The Smith and Wesson Shield

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Smith and Wesson has long been a supplier of their handy J-frame Chief's Special type revolvers. Going back to the 1940s, these revolvers have been a classic personal defense gun. Now Smith has upped the ante with the same concept, a small, concealable, handgun that will deliver a half dozen or so full-sized rounds when needed. The only thing is, itís now a semi-automatic pistol and not a revolver. Intro the Smith and Wesson Shield.

The Smith Shield.

The Smith and Wesson Shield - christophereger - assess-680.jpg
The full size S&W M&P is a great combat handgun, but isn't very concealable.

Taking a page from the company's very successful and well-received Military and Police (M&P) pistol, and adding the concept of the old school J-frame's abbreviated grip, frame and barrel, S&W has designed the new M&P Shield pistol. Chambered in either 9mm or .40S&W, this striker-fired pistol is extremely slim (1.05-inch maximum width, about a quarter inch less than a subcompact Glock) and is a good complement to those looking for a CCW piece. For either variant both a flush and a slightly extended magazine that adds another round of ammunition is available. This gives the 9mm either a 7+1 or an 8+1 capacity and the .40S&W variant a 6+1 or a 7+1 capacity. Extensive use of high-tech Zytel polymers gives each version a total weight of just 19-ounces, which compares favorably to the 21.5 ounces empty weight of the "Baby Glock" Model 26 and the 19.5-ounce legacy S&W Model 36 snub-nosed revolver.

The Smith and Wesson Shield - christophereger - sandwshield-678.jpg

Full size but low-profile sights, which are adjustable, provide better aiming points than most pocket guns of the same size. Coupled with a 5.3-inch sight radius over a 3.1 inch barrel and this mouse gun can actually take 25-yard shots if needed.

To cut down on recoil in such a small firearm, the Smith M&P Shield uses a locked-breech, recoil-operated design similar to that of the Ruger LCP with a captive guide rod. For the benefit of those who will no doubt be carrying the firearm in a CCW or UC style, all of the surfaces of the pistol are about as round as they can get. Unlike even smaller .380 offerings like many of the Kel-Tec and Khar pistols, the Shield comes standard with an external slide lock and safety lever.

The Smith and Wesson Shield - christophereger - wpid-shieldmain-679.jpg

Pluses and minuses

The Shield is set to retail from Smith at $449 and as so is less than the Glock 26 GenIV's and Ruger's LC9 MSRP but more than that of similar sized Kel-tecs and Kahrs. Unlike many pistols out there sold for the CCW market in mind, the Shield does not have a magazine disconnect safety and will fire without a magazine in the weapon. Many shooters feel this is unsafe; others (myself included) disagree and actually prefer this. The Glock 26 gives a higher magazine capacity, however this magazine size makes the firearm easily available to both CA and MA residents. The trigger pull is slightly heavier (at 6.5-pounds) over the 5.5-pound trigger pull on a Glock series pistol, which is negligible and arguments can be made on the pros and cons of† this that are outside the scope of this article. The only stones this writer can throw at the design is that Smith does not currently have a .45ACP offering. If they can produce a .40S&W why not?

The Smith and Wesson Shield - christophereger - pix914849296-677.jpg

If Smith keeps this up, I can see many Shields in the hands of responsible gun owners in the future.

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August 8, 2012  •  01:07 AM
The comment about the safety switch on the Shield but not on many .380 pocket pistols is quite true. However, the S&W Bodyguard .380 does have such a lever and generally presages the Shield in size and features. Yes, it's throw weight is less but it also has less recoil and muzzle blast which is a real factor for some people. The standard sighting laser on the Bodyguard, built into the weapon, is another factor in it's favor. I'm not saying the Shield is bad gun, I just think it's true predecessor; the Bodyguard, should receive its true due.
August 11, 2012  •  01:09 AM
Had a Bodyguard, returned it for Laser repair, came back and still didn't work right. S&W sent me knew laser buttons and I installed them myself, it still didn't work. Then I figured out what the problem was. It worked like a charm, until I shot it. Then the laser wouldn't go off. Returned it to S&W, they sent it back again. It still didn't work. They had even changed out the main frame of the gun that time; it had a new design where the laser buttons were mounted. I convinced them to take the weapon back. The Shield on the other hand, does not have a laser, it feels great in the hand and comes in a very respectable 40 caliber size. It feels way nicer than the LC9, Baby Glock or Sig 290 in my opinion. I'm waiting for the backlog of buyers to get theirs and then I will order or pick mine up in stock.
August 14, 2012  •  08:15 PM
I prefer external safeties.
August 21, 2012  •  10:56 PM
Gun is great but try getting spare mags espically for the 40 cal
September 17, 2012  •  06:01 PM
I feel cheated!!!
Some years ago Smith and Wesson had a contest to name a new handgun. I submitted "Shield". I don't remember what they did name the gun then but now my choice shows up.
Oh well, that's the story of my life.
March 3, 2013  •  07:12 PM
I woulda loved if S&W had .45 option in Shield size, I ended up with a Springfield XDs, great weapon but wasn't much in the way of choice as far as concealable .45's