S&W has redesigned the M&P's double-action trigger mechanism so it has a shorter reset. The Shield is the first M&P to feature it but plans are for this mechanism to be used on all future M&P pistols.
The Shield comes with a manual safety on the left frame. Like the slide release and takedown levers it has a flat profile and is mounted almost flush to the frame so as to not hang up on clothing when the pistol is drawn from concealment.
In addition to the manual safety, the Shield also features trigger, firing pin, and magazine disconnect safeties.
The Shield comes with both seven- and eight-round magazines. The seven-round mags fit flush with the bottom of the grip frame while the eight-rounder is a bit over half of an inch longer and is fitted with a sleeve that approximates the outside diameter of the grip frame. I found the difference insignificant in terms of concealability. So since the longer magazine allows a full, three-finger grip and enhanced recoil control, I would use it in preference to the shorter magazine whenever possible.
Unlike the other M&P models, the Shield does not have interchangeable backstraps or ambidextrous slide releases, nor can the magazine release be switched to the port side. Considering the likely uses for this pistol, I don’t see any of these as downsides.
I will freely admit to being a long-time M&P fan, and I use these pistols for concealed carry, home defense, and competition. I found the Shield a fitting addition to the line and was anxious to try it out at the range.
Assisted by my friend Butch Simpson, I fired the Shield for accuracy at 15 yards with four different ammunition brands; the results can be seen on the accompanying chart on page 22. We were both pleased at how, regardless of bullet weight and velocity, all four types of ammo shot to point of aim. As for accuracy, the Shield shoots a sub-1.5-inch group at 15 yards.
We then set up a pair of combat targets and proceeded to run the Shield through a series of offhand drills at five and seven yards. All drills began from the draw, using a Galco Yaqui Belt Slide holster.
The trigger displayed a bit of "new gun" stiffness, but thanks to its consistent stroke, I found it quite easy to put all of the rounds sent downrange into the higher scoring zones of the targets. And while I don't really see a need for it on this pistol, the Shield's safety lever was sharply serrated and, despite its flush profile, was positive in manipulation.
I was not surprised with how well the M&P Shield performed. After all, S&W's engineers have had seven years to improve upon what was already an excellent design and they did exactly that. If you—or your agency—are considering a subcompact pistol for undercover officers or off-duty carry you would do yourself a disservice if you didn’t check out the M&P Shield before making a purchase decision.
Paul Scarlata has served as an auxiliary police officer and is a frequent contributor to POLICE.
Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield Specs:
Capacity: 7 or 8 rounds
Overall Length: 6.1 inches
Barrel Length: 3.1 inches
Height: 4.6 inches
Width: 0.95 inches
Construction: Slide, stainless steel; Frame, Zytel polymer
Sights: Front, white dot; Rear, dual white dots
Trigger Pull: 6.5 pounds
Extras and Options: Loaded chamber indicator, thumb safety, box, lock, and owner's manual
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