Handguns > Semi-Auto

The Smith & Wesson M&P Shield

Smith & Wesson has introduced the M&P Shield, a small, compact semi-auto for concealed carry.


Unveiled at the NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits in St. Louis, Mo., Smith & Wesson’s newest product, the M&P Shield, is sure to turn heads. The topic of internet buzz and industry speculation, Smith & Wesson’s cryptic “Shield Yourself” ad had people wondering just what the folks at the Springfield, Mass., plant were up to. In preparation for the launch, a troop of writers, myself included, were invited up to draw back the curtain and pull the trigger on this exciting new pistol.

Designed for concealed carry, the M&P Shield enters the vaunted handgun line as the smallest and lightest offering to date. Only 6.1-inches long, 4.6-inches tall and 19 ounces in weight (unloaded) the Shield is super compact, but more striking than these dimensions is its sub-1-inch width. This gun is slim. The frame is 0.95 inches at its thickest, and the pistol’s fattest components, the grips, measure in at a scant 0.98 inches. With such a slight profile it would seem reasonable that some features had to be left on the proverbial cutting room floor. Not so with the Shield. With a magazine release button, take-down lever, slide-stop and thumb safety switch, nothing is missing from the frame’s left-side control panel.

The Shield is available chambered either for 9 mm Luger or .40 S&W, meaning this compact package brings full-size power. The pistols will ship with two, single-stack magazines; one flush-fitting and capable of holding seven rounds of 9 mm or six rounds of .40 S&W, the second with plus-one additional capacity and stock extension for a full three-finger grip. The Shield follows M&P protocol in construction, the molded polymer frame utilizes texturing standard in S&W’s patented Palmswell Grips, and the steel slide and 3.1-inch barrel are finished with the very durable black melonite coating. It is important to note, however, that the Shield’s grips are not interchangeable like other M&P models, rather they are fixed and of medium size, according to Palmswell dimensions. The sights are of the three-dot configuration, and as with other guns in the M&P line, the rear sight is windage adjustable.

Mechanically, the Shield will be familiar to those with M&P experience, and it’s similar to many popular striker-fired handguns. A stainless-steel chassis houses the trigger assembly, which includes a sear release lever that can be accessed through the slide’s ejection port when locked to the rear. The sear release can be manipulated with a pen or similar tool, and it makes disassembly possible without having to pull the trigger—an increasingly prevalent requirement for law enforcement service arms. The trigger itself has been upgraded and is probably representative of what will be used in all future M&P production. While the previous design was praised for having a very smooth, single-action pull, the trigger’s reset was often very hard to detect requiring a near full-length pull for each follow up shot. In the Shield, the trigger remains smooth and crisp, but has been re-engineered to provide a very clear reset with audible and tactile cues.

While at Smith & Wesson, I was able to get some time—a lot of time actually—behind the trigger and I have to say I enjoyed every minute of it. I sent approximately 300 rounds downrange without a single malfunction. Expand that to include the nine other writers firing a similar number of rounds and the result is 10 M&P Shields firing 3,000 shots without a single gun-induced stoppage (there were approximately five failures during the two days of shooting, all stemming from the same problem with the ammunition). Needless to say I was impressed, and looking at a range floor completely covered in brass, it is safe to assume my colleagues were as well. The Shield has an excellent natural point, a characteristic demonstrated in some one-hand drills we conducted, and it proved surprisingly accurate even out to 25 yards.

As if this new gun were not appealing enough, Smith & Wesson assured us that a host of Shield accessories would be available for sale at launch. Bucking the traditional pattern of introducing a firearm and letting the accessory market respond, S&W made shrewd use of non-disclosure agreements with holster and sight makers to ensure gear for the new pistols would be on the market from day one. The stable of companies on board for the Shield launch includes, but is not limited to, Blackhawk, Blade-Tech, Crimson Trace, De Santis, Fobus, Galco, HiViz, Laserlyte, Uncle Mike’s and XS Sights. This may be too much for the gear-dos out there, but fear not, suggested retail for the Shield is only $449, and real-world prices are expected to be lower, meaning those anxious to get their hands on the gun should have money to spare for accessories.

Accurate, reliable, concealable, accessorized and affordable, the M&P Shield has most everything law enforcement professionals and self-defense practitioners could ask for. Stay tuned for a full review and evaluation of the Shield, and further coverage of the NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits in American Rifleman magazine, and here on AmericanRifleman.org.

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31 Responses to The Smith & Wesson M&P Shield

Bruce wrote:
February 20, 2013

I still have the 2 I bought new in the shop both 9mm, The issue seems to be "suggested retail" they list it everywhere, but wholesale price is ABOVE that ! I cant sell for less then I buy them for.

Mike wrote:
January 28, 2013

I'd love to purchase a the M&P Shield 9 and have been on several lists to purchase......when and where can one purchase a Shield 9?????

Ed wrote:
January 20, 2013

The problem with the shield series is you can't find one! I have searched for one since May 2012 and no one has them including the large sporting goods store. I have been on a waiting list since September2012 and here it is January and and I have only moved up two spaces.I wrote S&W and the response was "Sorry, but we are working on it 24/7". No explanation

Safety first wrote:
June 16, 2012

It's "Throw", not "Through". Use the money that we throw at you to get a degree in ENGLISH ! LOL

Steve wrote:
June 05, 2012

I just purchased this pistol for my wife.... second guessing myself now after shooting it. I loved it, nice smooth trigger pull ( a little heavy compared to my M&P pro 9mm)and very accurate. the recoil was very manageable as compared to the keltec 9 that I have fired. I give this gun a BIG thumbs up well done S&W

Mike wrote:
May 25, 2012

New to guns. Just picked mine up today. Never done a field strip on a gun before and was very easy. Will be heading to shooting range this weekend. Question I got is. With magazine released, if slide is pulled back and released the only way to de-cook is to pull trigger?

don wrote:
May 14, 2012

Just got the 40 shield.Fired several types ammo,fed flawless right out of box. From about 8 yds most shot point of aim.Recoil was far less than the Taraus 709 9mm. Sights very good. That said.. mags are very stiff,almost impossible to load last rd,sharp edge cut finger,shorter mag not as pleasant (FOR ME)to shoot.Easy to take down to clean,however read manual as a little different than full size.Only thing I am going to change is install nite sites when available. Trigger was good.Overall very pleased,this will be my everyday carry gun from now on,easy to forget you are carrying it.

Dave@vabch wrote:
May 12, 2012

I think the shield should be compared to the SR9c. While the SR9c is a tad bigger and heavier, it is striker fired and holds a 10rd mag. The SR9c has a trigger that is ultra smooth,light,crisp etc. The SR9c shoots remarkly well and very mild on recoil. Super accurate. The Shield seems bulkier than the slim LC9 and does nothing for concealment. I thought it was odd that S&M made it such a point to compare it with the LC9 in there ad. The shield is not a LC9 and it will have it's work cut out for it to beat the Sr9c.

Steve wrote:
April 27, 2012

My local range only has a display model & is taking orders so I only got to handle. The small, thin frame allowed my finger to pass too far past the trigger to be comfortable. This caused a problem activating the split trigger "safety"; my finger sometimes crossed the trigger too high and didn't release the trigger. Nice pistol but just too small for me. I'm very comfortable with & will continue to carry my G26.

Bimmerland wrote:
April 25, 2012

Lee .. You need to learn the difference between SA and DA before posting. Your ignorance about guns is evident

Jeff wrote:
April 22, 2012

Seriously Lee, if you're going to get that irritated about DAO vs. DA/SA, etc. you should at least make an attempt to be right yourself.

Fred wrote:
April 20, 2012

I believe the writer Lee above is getting irritated for no reason. Glock, M&P, Karh, Ruger Lc and LCR. These are all DAO triggers. When you chamber a round in one of these guns the striker is moved to a partial cocked position. When you pull the trigger, the trigger finishes cocking the striker/hammer and then releases the striker/hammer. Since you can not manualy cock these guns... they are considered double action only. Thank you, thank you ! No applause please, just through money.

Andy wrote:
April 20, 2012

I am new to gun ownership, so I rely on research . I wanted something a little smaller that my M&P 40c in lower caliber to save money at the range. This baby fits the bill perfectly! Fired yesterday and really enjoyed it. Hardly any recoil compared to the 40c. Very easy to carry and conceal. Seems too good to be true!

Cade wrote:
April 16, 2012

@Lee regarding single- vs. double-action: The terms refer not to the number of ways one can fire the pistol, but to the number of actions the trigger performs when being pulled. On double-action pistols, the trigger pull first retracts the hammer, then releases it, hence "double action." Most double action pistols can be fired single action. The user has to first manually cock the hammer, then the trigger performs only one action upon being pulled - releasing the hammer. Double Action Only pistols cannot be manually cocked, thus the trigger must always perform both actions. Modern striker-fired pistols blur the definition a bit...the striker is partially cocked by the rearword movement of the slide, and the tigger pull retracts it a bit more, and releases it, so it's like a DAO, but with a shorter, lighter trigger pull.

Lee wrote:
April 15, 2012

Is it a Single Action Trigger? Hmmmm, there is only ONE way of firing the pistol, I would have to say YES IT IS SINGLE ACTION. Gun Writers and Gun Manufactures have skewed the meaning of double and single action because they feel Gun Owners are too ignorant to grasp the true meaning. Single Action, has ONE action: meaning it can only be fired ONE WAY. Either you pull the trigger only (Glock, M&P, etc.) or as in a Single Action Army - cock the hammer and pull the trigger. Double Action means there are TWO ways of firing the pistol. Cock the hammer and pull the trigger or pull the trigger. There is no such thing as DOUBLE ACTION ONLY (You can only fire the pistol by pulling the trigger), that would be a Single Action pistol. Irritating!

Rob wrote:
April 15, 2012

I hope they'll offer a version without the thumb safety. otherwise looks like a pretty decent package. I fired a little Kahr recently and am curious how the Shield compares in size.

Cliff wrote:
April 15, 2012

I added one to my collection yesterday. I actually went to a sporting goods store to buy a scope, and started looking at compact 9mm's. It replaced the somewhat unreliable TCP (hated hollow point ammo)that was just too small for my hand right to start with. I put two magazines thru it into the burn barrel behind the house. The only negative I could find would be the slide release. It would be difficult to use in a combat situation.

ThinkN-Do wrote:
April 14, 2012

Didn't get to shoot one, but I was able to hold one yesterday at a local gunshop/range here in the PAC NW. It is much nicer to hold than the LC9, felt very nice in the hand. I was worried the lack of changeable palmswells might be an issue; I use the medium on my M&P 40C. This feels Really nice! Didn't like the LC9 because of the too thin grip and reverse bow on it's surface; couldn't wrap the hand around it comfortably. All we need for the M&P Shield is a Finger extension for the magazine. Maybe Pearce will make one?

jas wrote:
April 13, 2012

I'll stick with my Kel Tec PF9! Half the price, It may not last as long but how many rounds do you run through a bug? If they make one with a nice DA trigger thinner and lighter than a Kel Tec I'd be interested.

m&p enthusiast wrote:
April 13, 2012

Why would S&W be behind the curve on this? I only know of one other striker fired pocket pistol - the DB9. The Shield seems to the be as soft to fire as the m&pc. Similar to the PPS, but I'm much more reliable.

TR wrote:
April 12, 2012

Is it single action trigger?

Bernie wrote:
April 12, 2012

I can't imagine a gun smaller than the M&P Compact. I have large hands and can hardly hold the Compact . I bought the extensions for the mags so I can hold it better. I won't be buying a smaller gun. It carries OK in my Crossbreed IWB concealed carry holster.

Larry koepke wrote:
April 12, 2012

I will get this instead of the ruler lc9

JB wrote:
April 12, 2012

I bet the recoil for the .40 version will get your attention. Especially with +P loads! Still, seems like a nice package. Is returning to single stack the new wave? Apparently. Room for both, IMHO.

John Parker wrote:
April 12, 2012

Send me one of these to try our.

Dale wrote:
April 12, 2012

This is a great new addition the the M&P lineup for concealed carry weapons. I got to see my forst yesterday and will no doubt add it to my M&P collection soon.

Brian wrote:
April 12, 2012

Get it on the CA roster. I want one.

Jason wrote:
April 12, 2012

A bit behind the eight ball on this one, are they not?

Ed wrote:
April 12, 2012

I need this !!! When can I get one?

Charles Piotrowski wrote:
April 12, 2012

Would like to do a review of myowen on it!!!:-)

Taya wrote:
April 12, 2012

Awesome! Now I'll have one for the range and one for the purse. Excellent!