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Review of the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm


Just over a week ago, Smith & Wesson announced and simultaneously launched their newest edition to the M&P line – the Shield in both 9mm and 40 S&W.  I ordered mine on launch day, received it last last week, and took out to the range this past weekend to do some testing.

The M&P Shield seems to be designed to cater heavily to the consumer “CCW” concealed carry crowd.  But according to a source I spoke with that works closely with S&W, Smith was actually responding to the needs of military officers needing a small firearm to conceal with their dress uniforms more than any perceived need in the consumer market.  Fortunately, the needs of a military officer dovetail nicely with those of the average consumer looking for a firearm for concealed carry purposes.

When it comes to firearms, concealed carry is about compromises – giving up something to get something.  The goal is to get a defensive handgun that’s small and light enough to carry somewhere on your body comfortably, without those you come into contact with knowing you’re armed.  The question becomes, what are you willing to give up in a full-size weapon in order to meet this goal?  What are your priorities?  The Shield is by and large based both cosmetically and functionally on the successful S&W M&P design and form factor – a very good thing.  Smith already makes a “compact” version of the M&P called the M&P Compact.  The Shield 9mm is essentially a single-stack (technically a 1.5 stack) magazine version of the M&P 9c.  Here’s a comparison photo showing my M&P 9c next to the M&P Shield:


While it’s clear to see in the above photo that the Shield is a bit shorter than the M&P 9c, it’s hard to see many other differences from this view.  Here’s another photo where you can see the differences in the magazine width between them:

M&P Shield (left) Compared to the M&P 9c (right)

Height wise, the Shield about the same as the M&P 9c with the 7 round magazine, and quite a bit taller than the M&P 9c with the Shield’s extended 8 round magazine.  But magazine and frame are quite a bit more slender on the Shield, which will make it more comfortable for “inside the waistband” (IWB) carrying of the weapon.  Further comparing the M&P Shield to the larger M&P 9c, the list of other compromises made to create the smaller, more concealed carry friendly Shield grows.  In addition to fire power/magazine capacity (the M&P 9c has a 12 round capacity), the Shield does not have ambidextrous controls (The Shield is set up for right-handed use) like the M&P 9c.  While a frame mounted safety is an optional feature on the M&P 9c, it’s not optional on the Shield.  Fortunately, in my testing of the Shield, I found the safety to be unobtrusive, and not prone to accidental activation.

Fortunately, firing stability wasn’t tossed out with the Shield design – it’s a very easy weapon to manage recoil when firing, and muzzle flip didn’t seem worse than the larger, heavier M&P 9c.  In fact, the M&P Shield is a very comfortable gun to fire, in large part due to the redesigned trigger found on the Shield.  Crisp, with relatively short uptake and a definite reset point not found on the triggers in other M&P models.  According to Smith, the new trigger in the Shield will soon be integrated into the rest of the models in the M&P line.

If you’re looking for a gun which can be “pocket carried” the M&P Shield isn’t, in my opinion ideal for this purpose.  When I bought the M&P Shield 9mm, I was really hoping to find a striker fired replacement for my “pocket .380” – the Sig Sauer P238.  But, as you can see in the below photo, the Shield is quite a bit larger than the Sig P238 (or Smith’s own “pocket .380” the Bodyguard):

As long as I’m comparing the Shield to the Sig P238, I’ll mention my only real criticism of the Shield – the lack of factory installed night sights.  In my mind, night sights are mandatory for any gun considered for defensive concealed carry use – criminals tend to prey at night and in the shadows.  On the Sig P238, factory night sights are standard.  Even on the M&P 9c, night sights are an available option (you’ll note that mine pictured above has factory night sights).  But the only option for the M&P Shield are non-luminous, daytime sights. Presumably Smith & Wesson made this decision in order to maintain the relatively low $449.00 retail price point.  However, given the necessity of night sights, most users will have them installed by a 3rd party at an additional cost of about $100.00

The Sig P238 (left) comes standard with factory night sights - not an option at this point for the Shield, but for shooting in well-lit conditions, the sights on the Shield (right) are excellent.

This minor criticism aside, the S&W M&P Shield is most definitely a home run for Smith, and I predict that retailers will have a hard time keeping them in stock – many will find it’s just what they’re looking for in a concealed carry firearm.  As for myself, I’m still on the hunt for a pocket sized striker fired 9mm pistol.

A good friend of mine (YouTube Snareman95) also bought the M&P Shield and did a nice video review on the gun (which I helped film at the range):

He also does a nice comparison of the Shield to the M&P 9c:

About John B. Holbrook, II
John B. Holbrook, II is a freelance writer, photographer, and author of, as well as and *All text and images contained in this web site are the original work of the author, John B. Holbrook, II and are copyright protected. Use of any of the information or images without the permission of the author is prohibited.

  1. Mitch Hamm says:

    Hi John. Nice review! I assume you’ve fired the Kahr PM9? Probably the smallest, mainstream striker-fired 9mm out there. It’s my CCW.

  2. I like the Kahr (my buddy who did the video reviews above has one and will be doing a comparison) but I absolutely love the trigger on my P238. I’m hoping someone will come out with some better competition for the Kahr, with a shorter trigger.

  3. Both of these videos are well done and informative . I recently purchased the M&P Shield 9mm to go along with my M&P 40c. I wanted something a little smaller. But also was looking at the 9mm as cheaper ammo to fire at the range.

    The Shield is a joy to shoot and extremely easy to carry.

  4. PA Stubbs says:

    This is exactly the comparison I’ve been waiting on I’ve owned a M&P40c for a while now but when I seen the shield I was like I have to have it. The thickness of the compact never bothered me so I think I’ll stick with the compact being able to carry the standard mag concealed and a full size mag as a backup. Plus its nice to be able to throw in a full sized mag at the range to cut down on the reloading time. Thanks for the info you just saved me $400 bucks.

  5. I was thinking about buying both the compact in a 40 for me and the shield in a 9 mm for my wife

  6. I’d recommend 9mm for both. .40 S&W will generate more recoil, provide comparatively fewer rounds per magazine, and is more expensive to shoot. Statistically speaking, .40 S&W offers no advantage over 9mm when it comes to “one shot stop.”

  7. Are you able to shoot with one in the chamber but no mag?

  8. Not in California…Magazine disconnect.

  9. Yeah well….communist states don’t count. 🙂 🙂

  10. I haven’t tried this myself, but I’ve seen photographic and video evidence that any sights made for the larger M&P handguns will fit the smaller subcompact. This means that you can add tritium night sights made for the original M&P pistols to the Shield, giving you the option of illuminated targeting. From what I’ve seen, the Trijicon BNTNS fit pretty well.

  11. Make sense Nick, but like yourself I’ve not seen any such modified M&P Shields as of this writing to know for sure if there’s sight interchangeability with the larger M&P models.

  12. Byron Shryock says:

    I was looking at the M&P Shield but a local gun shop has suggested a Sccy CPX-2. I have only seen bad reviews on this weapon. Have you reviewed it and what are your thoughts on it? I am still leaning toward the Shield since I own a 60+ year old S&W .38.

  13. I can’t say that I’ve ever fired or even heard of the Sccy CPX-2. I’d definitely go with the Shield.

  14. Great and informative overview. I am in the process of looking for my first firearm and am strongly considering the Shield. Size, price, 9mm, and of course the S&W brand are all pluses. I think I know what I’m gonna do now. Friend just bought a Bodyguard .380, nice but I think a bit too small.
    Any suggestions for a good .22lr pistol to keep the cost of practice and target shooting down?

  15. Rick – sure….I own two M&P 22’s – you’ll find a review here on ThruMyLens in the Firearms section. It will make a great training platform for a Shield owner.

  16. Byron Shryock says:

    I just got a M&P 22 this week and I’m looking forward to going to the range on Saturday (1/19/19) to try it out. I am still waiting for the M&P Shield 9mm’s to be shipped. I can’t find anyone who has one.

  17. steven smith says:

    hi JBH2.been looking at the shield 9 and sr9c,i see youve used both.i cant decide, any help would be appreciated.

  18. Without knowing more about what your looking for and how you’ll use it, I’d pick the Shield over the SR9c.

  19. steven smith says:

    sorry newbie here.first gun,only gun.hopefully carry someday,but want it for learning,convienence at range,like the larger mags.but also would like it for comfort for wife.thx for the reviews

  20. Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it!

  21. where can i get a shield without being price gouged

  22. Patience grasshopper – the market will correct sooner than later.

  23. sir, were you able to find the ideal pocket 9mm you mentioned in this article? what is it?

  24. Ironically (given the age of the Shield review you’re replying to) I’ve recently gone back to trying to answer this question. Read my recent articles on The Shield Project and my Review of the Sig Sauer P938.

  25. Randy Walker says:

    I have the SCCY CPX-2 and I love it. I just bought it a couple of months ago so it’s the gen 2. I also heard bad things about the fist round of this pistol but the one I have is outstanding and the customer service is primo. I did have a couple of minor issues when I first got it but I live in Orlando so I just drove up to the shop in Daytona Beach and they fixed while I waited. 15oz, 5.7″ long. It is double stack, 10 rounds so a little thick but I like the capacity and it still fits nicely in my pocket or iwb.

  26. Hi John. Thank you for a nice review!
    Didn’t you happen to review an XDS yet?
    Would be interesting to compare it against Shield 🙂

  27. Hi Andrey – thanks for the kind words. While I haven’t done a review comparing these two, I’ve tested both and prefer the Shield.


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