Smith And Wesson’s M&P Shield 9mm Gun Review
In the right hands, Smith and Wesson’s M&P Shield 9mm is a top contender for the standard in compact 9mm.
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In this article:
Smith and Wesson’s M&P Shield 9mm
M&P Shield 9mm Review
For most, simply shooting the Shield is going to result in carrying the Shield. When Smith & Wesson released the Shield in 9mm and .40SW in 2012, they were filling a gap few of us knew existed.
Of all the factors that contributed to its success, it is most likely a combination of the market gap and the fact this gun carved out its own niche. Learn more as you continue reading this M&P Shield 9mm review.
1. Feel of the Gun
The gap the Shield filled was the physical size and perceived stopping power difference between .380s and compact 9mms. While this may be nuanced schematics, perhaps the best way to describe it is the ‘feel’ of the gun its owners describe.
The 18-degree grip angle, well-balanced 3” M&P Shield barrel, and clean break of the 6.5-pound trigger pull, all contribute to this positive feel. The major factor that affects a positive or negative feel is the shooter’s hand size.
This is something that stresses the importance of purchasing a firearm that fits you. The best way to do that is to handle and fire a wide variety of handguns before a purchase.
The details that contribute to its success and shortcomings are listed here. While this is not an exhaustive list, these are the top topics that came up in interviews.
It's about Shield owners and this author’s own experience with the Shield.
2. Caliber and Concealability
The Smith and Wesson M&P Shield is currently produced in 9mm, .40, and .45 calibers. While the entire line could get days of accolades, we are going to focus on the 9mm platform.
The most consistent feedback is the Shield has more soft edges. These soft edges are comparable to the boxiness of a Glock or similar frame.
That’s not to say the Shield is only for skinny guys and gals. Plenty of other people say the low profile is great for larger frame individuals as well.
The only drawback has been for shooters with larger hands. The gun tends to move around in larger paws, but again that’s why we test fire.
Perhaps the most notable feature about the Shield would be how slim it is. At .95 of an inch wide, it is one of the more intuitive conceal carry handguns on the market.
When carried in combination with a high-quality inside-the-waistband holster like the Galco Kingtuk IWB, it’s concealability cannot be understated. Other features, like the recessed safety lever, add to the overall thin but user-friendly profile of the Shield.
Holster Definition: A leather case used for carrying a gun. There are different types of holsters depending on where it's positioned but the most common are hip holsters.
Between the 6.5-pound trigger pull and integrated trigger safety, one would expect a ‘clunky’ trigger operation. While this may have been in reports, most owners report a clean and predictable trigger break.
As with any handgun, dry fire practice can help you familiarize the details of the handgun. This helps build muscle memory to manipulate the trigger while in a stable platform.
Additionally, the extended trigger guard may look unnatural but does allow for fitting a gloved finger into the trigger guard.
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4. Disassembly and Maintenance
Having to pull the trigger to release the slide presents a unique safety concern. Even the best-intentioned and trained operators can make mistakes.
This is in one of my personal experiences. When I was working in the security contracting industry, there was an infamous incident on my job site.
We were carrying Glock 17s and one of the guards accidentally shot himself in the hand. He was pulling the trigger to take his pistol apart for maintenance.
While those accidents are few and far between, Smith and Wesson must have decided we need an option to be safer. That is why they installed a sear deactivation lever inside the magazine well.
This gives owners an option to safely release the slide without building the muscle memory that involves pulling the trigger to simply take apart their handgun for maintenance.
Alternatively, you still have the option to pull the trigger to release the slide for a quicker field strip. Ensure the firearm is clear beforehand and disassembled while pointing in a safe direction.
5. M&P Shield 9mm Magazine
The Shield comes new in the box with two magazines. The 9mm variant comes with a 7-round flush magazine and an 8-round extended.
On the same day of purchase, consider buying at least a few extra magazines. Having those extra magazines is good not only for everyday carry (EDC) magazine rotation but also for practical reloading training.
The magazines themselves are great without any major or repeatable stoppages according to owners. The one magazine-related stoppage reported is a failure to feed due to the magazine not being fully seated.
Due to its design, it is possible to wedge the magazine in the well without fully seating it. While that may contribute to the failure to feed, a stoppage like that is nearly entirely user-generated.
The best resolution is by simply tapping the magazine to make sure it’s in before you chamber a round. Unlike other everyday carry semi-automatics, the Shield is capable of firing without a magazine inserted.
This is another design detail that may seem trivial. However, it can contribute to bringing you out on top of some of the worst-case scenarios.
Some failure to feed stoppages results from something as simple as not fully seating a magazine. This feature helps mitigate that type of stoppage.
Despite its small size and lighter weight compared to the Glock 26 (and later Glock 43), the combination of the grip angle and overall weight distribution of the Shield work together for a manageable amount of recoil. Even with multiple shot drills, the muzzle rise isn’t going to take you completely off targets like some larger caliber or framed handguns.
Watch this video by SmithWessonCorp about the M&P Shield 9mm:
The M&P Shield is a great option in the concealable single stack 9mm, 40, and now 45 categories. It’s low profile from its soft edges and levers make the most out of the .95” width.
This is one of the slimmest on the market. The functionality in such a small frame is immediately recognizable as soon as you pick up the handgun. It's also proven by live fire and carrying it for an extended amount of time.
The primary detail about this firearm that does not make it or any other gun a universal choice is its size. For shooters with larger hands, there are options such as grip tape and carrying the extended magazine to get the most contact of the M&P Shield grips.
However, shooter preference will ultimately dictate if this is the right handgun. Take a buddy out to the range with their Shield or rent one at the local range and experience for yourself what has made the Shield such a success since 2012.
What do you think of this M&P Shield 9mm gun review? Let us know in the comments section below!
- Smith & Wesson X-frame Price New $1495, Price Used (See Below)
- Smith & Wesson Pro Price New $1190, Price Used (See Below)
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on March 6, 2017, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.
December 21, 2020 at 11:51 AM
Recently purchased my MP 9 Shield and can not engage the slide stop in the upward position so as to field strip / disassemble. Does anybody have an idea why this slide stop will not move into the locking (up) position with the slide pulled back ?
June 14, 2017 at 4:45 PM
I’ve had a 9mm shield for some time now. Shot about 20 different brands of ammo. Had no problems what so ever. It is my EDC. Out to 25 yards I can hit minute of man consistently. Great little Gun.
May 17, 2017 at 2:18 PM
Good and precise info ,Now I am contemplating getting one!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Charles R Nicholls
March 19, 2017 at 12:08 AM
for those that have smaller hands and like smaller frame guns, i guess this would be great, but for me and my larger hands, it just won’t do as well for me as a larger frame would. All that said, If it was the only gun in my price range, I wouldn’t pass it up.
March 16, 2017 at 4:00 PM
Though I like the Shield as a carry pistol, I do not like the heavy weight recoil spring as it is a bear to fully lock back. I have been told many female shooters hate it because of that issue.
March 16, 2017 at 10:24 AM
I love my shields – have all three calibers now. Excellent carry choice for me.
March 16, 2017 at 8:52 AM
I own the Shield in 9mm. I also have the full size M&P 40. I’ve had the 40 for 5 years and the Shield for 2. The 40 was just too big and heavy for EDC, which led me to the Shield. I am a pretty good shot (not quite an expert) and thought I would sacrifice a little accuracy with the smaller gun. This was not the case at all. At 7 yards I shoot the smaller shield as good or even better with consistent tennis ball size groupings.
I did glue the plastic on the bottom of the mags so it doesn’t slide up which eliminated the mags sometimes not engaging completely.
At 6’1″, 200 lbs, the gun feels a little small but with lots of practice, both live and dry fire, it now feels completely natural to draw and shoot. After close to 2,000 rounds, it is still perfect with zero fails to feed or fire.
July 13, 2017 at 7:09 AM
What glue did you use on the mag?
March 15, 2017 at 11:05 PM
The problem I have with this article about the guy who worked security & his coworker shot himself with a glock, first of all who teaches these guys to take apart a loaded weapon without checking to see if the barrel isnt clear?? Obviously they don’t know that because of the lack of training but the glock hand guns set the standard with these guns just look at the design of these guns EVERYBODY WANNA BE LIKE MIKE!! is what they are doing. I work part time with 2 different government contractors 1 uses the glock 17 & the other uses the M& P and the better weapon by choice & standards is the GLOCK by far!! So invest in a weapon that started this new wave of polymer guns!!
March 15, 2017 at 5:48 PM
Like my Shield … it doesn’t seem to like aluminum casings, having jammed twice with those … the brass casings are only a couple bucks more and no worry about a possible jam … I bought the aluminum cased early on thinking I would save money but have fired about 2000 rounds with brass casings with no jams …
March 15, 2017 at 5:24 PM
I have the compact and use it for every day carry . It fits nicely and is also very accurate at the range. I highly recommend them.
March 15, 2017 at 1:25 PM
Am I the only one that can’t read these articles because of the all of the shit in the way?
April 4, 2017 at 10:18 PM
You ain’t the only one. I have complained, insulted, and threatened. They have deaf ears like all the radical liberals.
March 15, 2017 at 12:33 PM
We own two M&P 9mm Shields. My wife’s has the external safety which is carried in the off position, but on for unloading and reloading. Mine does not have the external safety. We both use the extended magazine, not so much for the extra round, but for the extra hand support when firing. My wife’s Shield has never misfired, mine has had both failure to feed and failure to eject instances. I’ve taken mine apart and cleaned it with Gun Scrubber, re-lubed some areas and use gun grease sparingly on the slide. My slide usually stays back when pulled back without a magazine in place, my wife’s does not. My shield also shoots 2″ left at 15 yards. I tried moving the front sight with a sight pusher but I didn’t want to move……so I still carry a Glock, my wife carries the shield.
March 15, 2017 at 9:07 AM
I own two Shields, a 9mm and a 40S&W. both guns are exactly the same size on the outside thus allowing one to need only one holster. My holster accepts the 9mm that also has a Laser built into the trigger guard. My 40 had night sites and fits into the same holster with the same retention strength because the Kydex retention spot is the trigger guard depression between guard and trigger. The thinness of the two guns makes carrying IWB a dream and there is no difference in grip feel. Only concern is paying attention to which mag you are inserting and that you are certain that the 9mm goes into your 9mm Shield. My one beef is the extended mag with the plastic band which is not fixed to mag. It has a tendency to slide up the mag and could, if it gets jammed part way up the mag could interfere with proper mag insert under the extreme conditions of a real gun fight. I have thought about gluing it in place but haven’t done so. Overall, next to my Springfield EMP, my Shields are the best, especially for warmer weather carry, as they are easier to conceal than the EMP’s 1911 frame.
March 15, 2017 at 9:02 AM
I’ve carried the 9mm shield for years. In Mass, the gun comes with a heavy, 10.5lb trigger, which really throws off your shots. I had it replaced with a 5.5lb trigger — definitely worth the change.
March 15, 2017 at 8:05 AM
I carried the .40 Shield & went to the 9mm due to arthritis. I tried the M&P Compact, but it was too big for me to conceal easily. The Shield with Clipdraw is my favorite carry gun. M&P is a great product line. I keep a full-size M&P 9mm in the night stand. Have run 3000+ rounds through it with Zero problems. Going to buy a M&P Bodyguard soon.
March 15, 2017 at 3:36 PM
If you get an opportunity, try out the Bodyguard before you buy it. My wife had one and much prefers the Shield. She said the Bodyguard made her wrist sore after repeated firings – something she has never experienced with the Shield. It was such a difference, she sold the Bodyguard and got a 9mm Shield 🙂