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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
Ratings (Out Of Five Stars)
Not target grade but great for defensive work.
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.
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.