M&P Shield Range Review

Upon receiving a blue S&W box with goodies inside I preceded to call my shooting buddies excited as if it were Christmas in April. They immediately came to the conclusion, you have another revolver for T&E. I possibly missed out on a good opportunity for a free meal or cash in on a wager. None of them could guess what was inside the blue box. Over the next couple of days I began to send teasing pictures via email.
Day1


By the size of the box and my fascination with revolvers this lead to return emails and some calls speculating a J Frame of some sort. My reply to said emails was with another picture.
Day2

The day 2 picture gave it away for some but others were still wondering, so on day 3 I gave a deeper look inside the box.

The day 3 picture drew silence, I came to the conclusion most knew now what the next T&E would be about. But could this be, Mr. Revolverguy reviewing a semi auto? Could this be a sign of early onset dementia?

No it is even worst, Mr. Revolverguy is conducting a T&E on a concealable 9mm. This has to be pure insanity. One caller left me a voicemail saying “I am worried about you, not only are you reviewing a semi auto it is a concealable semi auto and it’s in 9mm”. Those that are close to me know that I don’t own any 9mm’s and keep company with those that believe a real caliber must began with “4”, though I do own the 357 caliber. The marketing geniuses in Springfield Massachusetts launched a “Shield Yourself” campaign which had many like myself drooling over the new release and believing it would be subcompact 45acp, remember my fascination with the number”4″. When I learned it was a slim frame concealable 9mm I immediately said not for me, but later I learned it would be released in 40S&W this peaked my interest yet again. Finally given the chance to fondle one; within minutes the ergonomics had me convinced it was time for me to review my first 9mm.

The S&W M&P Shield

Design

S&W unveiled it’s newest member to the M&P line at the annual NRA Meeting in St. Louis, Mo. Designed specifically for concealed carry the Shield is now the slimmest, smallest, lightest M&P to date. Did I mention slim, the frame at it’s widest point is sub 1 inch. Even at it’s widest, the grips, the Shields girth measures less than 1 inch at 0.98.

Those familiar with the M&P line will find themselves very comfortable with the Shield. Mechanically it is very similar to it’s bigger brothers and other striker fired handguns. As shown in the pictures the Shield is shipped with two magazines, one flush-fitting and capable of holding seven rounds of 9 mm, the second with plus-one additional capacity and stock extension for a full three-finger grip. One of very few flaws I found with this baby M&P is with the spacer on the extended magazine. The spacer is friction fit and has the capability to slide up or down, if utilizing this magazine as a spare carried in your pocket you must be aware of this. I purposely moved the spacer up and loaded the mag into the magazine well and there was slightly more strength required to fully seat.
The largest improvement on the M&P Shield is the trigger by far. The larger M&P series is known for it’s gritty trigger out of the box, most before taking the first shot will often replace the standard trigger with an Apex Duty/Carry Enhancement Action Kit. In the Shield the trigger has been redesigned it continues to have a smooth, crisp feel at 6 1/2 pounds, the enhancement to the rest is absolutely fabulous. The Shield now sports what will probably be carried forward in future M&P lines in the way of a tactical and audible reset. While shooting indoors I always double down on hearing protection wearing ear plugs and muffs and the audible reset was still very noticeable.

The Shield also does not come with interchangeable backstraps like the other M&P models, the grips are fixed and of medium size. The ergonomics of the Shield is just right even for my very large hands, I just feel at one with it. The sights are in the traditional 3 dot configuration and as with the rest of the M&P line the rear sight is windage adjustable. That’s of course if you don’t get frustrated trying to loosen the rear hex bolt secured with red loctite holding the rear sight to slide. The carbon steel slide is finished with the S&W melonite 68HRc finish and seated very tight to the frame with very minimal side to side movement.
Front Sight

Rear Sight/Frame Fit

The Business End

All edges, surfaces and corners on the M&P Shield are beveled and rounded for ease of holstering, carrying and drawing. Field stripping is also the same simple process on the Shield as with the rest of the M&P line, there shouldn’t be any excuse for not having a clean carry piece.

Range Time
The M&P Shield size is a unique benefit it falls between the compact 380’s and M&P compact and for the Glock aficionados the Glock 23 but it lends itself more towards the compact 380 scale. This size lends itself to better concealment and greater shootability and control. I could possibly even be talked into classifying this as a range gun even with its short 3.1 inch barrel as its that comfortable to shoot. For defensive style shooting the Shield exceeds in every way. Accompanying me to the range was 5 different types of ammo including hollow points. In some platforms hollow points aren’t known to feed well without some form of break in period. The Shield avoided any malfunctions the entire 2 hours on the range with my every intent to make it fail to prove the J frame revolver still reigns king as the ultimate concealable shootable platform.
I even tried what I thought to be an impossible task, feeding the Shield 15 rounds of Winchester Silver Tip and Remington Hollow Points on its first firing outside of the factory.
The Shield begged for more experiencing no failures and excellent accuracy at 10 yards with a two hand hold.

Impressed with the Shield and yet bewildered at my decent performance with the 3.1in barrel and short sight radius I loaded 8 rounds of the Remington Hollow points and blasted away again at 10 yards. Remember this is my first time really spending time with a concealable 9mm.

This can’t be real any time now I am going to wake up in a cold sweat and find this all to be a nightmare. Me enjoying a controllable, reliable, accurate 9mm on the range nonsense. Let’s test again with Hollow Points but this time out to 15 yards. I loaded eight rounds of the Federal in one magazine, and five rounds of the Federal Hollow Point in the second.
Not bad not bad at all but lets give this a try at 25 yards with hardball ammunition, the first being American Eagle then Magtech.

Now with Magtech

A better qualified pistol shooter may be able to tighten these groups at 25 yards, I shot them at a relatively quick pace simulating defensive use. With practice I could probably tighten these groups as well, at this distance in a defensive situation I am most likely utilizing my handgun to fight my way to my long gun.

Summary
The Smith and Wesson M&P Shield is bound to be a success especially with those already familiar with the M&P series and may possibly convert some Glock aficionados, wait what am I saying is that really possible? The ergonomics no matter hand size will have most feeling at one with this pistol. Shootability, controllability, reliability and concealability all in one package is an amazing accomplishment Smith and Wesson has delivered in the Shield. Though some will criticize S&W for all of the safety features on the Shield, internal firing pin block, extended trigger safety block often referred to as the glock trigger safety and the manual left side thumb safety, I welcome them and found no issues with any of these safety features. Operating the manual left side thumb safety required minimal effort and was easily felt without having to visually inspect.

Specifications
Caliber: 9x19mm (9mm Parabellum)
Type: Magazine-fed, striker fired, locked breech recoil operated action
Magazine Capacity: 8+1
Trigger: Striker-action safety trigger
Sights: Traditional 3 Dot White Sights
Weight: 25 oz. empty, with magazine
Trigger: 6 1/2 lbs. crisp smooth pull weight
Width: .95″ (slide), .98″ (grip)
Height: 4.6″
Barrel: 3.1

Ratings (Out Of Five Stars)

Accuracy ****
Not target grade but great for defensive work.

Reliability *****
In the initial 250 rounds of testing I experienced no malfunctions. The Shield ate hollow points right out of the box and begged for more.

Ergonomics ****
I rate the Shield 4 stars here due to the 7 round magazine. Though this 7 round magazine gives the Shield better concealment, it also means you will have a 2 finger grip. With the 9mm recoil this should not be a problem though my wife prefers the extended mag.

Overall Rating ****
With a redesigned trigger with a crisper smoother feel Smith and Wesson may have just designed the best CCW pistol on the market. It is so good in fact I have decided this will be the first 9mm in my collection.  It will spend time in a leather Blackhawk Tuckable holster ordered directly from Smith and Wesson and split time with my S&W model 642 on my hip. Did I really just say that? Off to the doctors to be checked for early onset dementia.

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Rating: 6.8/10 (26 votes cast)
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M&P Shield Range Review, 6.8 out of 10 based on 26 ratings

12 thoughts on “M&P Shield Range Review”

  1. Great review and glad to hear it feeds hollow-points well.

    We were able to do a shorted review, all with FMJ and at shorter distance (http://rangerfirearms.com/blog/2012/04/mpshieldreview/) but had essentially the same conclusions.

    – Great Accuracy
    – Surprisingly low recoil for its size
    – Reliable

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  2. Looks great-good reviews. They must be in demand-I cannot find any available on line and the prices are not discounted where they were available previously. I have not checked the local gun shops/ranges yet. Would love to get one in my hand to feel the fit. I did not like my Walther PPS when shooing it, so then sold it. Love my LCR .357/.38 special, but it does not conceal as flat as a Shield would. Also love my S&W 686 plus, but would not try to carry it concealed. However, my Sig P220 Compact is decent for CCW even though it is heavier. Really like .45 cal.!

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  3. Excellent review, and I really appreciate your honesty. For a revolver fan to even tolerate a semi-auto may lead to your excommunication, but you had the courage to tell it like it is and let the chips fall…

    I wholeheartedly agree about the Shield. All CCW is about compromise; this looks like it hits the center ring where the X crosses.

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  4. Try Scheels. I called several gun shops and ordered it in .40 then waited to see who would be the 1st to get one in. Scheels was the 1st and only took about 3 weeks to get it in, then I called the other dealers and canceled my name from their list. My concealed carry was a Kimber ultra cdp ll in .45 acp and fireing it right out of the box I was very impressed with the accuracy, but one would think it should with the price tag it carries. I have not yet had the chance to try out my M&P .40 Shield, but have read several articles from different gun magazines about it’s reliability and accuracy. I too am a believer in the (it must be at least a .40 or above theory) and have witnessed and talked to friends and co-workers who have been shot with .38 cal. and less who just walked away. I personally witnessed a guy who had 6 rounds of .22 LR shot at close range into his back and he got in his car and drove away. I bought a blackhawk #5 holster for my shield and with a thin polyester t-shirt on, you can’t even see the imprint. Can’t wait to try it at the range.

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  5. As a SHIELD owner, here are a few of my impressions (most match yours):
    1. The spacer on the 8-rd magazine ain’t ready for prime time – I’m already seeing folks use various methods in order to try and lock it in place (electrical tape under the spacer, silicone, Super Glue, etc). I’d like to lock it in place, but am waiting to see which method turns out to be the best. Not as solid as glue, but I’m wondering if maybe hairspray under the spacer might work (used to use it when installing motorcycle grips) – when wet, allows EZ positioning, but dries to a tack.
    2. They do need to offer a pinky rest for the 7-rd mag. I run Pearce Grip Extensions on my XDSC9, and have already contacted Pearce Grips in order to get ‘em on the ball!
    The gal I talked to said she wasn’t familiar with the SHIELD, so I enlightened her. I’m already seeing folks modifying other Pearce Grips to fit the SHIELD.
    Any of your folks interested, go to Pearce Grips website and send ‘em an e-mail telling ‘em you WANT a grip extension!
    3. I’m not as thrilled with the trigger as press releases led me to believe. The internal mechanisms may be “crisp” etc, but that darn articulated / plastic trigger makes the trigger feel spongy to me. I have an LC9, and a lot (of new shooters?) complain about how bad the LC9 trigger is, but I think I’d give the nod to the LC9 over the SHIELD AFA trigger. The LC9 may have a long stroke, etc, but it’s a metal trigger, it’s smooth, and it feels much more solid (to me) than the SHIELD’s trigger.

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  6. And another thing…
    Forgot to add-one reason I bought a SHIELD is I’ve been looking for easier concealment during hot weather. I just bought a DeSantis Die Hard Ankle Rig, and so far, it seems like it’s going to work OK. I normally carry OWB during cooler weather, and IWB just doesn’t agree with me.
    Yeah, ankle carry for a primary gun is generally thought of as a bad idea, but if it comes down to ankle carry or leaving the gun at home during hot weather…

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  7. Any chance of reviewing the .40 version? I expect most info would be the same, but I’ve heard some concerns over the frame strength for such a high pressured round in such a small frame, as well as mixed reports in regards to recoil management, among other things.

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  8. Great thought we will work to see if we can get a M&P Shield in 40S&W in to do some durability testing.

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  9. You sold me on the “shield”, I have always been a G fan but now I am willing to trade those in for the shield.

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