There’s a new Smith & Wesson Shield: The M&P Shield Plus. The latest version of the venerable 9mm micro-compact has an advantage over its predecessors—a significant increase in capacity. The earlier versions of the smallest 9mm Shield held 7 rounds in its flush-fit magazine, but this new one begins with 10 rounds in the mag. And the extended mag holds 13.
That may be the most noticeable difference for those who know the older gun. And it isn’t insignificant. Imagine you could have a car that looks exactly like your current car but gets almost twice the gas mileage. Would you make the switch?
Magazine capacity isn’t the same as gas mileage. I tend to spend more on ammo when I’ve got magazines with increased capacity. I can’t leave rounds in the mag—just doesn’t feel right—so I shoot until they’re empty. A more apt metaphor would be a car with a much bigger gas tank.
The capacity, no matter how you look at it, is the big story here. The Shield, a tremendously popular EDC gun and a popular choice for a backup gun for many, now holds more rounds. Smith could have stopped right there and made news with this gun.
How did they increase the Shield’s capacity?
The grip is a bit wider. By my measurements, the M&P Shield Plus is about 1/10 of an inch wider. It feels more ovoid in shape. I’ve got big hands, so I’m not bothered by the extra size. In fact, I can’t really notice it unless it is side-by-side with an original.
My 13-year-old son, though, picked it up and said “this is much wider.” So there you go. He’s about 5’7″. I’m 6’4″. He can feel the size. I can’t.
I can marvel at the interior of the grip, though. That’s where much of the strategic reduction happened. The magazine is noticeably boxy at the shoulders, where the two lines of ammo become one, and the M&P Shield Plus had to make room for it somehow.
And the mags are still very well built. They’re steel and laser welded.
What else did Smith do to the Shield?
There are two other big changes to the gun. The first is the grip texture. Smith has softened the texture just a bit. It looks like there was a very jagged pattern of micro pyramids that have been hit with just enough heat to round off the peaks. The new texture is supposed to be slightly easier on the hands and much easier on clothing and skin for those who carry it every day.
While I am a fan of the increased capacity of the M&P Shield Plus, I’m not so enamored with the grip texture. I’ve only had this gun for a week, but I’ve taken it to the range twice. Both times, the weather was just hot enough for me to break a sweat when I was moving. And it gets a bit slick.
I can hold an older Shield almost completely flat. This newer version is slightly harder to hold down. The texture doesn’t bite into my skin as I’d like. If I’m even slightly sweaty, muzzle-flip becomes harder to control.
Part of this comes from the lack of texture on the frame. One of the many things that Smith is missing is texture above the trigger well and on the front of the frame. Is that a deal-breaker for a gun like this? Hardly—but it is something you need to train around.
The other change
The M&P Shield Plus also has a flat-faced trigger. This one, like the capacity, is kickass.
I really like the trigger on this gun—it functions flawlessly. There’s a slight take-up and a clean break. The reset is reasonable for an EDC gun and easy enough to feel in rapid-fire.
The trigger breaks at a comfortable 6+ pounds. That’s reasonable for accurate shot placement and stout enough that I’m not likely to pull without an intentional movement.
Sights and such
There are ways that the Shield has always been a great EDC gun, and the new version is no different. The mag-release button on this gun is big enough to find and use without having to look at the grip. It isn’t so big that you will accidentally press it when you grip the pistol, but it isn’t small either. And the texture there is nice both aesthetically and functionally.
The slide release is much harder to use. There’s a slight bump in the steel, but it is still much easier to sling-shot this one closed during a mag change. You can hit that button, but it takes some serious muscle to drop the slide.
Like the other Shield pistols, take-down couldn’t be easier. You can release this lever easily and you don’t have to pull the trigger to get the slide off. This is a welcome feature—one that is meant to prevent accidents.
The sights, though. Back when the Honor Guard took on the Shield, one of the many things that Honor Defense got right was the sights. There’s no good reason to have a sloped ramp on the front of your rear sight. Not one. Is that so you can be sloppy when you shove it into a holster?
With a ledge on that edge of the sight, the gun can be racked one-handed much more easily. Hook that ledge on anything, even your holster, and push. That’s it.
The sights on the M&P Shield Plus aren’t bad—they’re just not great.
But there’s a Performance Center option that offers several other upgrades, and sights are the first thing I’d fix.
Shooting the M&P Shield Plus
A disclaimer. When I shoot slow and steady, I can shoot accurately. With subcompact 9mms and the urgency I force into concealed carry drills, I tend to pull consecutive shots left of center.
With the M&P Shield Plus, I had to slow down a bit to get the dead-nuts accuracy I was looking for. But it delivered. This is from 25 feet. That’s not bad for me and this size gun. I was really impressed, actually, with how easy it was for me to punch out the center.
I’m a big proponent of training. And this is why. I have a harder time holding down this gun than I do other subcompact 9mms. Even when I have a solid grip on the gun, it wants to kick up more than others this size.
And here you can see the same in my son’s hands. The Shield Plus surprised him. This was actually his first shot with it, and he thought he had it held down.
After a few rounds, though, you’ll get the feel for what it takes. The gun is controllable. We all need regular practice with our grip—and the Shield Plus will remind you of that if you get lax.
These guns are not meant to be fun-guns or plinkers. They’re designed for EDC. I can see what Smith was doing with softening the grip texture. It is what it is.
As for holsters, I haven’t had the chance to check direct compatibility between the new version and the older ones. I’d think it should fit 2.0 holsters with no problem, or anything forgiving and leather.
The M&P Shield Plus has an MSRP of $553. Retail, even in this market, is lower. And yes—I did buy this one outright. As a gun reviewer, I typically get guns loaned to me for review purposes, but I didn’t this time. I bought this two days after Smith announced the new gun, and my FFL had several in stock.
The price-tag may be enough to keep some folks away. It puts the new Shield out of reach for some, but it is consistent with S & W’s pricing. And the gun is a welcome addition to a growing field of sub-compact 9mms with robust capacity. Competition keeps these companies honest.
And there are options for those who want to take this gun to the next level. As I mentioned above, the Performance Center upgrades are available. For those who want to run red dots, that may be a good place to start.