Smith & Wesson introduced the first polymer-framed M&P semi-automatic pistol in 2005. It was a huge success, but its capacity and size lived up to its duty-focused initials, which stand for Military and Police. At the time, the number of people with concealed carry permits was growing at a furious pace, and that market was looking for something a little less bulky.
In 2008 the company rolled out the M&P45 Compact. Its barrel measures 4" and the gun had a shortened grip that resulted in magazine capacities dropping to either eight or 10 rounds. Sales were solid, but the company had something better on the drawing board.
Smith & Wesson’s M&P9 Shield and M&P40 Shield hit store shelves in 2012. Last year the 9 mm version (former) ranked number four in sales volume for semi-automatic pistols among FFLs using the services of Gunbroker.com.
There are many reasons—including Smith & Wesson’s renowned quality—for the demand. Options in the M&P9 Shield line are some of them. Today you can choose factory fresh models with or without a thumb safety, fiber-optic or white-dot sights and even versions compliant with regulations in states where firearm laws are more restrictive.
There’s no doubt, however, the vast majority of the attraction is due to the concealed-carry friendly build and features built into every model. The stainless-steel barrel is 3.1" long and the pistol’s total length comes in at only 6.1". It has a stainless steel slide with a long-lasting Armornite Black finish, rigid stainless steel chassis that reinforces the polymer frame and each ship with two magazines—a seven-round version for carry and an eight rounder for more full grip during practice sessions.
The striker-fired semi-automatic features the patented M&P takedown system, which allows for disassembly without pulling the trigger. At 20.8 ozs. it won’t weigh you down after a long day of carry and with MSRPs that run from $385 to $505, models aren’t an undue burden on a budgets, either.