Working on finding the right concealed carry gun is a difficult process. I have owned about 6 guns dedicated to an every-day carry roll and have learned a great deal about what I want/need for a tool I can use and comfortably carry daily without it getting left in the safe. After all, the only good gun is a gun you carry, if it is unwieldy or uncomfortable to shoot you are likely not to carry it as needed. Enter the Smith & Wesson Shield 9mm.
(Photo Credit- Buds Gun Shop; also where I purchased mine)
Model: M&P 9 SHIELD, Caliber: 9mm, Capacity: 7+1, 8+1, Barrel Length: 3.1″ (7.9 cm), Overall Length: 6.1″, Sights: White Dot, Front & Rear, Weight: 20.8 oz (589.7g), Slide & Barrel: Stainless Steel, Frame: Polymer, Finish: Armornite®
This gun was a great choice due to having several things going for it that were ideal for my uses. Size for one, also being chambered in 9mm, as well as being a great option for future modification by yours truly. I own a Springfield XDs as well, however that is chambered in 45 ACP which can be a lot more of a handful with recoil, making follow-up shots difficult for anyone not an high-level shooter. For myself, 9mm is about the smallest acceptable size for a primary firearm while still being potent enough with modern ammunition loading to stop a threat. The magazines are an odd hybrid double/single stack; bottom being a double stack that tapers about 2″ from the feed lips into a single stack. Capacity is very reasonable for the size; 7 round flush-fit magazines with additional 8 round mags available. One is even included with most models. I immediately purchased 2 extra mags for training and carry. I tend to keep the 7 round mag in the gun with two larger capacity in reserve. One thing I would fix if possible, is to have a longer slide/barrel length, due to that being the easiest part for me to conceal on my person.
I decided when purchasing to go with the model without a thumb safety, due to my training and comfortable manual of arms not having included switch-type safeties. Other safeties are included, like all striker fired guns in current manufacture. This has a firing pin block drop safety as well as a trigger safety. The trigger safety is somewhat bizarre and for myself, difficult to get used to. The trigger itself breaks very noticeably and I found I was jerking my shots even with a slow & steady pull. After about 6 months of dry-fire training I decided an upgrade was in order. After some research I settled on an Apex Tactical flat trigger, with a upgraded connector and spring kit. This trigger has a much more normal trigger safety and the pull weight was reduced to about 4.5 lbs. The pull is much cleaner and extremely smooth. This modification alone has made this pistol a dream to shoot. The lighter pull weight is not too much for me to be concerned about negligent discharges however it is much easier to shoot. I did order it in a nice blue with a black trigger safety as pictured below.
As you can see I added a LaserMax light/laser combo to the gun. This model is the 100 lumen mint green light with green laser. The laser on it is spectacular, being about a 50 MOA dot that is extremely easy to see. I love this combination for my carry gun as it has no button, it has what they are calling “Grip Sense” which allows you to just put your hand in a regular firing grip, thus activating the unit (however you set the settings) instinctively. I have only had two issues with this. One is that the original unit sent had a manufacturing defect that the laser didn’t function, they sent me a new one within 2 weeks and it worked great. The other issue is that even with removing the batteries on dry fire training and most live fire sessions, the batteries die quickly. Taking this to a defensive pistol course for example I would recommend 2 extra sets of batteries for a 2 day class, just in case.
As seen in the pictures, I also stippled the grip personally. You can see my rather amateur work but it works fantastic for me without being too much like sandpaper on my hands or clothes. There are other modifications in the works right now, Samsung Manufacturing is sending me an enhanced & beveled magazine well in blue as well as their modified Shield model 9mm compensator. I am looking to purchase a True Precision Match-Grade threaded barrel next chance I get so that I can ring out some extra accuracy from this rig. I have also added a pinky extension to the flush-fit magazine in order to have a better firing grip. I went back and forth on this. In one viewpoint, a lot of trainers say to keep the flush fit as it is, due to wanting maximum concealment as the grip is the hardest part to hide. The other school of thought is to add the extension so that you have a better firing grip to control the pistol under recoil. I tend to agree with trainers under the first persuasion, only I now keep a spare flush-fit magazine with no extension for when I really need deep concealment.
On accuracy, I am able to put 23 rounds within a 2″ circle at 15 feet. Not bad for myself, guaranteed that a better shooter could have a better group. This is sufficient for the work I have set this tool up for.
To be honest, this gun has held up amazing to this round count. There is some wear on the barrel hood edges as well as about a half inch from the muzzle of the barrel. This is fairly normal for a pistol with this high of a round count. The frame is in great shape, the rails are still pristine and functional. I have had some magazine related issues, most seemed to be the odd design of the magazine spring getting bound up in the magazine body, thus not allowing me to load to full capacity. Disassembly and reassembly seemed to solve this each time. Other than that, there was a shockingly low amount of standard malfunctions. No failure to feeds, extract, or to fire. This gun takes anything from high-pressure Buffalo Bore +P rounds to standard junk range ammo to every kind of hollow-point and odd bullet shape imaginable. No matter what I fed it the gun keeps on firing. Most of my modifications on this gun are more from a personal choice standpoint, not actual major design improvements. I highly recommend and will post a follow-up when it gets above 10,000 rounds.