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Why Officers Will Embrace S&W's M&P Shield

The Shield's trigger-system, slim profile, and ergonomics make it an ideal choice for a variety of missions.

July 25, 2012  |  by Nick Jacobellis - Also by this author

S&W's M&P Shield. Photo courtesy of Nick Jacobellis.
S&W's M&P Shield. Photo courtesy of Nick Jacobellis.

With its M&P Shield subcompact pistol, Smith & Wesson is revisiting a concept that once made history. The Shield hearkens back to the S&W Model 39, the first modern DA/SA pistol with a single column magazine and a thin grip.

That pistol, which was introduced in 1954, found immediate favor with the Illinois State Police and the Navy SEALs.

The Shield arrives as a descendant in a lineage that includes the Model 39, Model 52, and Model 59. The Shield provides a better trigger and greater accuracy than the full-size M&P duty pistol. Officers who use it will be able to do more with less. If I was a detective, I would carry two.

Even though the M&P Shield is manufactured in 9mm and .40 S&W caliber, the 9mm version offers softer shooting, and modern 9mm hollow-point ammunition is more effective than it once was.

Unfortunately, the M&P Shield is not being offered with factory night sights.  I should also mention that even though the Shield is the only M&P pistol that does not come with an interchangeable grip system, no one involved in this field test complained about the ergonomics.

The moment I fired the 9mm M&P Shield for the first time, I had flashbacks of the old days when I carried a 9mm S&W Model 39 and a 9mm S&W 3913 on and off duty. As someone who has always enjoyed shooting pistols with a single-column magazine, I was impressed by the thin ergonomics of the Shield.

I was twice as impressed when the 9mm Shield that weighs a whopping 19 ounces unloaded proved to be comfortable to shoot with a variety of standard velocity 124-grain and 147-grain Winchester and ATK/Federal ammunition. I was even more impressed when the M&P Shield also proved to be an easier pistol to consistently shoot with more precision than a full-size 9mm M&P pistol. This level of accuracy is coming from a striker fired M&P Shield with a 3.1-inch barrel as opposed to a full-size 9mm M&P with a 4.25-inch barrel. Impressive.

While the full-size 9mm M&P is as combat accurate as any police pistol I've handled, the 9mm M&P Shield is an easier pistol to shoot with more precision. I can only assume that the Shield's ability to perform like a target pistol comes from the improved striker-fired trigger system, outstanding ergonomics, easy-to-control level of recoil, and my preference for pistols with a narrow grip and single-column magazine.

Two different 9mm M&P Shields were tested during four range sessions by six shooters, including myself; a city police officer; a newly hired federal officer; a Class 3 SOT (Special Occupational Tax) firearms dealer; and two former armed security contractors, including one who previously worked for a local sheriff's department as a detention lieutenant.

Members of the test team recorded stellar accuracy with the Shield. Shot groupings varied from "connecting the dots" to two- and three-inch groups. Everyone put all rounds fired in the scoring area of a TQ19 or a TCQ-94A Michigan Law Enforcement Training Council Qualification Target. Members of the test team also had no problem using the 9mm M&P Shield to consistently engage a metal plate roughly the same size as the scoring area of a TQ19 Police Qualification Target from various safe CQB distances. I also found it to be easy to execute combat reloads with the S&W Shield using spare seven-round magazines.

The Shield with DeSantis' Die Hard Ankle Rig, N87 Pro Stealth holster, A01 double-mag pouch, and A47 single-mag pouch. Photo courtesy of Nick Jacobellis.
The Shield with DeSantis' Die Hard Ankle Rig, N87 Pro Stealth holster, A01 double-mag pouch, and A47 single-mag pouch. Photo courtesy of Nick Jacobellis.

While field testing the 9mm M&P Shield, I carried this pistol for several weeks in a DeSantis N87 Pro Stealth inside the waistband nylon holster with a single magazine pouch attached to the front of the holster. The DeSantis N87 fastens to my pants belt using a fairly wide metal clip that holds the holster firmly and comfortably in place for hours.

My two favorite magazine pouches are the DeSantis AO1 black leather double magazine pouch, which attaches to a pants belt with two snaps, and the DeSantis A47 black leather single magazine pouch that fastens to a pants belt with a metal clip.

I carry seven-round 9mm M&P Shield spare magazines in my DeSantis magazine pouches and only used the eight-round magazine with a finger extension attached to the floor plate when I carry the Shield in my DeSantis N87 holster. I haven't experienced any problems operating or concealing the M&P Shield or any of the five spare magazines for this pistol.

While wearing long cargo pants, I carried the 9mm Shield test pistol in a DeSantis Die Hard Ankle Rig (style 014). The Die Hard holster offers a thumb break safety feature and is the most comfortable ankle holster I've ever worn.

When I first heard about the Shield, I figured that if all went well with my test and evaluation, this pistol would probably make an excellent backup gun, an off-duty gun, or an outstanding undercover pistol. The Shield surpassed my expectations after testing it with an ample number of rounds of FMJ and law enforcement hollow-point ammunition.

I like the Shield so much I would carry it on duty if I was still working in plainclothes. I worked in high crime areas while armed with a six-shot .38 Special S&W service revolver and a five-shot .38 Special S&W revolver as a backup gun. Even when I transitioned to a 9mm and .45 ACP pistol, I often carried models with a single-column magazine.

My biggest complaint with the M&P pistols, including the Shield, is that you can't walk into a gun store or a police supply store and find one with factory installed night sights.

The M&P Shield arrives with an outstanding striker-fired trigger and a noticeable reset. While the full-size M&P pistols have many fine attributes including their excellent ergonomics, a standard M&P pistol doesn't have a trigger system that's as good as the striker-fired trigger system in a Glock or a Springfield Armory pistol.

Nick Jacobellis is a medically retired U.S. Customs Agent and a former police officer who was physically disabled in the line of duty while working as a federal agent.

Related:

Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield Subcompact Pistol

PHOTOS: S&W's Shield Subcompact Pistol

VIDEO: S&W's M&P Shield Pistol

Smith & Wesson Introduces M&P Shield Pistol

Tags: Smith & Wesson, 9mm, .40 S&W, Subcompact Pistols, Firearms Reviews, Backup Guns


Comments (16)

Displaying 1 - 16 of 16

Gary Parr @ 7/28/2012 6:12 PM

Any idea when these 9mm shields will be easier to find?
Right now I've checked everywhere with no luck.

jb @ 9/17/2012 5:41 PM

They are running about a 4-6 month wait down here (S Florida) and fetching premium prices when they do come in stock.

Steve Rogers @ 9/24/2012 4:34 PM

Mr. Jacobellis: Very good article. And, thank you for your service to all. Secondly, I ordered the 9mm S&W Shield on 9/11/12. I hope to have it at least by Christmas!? Bought a S&W model 637, 5shot, Chiefs Airweight, 38 special, 2" barrel, on Feb. 11, 2012. Love that gun also, but want the semi-auto as change from my revolver for CCW.

Rc @ 10/3/2012 6:25 PM

I have found out that the guns are allocated to the government

Smith &W @ 10/27/2012 12:45 PM

I don't think officers will "embrace the shield" at all, I like the gun a lot but per my department and other police department standards we cannot carry a gun that has a safety on it. Is there any plans on S&W producing the shield with out the safety?

Kurt Worden @ 11/1/2012 11:27 AM

Great gun. We have many users that have upgraded the site to a custom LaserMax M&P Shield laser site. http://www.lasermax.com/Products/CenterFireforSmithWesson.aspx

DW @ 11/2/2012 3:18 PM

I don't think these are allocated to the government, Davidson's Gallery of guns had 14 of them in stock when I purchased one this morning.

CJC @ 11/30/2012 8:29 PM

Tried to purchase one this morning in Raleigh, NC. 159 person waiting list for the 9mm and 62 person waiting list for the 40cal. Idk...

Refired chief @ 12/26/2012 7:39 PM

I just bought a .40 Shield last week. My dealer had two of them. It feels good in my large hand, and I like the manual safety, which others are lacking. I will be carrying this one for sure. I still have a Model 39 which is also a good pistol. Smith & Wesson continues to make great cop guns.

Keith @ 12/29/2012 10:10 PM

I have had a 9mm Shield for about 4 months. I have run about 300 rounds through it and love this gun. I am not a huge fan of the 40 cal round, so when I had the option to get one I went with the smaller 9mm. I would not trade this gun for any other as an off-duty "pocket" style handgun. Great purcahse if you find one.

Greg @ 1/6/2013 12:45 PM

I dint know I lie the gun but the quality has gone to pot, first it was the front site on my shield 40 then after getting night sights installed shoot. Gun n. get home to clean n the white area of the safety their is a hole where a white plate was. Why r all these parts falling off a gun with ess than 200 rounds thru it, this will probably have to go back cuz it loos lie a peace s missing where the white safety indicator was. Anybody else experiencing these sml problems? They sent me a new frt iChat but I was getting Trijcon sights put on anyway so that wa no big deal but now with the white gone from the safety it looks like there is a piece missing. Not my irst S&W but if this keeps up may b my last

KBJ @ 1/27/2013 3:44 PM

I love the Shield 9mm. Back in July 2012, I called 4 dealers & requested to be put on their Wait List. Cabellas is the only one who provided me as a # status on their list & continued to call/email with a status change (now customer # X of ...). Early Jan, it finally arrived. Long wait, but ohhh so worth it. Picked up a Blackhawk holster with it but now on the search for a great CC IWB holster.

Lou @ 2/10/2013 7:32 AM

I found one yesterday - the last one the store had. I bought it for $429, which I later in the day found out to be quite the deal. After purchasing the gun, I went to Gun Show in Nashville, where I saw ONLY 1 at the show, and a guy had it priced at $800! Yep, and guess what? It sold before I left. So, needless to say I'm happy!

olemisscop @ 2/18/2013 9:40 PM

I bought a shield to replace a .380. I wasn't comfortable relying on such a small round. So I bought the 9mm. I can easily conceal in in gym shorts with a t-shirt and I'm not a big guy. It's probably the best shooting pistol I've ever had and thats coming from a 1911 afficianado. I can make 50 yrd shots on an 8 inch plate pretty consistently, and quick follow up shots are easy. I can't say enough good things about the shield.

Ken Winthrop @ 3/29/2013 7:54 AM

I have the shield in 40 S & W, great firearm, easily concealed, and very accurate. I highly recommend it for a off duty weapon. The biggest problem is trying to find one. The MSRP is $440.00 but expect to pay around $550.00.

Nick Jacobellis @ 5/24/2013 3:05 PM

Since I began field testing the 9mm S&W M&P Shield I had one of the white inserts in the rear sight fall off during a training session. Smith & Wesson's excellent customer service immediately sent me TWO sets of replacement sights even though all I needed was one white insert. Thanks to S&W customer service my S&W Shield is once again good to go. Nick Jacobellis

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