By David Crane ;
defrev (at) gmail (dot) com
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May 28, 2012
Last updated on 5/30/12.
A number of online publications, including Guns.com and Military.com GearScout have already published pieces on the Smith & Wesson (S&W) M&P SHIELD 9mm/.40 S&W single-stack compact/sub-compact pistol, discussing how it feels and shoots, but none that DefenseReview (DR) has read have shown side-by-side comparison photos with the S&W M&P9c – Compact Size 9mm / S&W M&P Compact .40 S&W double-stack high-capacity pistol series or discussed how it differs in feel to it, so DR will, here.
The S&W M&P Shield single-stack, striker-fired sub-compact pistol feels much thinner/slimmer than an unloaded M&P9c/M&P Compact .40 S&W, because it is. It's also significantly shorter. There's really no comparison between the M&P Shield and its high-capacity M&P compact predecessors, once you handle both of them side-by-side, and there is simply no subsititute for a Shield if you want the ultimate in inside-the-waisband concealability (concealment capability) and carryability/comfort for an M&P pistol. The slightly less than 3-ounce difference between the two models (Shield being lighter, obviously) is the least important aspect of the SHIELD's superior viabilty for ultra-concealment. The Shield's decreased width (featuring a .95" frame width) is really the kicker. The accompanying comparison photos below really tell the tale, but you should also check out the specification(s) comparison below, for reference.
Defense Review shot these photos and handled the S&W M&P SHIELD (and M&P Compact) very recently at NDIA Joint Armaments Conference, Exhibition and Firing Demonstration 2012, and we came away very impressed with just how thin/slim, compact and comfortable the Shield felt in the hand. That said, we haven't fired it yet, so we can't attest to its shooting characteristics and reliability/accuracy/durability quotient, but if it shoots and handles as well as it looks and felt in our hands at the booth, it's going to be a winner. DR likes the full grip that the extended magazine affords. The extra round it carries doesn't hurt either. One extra round means one more chance at life in a lethal encounter.
Military.com GearScout only put about 150 rounds down range with the M&P SHIELD pistol before their initial review, which hardly a review makes, but it was enough for them to discover that "even with the shorter magazine in place, we [Military.com GearScout] found the Smith and Wesson M&P 9mm Shield to fire as smooth or smoother than any of the other compact 9mm pistols we’ve used. Speaking with several other firearm instructors for large police departments, the consensus was universal that the Shield felt better than any of the common LE backup 9mm pistols currently in the field."
That's interesting, and not all that surprising, considering how good the Shield felt in our hands at the booth. DR would of course have to put a good number of rounds through the S&W M&P Shield pistol at the range and get feedback from some of our professional contacts (including DR writer/contributor Jeff Gurwitch) on it after they've also T&E'd it (again, at a decent round count) before we officially sign off on it, but it's certainly off to a good start with us. Ideally, we'd like to see the results of a military-grade high-round-count/adverse-conditions test on the M&P SHIELD. After all, that's where the rubber really meets the road, since the S&W M&P pistol line is always going to be compared to the reliability and durability gold standard, Glock pistols. That's just how it is.
DefenseReview has yet to see an independent military-grade high-round-count/adverse-conditions test simulating (and even vastly exceeding) the worst possible combat conditions between the S&W M&P pistols and Glock pistols in the various available calibers, but we'd obviously be very interested to see that, especially since your humble correspondent is considering purchasing and carrying a S&W M&P Shield 9mm pistol in environments where my high-capacity Gen. 3 G19 (Glock 19) is deemed unnecessary. This would constitute a very big step for me, since I've been carrying a Gen 3 G19, and only a G19, for a long time, and trust it. The fact is that the G19 has earned my trust, and the M&P pistols haven't–yet.
It's perhaps important to note that M&P pistols feature a 1911 pistol-like (M1911 pistol-like) 18-degree grip angle that Smith & Wesson calls an "optimized" grip angle, which is arguably superior to the grip angle of Glock pistols. However, once you get used to the Glock's grip angle, you're fine. It might not be optimum, but it's not a problem, either.
While doing a quick web search, DR discovered that Raven Concealment Systems (RCS) is making what looks to be a very nice kydex CCW (concealed carry) belt holster for the M&P SHIELD pistol called the Quick Ship Phantom Modular Holster that's definitely worth checking out. Hopefully, they've also got an IWB (Inside the Waist Band) CCW holster either in the works or ready to go for the Shield. DefenseReview first met the Raven Concealment Systems guys at SOFIC 2010 or 2011 (we can't remember which) while we were in line to get our show badges, and then we ran into them again at a subsequent SHOT Show. They came across as good guys.
Editor's Note: DR would like to thank Chris Corino of S&W for assisting us with our photo shoot at the S&W booth at NDIA Joint Armaments 2012.
Click here to both S&W M&P Shield pistol models on the main S&W site.
Smith & Wesson M&P SHIELD™ 9mm / M&P SHIELD™ .40 S&W ;Pistol Specs:
Model: M&P9 SHIELD™ / M&P40 SHIELD™
Caliber: 9mm/.40 S&W
Capacity: 7 Round & 8 Round / 6 Round & 7 Round
Action: Striker Fire
Barrel Length: 3.1" / 7.874 cm
Front Sight: White Dot
Rear Sight: White 2-Dot
Overall Length: 6.1" / 15.5 cm
Frame Width: .95" / 2.413 cm
Overall Height: 4.6" / 11.684 cm
Weight: 19.0 oz / 538.7 g
Frame Material: Polymer
Barrel/Slide Finish: Black Melonite® 68 HRc
Trigger Pull: 6.5 lbs. +/-
Sight Radius: 5.3" / 13.3 cm
MSRP: $449.00 (Suggested Retail, Dealer Sets Actual Pricing)
Smith & Wesson M&P9c – Compact Size / M&P Compact .40 S&W Pistol Specs:
Model: M&P9c / M&P Compact .40 S&W
Caliber: 9mm/.40 S&W
Capacity: 12+1 Rounds / 10+1 Rounds
Barrel Length: 3.5"
Action: Striker Fire Action
Front Sight: White Dot Dovetail/Steel Ramp Dovetail Mount (Tritium Sights Optional)
Rear Sight: Steel Low Profile Carry/Steel Novak® Lo-Mount Carry (Tritium Sights Optional)
Trigger Pull: 6.5 lbs.
Trigger Travel: Rest to Fire .300 in.
Trigger Reset: Approx. .140 in.
Overall Length: 6.7"
Weight (Empty, No Mag): 21.7 oz. / 21.9 oz.
Overall Height: 4.3"
Grip: 3 Interchangeable Palmswell Grip Sizes
Frame: Polymer Frame/Stainless Steel Barrel and Slide
Finish: Black Melonite®, 68 HRc
MSRP: $569.00 (Suggested Retail, Dealer Sets Actual Pricing)
Company Contact Info:
Smith & Wesson
2100 Roosevelt Avenue
Springfield, MA 01104
Toll Free: 800-331-0852
USA Fax: 413-747-3317
Intl. Fax: 413-731-8980
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