The S&W M&P Shield was the king of single-stack 9mm pistols for a long time. It held that position for good reason. The Shield is reliable, small, very shootable, and the price of the gun is unbelievable. In the past few years, other guns have challenged the Shield by using a staggered magazine to hold more rounds, thereby increasing the capacity that a small gun can hold. But your Shield isn’t obsolete just because another gun shows up that holds more bullets. Instead of heading out to buy a new gun, you can just as easily (well, more easily) expand the capacity of your M&P Shield 9mm magazine. Let’s take a look at several ways you can expand your Shield’s capacity as well as ways to improve your personal safety.
3 Ways to Expand S&W M&P Shield Capacity
1. Extended Magazines
Probably the easiest way to expand your Shield’s capacity is with a higher capacity magazine. The concept is an easy one. Just like the factory 8-round 9mm Shield mag is longer than the flush-fitting 7-round mag, extended magazines are longer to increase capacity.
A perfect example is the ProMag 10 round Shield magazine. The additional 2 rounds are gained by extending the length of the single stack magazine.
The advantage of this approach is that it is plug and play. Simply make the purchase, load it up and insert it into the gun and you have moved from an 8+1 configuration to a 10+1 set up. In my opinion, the biggest drawback is that you have significantly increased the grip-length of the gun. This can change the balance of the gun and more importantly, make concealment more difficult.
2. Extended Basepads
Extended base pads are another way to expand the S&W M&P Shield capacity. They have the same disadvantages as extended magazines as they can change the balance of the gun. They also have an additional negative point in that they can require tools to install. GMW has Tyrant Designs extendos in stock (yes we sell them and we’re talking about them, because capitalism). Use of extensions like this is becoming increasingly common if not ubiquitous.
Tyrant CNC’s mag extensions require no tools to install and add +2 rounds to the magazine’s existing capacity. And since these base pads are available in a variety of colors, you can customize the look of your mag and your gun — which is a big plus for some folks
3. MagGuts Magazine Internals
If the Shield is the gun for you and you want to increase its capacity without increasing the overall size of the gun, the most elegant way I know to accomplish this goal is with MagGuts.
MagGuts is a product that replaces the factory spring and follower in the Shield’s magazine. The flat metal z-fold spring and lower-profile follower take up less space inside the magazine, to allow one more round in the magazine. So now you can squeeze 9 rounds into your 8-round magazine. That’s an increase of 10% with no external changes in dimension.
When I carry my Shield I carry it with the MagGuts installed in my 7-round, flush-fitting magazine. It adds an additional round there while giving me a small, thin, 8+1 pistol. I carry a spare extended mag in my pocket with the MagFIX base pad and a MugGuts kit for a 9-round reload.
Ways to Improve Your Personal Safety
Reduce your need for more bullets
I think that this underutilized strategy has more payoff potential than any other strategy. The concept is simple. If you reduce your need to use a gun, you significantly reduce the need for more bullets. What I’m talking about here is taking active measures in your life to reduce the likelihood that you will need to defend yourself or those that you love with your gun — or any other tool.
Spend some time considering what you can do to reduce your risk profile. By doing so, you not only reduce the need for a higher capacity gun, but you also reduce the risk that you will face all of the other negative outcomes that can be associated with a violent encounter. If you avoid getting into a gunfight, you avoid injury and death. You also avoid making a mistake that takes the life of an innocent person or that lands you in criminal or civil legal issues.
If you haven’t invested in avoidance you aren’t getting the most juice out of the squeeze.
Examples of Avoidance
When you are relaxing at home, are your doors locked? Do you scan transitional spaces before you enter them? Are your vehicle doors locked when you are in your car? Do they stay locked until you intentionally unlock them?
Consider where you spend time, when you spend time there, and who you spend time with. Is it possible that better choices in this area could reduce your risk? Also, think about the non-verbal signals you send when you are out and about. Do you convey that you are a confident and competent individual that isn’t worth messing with? Or do you appear to be the victim that a criminal is searching for?
Carry a Larger Gun
I love my Shield, but I rarely carry it. I am one of the lucky ones that get to choose how I dress. That means carrying a larger gun is easy for me. Interestingly, I routinely conceal a full-size gun under an untucked shirt, so I don’t dress significantly different from most middle-aged men. With the right combination of holster, gun, and person, I think most men can easily upsize their pistol.
In my opinion, smaller guns are not always easier to carry and conceal. The larger size and thickness of a full-size M&P 9mm isn’t that much more difficult to conceal, and there is no way you can turn the 8+1 Shield into a 17+1 M&P. Translate that to Glock or Sig or Springfield and the result is the same. If you really feel like you need more capacity, consider carrying more gun.
I think that most of us, with the right holster, can carry more gun than we think we can. I also think we can reduce our risk of ever needing a gun through thoughtful changes in behavior. Of course, we can never guarantee we won’t need a defensive handgun. That is why we carry and why we should carry.
When your pistol needs to be a Shield and you want some more capacity, consider extended mags, extended base pads, and the MagGuts. Make the decision that is best for you, test it out and then carry on.