With the introduction of their M2.0 line of polymer framed, striker fired pistols, Smith & Wesson addressed the one big complaint that gun buyers had about the M&P line: the trigger. As we’ve mentioned in previous reviews of both the full-size and compact double-stack versions of the new M&P9 M2.0, the attention Smith paid to improving what was generally considered a mediocre-at-best bangswitch has really paid off.
For those looking for slim, single-stack concealability in their everyday carry gun, the ultra-popular M&P9 SHIELD was just the ticket when it was first rolled out back in 2012. But Smith’s done a fair bit of work improving an already good gun and making it a damn near perfect concealed carry pistol.
First, some of the smaller changes. The M&P SHIELD M2.0 has a new pebbled grip texture that provides a much more sure hold on the gun, even with wet hands. We’d like to see them even a tad more aggressive than they are, but these are a big improvement over SHIELD v1.0
Like the original M&P SHIELD, the M2.0 has scallops rather than traditional serrations on its stainless steel Armornite-coated slide for a good grip while racking the pistol. But the new version adds a line of scallops to the front of the slide as well which gives you a touch more purchase on the forend of the gun should you need it.
The standard low profile white dot sights are virtually the same as on the original. If you want night sights (or even a laser, now that S&W owns Crimson Trace), those versions are available too. The standard rear sight on the M&P SHIELD 2.0 is sloped, however, and won’t let you rack the slide one-handed should you need to.
The SHIELD ships with two magazines; a flush mount seven-rounder that conceals a little more easily and a slightly extended mag that gives you eight plus one capacity (shown above).
But let’s talk about the big improvement that the M2.0 gives shooters — the trigger. Smith’s mushy trigger on the original M&P pistols launched an aftermarket industry offering replacement options. The M&P9 M2.0’s much-improved bangswitch has surely cut into those companies’ sales.
Some may argue that it could have a shorter trigger reset, but by any measure, the M2.0 trigger pull is light years ahead of the original SHIELD’s. It breaks cleanly at a little over five pounds with no perceptible grit. And, unlike the full-size and compact M2.0 pistols, the SHIELD’s trigger shoe isn’t as tightly curved. In short, it’s a huge improvement that makes all the difference in the updated gun.
Just like v1.0, the M2.0 SHIELD disassembles simply and quickly for easy field stripping and cleaning. Zero problems there.
At the range, it proved perfectly dependable and surprisingly accurate for its small size and short sight radius. Nothing we fed the M&P SHIELD M2.0 gave it pause and it proved one-ragged-hole accurate at self-defense distances.
Smith & Wesson still offers their original SHIELD, too. It flew off the shelves for years for a lot of good reasons. It was slim, easy to carry, reliable and affordable. It’s even less expensive now, with an MSRP $110 less than the M2.0 (there’s frequently even more of a spread in the retail price…I’ve seen original SHIELDs available for well under $300).
So, is the new M&P SHIELD M2.0 worth the additional samolians? Absolutely. The better grip surface and forward scallops are great, but the big improvement that makes all the case for the upgraded gun is that M2.0 trigger. That’s what’s made an already good gun one of the best choices on the market for an everyday carry pistol, right out of the box.
Specifications: M&P9 SHIELD M2.0
Capacity: 7+1, 8+1
Barrel Length: 3.1 inches
Overall Length: 6.1 inches
Front Sight: Steel – White Dot
Rear Sight: Steel – White Two-Dot
Weight: 18.3 oz
MSRP: $479 (less via Brownells)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Style: * * *
The M2.0 isn’t a big change from the v1.0 gun, but the differences make the gun look better to our eye. The newly stippled grip and forward scallops on their Armornite coated slide are improvements.
Ergonomics: * * * *
Much better than the original. The grippier grip and those front scallops give your hands more to hold onto. Reaching the magazine release is a slight stretch for those of us with small hands, but that’s a minor quibble. And the M&P SHIELD’s slim profile makes IWB carry effortless.
Reliability: * * * * *
Perfect. Our gun had already seen a lot of rounds, and handled everything we threw at it. You should have no worries at all relying on the M&P9 M2.0 as your EDC pistol.
Customize This: * * * * *
Plenty of options, many of them right from Smith. They make versions with and without a thumb safety. With and without night sights. With and without Crimson Trace lasers. And that’s not counting a very healthy aftermarket selection from a variety of makers.
Overall: * * * * 1/2
Smith & Wesson made all the right moves in updating what was already one of the most popular single stack 9mm pistols in the world in the original M&P SHIELD. The new M&P SHIELD M2.0 can make a very strong argument (though there are a lot of very good options) for being the best all-around choice in a 9mm concealed carry pistol.