The first thing about the Shield is capacity.
Maybe it’s because I came about in the age of the Tupperware Wonder Nine (i.e. Glock, etc.), with double-stacked magazines and manufacturers constantly one-upping each other in the capacity race well… I guess I like having ammo. But it’s more than simple “more”. Do some math. When you start to look at crime and gunfight statistics, you bode well to have more ammo. For example, Tom Givens‘ student incidents have ranged from 1 to 11 shots fired, average of 3.4 (if memory serves). So sure, the average can be handled with a 5-shot snub revolver, but what if you’re that guy that needed 11 rounds? Or what if you get to be the trendsetter and need 12 or more? If you think having more ammo is a bad thing, then why don’t you choose to go around with just 1 round? Capacity is good. The whole “better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it”. Be prepared. You can’t go get more ammo in the middle of a fight. And so on.
And so, going from my 17+1 full-sized M&P down to a 7+1 Shield… I feel naked, I feel like I’m taking a chance, gambling, playing odds that I don’t know if I want to play. Rational or not, it’s the feeling I get. OK, I could use the “extended” magazine and get 8+1, but honestly, if you use the extended magazine and carry IWB, then you’re almost the same size as the full-sized so you might as well carry the full-sized. Or at least, that’s how things fall on my body. It’s not exactly the dimensions of the full-sized, in terms of what “sticks out” from my hip, but it is close enough for me that it just about negates the benefit. But that 7 round “flush” magazine and the gun disappears into my side.
Here’s the thing.
You can’t really load these magazines to capacity.
Oh sure you can, but then try seating the magazine. It’s hard, because there’s a lot of backpressure on the magazine spring. To make it worse, put one in the chamber, reload the magazine to capacity, and NOW try to seat the magazine (so you get your 7-8 + 1 capacity). It’s near impossible to seat the mag. I have to clamp down really hard in a non-standard way to get the magazine to seat, and I’ve almost had a finger slip into/onto the trigger a couple of times when doing this just because it’s such a struggle (and I’m not a weak guy). I then worry about the backpressure and spring tension and if I could expect the magazine catch to fail and the mag come flying out of the gun at a most inopportune moment.
But more than that? I worry about potentially needing to perform a reload under pressure, and if it’s THAT hard to seat the magazine, that I won’t get it seated under pressure because you really have to push (struggle?) HARD to get it there. Some might say to give it a hard slap, but that won’t even do it; furthermore, that’s complicated by the fact you may not get a flat hit on the magazine basepad because of the gun’s short grip and that your palm will likely be in the way.
The only remedy I can see? download the magazine by one. This is a standard operating procedure for magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds (e.g. I load my M&P9 mags to 16), but generally sub-10-round mags you should be able to load all the way up.
Nope. Just not so here.
So really, the Shield effectively becomes a 6+1 and 7+1.
Still better than a pointed stick.
But some might argue that it’s not much better than a snub revolver. Well, I would say it is. It’s still a bit more ammo. It’s got better sights. The trigger is going to be shorter and lighter, easier for those small/weak hand people (I’ve seen people who can’t work a snub trigger, even my improved snubs with their Verne Trester action work). But of course, YMMV.
So keep this in mind if you opt to use the Shield for carry. Sure you CAN load the magazines all the way up to the manufacturer’s stated capacity, but SHOULD you? I say no, because it’s hard to seat the magazines when they’re full. Download them by one, and just accept that’s how it goes.