Recently I had the opportunity to review Smith and Wesson’s new single stack, striker fired, 19 oz. 9mm Shield… There has been a lot of excitement out there about it and I have to say it appears to be living up to all the hype. Now I finally got my hands on one of these in 9mm and it did not disappoint but let’s go down the list.
I’ve shot some of the small and slim 9mm’s and one of the biggest issues I’ve had is the long double action triggers on most of them. They have no early reset so you have to almost come completely off the trigger in order to move onto the next shot. Usually if I wanted a better trigger I would have to move up to a double stack sub compact or a 1911 style in 9mm. Neither as light or concealable as this new breed of slim lines so it defeated the purpose. Now the Shield is the first of the M&P line to have a better trigger built in with a much more positive reset. In other words you Glock shooters will really enjoy this one. The trigger weight runs around 6.5lbs but that stat doesn’t do it justice. Out of the box that trigger is clean, crisp and with the positive reset makes it a joy to run. You still cannot hear the click at the reset but it’s definition is much better than the others in the M&P line.
The question I’ve had is does it really make that big a difference from the sub compact to the single stack. My answer is a resounding YES. I didn’t think it would and I do have the M&P Sub Compact 9mm but when compared with the shield the size and weight were just no comparison. The overall frame width on the shield is slightly less than 1 inch in comparison to the sub compact at 1.2”… Doesn’t sound like much unless you’re carrying inside the waistband. I carried mine in a Holster Works IWB Kydex holster ($50) made by Scott Zike of SDZ Holsters here in Arizona and I was amazed that I did not even notice that I had it on. Where on the other hand with the sub compact the difference in weight of gun (22 oz) with 12 rounds of ammo I definitely knew I was carrying… So to me size did matter.
Let’s talk about the features:
The sight picture is very clear low profile, white 3 dot system. It’s very easy to pick up and sight in and with a 5” overall sight radius it’s very quick as well. Truthfully I will probably change those sights out to the Warren Tactical with a fiber Optic FS in red. I have those on many of my guns and as my eyes get older I’m able to pick them up much better. I was pretty impressed when I was able to place 7 head shots right where I wanted them. Of course that was slow fire but when I pushed it a little it was still easy to hold on target.
It comes with 2 magazines an 8 round and one 7 round. The 8 round has a short sleeve on the bottom to help it fit better and I’ve read some reviews that the sleeve sometimes dislodges causing issues reloading but I did not experience that and I had many willing volunteers with very different shooting styles test firing this little puppy and none of them had an issue with it. But it is probably something to be aware of nonetheless. My feeling is that I would probably carry the 8 round in the gun and the 7 round as my backup why start a fight with 7+1 when you might need that extra?
The fit and finish are great. This is not so small that it feels like you can’t get a good grip on it and not so big that it doesn’t meet the needs of conceal ability. Some of my testers were as tall as 6’5” with those great big paws and as short as … well as me at 5’ on a good day. There were very experienced shooters to novices, male and female and everyone liked the feel, the weight and the overall shooting experience. I don’t think I’d ever met a gun that fit that well for everyone, granted my 6’5” shooter liked shooting it one handed better because he felt like he overwhelmed the gun with two hands on it but he shot it well.
The polymer frame and Black Melonite Slide and barrel are standard for M&P and hold up well. There are NO removable back straps for this model and for me that was not an issue but might be nice in later versions for my big pawed friend.
The shooting experiences that I’ve had with recoil on the other slim line 9mm have not been as thrilling as I would like. They took a little more control as they had greater recoil than the larger model 9mm’s. But size wise they fit the bill. The Shield had much less felt recoil and was just a pleasure to shoot. Yes I had to make sure I had a good grip but then I always do but no more than I needed when I was shooting the Sub Compact version of the M&P.
Throughout this whole process the gun never failed to fire, never jammed, fed everything from different manufacturers FMJ, JHP, reloads of varying weights… AND we had it out at one session for about 4 hours straight and that little gun was switched out from shooter to shooter and never got a break. It was fun to watch shooters waiting to be invited to try out the new kid on the block. And of course there is the thing about free ammo.
The price is right with MSRP at $449 and depending on availability (they are tough to come by) you will probably be able to pick one up just a little over $400.
Of the overall package the only thing that to me was a detractor was the slide safety. Folks that know me are aware that I’m not a fan of external safeties but other than that it was a great shooting experience. And the S&W M&P Shield is a keeper.”