I’m currently 30k feet above North Dakota. So I can’t watch streaming video (friggin’ Delta). So it took AGES to learn that GunsKnivesSurvival picked the sensibly-priced Smith & Wesson M&P Shield over the ergonomically excellent Springfield XD-9 Compact, the premium ammo only (and maybe not even then) Kimber Solo and the now-infamous and not-at-all-ammo-finickey Kel-Tec PF9, for reasons that are lost in the ether. As wonderful as that is—and it’s pretty wonderful that we didn’t have to watch four separate videos to learn the truth according GKS—the selection seems a little . . . limited. What of the ubiquitous Baby Glock? The exquisite small SIGs? The svelte Ruger LC9? And my carry piece, the incredibly drop-safe (now) Caracal C? Still, with so many mostly excellent choices in 9mm compacts and first-class 9mm defensive ammo, I now pronounce the .380 craze officially over. Right?

68 Responses to Smith & Wesson M&P Shield Wins Concealed Carry 9mm Pocket Pistol Comparo

  1. Why does no one ever think of the Walther PPS? It’s a direct competitor with the XD’s and Shield’s, but I never see it so much as mentioned (admittedly, I can’t watch the video at the moment either, but still…).

    • Agreed….and no love for the CW 9 either – which is shame since IMHO it’s the best value CCW pistol on the market all other things being equal.

      • Personally, I am leaning towards the CM9 for pretty much the same price as the CW but fits in a pocket. I don’t grip with my pinky any way, so losing the perch is no big deal.

        • I would agree Mark. My one problem with my CW9 is that I can’t just tuck it in my pocket with a small holster and go. Only pocket it fits in is a cargo pocket and then it drags it down and doesn’t ride upright.

    • I mean, you can’t test ’em all I guess. I would have liked to see my choice, the Beretta Nano, thrown into the mix as well. Whatever.

      BTW — the PPS is very similar in quite a few ways to the Shield. Walther and S&W were in cahoots at the time both were developed. They feel very similar in the hand for sure.

        • Both the PPS and the Shield are around ~$500-550 by me, but I guess that could be a regional thing.

          As for design, I favored the PPS because I could never seem to get a decent grip on any M&P I ever used. Too slick (for whatever reason) for me. I just wish that people would try more than just the two or three same guns all the time.

    • I agree, the PPS is a great carry gun but I rarely see it mentioned. I’ve been carrying almost every day. I also have an LC9 but getting rid of that dog as soon as I get a chance.

  2. The .380 craze has been officially over for some time, pretty much as soon as there were at least two pocketable 9mms on the market. Then there was the 9mm craze, but that is waning just a bit in the face of increased competition from the mini-.45s. (Which is why Springfield jumped the market with its compact .45 before releasing the 9mm a year later.)
    Then again, living in California, everything is seldom what it seems. You still can’t buy a new LCP(unless you’re LEO), but you can get the LC9 and the LC380. You can buy a Sig P238 (in its California compliant edition) but not a Colt Mustang. People would love to buy Shields, but since S&W had to produce a special edition just for this market, they are unobtainable without a great deal of luck. You can buy certain model Kahrs but not others, e.g., you can get a CW9 but not a CW45. KelTechs are no longer sold here at all, nor are Bersas. Nanos and Solos are no go’s, and I suppose Beretta’s Pico won’t be coming here either. [In fact, there will be no new semi-auto pistols coming here for the foreseeable future, but that is a different story.]

    • I don’t think the .380 craze is over just yet. There are many fine .380 guns and people like them for a variety of reasons, many of which sometimes rank them above even a 9mm: 1) fairly light recoil compared to 9mm of same weight, 2) easier to rack the slide in many cases, 3) small, 4) fairly lightweight, 5) fun to shoot and, (drum roll) 6) because of the reduced recoil, shot placement is generally both faster and better compared to a 9mm and, as we all know, shot placement is critical and can even trump caliber differences. Take the Bersa 380 Plus for instance: 15+ 1 rounds of .380, fun to shoot and accurate. Also, newer 380 ammo gives these bullets a good punch, even able to pierce an automobile windshield, even at a grazing angle. Not too shabby.

  3. I’d vote for the Shield, too, but for the fact that it has an awful, awful safety. It’s too small to easily or consistently engage on the draw. And I don’t find the solution of “just carry it with the safety off” to be a sufficient fix. Safeties can get knocked on as well as off; if I’m carrying a firearm with a safety I can’t assume it’s off any more than I can assume it is on. I sold my Shield for just this reason, and it’s a bummer — it was a fantastic gun.

    • I have a nice callous that hooks the safety, When I carry,it is off. I have trained to sweep it off as I draw even though I know it is off. My full M&P has no safety but I still stroke my thumb to keep the habit.
      Need to draw? Rare.
      Safety accidently on? Rare.
      Fail to sweep to off when trying because of training. Rare.
      I don’t need to look any further.
      If I was looking from scratch???

    • Bet you read that on the internet and thought that because it was possible, it was likely. Find one documented case where this happened and caused a problem. A shark can attack me int the water but I do not carry shark repellent. In over 40 years of carrying various guns, Shield included, not one safety ever moved without me wanting it to.

  4. Since you’ve deemed the .380 craze “over” could you go ahead and call a winner in the 9mm vs .40 vs .45 debate too? I’d love to see that one go over without a hitch…lol.

  5. I love my Springfield XD40 subcompact, which is the same size as the 9mm but obviously packs a bigger punch…

    • An unnecessary bigger punch. .40 doesn’t do anything a 9mm doesn’t do. Less firepower, more muzzle flip. Bad idea.

  6. .380 craze? Hula hoops and pet rocks and justien bieber are crazes. The .380 has been around for 100+ years. That ain’t a craze. As for the old chestnut about stopping power, non valid as it is, how does any pistol stand up in stopping power when the dude from blighty shot himself in the face with a 12 bore and he lived at least long enough to make surgery?

    Stopping power amongst handguns is what writers and editors use to stoke sales when amateurs argue it out.

  7. I ran my own tests on the Kimber Solo vs. the Sig Sauer P290. Not even close. That’s been almost two years ago. The Solo is a range piece only. Too many feeding issues.

    Of course the new XDS in 9 looks promising. It’s absolute dyno-mite in .45.

  8. Comparing the Shield to the XD compact is apples to oranges. If you are going to pick a Springfield the right one is an XD subcompact or an XDS/9. I also surprised they didn’t put the Nano in the competition. For my money it’s the best small 9 on the market.

  9. Naw. The nominally pocketable mini 9s, just about all of which I have tried, are still too heavy and large to discretely and comfortably fit (while in a pocket holster) into most standard non-tactical pockets, in normally fitting clothing, worn by regular size human beings; a la Dockers, etc.

    The mini 9s remain valuable and virtuous options when IWB (needs bigger cloches) is an option or when the heat lets up enough to allow for a cover garment (jacket or suit coat). But if you live in a non-open-cary state (sad face) in the south (like Texas), and if your work requires you to keep your shirttail tucked into a nice pair of fitting dress pants (a.k.a. not 5.11 style pants), then in my experience, every available mini 9mm, except the Diamondback DB9 perhaps, is simply too large, too thick, and too heavy to secrete into what little clothing orifices remain, in the wardrobe, without risk of printing.

    Yeah they are great if you can wear some looser clothing, with larger waist (which throws of the fit of the rest of the garment) or large pockets, or if you can wear your shirttail out. When wardrobe allows, I have and, often do, carry one of those very same mini 9s listed above. But as long as professional clothes have to fit, and as long as we are not allowed to look like NRA shooting instructors at our offices, there will always be a need for a gun that is just a bit smaller than the field of currently available, reliable, mini 9s.

    Sure a .380 isn’t preferable, but it’s a lot better than throwing rocks because you left you “pocket 9” in the car for fear of accidentally, yet criminally, failing to conceal.

    Maybe if I worked full time for TTAG I could dress in a manner that allowed me to dispense with my .380, but until they recognize my ge-knee-us and put me on the payroll, I’m afraid I’m stuck carrying arms, dictated by wardrobe, dictated by bureaucracy.

    • I agree that the .380 has definitely earned its place; it’s just not such a craze so much any more that they are easy to find. Supply and demand have met. Mini 9s, not so much.

    • Well said. I’m a small guy, so even the smallest of mini 9mm pistols don’t conceal well (or comfortably) in my pockets. My Kahr K9, which I carry IWB most of the year, sticks out like a sore thumb without a cover garment, and it’s just too damn hot for a sweatshirt right now, so I just picked up a Ruger LCP.

      • Yeah. I am not picking on anyone from TTAG at all. I have just noticed that when “firearms professionals” progress into the “firearms industry” to the point that it is their full-time job, they lose some perspective of what it is like to be the rest of us. So they dress around whatever gun they want, because their whole objective is to prove that they can carry anything they want, while making sacrifices of discretion, style.
        Then they jump to the assumption that since they can carry a large gun by sacrificing style and discretion, so can we. But that assumption presupposes that the rest of us are not required to maintain a level of professional decorum that prohibit us from dressing in indiscreet, less traditional garb. Once that happens you just can’t listen to any advice they give you about what you can and can’t practically carry because their objective is to prove a point that you can carry anything, while yours is to not be seen.

        Nothing screams “this guy has a gun” like:

        1) a belt around a guy’s waist that has a corner in it instead of being evenly curved all the way around;
        2) belt clips that don’t attach to anything you can see on the outside the belt;
        3) a guy with a square looking love-handle;
        4) “Tactical” cargo pants with large bulges near the lower thigh flopping like heavy bricks when the wearer walks;
        5) the same kind of pants not hanging evenly around the wearer’s waist;
        6) cover garments in the 100 degree heat;
        7) tac-vests/ especially ones that hang lower on one side than the other;
        8) a guy with one skinny ankle and the other looking like it has an angular lump on it when the wind presses his pant legs against his ankles.
        8) add you own red flags…

        Sure, sometimes I’ll go around committing all of the “tactical” fashion faux pax on my free time, minimally concealing the firearm to the satisfaction of the law, but I won’t do that around the law office all day.

  10. I carry the Shield, my wife carries the PK380 (same size as an SR22) becase of recoil and ease of slide and great grip.
    My son carries PPK/S because that is smaller than his Storm. But… for him, we are doing the from scratch thing for a CCW. Gotta have a place for the pinkie though.
    Shield?
    XDs9?
    G26?
    Those are what we are considering.
    So for my convenience it would be great if others would recommend their top 3-5 picks and we can compile a Heisman troophy kind of vote like which gets the most #1 or top 3 votes.
    Rattle of your top three considerations.

  11. What about the Kel-tec P11? Ankle carried mine for 5 years and STILL wonder what possessed me to sell it. Yes, a tad thicker than the single stacks, but it fit coat pockets well and its light weight and 11 rounds were still less bulky (and expensive) than a Glock 26.

    • Eh, I sold my P-11 and got a Glock 26 instead. It’s more reliable, more accurate, the grip works better for me, and the size difference is minimal. I didn’t find the P-11 to be more pocketable than the Glock 26. Plus, I love the 17 round mags when I’m carrying IWB and don’t want the weight of my .45.

  12. 380 is over or going away, because it goes places a 9 won’t. I love my Glock 26, but I can’t carry it as easily as I can my 380, which goes everywhere. My carry pieces come in small (380), medium (9), and large (.45) because not all outfits and activities allow for maximum concealment.

  13. When I reviewed the Shield for TTAG last year, I really enjoyed shooting it. Since then, I’ve had a chance to shoot most (but not all) of its 9mm competitors, and the Shield is still at or near the top. So while the American appetite for little .380s goes on, there’s not much reason to give up the power of the Parabellum cartridge for the attenuated power of its little brother.

    http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2012/06/ralph/gun-review-smith-wesson-mp9-shield/

    • There are LOTS of reasons to pass on a 9mm and stick with a .380: 1) less recoil, 2) more accurate and better shot placement because of the lower recoil, 3) because of less recoil and therefore more accurate and faster shot placement, the effectiveness can be better than the higher powered 9mm. Also, let’s not forget that newer technology ammo allows a .380 to easily pierce a car windshield. Any takers out there want to face such a weapon? Neither do the bad guys. Oh, also forgot that because the .380 load is smaller than the 9mm, you can get more bullets in a small gun (Bersa Plus .380 has 16 shot capability (15 + 1)). And that’s why I vote for the .380.

  14. The .380 craze can’t be over. Colt put the Mustang Pocketlite .380 back in production just last year. Surely they are not chasing a fading trend?

  15. I’d like to see how a Glock 26 or Kahr would have performed in the mix, but it was an informative comparison nonetheless. Each individual shooter has to make their own choice of single vs. double stack, for instance. I like the capacity of double stacks, but I’ve got to admit that the only thing keeping me from a sexy olde 1911 is the price of admission.

    I like the ergos and fire control of the M&P, and I think the XD is too boxy.

  16. The PPS should have been considered, period. It’s a brilliant little 9mm, and it’ omission gives me cause to question the validity of any of the assertions made in the video.

  17. I don’t think you could go wrong with any of the compact/sub-compact 9’s mentioned here. The m&p shield is my everyday carry and I’ve been happy with it. Some may knock it for the external safety, but I haven’t found it to be an issue. I can’t see how it would accidentally be engaged one way or the other. It’s like that ronco rotisserie – set it and forget it and don’t worry about it.

  18. Having recently purchased both a Shield and an XDS both in 9mm I’m getting to do a little testing of my own. I’m leaning towards the shield for higher concealment and the XDS for overall shootabilty. Everything is a trade off but between those two it’s hard to go wrong.

  19. I just bought my LCP a few weeks ago due to its small size and ease to conceal. Anything bigger and it would stick out like a sore thumb during the summer. Now this winter, I am debating carrying my XD-40 with a jacket or coat as I have an IWB for it.

  20. Guy gives the PF9 lowest rating…obviously he’s an idiot considering they pretty much defined small, light and compact when it comes to CCW.

    • LC9 wins the low weight catagory, but comes at a high cost, with that ultra slim grip, causes the trigger guard to absolutely destroy my index finger. sold mine and bought a shield, only to agonize over that little tiny safety lever, so out it went ,and now I am happy with the M & P 9c, five more rounds and weighs about two ounces more than the shield. nut job that I am, carry the smith 642 more than anything else.

  21. I carry my LCP all the time at home. It’s all I need to make it to the nearest door. When I leave the house, I pick something bigger to carry and have no issues carrying a subcompact 9 in my pocket or anywhere else for that matter.

  22. .380 craze?

    I just recently picked up a 738 TCP.
    Fits better when just wearing shorts.
    Now if we could just get rid of those damn “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service” signs.

  23. No PPS, no Nano, no PM9, no LC9, and the XD-S would have been better choice than the standard XD subcompact. Also, since you are throwing double stacks into the mix with the XD, why not the Glock 26 and the M&P9c?

    Poor selection of testing pieces = shitty test.

    • I’d like to see them test the Bersa Pro Ultra Compact 9mm. Every review I have seen on it says it’s a great gun.

  24. Sig P238. 7+1 (pinky mag), flawless operation, very, very accurate, excellent safety (can rack the slide with it on when cocked), lighter than most, goes anywhere. It can’t be beat in 90 degree, 80% humidity summer weather.

  25. Hello everyone, it’s my first visit at this site, and
    paragraph is genuinely fruitful in favor of me, keep up posting these types of articles.

  26. I live in South TX where it is hot most of the time. I own a Beretta Nano, a Sig Sauer P938 and a Ruger LCP. I can comfortably carry both the 938 and the LCP in my front pocket. I can comfortably IWB carry both the 938 and the Nano. I also have a deep concealment elastic shoulder holster that will carry any medium size pistol comfortably. I tend to pocket carry the LCP and the 938 most of the time. Simple and convenient.

  27. Kahr cm9 hands down, easy to carry, accurate, never had a problem with it. Perfect size, carry it in a crossbreed mini tuck or a remora. Been carring it for 18 months.

    Also have a shield, great gun but just not as easy to stash on you like the kahr.

    Have a bodyguard 380 for my pocket.

    • I agree with Rpres62. I also have the new bodyguard with Crimson trace laser for pocket carry. But I can carry the shield as easily as the Kahr on my hip. It is a tad longer but gives you the extra capacity for that size. Kahr is better for pocket carry though.

  28. I love my Sig 938. Best pocket carry and is very accurate. Love the night sights. If money is not a object the Sig 938 in my opinion is the best option

  29. As far as CCW smallest 9mm you could shoot accurately and not punish your hands. I think the Kahr CM9 or PM9 is the way to go. I have the CM9 and it just disappears in a jacket pocket or larger pants pocket. It has a great trigger and with pinkie extensions is very easy to control. That said I now carry a Shield 9mm. Not because I dont like the smaller Kahr. I just decided I needed to move to pistols with all similar controls and feel… for training purposes. All the same trigger, sights and such. Also I wanted rails to mount laser/lights to. Yes I know Shield does not have a true rail but it does hold the laser better on center. I note that my Crimson trace does not tend to hold zero when put into a soft carry holster. The Shield does not have that problem. Anyway… As far as the ones he compared. Yes I would go with the Shield. Especially considering price. I got mine new (one with no safety) for $367 out the door.

  30. I’m looking for the best Simi auto . I did a search for best top 10 pistol for women and the 9mm nano Beretta came up ad #1
    As a Californian I can not buy one here or test them. I’m used to high quality guns such as the 45 Warrior Kimber & my boyfriend AR 15 custom built for me/by myself and husband who did the research
    and I made the final decision.
    Please any advise from someone who really knows about the smallest compact with a clean shot

    It kills me that I can’t do test bcuz they
    won’t let the dealers sell them here.
    I looked the look, I liked that it’s very
    smooth to lower any chances of it getting
    stuck even though it will be carried in my
    gun purse that has an open carrier that is
    located on the inside. This will allow me to
    keep it tucked and my hands right on it in
    dangerous places.
    I’m a little hesitant just because the price is so low
    The size of the Nano is about the size of my hand, which is small. My main thing is though is that I’m used to the best. I’ve seen it in action on video and the handler had nothing bad to say about it. But I do want a clean shot, no hard recoil, which Since this forum seems to know allot about compact minis. I’d like to know if there is anyone who has done side by side test with other minis such ad the Glock/Kimber although the baby Kimber undeniably larger than I want I’m sure that it’s for less recoil

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