Smith and Wesson “Shield 9mm” Field Test Review

I recently had an opportunity to play with S&W’s new “Shield” in 9mm. It pretty much is a scaled-down M&P. In other words, it’s a striker-fired pistol with a polymer frame. However, unlike most, the latest S&W offering is stoked by a single-stack magazine. The result is a narrow grip and a pistol that’s much smaller than an M&P double-stack compact model. It’s also bigger than a .380 Bodyguard, placing it within its own unique niche.

Shield and full-sized M&P for comparison

  By dumb luck, I had my trusty old S&W M-3913 on the range. Laying a Shield beside it we found it was similar in size, but smaller by just a tad. Capacity was the same 8+1 and the latest S&W could possibly be viewed as a polymer alternative. The whole pistol is around 6” long and weighs 19 ounces. It’s just less than 1” thick and certainly a whole lot flatter than a standard-size M&P. Funny thing though; it still has a familiar feel. As such it would make a great companion piece, covering most bases with one standard manual-of-arms. Unlike most iterations of the full-size M&P line, the Shield will fire with its magazine removed. Two are provided; a flush-bottom 7-shot, and a longer 8-shot with a grip extension. I fired the 8-shot group (see photo) on a miniature B-21 silhouette, offhand at 10 yards. Result: Reasonable accuracy and good control. The sights are very use-able, which helps. The trigger-pull is decent as well. These factors, combined with a practical size that’s small enough to hide but big enough to shoot make the little S&W a good, all-around carry-piece. Overall, it feels good in the hand despite a lack of interchangeable grip inserts. The Shield disassembles per its larger brethren. You can deactivate the sear by locking the slide to the rear. Visible beneath the breech-face is a small dog-leg wire that can be folded forward and down to cam the sear out of engagement with the striker tail. It’s an alternative to pulling the trigger and something we consider worthwhile. We recently saw a Glock AD when its idiot operator failed to clear the chamber. These things shouldn’t happen but they do. Anyhow, rotating the take-down lever 90 degrees will allow the slide to travel forward and off the frame. The procedure is very simple, and promotes regular maintenance. The recoil spring is actually two captive units that are fairly stout. You discover this upon retracting the slide. After reassembling the pistol I had a heck of a time latching it open until discovering I wasn’t pulling it all the way rearward. The last bit of travel requires lots of muscle. Loading the magazines is a bit of a chore as well. However, since this pistol is new things may limber up with more use. It has a gimpy little safety reminiscent of small-caliber pocket pistols. I’m thinking it wouldn’t be too hard to master with a bit of practice, but I’m not that fond of it right now. The slide release is manageable but, unlike a full-size M&P, is not ambidextrous. The magazine release is in the same spot, but not reversible. Due to its short size the Shield doesn’t have a dust-cover Picatinny rail section. S&W joined forces with several manufacturers to ensure accessories and holster options were available when the Shield was announced. This consumer-oriented step results in a street-ready carry package – all for a fairly reasonable price of around $450. The pistol is available in 9mm or .40 and I’m thinking recoil with the latter option would be pretty stout. The Graduate Shootist
5 comments… add one
  • Ray June 27, 2012, 8:33 am

    Here’s the my problem with ALL semi auto wepons. They are the worst possable thing you can carry for a survival gun. MAGS. If they get buggerd up you are S.O.L. and when TSHTF you CANNOT repace them. PARTS. Part brakeage in seniauto firearms is MUCH higher than in revolvers or repeater (lever/bolt) wepons.Semiautos toataly depend on a factory grid to function. AMMO. The FIRST thing to disapear in a state of emergancy. ANY state of emergancy,IS AMMO and bang bang guns EAT ammo at a hellish rate. Ammo is dificult to replace NOW, When thing go south? Once we get down to depending on our tribe / family ya’ll better have tools that you can fix /feed YOURSELF. No matter how good a firearm is ; and S&W firearms ARE good , without a working factory grid and global supply net to suport them they are worse than useless . (p.s.) The ONLY thing that semiauto wepons do is use more ammo faster , they offer no other advantage . As any 0311 can tell you ” It dont matter HOW MANY rounds ya’ got if ya’ can’t hit the S.O.B.” —–Ray in ky

  • Waterboy June 27, 2012, 5:42 pm

    Nice review, very complete.

  • The Raj June 27, 2012, 8:39 pm

    I had not even heard of this pisto before I saw it in a local shop. My primary carry gun is an M&P9c, though I also carry a G23 or a Kahr P9 Covert regularly. A lot of people will compare this to a larger auto, but I think the appropriate comparison in terms of function and size is a snub-nosed revolver. This feels like an M&P version of the Kahr, though a bit taller, and I have considered picking one up as a “summer” gun. It has adequate capacity and fills the hand remarkably well for a thin gun. The extended magazine seems better-executer than Kahr’s version, though the (P series) Kahr’s trigger is better. Depending on grip strength and recoil sensitivity, it may also work well for people with small hands. I, too, can definitely do without the manual safety, but it is unobtrusive enough that it should not accidentally engage, especially in a proper holster.

  • GA July 8, 2012, 6:10 am

    My primary carry is also the M&P9c. Also, often times I carry a Model 37 for back up just in case something does malfunction as Ray mentioned. Love the feel of the 9c and the higher capacity mag. Sights were dead-on out of the box and the trigger pull is butter. My wife shot it, and she never fired a semi-auto before, and shot a tight, center mass group. Of course, now she wants her own. The 9c is a great primary carry.

  • Tom July 4, 2015, 7:43 am

    I have the M&P Shield without the safety, and it has been a pleasure to shoot and carry. In a Galco King-Tuk, it is comfotable all day on my right hip, and just found with my Bianchi 100 I can carry it appendix style without alot of hassle with either mag. When I first bought it, I found the trigger a little heavy at the breaking point, but after putting about 200 rds through it, she clean up nice, and I don’t even think about it when practicing anymore. The only mod I plan on doing is to put something like Talon tape on the grips. It’s just a little slippery in my hands when it’s wet out, but otherwise, S&W did a excellent job in the design on this little 9mm.


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