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As someone who’s fairly new to the firearms world I’ve only had an opportunity to try a few guns, but I have tried most handgun styles. I’ve tried my hand at revolvers, 1911s, and GLOCK-style (although never actually a GLOCK) pistols. In fact, I’ve carried all of them for at least a short time and finally settled on my go-to firearm of choice: the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield in 9mm with the extended magazines . . .

Upon getting the Shield I noticed a few things right off the bat. First thing that went through my mind was, “Crap, I got a California compliant version.” There are three things that the Cali version has, two of which had to go. The one thing I don’t mind, is the loaded chamber indicator. It’s just one of those extra piece-of-mind things I quadruple check every time I’m practicing dry fire drills. The two things that need to be addressed were:

  • The magazine safety. God that thing is a pain. Can’t release the firing pin without a magazine in the well. Between trying to run the gun at an IDPA match, and my belief that if I pull the trigger I want a bang, it had to go. Thankfully, all it takes to make that happen is a five-minute YouTube video, a couple tools I had laying around, and a 10-cent spring from Home Depot.
  • The trigger pull. Weighing in at a solid 6.5 pound pull, with the natural iffyness of the trigger itself just doesn’t cut it. Every time I pull the trigger I’m pulling left (I shoot lefty). As soon as I can afford it, I’m dropping in an Apex trigger.

Another thing I upgraded were the base sights. I’ve never liked those white dot sights that come on just about every pistol I’ve seen. They’re ugly and big and don’t help much in my opinion. I swapped out the Shield’s stock sights with a set of low-light vision off-the-shelf sights, and I shoot worlds better.

As for how I carry it, 99.9% of the time I carry it with an Alien Gear Gen 1 holster. I tried a couple off-the-shelf models, but we lefties don’t have too many options and the Alien Gear feels amazing. It’s darn comfortable and I can drive for hours and not feel a thing. I also carry two additional magazines in a mag holster on my offhand side. That gives me 24 rounds in three magazines plus one in the chamber — more than I’ll ever need (I hope). I also have a cheap shoulder holster that honestly is just fun to wear. I can draw a little faster, and it’s easier to access while sitting in a car, but it’s more difficult to conceal in a windy city.

Overall it’s an amazing little gun. Not perfect, but no stock gun is. It takes time, and work to make it fit you. I enjoy shooting it, and I feel comfortable carrying it. What more can I ask for?

(See the rest of the posts in this series here. Send your What I Carry and Why submissions with a photo to [email protected] with WICAW in the subject line.)

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    • I bet it’s one of those laserlyte training cartridges or whatever, basically a snap cap that shines a laser each time the tirgger is pulled.

      • Laserlyte. They work great. You don’t even need the fancy big bucks electronic target that Laserlyte will be happy to sell you: a piece of paper on the wall does the trick (just be sure of your back stop). In fact, my 9mm Laserlyte helped cure (for the most part) my flinch and, frankly, when I shoot at my local public range I fell like I’m Raylan Givens compared to most of the chuckleheads who seem to need giant hoodlum with snubbie targets that they, amazingly, can’t hit center of mass 50% of the time at 25 friken feet. I mean, yeah, its great that they’re getting to the range, but so many of them are practicing missing. Consistent dry fire practice with a Laserlyte can really make a world of difference.

  1. I replaced my extended mags to flush fitting ones in my shield 40, the original extended magazine that came with the firearm would wiggle free under recoil. 100% reliable with flush magazines.

  2. Do you carry your spares bullets backward? if so you might try bullets forward, that and bullets out are the way the gamers do it, which usually means that’s the fastest (best?) way to do it.

    • He is a lefty, according to the article, and he carries his mags on the off-hand side. Which means he’s got them pointing forward.

  3. Apex trigger and springs make a world of difference, the reset becomes almost a part of the trigger pull. Talon grips are also an economical upgrade. Magguts if you’ve got the $$ is nice.

    Even with the short sight radius, I shoot this as well as a full sized pistol.

  4. What shoulder holster do you use with the shield? I use a Comp-Tac MTAC holster most the time, but have been looking for a shoulder rig that works well with the shield for select situations. (long car trips come to mind)

  5. I upgraded mine with night sights (Ameriglo, “dot the “i” style”) and first time out with it, a couple of weekends ago, I shot much better with the new sights. I don’t care for the ordinary 3 dot style either. I put XS “standard” dot sights on my full size M&P, and again shot much better with it. Weather was too crappy last weekend and this past weekend was too busy (shame, because the weather was great). I need to shoot more with the new sights to get used to them, so hopefully can get out next weekend. I either got lucky on the trigger or got used to it real fast, because I haven’t ever had a problem with it. It’s probably heavy, but it goes off around when I expect it to (without flinching or pulling off). The Shield’s trigger was definitely better than a lot of the ones I tried when I was shopping (the Lockhart range has a good rental array).

    I’ve been looking at the Alien Gear holsters as well, so far, I’ve been pocket-carrying it with a simple sheath holster (think it was an Uncle Mike’s). I’d be interested to know what shoulder rig you found as well.

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