Tuesday, April 24, 2012

First Look: M&P Shield

During last weekend’s Basic Defensive Handgun course, one of our instructors (Tank) brought along his new M&P Shield. 

According to the person working the Cabela’s sales counter when he bought it, this Shield was the last one sold in Minnesota.  Priced at $450, these sold out quickly.  Rumor has it that the first production run of 3000 was provided exclusively to large retailers – such as Cabela’s – and the next run is estimated to have guns in stores in mid-July. 
We used the Shield in our Pickup Drill, and after class shot some additional drills with it.  Everyone was impressed with the trigger, which we felt was superior to the stock M&P.  While all of the parts appear to be the same, it’s unclear whether Apex accessories such as the RAM or Duty/Carry Kit will work in the Shield. 

The Shield’s sights are also excellent, with a Novak-style rear and nice, easy to see white dots.  The combination of “real” sights and a good trigger make the Shield a real contender among smaller pistols.

Excellent sights, as good as you would find on any full-size pistol.
One thing the Shield lacked were the adjustable backstraps that make the M&P so popular.  While I can see how this might reduce costs for S&W and the consumer, I can’t help but wonder why such a popular feature was left off.

I've heard some folks complaining that the Shield's grip is too short, and I have to agree. With the 7 round magazine it was difficult for me to get all four fingers on the gun. Using the 8-round magazine, the grip was comfortable for me, but I can see how someone with larger hands would have a problem. For what it's worth, the M&P Compact has a similar issue.
With the 7-round magazine, the grip is too short for some shooters.
The eight-round magazine solves the problem.
The Shield also comes with a manual safety, which I am not a fan of.   While the modern “drop-safe” design renders a manual safety superfluous, some people still cling to safeties like a security blanket.  The safety lever seemed like more of an afterthought than a deliberately designed part.  It’s very small and difficult to operate, and is best left in the off position, leaving the gun operating like any other M&P.
Comparison to J-Frame

The overall size and weight make the Shield a contender for replacing smaller guns like the PF9 or J-Frame revolver.  Compared side-by-side to my J-Frame, overall bulk was essentially the same.  Unloaded, the Shield is advertised to weigh 19oz, which is just one ounce more than my 642. 
With the right pair of pants and a good holster (such as the DeSantis Nemisis), I think the Shield would be a good candidate for pocket carry.  For those of you who carry in “non-permissive environments” the Shield is definitely worth checking out.

Comparison to M&P Compact

The overall length/height of the Shield is roughly the same as the M&P Compact.  The Shield, however, is much thinner – and lighter.  Holsters for the two guns are not interchangeable. 
M&P Compact (bottom) compared to M&P Shield (top)

M&P Compact on the left, M&P Shield on the right.

M&P Compact on the left, M&P Sheild on the right.
Overall, I think this is a great little gun that will become very popular for personal defense or as a backup.  While I normally am cautious to be an “early adopter” of new firearms, I might just break my own rule and pick up a Shield as soon as I can find one.  For a lightweight carry gun, NPE, or as a backup, I think this gun would be a great choice.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Busy? That's me!

For those of you who haven't heard, I just landed a new day job and it's been keeping me super busy.

Fortunately, things are stabilizing slowly but surely and we're headed into the Spring/Summer training schedule, starting with Basic Defensive Handgun on April 21! 

I've got a lot to talk about: shotguns for defense, the Zimmerman case, the new M&P Shield (which I'll be shooting this weekend) and much more.

Thanks for sticking around, we'll see you soon.