For nearly a decade now, Smith & Wesson’s M&P9 Shield has been one of the best, most popular micro-compact concealed carry pistols on the market, and for good reason. TTAG’s most recent Shield review was Dan’s 2018 test drive of the then-new 2.0 flavor, which earned a well-deserved four-and-a-half stars. And guess what? With the release of the M&P9 Shield Plus line it just earned that final half star.

In the video above, I think it’s pretty clear how impressed I was with the Shield Plus. It’s a hell of a shooter. But what, exactly, is an M&P9 Shield Plus, you ask?

Take everything you love about the Shield series and up the capacity to 10+1 with a flush-fitting magazine and 13+1 with the pinky extension mag (the original Shield held 7+1 and 8+1 rounds, respectively), slightly modify the grip texture so it’s kinder to your love handles, and upgrade the trigger to an incredible level and you’ve got yourself the Shield Plus.

Dan “the hand model” Zimmerman and I test drove the new Shield Plus in its most basic form — no safety, 3-dot sights — but the entire line will be available in “Plus” format.

Four-inch Performance Center model with ported barrel, fiber optic sights, and optic-cut slide with Crimson Trace reflex sight already mounted? Yep.

Between that and the plain Jane 3.1-inch model seen here, effectively every option exists from night sights to fiber optics to optic cut slides, ported and standard barrels, manual thumb safety and no safety, and even 10-pound trigger options for those who prefer a heavier pull on their carry guns (in case you want to miss as much as the NYPD).

As it stands, the trigger on this little guy is quite possibly the best I’ve pulled on any sub-compact carry gun. It’s incredibly crisp with minimal creep, little overtravel, and a short, crisp reset that’s audible and tactile. The trigger safety blade (which has replaced the previous Shield’s center-pivoting trigger shoe) is nice and wide, and comes flush with the rest of the only barely curved trigger face when depressed. The whole trigger package looks and feels great.

Shooting and dry firing back-to-back with a SIG P365 and a Springfield Hellcat, which is upgraded with an aftermarket trigger, mind you, the S&W M&P9 Shield Plus was the hands-down trigger pull quality winner of the group. Crisper and cleaner with less creep than the other two, and with slightly lighter break weight, too, and shorter reset. Fantastic.

Add to that the ergonomic and comfortable, nicely palm-filling grip shape and the dead-on-perfect grip texture, and this bad boy is one hell of a shooter. It’s as planted and fixed in my grip as any factory gun gets.

Despite being a lightweight, micro-compact pistol it made absolutely no attempt whatsoever — not even a hint — to rotate or shift inside of my grip. The Shield Plus is not only well tuned with its action timing and recoil spring design, but the shape and texture of its grip makes it one of the most controllable, best shooting little carry pistols available.

Initially I assumed the grip was going to be a bit wider to fit a fatter magazine, but it isn’t. Smith & Wesson found room for the extra capacity through some combination of a slimmer magazine follower and spring design and/or by opening up the grip frame internally without changing it externally.

Frankly, beyond the slight grip texture tweak, the amazing trigger, and, obviously, the extra rounds of 9x19mm there isn’t much to add to Dan’s late-2018 Shield 2.0 review. The Shield Plus is effectively identical externally and in every other way.

There’s the Shield Plus on the left next to my SIG P365 on the right. Gotta say, the comparison in the photo makes it seem like a bigger difference than it does in real life, but there’s no doubt that the grip itself is bigger. Barely thicker, but it’s a lot longer front-to-rear and it’s taller, too (maybe a half inch longer in the backstrap with a flush-fit magazine).

That extra front-to-back length is part of the reason it shoots so well. It fills a hand better than the teeny little grip on the P365.

Next to the Springfield Hellcat the length is closer. Without a doubt I preferred the rounded shape of the Shield Plus’ grip to the very block-shaped Hellcat’s grip. The 18-degree grip angle of the Shield Plus and the palm swell are just right, too.

Before we send this loaner gun back to Smith, I’m going to find a holster for it and see how it carries and conceals compared to the P365. I already know I can shoot it like a full-size pistol, but with the longer backstrap and different grip angle I’d like to see how it conceals for me.

There’s no question, of course, that the M&P Shield series has been one of the best-selling (over three million Shields sold according to Smith & Wesson), most popular concealed carry pistol lines on the market for almost a decade now, so we all know darn well that it’s a perfectly concealable little package. I just have to try it…you know…for science.

Should my P365 be scared? Yeah, probably a little. Now that the M&P Shield is back in the arena with a competitive capacity in the form of the Shield Plus, it’s once again a serious contender for my IWB real estate.

Dan and I spent much of the day shooting the S&W M&P9 Shield Plus, and left the range knowing that this is an absolutely fantastic little gun in every way. The Shield left half a star on the table in Dan’s 2018 review, but the Shield Plus just snatched it up with ease.

Specifications: S&W M&P9 Shield Plus

Caliber: 9mm
Capacity: 10+1 rounds flush fit, 13+1 extended
Barrel Length: 3.1 inches
Overall Length: 6.1 inches
Width Across Controls: 1.1 inches
Width Exclusive of Controls: 0.94 inches
Height: 4.6 inches
Weight: 17.9 ounces
Sights: white 3-dot (also available with night sights, fiber optic sights, and optics-ready or optics-equipped)
MSRP: $553 (highest-end version with ported barrel and Crimson Trace optic is $925. Find the entire Shield Plus line at Brownells HERE starting, at the time of this writing, at $529)

Ratings (out of five stars):

Style and Appearance  * * * 
Ehhh, the Shield line has always struck me as a bit plain Jane. Though I can certainly get behind the four-inch versions with optic and ported barrel. Those look cool. But concealed means concealed, and I’m not going to pick my carry gun based on how pretty it is.

Reliability  * * * * *
The Shield line has a solid reputation for reliability, and this straight-from-the-box Shield Plus gave us no reason to think otherwise. It ate four brands and types of ammo with ease.

Ergonomics  * * * * *
Fantastic. The grip shape, angle, size, and texture are all great. Likewise, the trigger feels really good on the finger and the slide serrations are grippy but not punishing. If I could change anything I’d just continue the rear slide serrations farther forward.

Customize This  * * * * 
Not only are there 10 different model variants of Shield Plus at the new line’s launch, but compatibility with “legacy” Shield parts means all sorts of accessories, upgrades, holsters, and more are available on day one.

Shootability  * * * * *
This isn’t always a category, but the Shield Plus stood out to me so strongly in this regard that I felt it needed specific recognition in the ratings.

Overall  * * * * *
Nailed it. The M&P Shield Plus is a five-star concealed carry pistol no question about it.

 

41 COMMENTS

  1. I wonder if they’d release an imported four inch Shield Plus model? The XL variant of the 365 is actually my preferred model among the Sig offering in it’s class and I am interested in whether or not S&W makes my hoped for model a standard offering,or only in Performance Center trim?

    • It will never be a standard option. S&W only ever gives you the goodies under their “plus” or “performance center” line. Those of course come with an increased price. With other companies offering those goodies on their basic models, S&W’s system isn’t going to work well.

  2. “Should my P365 be scared?”

    They have some competition. The new Ruger comes standard with an optic cut and night sights for less than the basic Shield Plus. Competition is good for consumers.

    • This……

      So far, Ruger’s basic offering is a significantly better deal than anyone else’s. You gotta take a big step up the price ladder to get the same thing from S&W.

      It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out. Especially if SCCY offers an extended mag for their new DVG1-RD’s.

  3. Finally…A Firearm that wins the do it for me out of the box 5 Star Award. Standing round of applause for S&W. Nonetheless if I were to own one you can bet the farm it’s coming completely apart and I will spend time scrutinizing each piece to see if I can make it .0001″ better.

    The fact is 90% of all firearms that get a bad rap from the do it for me crowd are diamonds in the rough. If your goal is center X you cannot play if you are not capable of performing DIY tricks and developing your own along the way. I won’t know how good or bad a out of the box firearm or accessory is until they are made ready to run, etc.

    I.E. I received some 20 Rd Brownells Brand AR Mags. Even though I have lots of reliable 30s I prefer 20s. The Brownell mags looked ok with but differ from the USGI stuff. Out of the box they were clean but not to my standards so they were really cleaned. They loaded smoothly until the last round which was stiff compared to loading USGI 20s. There was not much room for compression left in the fully loaded Brownells whereas there was a bit more compression remaining in the USGI. That made loading the Brownells on a closed BCG finicky whereas the USGI loaded easily. Fully loaded Brownells required verifying they were locked in so I disassembled the Brownells and the cut .250″ off the follower travel limiter. That improved loading the last round and locking in the mag but still no USGI performance. So for the Brownells 20 mag…It is fair priced, decent, doesn’t bulge but it is what it is more or less. The best 20s I’ve have are stamped M16/M16A1 Cal 5.56 Universal Inds. Div. Simmonds Pred. Prod. Inc. New Haven Conn. USA.

    Now some people would fix the Brownell problem by loading on an open BCG or loading 19. If it don’t load both ways and hold 20 it ain’t right, period. Based on their 20s would I use Brownells 30 rounders? As a last resort, yes.

  4. I’m a bit more impressed by the Ruger Max 9. Better sights outa the box,tiny,optics ready & a lower msrp to boot. I do have a S&W AR and it’s been really good. Competition is good…FWIW I have no plans on a new carry gun.

    • The MAX-9 is a better value for how the gun is equipped at the price they’re asking (tritium & fiber optic front sight plus the optics cut), but assuming it shoots like the LC9s (which is a safe assumption) this Shield Plus should run circles around it on the range. We’ll be doing a four-way shootout (Shield Plus, MAX-9, P365 and/or P365XL, and Hellcat) as soon as we get our hands on the Ruger.

      • Cool story…but this is a carry gun. Ya know for defensive gunfight’s one “hopes” to never engage in.Who said it was a LC9s? Not the YouTube vids I’ve already seen. No plans for a new gun but maybe a better shotgun(& shells)with my biden bucks supposedly coming tomorrow.

        • I don’t have any plans for a new gun, either. But, I’d like to know if the expanded count mags fit and work in my current Shield. Had it for several years and it’s just a sweet, reliable shooter.

  5. TTAG shows it isn’t in the top tier of firearms news coverage when they are late with announcing the new Shield and crickets on the even more impressive new offering from Ruger!

    Way to be third rate TTAG! Now publish some more conspiracy theory garbage…

    • I agree, the Ruger MAX9 is a better looking gun with more features at a lower price. I have many Rugers and they have all been great guns.

    • Ehhh, we chose not to publish the news of the Shield Plus at 9:00 PM last night, instead waiting for this morning when people were back online. Plus, even though S&W announced it late last night, they requested that media not go public with it until 5:00 AM this morning at the earliest. We chose to honor that; many did not. Many just put up S&W’s press release, we published an actual review.

      The MAX-9 announcement went up today. Yeah, we were like 18 hours late on getting that one published.

      I suppose we don’t always view the release of a new gun or accessory model as some sort of “!!! Breaking News !!!” that must be published the instant its made public. We saw the new model announcement yesterday I think in the afternoon, and we scheduled it for the next open time slot in TTAG’s article queue, which was today at like 10:00 AM I think.

      >>> BREAKING!!!! HK Releases P30SK in FDE!!!!! <<<. . We'd all love if TTAG was nothing but that, right? hahaha 😉

  6. Shields’ a nice gun, no doubt about it.
    The coolest thing is the wavy slide serrations.
    That has a high style factor

  7. Dunno, the 2.0 I tried at my LGS had the grittiest trigger, the Turkish guns were alot better. And Ruger has its new micro 9 out for a better price. Plus, not giving any $$ to MA companies, screw Maura Healey and the may-issue crowd down there.

    • As a point of comparison between the new Shield and the new Ruger, look at the wall thickness of the barrel on both guns. It is noticeably thicker on the Shield, perhaps giving the Shield some points for being more of a combat constructed arm.

      As for S&W being in Massachusetts, the day will come when the state government increases their oppression on S&W and they will be gone from the state. For now, local government is very supportive S&W because their city desperately needs jobs.

  8. I would buy this for MSRP if I could, but I live in CA. I have two Shield 1.0’s. My primary CCW. I’ve increased mag ammo capacity with magguts and Hive +2 mag extensions; I always have at least 20 rounds on person. But the two “would be nice to have” are brighter aftermarket WML and a thicker grip. The 2.0 Plus definetly has that slightly thicker grip. IMHO, S&W should have dropped the M&P9C (12 rd stock mag) a lot sooner and introduced this gun 2 years ago.

  9. While I do not like a polymer frame or striker fired pistol, I’ve found I like the Sheilds better then the Glocks.

  10. I thought I would like the original Shield when they came out, as I had a M&P 9 Compact and Full Size. After waiting about 10 months to get mine, I was disappointed. It wasn’t bad, just didn’t feel good like the M&P 9 Compact, or the CZ 75 PCR. So, after about 1 year of ownership, I traded it in, for something else. Don’t see any reason I would opt to get the new one, as capacity is the least of my concerns. Comfort, reliability and accuracy are.

  11. I’m not getting the ratings math. 3+5+5+4+5=22 and 22/5 yields a mean (overall) of 4.4, not 5. The individual scores can, and in some cases should, be subjective, but the mean should be objective math. How does 3/5 not ding it? And how does it earn only a 4/5 for customization, with that score being followed by explanation of just how easily it can be customized and outfitted?

    • The overall has never been an average of the previous categories. There are tons of factors not listed in those couple of categories, plus they aren’t all weighted evenly. I said right in the “style” category that I don’t care what my carry gun looks like. The category just has no weight for me when giving a carry gun its Overall (plus it’s 100% subjective, so weighting Style would possibly skew the Overall rating, which we *try* to keep as objective as possible).

      • Fair enough. I suspected there is a lot of subjectivity, and I also wondered whether the different categories are equally weighted. Thanks for the explanation. I also do agree with your assertion that appearance of a carry gun is not important. Well, unless it doubles as a BBQ gun…

  12. I’m not sure how the reviewer can say the grip isn’t thicker than the 1.0/2.0. It IS .95 versus 1.1. Not sure where they are getting the .94 (Width Exclusive of Controls) spec from. I get that .95 vs 1.1 isn’t much to most people but my interest in the Sheild is purely because I am cursed with some really small hands (a hobbit here). If I was going to switch from a .95 grip to a 1.1 then I would just as soon carry my 4.25 inch M&P 2.0 which is 1.3 but has a nice rail that will mount my SL TRL7a. And I won’t even mention the sheer lunacy of CERAKOTING a black polymer frame in – GET THIS- a SLIGHTLY DARKER BLACK!

    • You’re conflating two measurements. Both guns are approximately 0.95 inches wide at the widest point of the polymer frame, and both guns are wider than that if you measure across the controls (slide lock, takedown lever, and/or magazine release widest point). The Shield 2.0 is 1.05″ across the controls and the Shield Plus is 1.10″.

      I don’t understand what your Cerakote comment is about? There is no Cerakote on the Shield Plus.

      • I dunno about the measurements but in several side by said pics it’s obvious the larger dimension between the two is the grip. If you were right on this then it couldn’t maintain holster compatibility (which it DOES). In one of the YouTube reviews (TFB I think) it is revealed that S&W cerakoted the Plus’s frame to get a slightly better color match with the slide. It’s crazy but that’s what they did!

  13. Put a 12 rd mag in your P365, or maybe a 15 rd mag, the grip becomes just right, but would love to see this new shield have owned an original shield and an EZ. This looks good.

  14. Do we over-focus on details that may not matter that much when a pistol is used for self-defense. If you judge the trigger of pistols with snap-caps, slowly dry firing, feeling each scrape of friction, listening for and measuring reset, you can create a comparative rating for a bunch of pistols. I am asking if those are meaningful details.

    When I do training and drill exercises using my Shield 1st generation, its trigger performance in dynamic action is flawless. The trigger does exactly what I need when firing on a target. I don’t feel friction, or creep, and I don’t care about audible reset. No, in action as near as I have gotten to actual conflict, this little pistol is 10/10.

    I think my Shield mags hold 8 rounds. That is plenty of ammo, I don’t feel I am half-cocked. A few more rounds might make training better, but I don’t feel additional rounds is as important as gun journals seem to.

    I hope that made sense. While if offered for free I would gladly take the new Shield Plus over my little Shield, I feel no need to purchase the new Shield Plus.

    • Given the exact same footprint, I’ll take 11 rounds over 8 any day (or 14 over 9, extended). While a much better — truly fantastic — trigger might not improve my shooting in a self-defense situation, I have yet to fire my gun in a self-defense situation. I’ve shot many thousands of rounds in practice on the range, though, and the trigger in this Shield Plus is a joy for that.

  15. Well I have the M&P subcompact which holds 12 and I can use the standard 15 or 17 round mags in it, whereas the shield mags only work in that specific gun. Plus, the shield is only slightly smaller. I do like the trigger design however and hope S & W makes it available as an aftermarket accessory on all their M&P’s.

  16. Where is it made? As I recall SW was building in Croatia. Good bet the Usurper in Chief (his minders) will soon shut down gun imports.

    • Pretty sure your thinking about the Springfield XD series which is made by HS in Croatia. From my knowledge S&W is still made in Massachusetts for the time being and is moving to Missouri.

      • Correct on all counts (although RE the Missouri thing I don’t recall them talking about moving production there? I know they moved their distribution and warehouse facilities and whatnot there but IIRC they’re still manufacturing in Springfield, MA and I’m not sure I’ve heard of that changing).

  17. Can the Optic Sight (Model# 13253) with the Crimson Trace MOA Red Dot be changed out to a different optic?!

  18. So they steal the sig like design with the sig mag capacity and charge more than previous shield lines and you nut yourself. I’ll stick to American made p365 and upgrade what I need to down the road. Lmao.

  19. Just bought the new Smith & Wesson Shield Plus 9mm and I am very impressed with it! I have the original 1.0 Shields in the 9mm. 40 caliber and 45 auto and I love them because they shoot great and are easy to carry in my Crossbreed holsters. When the 2.0 came out I wasn’t that impressed with the small changes but this Shield Plus has some incredible upgrades not that I had any problems with my others. But this new trigger is so going from the normal 6 pound trigger to a 4 pound 12 ounce trigger then making it strait instead of so curved is a real advancement for sure so much sweeter and shoots faster! The finish seems to be darker than the original’s and the incredible ergonomics of the grip plus making it to hold up to 13 rounds plus one in the chamber makes 14 is a wonderful feeling to not have to carry and extra magazine to back up the 8 1 on the original ones! Also my holster for my 9mm and 40 caliber works perfect for the new Shield Plus! This is my new concealed carry gun for sure thank you Smith and Wesson you have really hit a major home run on this Shield Plus!!! 👌

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