Carrying the Shield – an update
I’ve been carrying my M&P Shield for a few weeks now.
I thought it was time to give an update on the carry side of things.
As a reminder, the reason I’ve chosen to carry it for a while is as an experiment. The reason we’re looking at the Shield is to gain first-hand knowledge if it’s recommendable as a handgun for carry and personal protection. On the surface it pans out pretty well, but it’s new and needs some mileage. So I opted to try it and see how it goes.
There’s a saying (I believe attributed to Clint Smith) that a carry gun should be comforting, not comfortable.
Well… at least for me, I find the M&P to be comfortable, not comforting.
It’s very comfortable. It’s small, it’s thin, it’s light. In my Comp-Tac MTAC holster worn IWB at 3 o’clock, the Shield just disappears into my side. Of course, this is with the flush/compact magazine. There’s no butt butting out, bumping into things, making clothing look bumping or odd. Truly, I can forget the gun is there… well, I don’t because it’s been rather a humid and hot June and so the holster sometimes sticks to my skin thus when I bend I remember the gun is there. But it’s the holster, not the gun, you see. I can sit in a hard-backed chair and there’s no gun butt smacking into the seat back, or causing things to have to shift around. I can lay on the floor and there’s almost nothing uncomfortable or bumpy.
So it’s a VERY comfortable gun to carry. At least for me.
But honestly, I don’t find it very comforting.
Previously I discussed the Shield’s capacity problem. At practical best, it’s a 6+1 with that flush mag. Get an M&P9c and you’re getting 12+1, but the tradeoff is a slightly larger gun which may be defeating the purpose. Of course, a full-sized M&P9 gets you 17+1 (16+1 really, since you should down-load the magazine by 1). But gee… 16 rounds in the magazine vs. 6… almost 3 times more ammo. And it’s a lot easier to do a speed reload with a full-sized gun, or at least, for someone with my size hands. See my most recent write-up about shooting the Shield.
I guess I just don’t feel like it’s enough gun.
”I have interviewed an awful lot of people after a gunfight. Not one of them has ever said to me, ‘I wish I’d had a smaller gun with less ammunition in it.’” – Tom Givens
And that’s the thing. You choose to carry a gun because you understand there may come a time in life when you’ll have to use it. In every aspect of our lives we (should) strive to be the best, to have every legitimate advantage possible so as to improve our chances of success. Why would you desire to intentionally handicap or cripple yourself? especially in a matter of life and death? If you can carry a larger gun, you should. And frankly, many people choose small guns for carry because they eschew comforting for comfortable.
Some will say “well, how much ammo do you need?” Well, I don’t know. And because I don’t know, I’d rather have more than less. Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.
That all said, I don’t think the Shield is a bad gun. I think it has a role. For me, it’s somewhere between my snub and my full-size. That is, my snub is my backup gun, but on rare occasion is pressed to be my primary/sole because I need as much concealment as possible. Otherwise, my choice and preference is to carry my full-sized gun. But there are times when the full-sized is too much for the situation and I could see the Shield filling the role. So, at the end of this experiment the Shield won’t be going into cold storage, but it may collect a little dust since it will not be my primary. But I will still bring it to appropriate KR Training class because I think it may have a role as a primary for some.
And that’s the thing… circumstances are different for everyone. The initial appeal of the Shield was as a possible solution to the “small/weak hands” problem we see in classes. There are some guns out there that fit small and/or weak hands, but usually those guns are also of variable or questionable quality and fitness for serious purposes. Could the Shield fit and be fit? So far results are promising, but it’ll take many people and much time before we can really say. Still, I’m high on the Shield for this purpose.
As for me, I still like it. It has a place, but it just won’t be part of MY regular use.
I’m going to switch back to my uncomfortable but more comforting full-sized M&P9.