Firearms Review: Smith & Wesson M&P Shield
As the name implies, the Shield is aimed at the law enforcement back-up and off-duty market, and should especially appeal to those who carry one of the M&P full-size models in a duty holster
Smith & Wesson has recently introduced a diminutive carry pistol chambered in either 9mm Luger or 40S&W. This new little handgun is no bigger than some 380s and will no doubt become a trusted companion for many who carry a pistol as part of their daily attire.
This new pistol is a component of the M&P line and is called the M&P Shield. As the name implies, the Shield is aimed at the law enforcement back-up and off-duty market, and should especially appeal to those who carry one of the M&P full-size models in a duty holster.
Smith & Wesson’s M&P line has been a tremendous success for the company, setting the market on its ear by offering performance, accuracy, and value in a polymer-framed law enforcement pistol made by an American manufacturer. The line of pistols is gaining more and more ground in the law enforcement arena with adoptions by the New Mexico State Police and, recently, the Miami Beach, FL Police Department, the Olympia, WA, Police Department and the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office in New Jersey, to name a few.
Introducing M&P Shield
The Shield is comparable in height and length to the earlier M&P Compact models. What sets the Shield apart from the other M&P Compacts is its width. For comparison purposes, Smith & Wesson shows a width of 1.2” for the M&P Compact and a width of just .95” for the Shield.
Unlike the compact models that use double stack magazines, the Shield uses single stack magazines and ships with both a flush fit and a slightly extended magazine. This makes the Shield as flat and compact as possible. To further reduce size, S&W has eliminated the interchangeable backstrap feature that has helped make the other M&P models so popular.
Also gone is the ambidextrous slide release and the reversible magazine release. Whether the change in ergonomic features will appeal to the masses has yet to be seen, but I like what S&W has done to make the Shield as small as possible.
Big Hands and Long Fingers
That said, the magazine release issue was easily avoided when using the flush fit magazine by dropping my little finger underneath the magazine base pad. This lowered my shooting hand enough to keep my finger off the magazine release button. With the extended magazine in place, I found my shooting hand would invariably creep up on the grip frame, causing accidental magazine release. I would imagine other shooters with hands about equal to mine will experience similar issues and would like to see S&W increase the strength of the magazine release spring as well as make the button itself a little smaller.
In all reality, I would rather have a button that’s somewhat hard to operate on a pistol that might find its way into an ankle holster, handbag or pants pocket. I don’t think there’s any real need for a large “speed reload” button on a pistol that’s most likely to be used for close range self defense as a back-up to a full-sized pistol.
The Final Analysis
Based on my limited testing, I would feel comfortable with the Shield nestled securely in a good IWB holster.
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