I, as most everyone else in the world, heard about the Smith & Wesson Shield due to the big hype of its release. Since then I have heard seemingly endless praise for this little pistol. I was skeptical as always; primarily because most gun reviews tend to be positive, and leave out those little nuggets which would lead one to find a gun to be sub-par in the name of selling advertising. Casey was able to acquire one through a friend, who got it from a third friend, and it was not until Casey got and recommend it that Justin took a real serious look at the pistol, and purchased one for himself.
The Shield by design seems to be the ideal carry weapon. Slim, light, decent caliber selection, full size sights, standard controls, and enough of a grip to fit most of your hand.
Initially, primary concerns were trigger, handling, and recoil. Many of these small 9mm and larger caliber guns are simply not fun to shoot. They tend to be snappy and generally difficult to shoot. You might find one with a good trigger, but it has poor sights. The next one recoils smoothly but has a nightmare of a trigger. Does the Shield do it all and do it all well?
Trigger – The Good
The trigger is the best one I have found from M&P. It is still far from a 1911 or well worn Glock, but it is noticeably improved. The consensus from many others is a APEX trigger is a must for M&Ps. The “tactical” trigger that comes in the Shield is a marked improvement over S&Ws initial offerings in the M&P line, but it still isn’t great. It is great comparatively, but in the grand scheme not as good as could be. But, Its not so bad I feel the need to run out an buy an APEX trigger kit RIGHT NOW. Maybe later…or not.
Trigger – The Bad
The trigger travel during break is too long. It has gotten less noticeable with dry fire and break in, but I feel that this is the most likely culprit in missed shots. Periodically I would miss a shot, but feel no difference from shot to shot. Not that this is any different than other guns, but smooth follow though is a must with the Shield. I have shot other guns that broke so well that you could drive the gun harder before throwing your shots off target. It seemed to me that as I dove the Shield it would be deceptively easy to shoot and then a miss that seemed to come out of no where.
KISS – It has everything you need, out of the way, plain and simple. I had no issues operating the gun or its controls. One thing that I think would be a good improvement or addition is in the area of the safety. If you are so inclined as to use the Shield’s safety, I think it needs to be a little bigger. The current full sized M&Ps have a 1911 style safety that would be at home in a reduced size form on the shield. There is perhaps a market for an after market manufacturer to offer an upgraded part.
I didn’t use the safety much, but was impressed with the ease at which the safety is disengaged. It seems to be a potentially heated topic to discussion, to safety or not, with the Shield. But so far, I have not utilized it.
CAVEAT: Casey carries his in a Gen 1 Raven Concealment Vanguard in the Appendix position. He uses the safety and would like a little larger lever.
I shot a random mixture of 115-147 grain 9mm, FMJ, HP, and even some steal cased stuff. I had 1 failure to extrract with steal ammo and that was it. My range session was by no means a torture or reliability test. I did however think it was telling that the one time I stacked the ammo in the magazine by type, I felt no significant difference.
I didn’t do any accuracy tests. Most shots were from 15 yards on a 2/3 IPSC steal target. The steel was freshly painted to show all hits. I then stepped back to 25, first shot “Ding!” then walked to 50 yards, first shot, “Ding!” I hope to do some more work at distance, but so far the Shield seems more than capable at distances far greater than its intended role.
I was pleasantly surprised that the recoil of the Shield was a non-issue. I was able to drive the gun very well and shoot reasonably fast. Time will tell, but after the first range session I would say that I can shoot it just as well and fast (maybe a little faster) than my GLOCK 26.
It feels a little loose in the hands without finger grooves or a palm swell to help drive your hand upwards to the axis of bore, but as I shot, it didn’t prove to be a big issue. The Shield didn’t try to jump out of my hand like some other subcompacts I have shot. I think it might benefit from some stippling or grip work, but I feel very confident with it in stock form. It does get a bit slick when sweaty.
Shields have been very difficult to find until recently. They seem to be showing up on most stores shelves now. BUT, expect to pay more than the sub-$400 MSRP. I got mine for $450 and by coincidence drove by this sign for one for $507. So, they are out there, but still inflated in price.
I think the Shield has a lot of potential to be an excellent daily carry for the average CCW, off duty, etc. It is really the ideal minimalist carry option. I am currently carrying it in a BladeTech IWB Holster. I have a few others on order, but so far the BladeTech is serving me well.
For those of you who haven’t seen the safety bulletin from Smith & Wesson, see the vid and check your gun. I don’t know how wide spread a problem it has been, but S&W will fix it if is not right.
Dont forget the ammo!