M&P Shield, and capacity

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.

11 thoughts on “M&P Shield, and capacity”

    1. Very little. A little “counter comparison” was briefly done a little while back. They are of similar dimension, tho of course the 9c is wider since it’s a double-stack… and thus carries more ammo.

      It’d be something I’d like to do. My guess tho is if you carry a full-size M&P, it might be an easier transition to the “c”, especially since most of your same gear will continue to work.

  1. Great post. As a recent purchaser of the Shield, I can’t agree with you more.
    I consider the Shield my summer gun. The Glock 19 will be my “rest of the year” carry.

      1. I wanted the benefit of the thinner single stack grip. The double stack Glock 26 was the same width as my Glock 19 which I can use fine but I prefer a thinner grip. I’m still hoping for a 9mm single stack subcompact Glock.

        Here is a picture I took to compare the Shield and the Glock26:

        1. OK, you wanted a thinner grip. That made sense after I read some other comments from you about your hand size.

          I know a lot of people are interested in a single-stack Glock. I wonder if they might make one now with the way the market is going.

  2. Wish I knew this before I bought mine today. The 8 round magazine is fine, it seems to only be the 7 rounder that has the problem. so I could carry the 7 round as a second mag. The issue only happens when the slide is closed. When the slide is open the mag has an open convertible top.

    1. Yeah, it’s a bummer. But you can get it in there, it’s just a LOT of work. I just have this (possibly irrational) fear that if I have one in the chamber and then a full mag behind it, that’s going to be HUGE amounts of backpressure on the mag catch and it may blow out when I least want it to.

      Furthermore, I would rather NOT have my spare mag be tough to seat. I see it all too often in classes I help teach, where stress gets to people or just “shit happens”, mags don’t seated, falls out of the gun, and wow you just blew everything. Often when that happens we ask or look at the mag and sure enough, it’s loaded to the max. We encourage down-loading by 1 due to this (so there’s some room for the mag spring to still depress). It sucks to lose the capacity on an already low-cap gun, but I’d rather have a sure reload than blow it and up a creek.

    2. Another thing I’ll say is, most of your small guns are going to run into similar issues, just to varying degrees.

      All in all I’ve been happy with my Shield, if just a little bummed about this capacity/magazine issue.

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