The M&P 9 Shield Plus is the latest variation in a long line of Smith & Wesson pistols aiming to be the “perfect” semi-automatic for concealment. And Smith & Wesson isn’t the only firearms manufacturer busy modifying, tweaking or remaking their basic handgun models to fit the shooting public’s current desires.
M&P: A History
The original M&P Shield, which is no longer in production, was a lower profile, thinner design than the original, bulkier M&P. But it also had a reduced capacity as a single-stack. S&W optimized the Shield for concealment while still delivering a serious punch. It weighed in at 20 ounces, had a 3.1-inch barrel and was available in 9mm or .40 S&W with an eight- or seven-round magazine respectively.
Not long ago, S&W updated the Shield with the M2.0 features found on the full-sized M&Ps. S&W improved and lightened the trigger pull, increased the grip texturing coverage and a reduced the weight by 2 ounces. These changes did not affect the overall configuration of the gun.
The M&P Shield Plus
Then, almost overnight, customers became concerned that compact, single-stack concealment pistols didn’t hold enough ammo. Many wanted a pistol in the same overall size but the ability to hold more ammo. It’s been interesting to see how well gun manufacturers listen to the customer base.
To answer this newest demand, Smith & Wesson introduced the new Shield Plus. The Shield Plus has all the M2.0 enhancements and two major differences. It is shipped with a 13-round magazine and a 10-round magazine. Even with the 13-round magazine, the width of the Shield Plus is only .95 inches. That’s the same exact width as the Shield M2.0 and its eight-round magazine. Perhaps most interesting is the M&P M2.0 9mm Compact has a 12-round standard magazine but is 1.52 inches wide. The Shield Plus is truly an engineering marvel. And its narrow width reduces bulging under garments.
The most obvious difference between Shield M2.0 and the M2.0 Plus is that the Plus model has a flat trigger face with a passive trigger safety lever rather than the standard curved M&P trigger. A lot of shooters today favor flat triggers — hence the change. I feel the original, nicely curved M&P articulating trigger is the most comfortable and consistent. But to each his own.
Performance Center Modifications
Usually, modifications to S&W pistols by their Performance Center don’t change the overall physical profile of the firearm. However, in the case of the Performance Center M2.0 Plus, a 4-inch barrel is used instead of the 3.1-inch standard barrel. And I like it!
The Performance Center Shield Plus has superb balance. While the 3.1-inch versions are fine, the extra length enhances the balance, as well as gives an improved sight picture.
The sights on the Performance Center Plus are fiber optic, with a green front and red rear. The sights are my only point of contention with this fine pistol. The standard Shield Plus features an orange ring outline tritium front sight, which is an all-conditions setup. Pure fiber optics are not. The slide is optics ready, and the gun can be purchased with a Crimson Trace Red Dot sight already in place. Overall weight is 22.6 ounces.
M&P Shield Plus at the Range
I again did my test at the Briar Rabbit Shooting Range in Zanesville using Sellier and Bellot 124-grain FMJ standard velocity ammunition as well as a partial box of Wilson Combat Pinnacle 115-grain TAC-XP +P ammo. Using a series of steel plates, I loaded up the 13-round magazine with a mix of the Sellier & Bellot FMJ and Wilson Combat TAC-XP loads. There was no problem loading up 13 rounds.
I conducted my shooting from 20 feet. I noticed the Performance Center Shield Plus feels like a full-sized pistol. Even on an overcast day, the green fiber optic front sight stood out vividly on the first white plate, while the red fiber optic read dots faded into the background. I pressed the flat trigger through smoothly and was rewarded by the first plate falling.
After quickly dropping the other plates, I ran through the same basic drill several more times. I “noticed” that I didn’t notice the recoil even with the +P rounds. And the Performance Center Shield Plus didn’t miss a beat right out of the box.
The Smith & Wesson Performance Center M&P 9 Shield Plus pistol is a winner. Its light weight and narrow width allows it to be easily concealed without giving up magazine capacity. For those searching for a defensive pistol, this might be the gun for you. MSRP sans CTC Red Dot sight is $623. Price with red dot included is $925.