About 5 years ago Smith & Wesson® offered a new model to their expanding M&P® line of semi-auto handguns. The Shield™ is a single stack compact pistol designed for concealed carry. It was and is an outstanding success; since the introduction of the Shield™, S&W has sold over a million of the little guns.
Not long after the introduction announcement and before the guns were actually available for purchase by the public, I had the opportunity to shoot Shields™ in both 9 MM and .40 S&W. My first impression was “wow, they got it right.” Since that time I have spent quite a bit of time on the range with various Shield™ models and last year I purchased a Performance Center® Shield™ in 9 MM Luger. More on my gun in a moment.
Smith & Wesson’s website show 30 different Shield™ models available at this time. Some of the features common to all Shields™ are a polymer frame, stainless steel slide and barrel, and two magazines, one standard and one extended length (6+1, 7+1). Most of the guns are all black, but a few can be had with flat dark earth frames. Shields™ come in 9 MM Luger, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP. Barrels on the .45 ACP guns are 3.3 inches; the 9MM and .40 pistols have 3.1 inch tubes. The guns are less than an inch wide and weigh about 21 ounces depending on caliber and options.
Performance Center® guns have H-Viz® fiber optic sights, ported barrels and slides, and an enhanced trigger. Tritium night sights as well as Crimson Trace® laser sights are optional on both PC® and regular Shield™ models. All in all, there is a Shield™ for just about anyone.
As I stated earlier, I have a PC® Shield™ in 9 MM. My gun has the fiber optic sight package and I use both Serpa™ OWB and Alien Gear® IWB holsters. I have been able to spend quite a bit of time at the range with this little gun and the more I shoot it, the more impressed I am with its utility as a CCW pistol. The gun is extremely easy to shoot accurately, especially with the ported barrel. Grip size is more than adequate even for those with large hands; add the extended magazine to the picture and the gun fits my hand much like my full size M&Ps®. When I carry the gun in the 5 o’clock position with the IWB holster, comfort, concealability, and access are at the maximum for me. It is a joy to pack.
A couple of suggestions for those that might want to carry a Shield™. Choose self-defense ammunition that is designed for short barrel carry guns. In my Shield™ I use Hornady® Critical Defense™ 9MM, but there are other cartridges from other manufacturers that will work well, for instance Speer® Gold Dot™ comes to mind. Be sure to shoot a box or two through your gun using all magazines just to make sure reliability is 100%. LE duty ammunition such as Critical Duty™ or Remington® Ultimate Defense-Full Size are not, in my opinion, good choices for the Shield™. Short barrel ammunition is also designed to minimize flash when the gun is fired. I did have some concerns with the ported barrel on my PC® Shield™. I have fired the gun in both near dark and dark conditions. While there is some flash noticeable, it does not cause me any blindness or other vision problems and in brighter light the flash is negated. One other observation concerning the ported barrel; be careful if you shoot from retention. Escaping gases will cause you some discomfort and if they hit you in the face, could cause vision impairment.
For a long time it was almost impossible to get your hand on a Shield™ and they often brought up to twice MSRP. Well, fortunately those days are in remission, for a while at least. There are plenty of guns available and prices for them are at an all-time low. Now is the time to buy, and there is a reason the Shield™ is known as the Rolls of compact CCW guns. It’s “damn near perfect.”
Be safe and good shooting.