Smith & Wesson M&P Shield Plus Review

S&W M&P Shield Plus. A fantastic concealed carry pistol with a high capacity magazine

Last updated May 24th 2024

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  • Price: $399.99+
  • Barrel Length: 3.1″
  • OAL: 6.1″
  • Weight: 1.16lb
  • Capacity: 13+1

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
13+1 Capacity.Too small for big hands
Optional optics plate & manual safetyNot the simplest field strip
Awesome ergonomics and flat face triggerRecoil stings a little

Introduction to the Smith & Wesson Shield Plus

The Smith & Wesson M&P Shield Plus is one of the OGs of the compact firearm world. It offers a great blend of firepower, precision, and concealability. And that’s why it sits alongside Glock and Sig Sauer at the head table of the carry gun sector.

Well that and a much needed recent update in 2021 that gave this carry gun a new lease of life. A double stack magazine with 13+1 rounds in extended form, a better trigger and the chance to buy them with an optics plate brought the M&P Shield Plus into line with the competition that was tearing it apart.

This Military & Police pistol has been with us in some form since 2012 and was lagging behind. Now it stacks up well against the main players and could easily be your new everyday carry. Especially if you like a frame-mounted safety, which is an increasingly rare option these days.

Lots of folks that simply can’t get on with a Glock grip, or the diminutive size of the Sig P365, love the S&W M&P Shield from the first pull of the trigger. It just seems to fit some people better.

Our Hands-On Test Results

We got a box fresh Smith & Wesson M&P Shield Plus with an optics plate and the manual safety, which we like. It’s totally optional, you can buy a non MS gun, but it’s just another layer of protection against accidental discharges.

With the wider grip of the Plus model then the ergonomics are great, too, and it sits better in the hand than a blocky Glock. It is hard to stand out in this sector, but the ergonomics and flat trigger of the updated Shield Plus takes an old design and puts it right into the fight with the more advanced models from the competition.

The massive capacity of the extended magazine, the flat face trigger and optics cut slide all make this a great option for your next subcompact pistol. And you can go even further with the S&W Performance Center models and get a match-grade gun that fits in the palm of your hand.

It’s an old design that has been updated, so it’s seen as the old guard. On the basis of our test, though, that really isn’t fair.

Test Scores

Price: 4/5

At around $400.00 for the base model, the S&W M&P Shield Plus is a total bargain. Just be aware what you’re looking at when you’re price shopping, because you might find a super cheap gun but then see it doesn’t have the optics plate or a safety. The company could do better with its advertising on that front, so just make sure you look closely at the specs so you can accurately compare and get the right deal.

Accuracy: 4/5

It’s a self defense gun, so we shot from the typical self defense distance of 7 yards. With a range of ammo, from 115gr FMJ PMC Bronze through to 147gr Hornady Custom, pretty much every 3 shot group was within 1.5 inches. Our best results came with Hornady Critical Defense, which is optimized for short barrel pistols, and those groups were just over an inch.

Reliability: 5/5

We tried a range of ammunition and put more than 400 rounds downrange without a single failure.

Capacity: 5/5

The introduction of the Plus in Spring 2021 brought a double stack magazine and 13+1 capacity with the extended mag, which some people prefer because of the pinky extension. You can still get 10+1 in the flush fitting mag, or a larger mag that is limited to keep it State friendly if you need to, but the added capacity of the bigger mag is a real competitive advantage in a hard fought sector.

Weight: 3.5/5

This 9mm handgun is pretty much bang on what you’d expect in terms of weight. That’s the inevitable result of designing around the inherent compromises of concealed carry. It’s light enough that you won’t feel the weight in an IWB, without going so small and light that it’s too dainty for bigger hands.

Prestige: 2.5/5

Smith & Wesson is a respected brand, but the Shield was first introduced in 2012 and hasn’t changed much visually since then. It’s had a raft of technical improvements, but it’s still battling the perception that this is an ancient gun. It is a new gun built on old foundations, but a major visual refresh might have been a good idea at some point. It is fresh, but it doesn’t really feel fresh compared to the latest Glocks and Sigs. Is that fair? Probably not…

Features: 5/5

We love the models with the thumb safety and the optics ready versions as well as the Shield EZ with a 1911-style grip safety. Also, we love the fact that the S&W Performance Center can give you everything from Tritium night sights through to slide porting. That means all the parts & accessories are easy to buy, too, so you can get a base model and upgrade later pretty easily.

Value: 4/5

The S&W M&P Shield Plus is a great value package if you opt for the base model. Go for all the bells and whistles and you’re spending more than Glock money, but it’s a more complete pistol. Overall it’s great value and we recommend it.

Technical Highlights

At the heart of the Shield Plus is its compact polymer frame and impressive magazine capacity. The pistol introduces a flat-face trigger for a crisper, cleaner pull, coupled with a tactile and audible reset. Chambered in 9mm, the Shield Plus features a 3.1-inch barrel, striking a balance between accuracy and concealability. Safety features include an optional thumb safety, and an articulated trigger safety, ensuring secure handling.

The Shield Plus showcases Smith & Wesson’s attention to grip ergonomics, with a textured surface that provides a secure hold without being abrasive. Plenty of folks also prefer the grip angle to to a Glock’s.

Its slim profile and balanced weight contribute to its ease of carry, whether inside the waistband (IWB) or in a purse. The design aesthetics remain faithful to the M&P lineage, with a sleek finish that appeals to a broad spectrum of users.

Optional Versions and Specs

You can choose a number of different versions of the S&W M&P Shield. Versions with an optics ready slide and thumb safety are out there, and you can also buy an M&P Shield EZ with a simplified 1911 type grip safety as well. That’s a lot of optional safety, but it’s somehow better than simply telling people to use a holster to cover the trigger.

The Smith & Wesson Performance Center offers just about every performance mod you can ask for, in a package pistol bought off the shelf or in the parts & accessories store.

While the larger guns aren’t strictly versions of the Shield, we should mention the Smith & Wesson M&P Compact and full size guns, too. They are more service pistols, duty guns and home defense specialists. And they’re also outstanding.

Key Rivals

When compared to other pistols in the best 9mm subcompact handguns class, such as the Glock 43X and the Sig Sauer P365, the Shield Plus holds its own, particularly in terms of capacity and ergonomics. While the Glock 43X offers a similar slim profile, the Shield Plus edges it out with a higher standard capacity. The Sig P365 is a close competitor in terms of capacity and size, but some shooters may prefer the Shield Plus for its trigger feel and grip texture.

Key Reasons to Buy

High Capacity in a Slim Frame

One of the most notable improvements in the Shield Plus is its increased magazine capacity. It offers a flush-fit magazine holding 10 rounds and an extended magazine with a 13-round capacity, remarkable for a gun of its size.

Enhanced Trigger System

The Shield Plus features a new flat-face trigger, designed to provide a consistent and crisp pull. This enhancement improves accuracy and gives the shooter a more tactile and controlled shooting experience.

Ergonomics and Grip

The pistol maintains the M&P line’s renowned ergonomic design, with a grip texture that ensures a secure hold, even in adverse conditions. Its slim profile makes it exceptionally comfortable for everyday carry.

Optics-Ready Options

Recognizing the growing popularity of red dot sights on carry guns, Smith & Wesson offers optics-ready versions of the Shield Plus, making it a versatile platform for various shooting preferences.

Known Issues and Problems

Some users have reported stiffness in the magazine release, especially when new, which may require a break-in period to smooth out. Additionally, a few owners have mentioned that the slide can be a bit difficult to rack, which could be challenging for shooters with weaker grip strength. Lastly, there have been isolated instances of trigger sensitivity concerns, particularly with the flat-face design, which might not suit all shooting styles. It’s important to note that these issues are not widespread and often improve with use and proper maintenance.

Conclusion

The Smith & Wesson M&P Shield Plus stands out as an exceptional choice for concealed carry. It combines increased capacity, improved ergonomics, and versatile customization options in a compact, reliable package.

Whether for personal defense, range shooting, or as a duty weapon, the Shield Plus offers a compelling blend of features that cater to both novice and experienced shooters alike. Its slight premium in price is justified by its enhanced capabilities and the peace of mind that comes with owning a Smith & Wesson firearm.

FAQ

1. Is the M&P Shield Plus suitable for beginners?

Yes, its ergonomic design and manageable recoil make it a great choice for beginners, while its advanced features also cater to the needs of experienced shooters.

2. Can the Shield Plus be used for home defense?

Absolutely. While it’s designed with concealed carry in mind, its reliability, capacity, and accuracy make it suitable for home defense as well.

3. Are there any specific maintenance tips for the Shield Plus?

Regular cleaning and lubrication after each use will ensure the Shield Plus operates reliably. It’s also recommended to periodically check and replace springs and other wear parts as necessary.

Author

  • Nick Hall

    Nick is a lifelong gun enthusiast who has a simple mission. He wants to find the best deals for guns online and help you make the best choices with weapons your life may depend on one day.Nick won a minor league shooting competition at the age of 11 and it all went from there. Now he runs one of the biggest firearms websites on the net and his work has featured in Playboy US, Tatler Asia, Forbes and a whole host of national magazines and websites.

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