Smith & Wesson Shield: Down-Sizing the M&P

The Shield is comfortable and pleasant to shoot despite its small size.

The Shield is comfortable and pleasant to shoot despite its small size.

My first reaction to seeing the new M&P Shield was to look around for a mad scientist and a shrink ray gun.

The Shield resembles a scaled-down M&P pistol.

The Shield resembles a scaled-down M&P pistol.

I hate to say it, but Smith & Wesson’s newest pistol is just plain … cute. I can’t help but marvel at just how well the modern M&P pistol design has been downsized into a single-stack 9mm deep concealment gun.

Micro-sized 9mm pistols are the hot ticket in the concealed carry market, and S&W is arriving fashionably late. Fortunately, the extra research and development time seems to have been well spent. The Military and Police line of strikerfired pistols has been a great success for S&W, so it makes perfect sense to retain as much of the M&P design as a micro-sized pistol will allow.


“Honey, I shrunk the pistol!”


Shrinking the M&P

S&W’s excellent magazines are known for their quality, and can be disassembled for cleaning.

S&W’s excellent magazines are known for their quality, and can be disassembled for cleaning.

The Shield is a single-stack pistol with a three-inch barrel that weighs about 19 ounces empty. My test pistol was chambered in 9mm, but a .40 S&W model is available as well. The Shield has roughly the same dimensions as the Ruger LC9 or the Kel-Tec PF-9. Put simply, the Shield is not quite small enough to be a true pocket gun, but is well suited for concealment just about anywhere else.

This little M&P pistol is a striker-fired double-action like its full-size counterparts. The Shield is equipped with a thumb safety, although I’m not sure a manual safety is required for this design. A relatively heavy seven pound trigger pull and a trigger safety equate to a safe design, with or without the thumb safety.

Even in its shrunken state, the Shield retains all the standard pistol controls. Unlike the full-size M&P, however, the magazine release is not reversible, and the thumb safety is not ambidextrous. The external levers are flattened and reduced in size a bit to keep the gun thin and streamlined. In fact, the Shield is very slim, measuring just less than one inch wide.

The DeSantis Cozy Partner is easily concealed under just about any cover garment.

The DeSantis Cozy Partner is easily concealed under just about any cover garment.

S&W opted to stick with high-end materials, like the stainless steel slide and barrel finished in black Melonite for maximum corrosion resistance. Even the three-white-dot fixed sights are stainless steel.

The Shield comes with two magazines; a flush fit seven-round magazine, and an extended eight-round magazine. The flush fit magazine works well for concealment, but the eight-round magazine provides just enough extra grip length for most shooters to get a full grip on the pistol. I tend to prefer the smaller magazine for ease of concealment, but it’s great to have the extended magazine option, especially as standard equipment.

Disassembly of the Shield is easy, and follows the same procedure as the full-size guns. S&W’s manual of arms requires manipulation of a sear release lever prior to rotating the take-down lever and removing the slide, but no tools are required.

Part Shield, Part Sword

Galco’s Stinger is a simple, but functional belt holster for comfortable outside

Galco’s Stinger is a simple, but functional belt holster for comfortable outside

Although somewhat large for pocket carry, the Shield will be a pocket gun for some people. I tried a DeSantis Nemesis pocket holster during the course of my testing, which worked fine so long as I chose my pants wisely.

Most people will carry the Shield on their belt. The small size of the pistol makes belt carry as easy as it gets. I carried the Shield outside the waistband in a Galco Stinger belt holster, and inside the waistband in a DeSantis Cozy Partner holster. Supporting the diminutive Shield isn’t much of a challenge for either holster, and both worked exceptionally well. If you want to carry on the belt, either of these holsters would work for you, and many other options will be available soon.

The DeSantis Nemesis is a simple and affordable pocket holster with a removable anti-print panel for discreet carry.

The DeSantis Nemesis is a simple and affordable pocket holster with a removable anti-print panel for discreet carry.

The real test of a small pistol, of course, is at the range. Micro-sized guns are often difficult to handle, but the Shield defies that stereotype. Excellent ergonomics make this pistol very comfortable to shoot, even with hot defensive loads. The Shield exhibits noticeable muzzle flip while shooting, but the perceived recoil is very mild. I was actually surprised at how pleasant this micro-sized 9mm could be at the range.

The accuracy of the Shield was even more impressive. At seven to ten yards, I could pepper the x-ring of a standard NRA pistol target at will. I attribute this, in large part, to the trigger. While the trigger pull requires a relatively heavy seven-pound pull, the length of pull is quite short. The trigger has a definite glass rod feel to it, which facilitates a surprise break. The trigger feel is somewhat unusual, but definitely contributes to the pistol’s excellent practical accuracy.

I experienced no functional problems with the Shield in the course of my testing. Only time will tell, but this pistol’s well-established design bodes well for its long-term performance.

Big Future

All the required controls are present, but are minimized to aid deep concealment.

All the required controls are present, but are minimized to aid deep concealment.

With the introduction of this pistol, S&W rounds out the M&P line with a true micro-sized 9mm that shares the same look, feel, and manual of arms as the full-size pistols. Ironically, this is something that many fans have been begging Glock to do for more than a decade (but to no avail), and yet, S&W continues to innovate in the strikerfired polymer pistol market. I think the availability of the Shield may actually help sell full-size M&P pistols by closing the loop on a well-rounded pistol platform.

Even if you don’t buy into the whole M&P line of pistols, the Shield promises to be a great gun on its own merits. S&W is offering a high quality single stack 9mm (that performs as well or better than any pistol in its class) for an MSRP of only $449. Street prices will be somewhat lower, and that translates to a real bargain for concealed carry. Of course, Smith & Wesson will stand behind every pistol with its lifetime repair policy and its excellent customer service.

The Shield promises to be a great success for S&W, and I predict they will sell a metric ton of them. I know that I am planning to keep this one!

The Shield’s accuracy and reliability is exceptional.

The Shield’s accuracy and reliability is exceptional.

An extra-capacity 8-round magazine with a grip extension is included.

An extra-capacity 8-round magazine with a grip extension is included.

[ Duane A. Daiker is a contributing editor for CCM, but is otherwise a regular guy—not much different from you. Duane has been a lifelong shooter and goes about his life as an armed, responsible, and somewhat opinionated citizen. More of Duane’s writing can be found at Duane can be contacted at, and welcomes your comments and suggestions for gear reviews, gun reviews, and future articles. ]



DeSantis Gunhide
(800) 424-1236
Galco Gunleather
(800) 874-2526
Smith & Wesson
(800) 331-0852
Speer Ammunition
(800) 627-3640
Winchester Ammunition
(618) 258-2000


S&W M&P Shield Specs

S&W M&P Shield Specs

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25 Comments (Add Yours)

  1. Hope I get mine soon. It seems like a long wait.

    1. I have both the 9 and the 40. Believe me they are well worth the wait. Awesome tuns.

  2. sloukanis465

    I have the 40 now and love it worth the wait.

  3. I am listed as number 19 on back order down here in South Carolina. Just finished my conceal carry class and am waiting the 90 days for the certificate. At times we cannot even by 9MM ammo due to back orders. Must be an election year.

  4. The owner of Four Guns , best gun shop in Lafayette , Indiana had two , he got one , and his brother got one. Mine is allocated . There are about 20 men and the same amount of women , that want one of these , I am number 41 , unfortunately for me!

    So I got the next best thing , an M&P 9MM subcompact. I do like the shield though . When I get mine I am going to seel the subcompact .

  5. I have had my Shield for a little over a month now and I love it. I have the .40 version and my son has the 9mm. We are boith small and have small hands and the 9mm is a little easier to double tap. I have also added a lasermax which helps with that. I do like the better striking force of the .40.

  6. I have been waiting for about 2 months for mine. Am number 7 on the list of many. Funny thing is a dealer in the area had one and is selling for double the cost. Sorry I will wait.

    1. You should report him to Smith & Wesson for price gouging. He can lose his authorize dealer status.

  7. i have the shield 40 and carry it in a stealth defense strut holster. awesome combination for me, pockets are empty, gun is not in the waistband. easy to draw while sitting on chair or in car. found my shield by calling all gun shops within a 1 hour radius. found one in 20 minutes and picked it up that day….put yourself on many waiting lists and check them all often

  8. I had almost no problem obtaining the weapon, but I’ve been trying to get an extended magazine for about four (or five) months… guy I talked to at Smith yesterday said ALL their resources are directed at getting new firearms out to the dealers. I told him to cancel my order and then he started jumping through hoops… “Would you change your mind if I got you one today??” No, I canceled (found one at my local shop ’bout three months ago)…

  9. i have had my 9mm shield for about 6 months. i love it. i also have the 9mm m&p compact and the full size 9mm m&p. the shield does seem to have more recoil, but it is managable. i bought mine at gun show. it was just sitting there, nobody paid any attention to it.

  10. I picked up my Shield in .40 S&W about 2 weeks ago and having nothing but praise for this weapon. The recoil is very manageable and it is very comfortable to shoot. It took over 7 months to find one, and after just a few trips to the range it was absolutely worth the wait. S&W did an outstanding job on this one.

  11. Have enjoyed the Shield 9 for a couple of months now. After getting the Ruger LC9 and finding it difficult to train with my large hands, the S&W Shield was a great improvement and conceals well for warm weather carry in a N8 squared IWB holster. Although my PX4 sub compact is my usual carry weapon of choice

  12. I was lucky and bought one of the last MP Shield .40 S&W in my area right before Thanksgiving. I carry it concealed everyday all day in my Crossbreed Mini Tuck and love it. Love shooting it too…very accurate and the recoil is very manageable for a compact…feels great in my large hands.

  13. I was lucky to get my MP Shield 40 at a gun show near my house, I love it and it has preformed flawless since I have had it. I was very lucky to get it, I swear I looked for months and nothing but waiting list and then there they were 2 of them, one guy was looking at one and I told the seller just give me the other and the rest is history. I like the way it feels compared to my Glock .

  14. I bought mine on 12/7 in the 40 and love the gun. I was carrying the Kimber UCII and the Shield is much more comfortable. I carry it in the Mini Tuck and works perfect. My wife shot it and had me sell her Glock 26.The Glock always bit my hand when I shot it and I’m glad she had me get rid of the it. Now I am waiting for the 9mm to show up for her. Don’t mind waiting and let the dust settle on the price gouging.

  15. I have (2) M&P 9 Pro’s and have fired many rounds thru them, so my carry gun for the last 4+ years has been an M&P 9c and I love it. When Smith & Wesson makes the Shield in 45 ACP I’ll be first in line, I can’t imagine retiring my 9c tho…

  16. added the lasermax to the front of my shield 40, it is spot on accurate. in a stealth defense strut holster it fits like a glove under my shirt, pockets empty don’t sit on it, easier to access

  17. I have the 9mm Shield and absolutely love it!!!! My CCW is a Glock 30sf (.45 ACP, 10 rounds) and the Shield is my BUG (ankle carry). It’s the smoothest shooting 9mm I’ve ever shot!!! Around here they are impossible to find! I was lucky and overheard a salesman telling someone that they would arrive the next day, but they were only getting 20. I went back the next day after work…they’d already sold all but two. I snapped one up, but really wish I’d gotten both of them. Now there is a waiting list. Last time I checked (two weeks ago), there were approximately 150 people on the list!!!!!! Oh well, at least I have one.

  18. whitehat1994

    Still waiting to fing the Shield 9mm

  19. I picked up my Shield at a gun show the day after the Newtown Shooting. The crowds of people were apparently staying away; I can only guess that they were still in shock over the previous day’s events. Before that I had been looking for one for about 6 months. I had found the occasional gun but they were WAY overpriced or I was told that I had just missed the last one being sold. My advice, as so many have already said, is just stay vigilant in your search. It is a great gun, that coming from a Glock guy. I do sorely wish that Glock would wise up and learn from the success of the Shield and build a similarly sized model. I love the 8 round magazine (the gun fits my hand so much better with it) but appreciate the 7 round magazine for its concealability (I’m not sure the 1/4 to 1/3 of an inch would really make that much of a difference in hiding the gun). My only issue/complaint is the external safety; I just don’t think that it is even remotely necessary. The nice thing is that the safety seems to disappear on the gun and doesn’t easily engage or disengage. It is easy to forget that it is even there. This is a great pistol and I am extremely happy to own it. My only plans for aftermarket changes are to install rubberized Talon grips, install Tritium Night Sights, and possibly add a Crimson Trace Laser. I paid $500 for my Shield and haven’t regretted the purchase whatsoever. The S&W Shield is a great gun; I truly believe that I can depend my life on this little gun.

  20. stephenhelton

    Have had trouble finding a good holster with the Crimson Trace Laser attached. I wonder if anyone has suggestions?

  21. Was on a waiting list for 4 months in Colorado for the .40.. but I got it! Very nice conceal carry.

  22. I’m thinking the scarcity of M&P Shields must have passed. Two days ago, I walked into a local gun shop just to look around and saw 4 Shields sitting in a display case, two 9mm and two .40 cal. Price was $409 each. I bought the 9mm. The only thing I’m not crazy about is the slide has to be pushed hard to the very end of it’s travel to be able to set the slide stop to take it down. S&W said a few hundred rounds should clear that up. We’ll see.

  23. I have the S&W M&P 9 and love it! Also have the S&W 380 Body guard with crimson trace. The 380 ends up being too small for hand, but is great for my wife. After reading the above reviews, I think there may be a new pistol for my collection. I bought the M&P in haste to get started, but it seams to large for a good concealed carry. Any thoughts?

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