is a comfortable combination; at times I almost forget that I have it on. I may go to one of the Kydex® leather combinations. These types of holsters do make reholstering easier and, in my opinion, safer.
The M&P® 9 Shield™ is one of the most concealable, comfortable, and controllable small pistols I have ever used. I have had mine for about 6 months and I would recommend this pistol as an option to anyone interested in a quality CCP gun. It has often been describe as the “Cadillac” of small 9 MM pistols, but it comes at the price of a “Chevy.”
Be safe and good shooting.