M&P Shield: What’s So Great About It?

Smith & Wesson M&P Shield

It is one of the most desirable handguns on the market today. For concealed carry, it tops most lists for design features. It is currently difficult to find in stock, which makes it all the more popular. Many of the critics raved about its small size and powerful 9mm or .40 caliber options. Most range reports gave it excellent reviews for handling, reliability and accuracy. I patiently awaited my turn to try one out. Admittedly, my expectations were soaring after reading the Internet buzz. When I opened that familiar, blue Smith & Wesson box, I quickly started drawing my own conclusions.

Thin Enough?

Overall S&W built the M&P Shield very well—but not perfect. As expected, they added features consistent with what the concealed carry market demands. The first thing you notice when handling a Shield is how thin it is. Imprinting is a long-gone problem since S&W made the slide a very slight .95 inches in width. However, it is a bit thicker than some of its competitors. As a comparison, the Kahr CM9 and Ruger LC9 both measure in at a slightly thinner .90 inches. Still, it seems to have no trouble hiding under clothing, even if it is a bit beefier than some other options.


The Shield is tall. Actually, it is really tall. The Ruger LC9 seemed lanky too, but the Smith & Wesson stretched that crazy height another tenth of an inch. When you hold an M&P Shield, it feels good until you aim down the sight and that erroneous height is more than a little noticeable. If you are more accustomed to squattier guns, you may have some difficulty adjusting. It is by no means a deal-breaker, and it didn’t hurt accuracy, but I felt it was worth mentioning.

That Darn Trigger

M&P Trigger
M&P Trigger

It creeks. It isn’t like pulling a sled over a rock pile, but its close. The Kahr CM9 has a long heavy trigger too, but it is as smooth as a plate of glass. This thing feels like I’m closing a very small rusty gate. Most double-action only handguns are guilty of this too, so it wasn’t surprising that a gun in this price point has a bit of a sordid trigger. Comparatively speaking, I think the trigger pull rests somewhere in the middle of the competition. Since no two handguns, even two of the same model, rarely have exactly the same feel, you might have better luck than I did. However, I will say that I am a huge fan of the safety system built around M&P triggers. They may not be the smoothest, but they get the job done — however, this brings me to my next point.

A Thumb Safety

This is perhaps the most famous complaint about the Shield. It has a thumb safety. I’ve been fairly outspoken about my dislike of thumb safeties on carry guns in the past, and I’m not changing my position. However, I do understand why some people would feel better if their gun has an off button. At least Smith & Wesson placed the safety in a good spot. Simply leaving it actuated in the fire position seems to be the way to go. I just hope that after a few thousand rounds it doesn’t start popping out of place when I need it most. I hope I never have to find out.

The Bottom Line

Even with some nit-picky issues, The M&P Shield is an excellent concealed carry handgun overall. As with most things, choosing your CCW is going to boil down to personal preference. There simply isn’t a model that wins out in all categories. However, if you choose an M&P Shield, you could have made a far worse choice.

GLOCK 26 Kahr CM9 Ruger LC9 M&P 9 Shield Kel Tec PF-9 Beretta Nano
Height 4.17″ 4″ 4.5″ 4.6″ 4.3″ 4.17″
Length 6.41″ 5.42″ 6″ 6.1″ 5.85″ 5.63″
Width 1.18″ 0.9″ 0.9″ 0.95″ 0.88″ 0.9″
Weight 19.75 oz 14 oz 17.1 oz 19 oz 12.7 oz 18.27 oz
Trigger Pull 5.5 lbs 6.5 lbs 5.6 lbs 6.5 lbs 5 lbs 5.7 lbs
Magazine Capacity* 10 6 7 7 7 6

*Larger Magazines Available

Have you shot an M&P Shield? What did you think of it? Let us know in the comments section below!

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (80)

  1. I think this needs to be updated. It starts by saying the Shield is difficult to find in stock………. you can find a Shield in just about every FFL in America.

  2. I also have trouble locking back the slide or releasing it using the slide release button, very, very stiff. Have to use weak hand thumb as cannot get sufficient leverage with shooting hand.
    Have put over 1500 rounds through it so far, no change.
    Anyone any thoughts on lighter recoil springs and a manufacturer of reliable springs? I shoot 180 gr ammo as standard.

  3. I admit that the trigger on the Shield isn’t the greatest out of the box, but it’s certainly better than many other single stack 9mm models on the market. And, it’s fairly easy to remedy with a number of aftermarket trigger kits that are on the market now.

    I get the point about the safety, but S&W offers a non-safety version as well, and the safety on the safety models is completely manual (passive) as in you opt to use it or not. I grabbed a safety model because they seem less popular so I got a deal on a safety version. I picked up a nice MTR custom Tuckable IWB holster and my Shield ended replacing my Glock 43 as my EDC rig. Funny thing is, until the Shield, I really wasn’t a S&W fan!

  4. I agree about the thumb safety; unnecessary in my opinion but S&W offers the Shield without them . So why fret over it, and just get the model w/o one.

  5. I have a Glock G34 a Kimber Stainless Target II, and a Ruger SR40.
    I bought the M&P Shield for a smaller concealed carry gun. I just put 60 rds through it and I am not impressed. The trigger is horrible.The safety is almost impossible to use left handed. The slide release is so hard to release, that I thought it was jammed. Accuracy was fair, and I am sure it will improve once it is broken in. I understand my other pistols are at a higher price point, but I was not expecting this. At around $425.00 I guess its a fair price, but I expected something a little more refined.

    1. I thought that about the slide release too at first…then I put about 200 rounds through it and now it is very smooth. Slap a mag in, flick the release with my thumb and blast away.

    2. Slide release is a non issue for me. I practice more gross motor skills of grabbing the slide and racking it back, not releasing a slide via a lever.


  7. I have the 9mm Shield, and the only reason I’m considering replacing it is the same reason I had passed on the LC9, the long grip. Much over 4″ in height really affects conceal-ability for me. Other than that, I wouldn’t even be looking at anything else. Unlike most on here, I like the fact that it has the option of a manual safety, and the ability to have an extended semi-staggered magazine that feeds reliably, but it sure would have been nice if they had kept the height closer to my PM9 like Glock did.

  8. Actually the gun in question is SA. Cycling of the slide completely cocks the firing pin and pulling the trigger only releases the pin.
    It is made to mimic DA, but in fact it is SA. Glock however is DA because pulling the trigger is cocking the firing pin back and than releasing it.

  9. By price point I assume you mean price. The two are not the same. Unfortunately, price point has entered the language erroneously because people think it makes them sound knowledgeable. Since it doesn’t mean price using it creates the opposite effect.

  10. I find this review interesting for the fact this guy seems to nit pick this gun rifht from the begining. I own a glock 26, lc9, and m&p shield 9mm…I love them all…but i find i carry the shield more often…it has been very reliable as all of them have…the trigger is better then most hand guns i have owned and i have owned alot….it will fire with out the magazine the lc9 will not…im fine wirh a saftey caus i can choose to use it or me it feels no diffirent when carry ing. The shield or lc9. The. Glock is wider and heavier ..and i am as accurate with the shield as any of my guns if not more. So either this guy got a bad one or he didnt want to really like the shield..My opinon

  11. The data you published on the trigger pull on the LC9 is not correct. Ruger lists it as 8lbs +/- on its website. It is a very long and fairly smooth pull with a longer re-set than most I have looked at in this class.

  12. DB9 The single stack glock that glock wont make. Smaller, lighter and thinner, than everything on the list. Weighs 16 ozs fully loaded with 7 rounds of critical defense ammo, and it is a true pocket gun.

  13. To the guy who traded his Smith compact for a Charter Arms revolver for “even Steven”……….Dude, you got OWNED! Dumb ash!

  14. I too own and carry a variety of the guns mentioned. … my favorite carry weapon is my pt709. It is a knock off of the pps but at half the price… I have put OVER 1500 round thru mine with no issues. I don’t know why people are afraid to try something a little different. … I also enjoy the xds 45, shield 40, pps40 and my most reliable Simi auto ever my Keltec 380…

  15. The trigger issue must have been fixed on the later versions of this pistol… It no longer has that problem mentioned in this article AT ALL. In fact the trigger is VERY NICE! I just got this pistol in the .40 and it is flawless. I would recommend watching Hickok45’s review on youtube. (He also loves the trigger and is an avid Glock shooter)

  16. The Shield 9mm is a great gun. Only thing that I did to mine was change the factory sights to quality night sights and added rubberized Talon grips. Maybe later when I have the money I might add a Crimson Trace laser. The 7 round magazines seem to be relatively easy to find but the 8 rounders are damn near impossible to locate, especially for a decent price. This gun is well worth the wait and the money. 

  17. I have had my Shield for almost a year now. And with several improvements it has been an accurate and reliable shooter for me.

    My recommendations is to install the Apex trigger kit. This reduced the trigger pull to about 4.25#. Well worth the money.

    The second improvement was to add a set of Tru-glo Tfo sights from an M&P compact. They fit well with a slight trimming of the width of the rear sight. Now I have excellent night sights and quicker target acquisition.

    Both improvements make it an excellent CCW gun.

  18. Just bought a Shield 9mm, and a Crimson trace-13. Not sure of the disadvantages of the laser sight as this is the first laser purchased? Thought being older might be a good idea with the red dot as help in a bad situation? Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks

  19. Agree with the just above comments. The Shield is a somewhat buggy pistol (recall for the drop safety reset problem, failure of the slide to return to battery after a loaded pistol has it’s slide pushed slightly back, and it’s variable, frequently gritty, creepy trigger pull due to rough machining of the safety block recess). Now the good parts. Mine is dead reliable after 750 rounds with no ftf or failure to go bang whatever. Even 50 year old Canadian military ammo and Wolf steel cased stuff fires reliably.(well, the Canadian ammo had a couple of duds-no fault of the Shield). An apex stage I trigger job totally tames the trigger pull and the pull on mine is also 4.25 pounds with a crisp let off; same as the prior commenter logged. It’ll hold to 6-7 inches at 50 feet with a Laserguard. And it is thin-perfect for concealed carry.
    Comparing it to my Taurus 709 Slim, the trigger is way better on the Shield after an Apex install, but the Taurus is a really comparable gun at much less cost given both firearms are in stock trim. It is slightly more accurate than the shield, has about the same profile and is completely reliable also. 450 rounds without a hiccup. Fit and finish is slightly better on the Shield. I think Taurus is frequently unfairly maligned; I don’t agree, and wouldn’t hesitate to carry the 709 if the shield wasn’t available.

  20. Have shot around 500 rounds thru my Shield now and agree with trigger and sight issues. Installed an apex trigger kit and a set of tru glo tfo’s. Trigger pull is now 4.25 lbs and the sights are great for fast target acquisition. With a fobus paddle holster it tucks neatly against the body. It’s now my EDC.

  21. I have about 250 rounds through my shield 9. The first time I shot it I was low left consistently. Did some reading and the groups were tighter and more centered the second time. I think that this is partially how I squeeze the trigger and that the trigger pull is better be ause it is breaking in. I can’t shoot it as well as my revolvers. I did have 3 or 4 stove pipes the first time shooting it, I was not holding the gun tight enough. The second time shooting there were no stove pipes. I noticed that my son was adjusting his grip after every shot, and then I noticed that I was doing the same thing. No matter how tight I hold the gun it still moves in my hands. I am going to order some talon grips and see if they will help. I think that this is do to my hands/ fingers being long. I like the way it shoots, the trigger is getting better, and my accuracy with it is also improving. I shot 50 rounds of tulamo steel case through it last time and it had no problems with it. I carry this gun in my front pocket all the time in an uncle mikes pocket holster chambered with he safety on. I’m not a big guy 5 11 and 195. I think I still like my 638 air light revolver better in most cases. Usually if I go somewhere that I have to leave the gun locked up in the car, I take the shield. It’s easier to remove the ammo from the auto, and I always take the ammo with me if I have to leave the gun In the car. Don’t want to get shot with my own gun!

  22. I have the S&W Shield 40 that I traded a sweet Colt Mustang MKIV 380 for and it ran like I had it for years at the first range session. Shot 5″ groups at 20 feet consistently and was not extremely more difficult or less functionally accurate than my Sig226 full size at that distance.
    Since most confrontations are well within those parameters I feel confident that popping out from a deep. IWB in short order scared pooless would work out well for me. Checked a ton of reliability reports from a multitude of competitors and found that given the .40 interchangeable ammunition and similar configuration to its little brother 380 Bodyguard and larger Sig and HK full size guns it is a winner.
    That being said, had I wanted to add yet another caliber of ammunition to my small collection, the SIG P938 in 9, or the XDs in 45 would have definitely been a buy for me. The pricier alternatives would have made no matter had I felt that I would have a larger chance of survival in a confrontation…the DAO and ammunition along with reliability feedback made my decision. We are all in different situations.
    Not a big fan of single action CCW where it’s cocked and locked or a slide action requirement, but had I been more adept at these and they were in my lineup they may have been the better alternative.
    Since the S&W shield .40 has a similar function to he larger battle pistols it is a natural. Same series of action regardless of the actual piece. With the .40 ammunition it uses I don’t have to buy different ammunition…I already said that but you get what I’m saying. Just me though.

  23. I own a M&P 9 Shield and cannot shoot it well. The trigger pull is rather high compared to my other fire arms and I shoot low and left. Would a qualified gunsmith be able to lighten the pull? I am new to shooting and just read about the trigger reset position. Could firing from this point help? Thanks, MC

  24. I’ve had a Shield for a few months now, EDC in an IWB holster. Had shot 1911s almost exclusively for over 30 years, but needed something I could carry 16 hours a day under any clothing, and that had adequate power. I carry strong side IWB, because I figure that when I need to draw, I’ll need to draw fast. I got robbed at gunpoint many years ago, when I had a gun near at hand, but not in position to draw and shoot fast enough. I survived, but never forgot the lesson. (Had a good friend who had several guns salted in his house, but got hit by home invaders anyway. Couldn’t get to the guns.) I can draw and hit in about 1 second from concealment with most of the clothes I wear nowadays.

    I picked the Shield because of its reliability, which is phenomenal. I’ve seen plenty of failures in all sorts of handguns in competition, and I value reliability above all in a defense weapon. Right next to reliability is being able to hit what I shoot at, and the shield fits my hand and points very naturally. Didn’t take much practice to get to the point where I draw with my eyes closed and have a good sight picture when I open them. Shoot-ability and effective accuracy are fine for me. As for the trigger,it was gritty when I got it, but it’s now good enough that I can do the penny drill strong hand only. Not as good as a competition 1911, but I don’t want that in a street gun. Been there, and I know what happens to fine motor coordination.

    I like the safety. I don’t believe in switching carry guns, and I drill a little every day with this one, so disengaging the safety is an ingrained part of my presentation (as it was with 1911s). I especially like it because while it is smooth, positive and easy to manipulate, it is small and hard to find for someone who isn’t familiar with it, and might give me a few vital seconds if someone were to get hold of it.

  25. Seeing this from afar the Shield was marketing hype. Many folks are hesitant to criticize S&W… myself included. I really like Smith. An American company that has done marvels to catch the Glock market… so much so I’ll likely purchase a Smith to be my competition gun. But after doing my research on the net… many credible sources are calling the Shield a “miss”. And calling it a miss isn’t a big deal it really isn’t.

  26. I have the smith 9mm shield,the smith 40cal shield and the XDS 45 compact,i love all three of them.The 45 shoots about as easy as the 40 cal.all three make good concealed carry weapons.p.s.If you are recoil shy,dont be afraid of the xds 45,its really fun to shoot.

  27. I was kind of amused by the remark about no safetys on a xd40 sub I carry one and I like it very well it is accurate and feels good in my hand I carry with a 7 rd mag and keep a 10 rd mag for backup. I am in Ca hence the 7 rd mag but it does make it a little shorter to lessen the print.
    You can get xd’s with a third safety but for me the trigger and backstrap safetys are enough, the trigger on mine is very smooth but lets face it if you are pulling you are not going to notice the trigger anyway.
    I always use the same weapon, Ive enough stories about switching carry weapons and what can go wrong, so I just say find what you like and stick with it.

  28. I was just at the range today and have reached a conclusion. I too waited impatiently for a Shield 9mm to be available, and rushed to buy it when it came in to a dealer 1.5 hours away. There were two and I compared the trigger action on both and picked the one with the cleanest right out of the box. This was 5 months and approximately 600+ rounds ago. I like everything about the Shield. I think the complaint about the safety is irrelevant. You don’t like a safety, don’t use it. It is small enough and just stiff enough that it will not be accidentally engaged; yet it is easy to disengage if you insist on using it. One thing I noticed right away was that the trigger was stiffer / harder than my S&W M&P40C. I thought time and rounds would lighten it. It probably has smoothed it a bit, but I still find my 40C smoother and more crisp. I haven’t measured it, but I’m quite sure the Shield’s pull exceeds the 6.5 lb. average. There was much to do about the Shield’s trigger reset as well, but I don’t have an issue with the reset on the 40C .. it’s detectable, just not as loud and obvious.

    Here’s the conclusion I mentioned at the top. I think the Shield is a great gun and I love everything about it except for one thing … I can’t shoot it as accurately as I can the 40C. Before buying the Shield, I said I would compare the two and keep / stay with the one that I could shoot the best, as I don’t make a habit of keeping guns I don’t use/need. Well, I’ve surprised myself. I thought it would be the Shield hands down … 9mm, less recoil, cheaper ammo (once upon a time), more fun to shoot, etc. Yet today, I gave both pistols a workout with multiple targets .. slow fire, rapid fire … and I consistently group the 40C tighter than I can the Shield. Not sure why … there must be something about the grip in my hands and the way I hold a pistol. I may consider selling it and checking in to one of the other mentioned 9mm for CC; we’ll see. But as far as functionality (I’ve never had a failure or jam), concealment, size, weight … I think it’s spot on.

  29. The trigger is only stiff on the smith and wesson m&p shield 9mm and the 40cal that i have because its NEW and just like somthing new it has to be broke in the more you work it the better it feels

  30. I was interested in the Shield prior to the current panic. I have been carrying concealed for nearly 30 years, and spent some time as an LEO part-time. I have carried many guns over the years from Sigs to kel-tecs, and I can tell you, there is no single gun that does it all. My first ccw gun was a Colt detective special in the early 80’s, carried in an iwb holster with 2 speedloaders. I went from that gun to the .45 Colt LW commander, to the S&W Gen 3 model 469, to a Glock 19 in the mid 90’s. As my duty gun became a glock 22, I transitioned to the G27 as a backup and CCW piece. Sadly, I sold the G27 to a friend a few years ago, then bought a G26 from another friend. That G26 has been my constant companion for the last 3 years, carried in a Fobus paddle, with a 2 round extend.ed floorplate. I NEVER carry any auto in my pocket with a round in the chamber, unholstered. I think doing so is inviting an unwanted “vasectomy” As far as the G26,12 rounds of 9mm HP +p+ ammo has plenty of power in a very manageable size. I have gone full circle in the ammo debate. I think today’s 9mm loads are excellent, and not much is lost in stopping power to .40 and .45 calibers, compared to years ago. One advantage that Glocks have is that 357 Sig and .40 cal models can have 9mm conversion barrels fitted, and with today’s ammo shortages, that is a huge plus. Now, here is my parting shot…in all of the comments above as well as the article, no one mentioned what might the best carry gun of all time, especially for pocket carry, and that would be the S&W model 38 bodyguard, shrouded hammer. Forty or fifty other handguns have come and gone in my collection, but my well-worn circa 1992 bodyguard has outlasted them all. It is light, accurate, reasonably good stopping power (see above RE:9mm loads)and has always gone BANG. When friends who are considering getting a handgun for the first time to carry concealed who are not “gun people” or who are looking for a gun for their wives, I ALWAYS suggest a revolver first. True, they aren’t sexy, but they can sit in a drawer for 20 years, quietly waiting to be called upon when the zombies come knocking. One last caveat from this semi-senior citizen is to be very careful about trigger jobs and other mods to your ccw weapon. anything that can be construed as making the gun less “safe” from a layman’s (i.e. juror’s) perspective can come back to bite youlater on. From my experience, MOST pistols and revolvers will smooth out with a few hundred rounds run through them and a couple of good cleanings and proper lubrication. I know this doesn’t help sell all the aftermarket doodads, just speaking for myself, of course. Bottom line is buy the best gun you can afford,try to avoid the latest “fads” especially if you are only going to have one or two guns, and try to get yourself proficient and comfortable with your weapon.

  31. I have only one favorite CCW and that’s my XD40 sub, you simply can’t beat the accuracy even at longer range ,reliability and rugged build . Only thing is of course the lack of a safety but for experienced handlers this is not an issue.

  32. I own two M&P Shields in 9mm and the triggers are noticeably different. When I bought the first one I wondered why everyone thought an aftermarket trigger kit is essential for this pistol. When I bought the second, I understood why. Moral of the story … S&W could improve the Shield’s reputation with a bit more attention to detail / Quality Assessment. My experience shows that the factory trigger isn’t inherently awful.

  33. I’ve been looking for this pistol for months but can’t find one. Does anyone think that the demand will slow down or either S&W will up the manufacturing numbers so the demand can be met. I can’t even find one to fire it since gun shops won’t put it on the rental list because of waiting lists to buy one. It’s one of the conceal carry weapons I haven’t tried yet before I buy one for CC. Any ideas or advice? Thanks.

  34. I have not fired the M&P Shield but will try one at my local range. I do wonder if I am the only one out there that carries that doesn’t like the feel of these new so-called carry weapons. They feel like toy guns to me in my hand. In other words I like the feel of a heavier weapon and I shoot more accurately with it. I carry a PX4 Storm Sub Compact .40 cal. It seems to be the compromise I have found. Does anyone else feel this way?

  35. Decent review. I don’t understand leaving out the Diamondback DB9, however. Or the Kimber Solo, for that matter. I am not impressed too much with the Shield, actually think the MP compact is better, since you are going to have to holster this gun anyway. Yes, I love my XD-s, but I understand, being a different caliber, that it’s not in the comparison. I sell all these every day, all day long. I don’t know how many Taurus guns we have sent back, but it’s a lot, so I tend to steer clear of them personally. Considering Smith and Wesson sells the Shield out their door for under three hundred, I don’t expect higher quality. Buy what you want, just practice a lot with it, and most of the guns here will serve one well. As long as you shoot it enough to be comfortable with it, and it has no fails with your choice of carry ammo, it’s all good.

  36. I’m going to politely disagree too. I’m not going to go into a huge paragraph on why, but your description of all the different parts of the gun would make ANYONE not want a Shield. The trigger like a rusty gate? Seriously? I’ll take the Pepsi challenge against any other ccw. I’ve been very happy with mine. With over1000 rounds through it w/o a ftf.

  37. I politely disagree with the author on the safety. Most shooters, myself included have not been professionally trained with semi-auto pistols. I’m fully aware of the need to keep one’s finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.

    Two times in my life I was forced to protect myself and the situations were rather quickly remedied by the appearance of my pistol. One incident I was in complete control with my finger outside of the trigger guard. The other incident, I’m man enough to admit I was scared sh!tless. If the bad guy hadn’t stopped, began walking backward away from me and shouting “don’t shoot”. I was fully prepared to defend myself and wife both from an attempted robbery at about 2:00AM in a dark highway rest stop. Due to the darkness, I’m not certain what he had in his hand behind his back. My best guess is a pipe, tire iron or a club. After the bad guy went into reverse and my wife and I retreated to the safety of my SUV. I realized my finger was on the trigger and thumb on the 1911’s safety.

    I prefer a safety simply because of my experience in a frightening confrontation. Being scared, adrenalin pumping and hands shaking. Had I been carrying a Glock or other pistol without a manual safety. I could have inadvertently discharged my pistol. My training was in 1969 with double action S&W Models 10 and 15 revolvers. The training was different years ago and completely contrary to what is being taught today. I simply can not trust myself to observe rule #1. Keeping finger off of trigger until ready to shoot, should I ever find myself in a possible life or death confrontation.

    I personally know two retired LEO’s trained late 60’s or early 70’s. They could not safely transition from a revolver to a pistol. Being that both were near retirement they were permitted to continue carrying their revolvers. I’m aware of one local Officer through mutual acquaintances. Have an accidental discharge un-holstering his Glock a few weeks after his dept transitioned from S&W Model 15’s or as in his case a personally purchased and dept approved Colt Python snubby. Cost him a 14 day non-pay suspension and humiliating remedial training after nearly 20 years of service. Fortunately there were not any injuries.

  38. Good review…thanks! The Shield is too tall for my preference in a concealed carry weapon. Each of the guns listed have good and bad points. I have shot most of them and settled on the Kahr CM9. I really liked the Diamondback DB9 but it beat the crap out of my palm. The Kel-Tec PF9 had too many fliers and that sharp trigger and small trigger guard area made it painful to shoot more than a few rounds. The Nano is a nice gun…a bit heavy and not much for sights, but accurate and snagless. The Glock is just too fat. The Ruger LC9, like the Shield, is too tall…I would carry the 380 version. If your CCW is too heavy, bulky, difficult to wear comfortably, you won’t carry it. I keep going smaller and lighter because that is the weapon I will take with me every day. The DB380, Kahr P380, NAA Pug 22mag all make it almost effortless to carry. Yes, I love the power of a 45acp or 10mm but they’ll pull your pants down wearing them all day with anything other than a shoulder holster…or the secretary at the office will say, “is that a Glock in your pocket or are you just happy to…well you get the point. To each his own, exercise your 2nd Amendment Right and support the NRA…and press your Congressman or woman to find out just why Homeland Security has bought or put in orders for 2 BILLION rounds of hollow point 40SW ammo!

  39. I have a Taurus PT 709 slim. Reliable, accurate, excellent trigger–like a Glock’s, shoots most everything well but Winchester white box. I’m very happy with this handgun. Altho it doesn’t cost quite what some other small 9’s cost, I believe it’s one of the best. Yeah, I like shooting Glocks but hate to carry them. The Taurus is great for shooting and carrying concealed.

  40. Looking for a carry gun was driving me crazy. I have big hands and just could not get comfortable only getting two fingers on the grip of most “carry” guns. Tried a Shield, liked it, wanted it, but after 9 months of not being able to get one I moved on. I found a Bersa BP9CC. I can get three fingers on the grip, the trigger is smooth and registers 3.8 lbs. The reset is short with a nice tactile feel to it. It has had about 130 rounds thru it and and with the exception of 2 light primer strikes (son-in-law was shooting it at the time) it has functioned great.

  41. I have the.shield and i wouldnt trade it for my sig p250 compact.any day. its handier, has a much better trigger and holds 15rnds. would rather carry my Kimber but a full size 1911 is not always practical. just carry what you can shoot well and hit with and dont worry bout the hype

  42. All these responses and no one mentions the best. The Glock 36 45ACP. Single stack, thin, light weight and Glock quality. My alternate, when there is little room to carry anything is a reliable KelTec P-32. I’m always confident.

  43. I own a 9mm shield, and I have to agree that the trigger was a bit rough when I took it out of the box and squeezed it a few times. Thankfully, I remembered handling one at the store that felt smoother. I put two and two together and here’s what I did: in uncocked position, I “fired” the trigger no less than 1500 times. I counted groups of 100 and did it no less than 15 times, and it took less than 10 minutes. By doing so, it helped get the gritty feeling out of the trigger, freed up movement, and seemingly lightened up the pull slightly. I don’t have a scale to know for sure, but it felt better right away. Since doing that, the trigger is much improved, even though it will never match a 1911 trigger. It was just a matter of breaking in the parts and getting the trigger settled. An easy fix for the total cost of $0.

  44. I have the 40 cal m&p shield and i love it i can carry it every where and no one even knows i have it on.i really liked that smith& wesson already had extra stuff out the same time it came out its a very nice and dependable gun i wouldnt have any other gun and i have and had alot of guns

  45. It may be taller but that actually aids in a quicker sight acquisition. Try it. Swing it rapidly into a firing Stan e and notice just how quickly that sight picture presents itself. The trigger is something you get used to on poly guns. I own the ad 9 and sigma 9 and 40 and people gripe about the lbs on those triggers (sigma) all the time.

    They do break in to some extent and go from horrid to okay. My 9mm sigma is now actually in the good category. I also understand that smith is moving to the M&P trigger on the shield. I believe they have done this for the bodyguard already. At least in the newest production runs and it is a marked improvement. 80% as good as a Kant IMHO. Maybe better. Shorter stroke, consistent, smooth. They need to put this in the sd’s as well. If they do, it kicks the whole line up a notch. I’m not clear if it is the same system but I felt one on a bodyguard and all I can say is wow. Quick, no creep or grit. You better be committed because it drops quickly.

    Thinner is always better but the distance from the blackstrap to the trigger matters as well. Taurus got it right on the tcp, ruger needs to follow. To much of a “bow” or as I say, a real bowrider. All in all a good gun that needs merely a few tweaks mentioned.

  46. Never had the pleasure of firing one ,but did help out a guy and his wife at he range with one .After they put 20 rounds through it they ran into a double feed .Not ounce but twice,so very hard to clear…

  47. I just have to mention it. I’ve never been more happy with any of my several off-duty handguns than I am with my Springfield XD-S .45., everything considered for concealed carry. The only “decisions” I make when wearing it are whether it will be inside or outside the waistband and with a 5 or 7 round mag(s). I can’t believe it hasn’t been mentioned here, unless I missed it!

  48. I’ll tell you what makes the Shield so desireable, because they are not readilly available. I sell them and have handled many. Nothing special about them and there are a lot of other choices before one of these. I’d rather have a Taurus 709 or 740 maybe even an LC 9. You people waiting for one, don’t get too excited. Your not missing much. One thing I do like about them, they have a better trigger than their M&P line. Are you kidding with these triggers?

  49. The trigger pull comments alone are enough to make me pass. The shield is to big to be in the pocket category. But then so is the glock 26 and Taurus Slim. I own a nano but I’m not a fantastic I also own a m&p 40c and a Taurus 24/7 45c. I’m not adverse to carrying a bigger gun for my ccw… but the shield won’t make the cut for my small 9mm pocket carry. Now I’m thinking about swapping my nano for a 26. I didn’t know they were so close in size.

  50. I gave my 9mm Shield a workout the first time out. FMJ, truncated, hollow point, and in three different bullet weights. At 40′, all shot to point of aim, and never a FTF.
    I agree it’s a tad long and tall for concealed carry, but fine for my shoulder holster.
    I am a huge fan of S&W’s M&P line. Never a problem with any of them.
    Trigger pull on the Shield is FAR better tan the Ruger LCP, LCR, Taurus TCP, or any other carry pistol I’ve tried. LOVE the sights on it, and far superior to other carry pistols I’ve tried.
    There’s a very good reason the Shield is so hard to find, and currently selling for $200 above MSRP: It’s a reliable, lightweight, accurate 9mm pistol that’s easy to handle, if not quite so easy to conceal.

  51. I like this little guy. I shoot Ruger’s normally because no matter what ammo or how dirty they are, they never fail to go bang. I did put an Apex trigger kit in the Shield. The trigger on my pistol was 6lb 12 oz. The new trigger kit is a nice 3lb 14oz. The creep is gone and i love it now. It gobbles up anything I can feed it. I have fairly large hands and have worked on heavy machinery all my life. That means my joints are pretty bad and can’t shoot a really small pistol. I love the safety. I grew up shooting a Ruger Mark 1 and Mark 2. The safeties on a pistol are second nature to me. I never have to think when drawing, they just always end up on fire while coming out of the pocket or holster. My brothers Shield has a lot better trigger from the factory but he got the first round of them. He also has a thousand rounds through his. If you got the creepy trigger like I did. I’d get an Apex.

  52. After 39+yrs shooting, I am still amazed at the people that love the .45ACP v.s the 9mm, on the grounds of the .45 being far superior in stopping power.
    If you take the best rounds from each, you will find that the one shot C O M stops, are less than 2% difference between the two.
    It’s all about ammo.

  53. ya know what i fail to see here.. which is truly disappointing.. is CCW for people who want more than a .380 or 9mm.. maybe i’m a little nuts but my primary is a modified glock 22 gen 4. tungsten guide rod, polished barrel, titanium safety, polish job on the trigger, 3.5lb trigger connector, and replaced the standard pins w/ titanium pins. it’s a little big for CCW but goes well under the edge of a jacket. my CCW is a modified glock 27 gen 4. yes.. i realize both of these are .40 s&w — yes i realize the glock 27 is slightly larger than some of these pocket pistols.. but.. call me crazy here.. i would rather have a REAL gun in my hand..that i can grip, hold onto, and know when i squeeze the trigger once.. maybe twice.. that the perp is GOING DOWN and isn’t just going to get more pissed off bc i put a crappy little .380 or 9mm slug in his shoulder or some crap. i know it sounds completely contradictory to state such a thing due to less recoil in the lower calibers.. but you have to also bare in mind that barrel length often equates to accuracy and muzzle velocity. a round coming out of a 3.5in barrel (that isn’t a crap barrel) versus the same round coming from a nearly 2 inch barrel… there’s going to be a WORLD of difference in ballistics.. and call me weird here.. but i don’t want to have to empty a hole clip at a perp just to stop him.. i’d rather call it 1 or 2 rounds and done. having said that.. there’s the trolls that are going to complain about shot placement.. i’m sorry.. but in a panic situation.. shot placement isn’t always your biggest concern. i’d rather know that if i drop a .40 slug into a guy’s chest.. no matter where it HAS to go.. that he’s going to drop verus just get more pissed bc i thought a .380 and random shot would save my bacon. any others agree here?

  54. IRT to Steve, who is still looking for the holy grail of carry guns, I will mention just two – one is listed, the Kahr CM9, with the best trigger of the mini 9’s and one not mentioned and rarely mentioned on any list of best carry guns – the Walther PPS. Thin, lightweight and great trigger. My two choices, IMHO.

  55. I bought my Shield 9mm when they first came out from CTD at a great price. I replaced the sear with an Apex hard sear, the striker block with the Apex ultimate striker block and added an Apex Ram. Now it has a mostly smooth 4.5 lb trigger pull.
    Both my wife and daughter love this gun, and want one of their own.

    It is a little bigger than my Kahr PM9, and is too big for pocket carry in most of my pants.

  56. I recently started looking for a companion to my Kimber Supercarry Ultra (3″)and Kimber Compact CDP Pro (4″), which are my serious carry guns. Looked at the S&W M&P Shield, but couldn’t bring myself to buy one. Decided on the Springfield XD-s instead and am quite happy with that choice. Guess I am stuck in the big-bore direction.
    This past Christmas I purchased a Ruger LC9 for my wife. And feature for feature the LC9 fills a similar niche to the M&P Shield.
    I’ve also been looking for a Kimber Solo. Beautiful pistol at close to thousand dollars. If I needed a backup to my backup of my primary backup, I’d probably buy a Solo. For now, I am really happy with the XD-s Springfield.

  57. I have a S&W 9mm (full size) but recently bought a SCCY CPX-2 for CC and I love it…! It’s small enough for conceal carry but holds 10+1 and comes with a 2nd mag. It’s US made in Florida and sells for $250 to $300 retail. Contructed from stainless steel and polymer it’s a simple little double-action-only (DAO) gun made up of just 36 parts including the five parts in the magazine. I like this little SCCY-Gun as it’s a great 10+1-shot personal protection pistol, just the right size to toss in a pocket and always have available if needed.

  58. I traded mine for an M&P compact. The gun is not small and 7 rounds is just not enough, with the extended mag it is not a pocket carry gun. Shooting it in the 40 caliber I found the sights to be way off, and the magazine to drop out every 10 to 15 rounds. This was not acceptable, I went to a M&Pc, and it shoots straight and works every time.

  59. I’ve owned,fired and carried all of the above listed pistols. One among many not mentioned that I have now settled on is the Kahr PM45. It’s slightly, only slightly, larger than all of the above, but it fits my hand, doesn’t print, is more accurate. With a CT laser, this is one you owe it to yourself to try. Expensive, but certain.

  60. This seems to be a knock of of the Walther PPS. If it is half as good it will earn it’s own reputation.

  61. No one has mentioned the Kimber Solo. I like the way they look in mag reviews but have not run accross one in the stores. Anyone have any comments on the solo in comparison to the shield?


  62. Good article; it’s refreshing to see a writer put out an honest opinion. I agree with the comment above that you just can’t list all the CCW guns but I do think you do a disservice to omit the Springfield XDs .45. From my limited shooting of this gun (~300 rounds)it appears to be stone cold reliable, eating every factory 165, 185, and 200 gr load I put through it. Accuracy is decent and recoil is easily manageable; even my wife likes shooting it. Trigger’s actually quite good for this sort of gun although I don’t know what the pull weight is. It’s short and thin, and carries easily in a DeSantis mini-scabbard holster. No controls (safety) to have to operate, field strips easily. Nice piece, not perfect, but real nice.

  63. I waited months for a Shield to come up for sale in my area. Bought one as a possible replacement for my current carry gun.

    It feels slim, but big at the same time. It has a full length grip, which is great for shooting but not for concealing. This gun is too big for front pocket carry, and since I work in an office, I need something I can keep there, and not IWB.

    For me, the trigger was not a real issue on this type of pistol. It’s not a target gun, but should be able to keep all of the shots inside of a paper plate at 50′ during slow fire. Accuracy was okay, but not confidence inspiring.

    It also has a high bore over hand axis which seems to increase muzzle flip. It was reliable, never bobbled during the test phase of our range times. It did everything okay, just didn’t stand out in any area.

    I don’t change carry guns often, usually every 5-6 years. It has to be something better than my current carry gun, and in this case, the Shield didn’t cut the mustard for me. In the past, I’ve carried a Sig P228, Glock 26, Kahr PM9, and now a Kimber Solo. I haven’t tried the Taurus PT 709, but it looks good and the price is great for an entry level carry gun. The Diamondback 9mm I tried worked extremely well, but it wasn’t mine. It ran everything we put through it, but didn’t shoot it extensively.

    At the end of the week, the Shield was sold off to someone who wanted one, and I’ll continue my search for the Holy Grail of carry guns.

  64. I like the Taurus PT709 Slim. Of course they don’t get much mention in these reviews with the higher priced guns. It’s SLIM,Accurate,comfortable to carry and shoot. It’s 9mm, Reliable so far, and is priced reasonbly. I do like the Shield though.

  65. I don’t think I’d trade my Springfield XD40 sub-compact for anything. Holding 10 with the small mag and 13 with the extended mag, it’s thicker, but Id rather have have the round capacity than a thin weapon. My oversized hands (in comparison to my diminutive 5′-7″ height) don’t feel good on a small grip anyway. The accuracy and ease of control are excellent too, in my opinion. However, I will rent the S&W next time I go to the range, just to give it a chance. My XD40 subcompact is a bit heavy and tends to pull down the pants a little if I’m not careful, ha ha.

  66. Odd that you left S&W’s other CCP gun, the Bodyguard .380. How does this new rendition stack up against that?

  67. I understand that one can’t put EVERY CCW on the comparison list but I do think that there was space for several others of importance. The Diamondback 9 as mentioned above and the XD single stack, mini compact or compacts should also be listed. I understand that this list could be nearly endless but even a top ten of CCW’s would include these. I have a friend who has just bought one of theses for his daughter. It’s going out to the range this next week for breaking in so ill get to put a box thru it. Your post will be helpful to keep an open mind. I haven’t been a small frame CCW fan, having preferred a Hi-Power 9mm as a backup, (a little old school I know) but carried smaller at times and fully appreciate their place in the CCW market and use categories. Thanks for your insight and information, a very helpful review.


  69. The “Shield” is an outstanding weapon even after waiting a eternity to get one. Being old and former active duty US Marine Corp I grew up with Thumb Safetys on my service pistol 1911. Now as a Uniformed Courthouse Security Officer my weapon of choice is my Glock 26 Generation 4, Cominelli manual safety installed, EFK Fire Dragon barrel with a stainless recoil spring. This is a very good, accurate and light weapon plus I have a Blackhawk level 2 holster. If Blackhawk made a Level 2 holster for the Shield I would also carry it for duty. Being on your feet all day the more weight to can shed from the duty belt is great.
    I prefer the Thumb Safety for one particular reason, if things ever went bad and the weapon was either dropped or taken in an altercation with a bad guy the split second it would take to figure out the thumb safety for someone not familiar with the weapon could be all you need to pull a back up and fire.
    Although I am a Glock fan through and through I think (IMHO) the Shield is a excellent weapon for duty such as mine, concealed carry or home protection, great little pistol.
    My only minor complaint is the size of the safety, it should be a little larger to ease activation either on or off.

  70. I love the Taurus PT-145. It’s a little meatier, but it also carries the punch of a .45 caliber. It makes a great carry gun and with a 10+1 capacity of .45, the load is as heavy as the pistol.

  71. Why did you leave out the Diamondback 9 in you chart? I have owned quite a few small 380s, 9s and 40s, but the Diamondback is by far my favorite one fir it’s size, weight, looks, and so far function. My Glock 26 and 27 were the most trusted, but when you factor in size, it isn’t even close.

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