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.

Sale ends July 21, 2019

Sale ends July 21, 2019

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

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Comments (80)

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

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

  8. 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…

  9. 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)

  10. 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. 

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