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?

Smith & Wesson M&P Shield
Smith & Wesson M&P Shield
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

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.

Leave a Reply to larry Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit exceeded. Please click the reload button and complete the captcha once again.

Your discussions, feedback and comments are welcome here as long as they are relevant and insightful. Please be respectful of others. We reserve the right to edit as appropriate, delete profane, harassing, abusive and spam comments or posts, and block repeat offenders. All comments are held for moderation and will appear after approval.