M&P Shield – got to shoot one!

I got me an M&P Shield. I’m one of the cool kids now, right? No… it’s me, I’ll never be cool; always a geek. 😉

I first wrote about it here, then shortly thereafter got to play with one. That left me wanting one, and I put in an order for one. Happened to get lucky and got one.

Yes I know, I should probably decorate this with pictures, but sorry… I’m lazy. 🙂  But now that I’ve taken it to the range, I wanted to give some further impressions on it.

The Gun

It is thin. It’s almost too thin for me. I am going to have to shoot it a lot and dry practice with it a lot to adjust to it. My trigger finger wants to go really deep into the trigger guard, almost to my distal joint. That’s too far, and then it causes me to either push or pull the gun and hit left or right. It all depends, because well… it’s the trigger. Because of the ergos of how much finger I put on it, then when I try to adjust because the trigger is hard, it’s all… rough.

Yes, this will need an Apex Tactical trigger upgrade. I did hear that installing the existing M&P hard sear from Apex smooths things out and improves the trigger a lot, but I’m unsure about installing that until there’s solid word this is OK to do. The tolerances might be just different enough. But honestly, I would reason S&W worked to keep as much between the full-sized M&P and the Shield the same, using same parts, to help keep manufacturing costs down and thus supporting the Shield’s low price-point. Still, word posted on Apex Tactical’s Facebook page leads me to believe Shield parts are coming soon.

The sights aren’t that great, but as I said on the full-sized M&P, they are some of the better factory sights I’ve used. At least the front post is narrower than the rear notch, so you do see light on either side of the front post. That’s great! I did take a Sharpie and black out the dots on the rear sight, and while not a wicked awesome set of sights, they are alright and will certainly do. I know Dawson Precision has a Shield in their possession now, so they should be able to figure out all the details to make sights. Just have to stay tuned.

But the big thing is, how does it conceal? Pretty damn well. When you use the short/flush magazine, the butt of the gun is about an inch shorter than my full-sized M&P. The Shield does fit somewhat into my Comp-Tac MTAC holster (the gun profiles are generally the same, and the leather back to the MTAC helps it fit better since it collapses a bit, but by no means is the gun secure), and when holstered… geez… it just disappears. With the extended mag in, it’s a little more obvious. I’d say it’s almost to the point of “might as well carry a full-sized”, but the thinness of the Shield helps to further abate “sticking out”. I was able to see a size comparison vs. an M&P Compact; the height is about the same, the Compact is wider of course.

Carrying it is pretty nice. I wore it in my MTAC for a while, using the flush magazine. You barely notice it, because there isn’t stuff jutting out everywhere. No beavertail jutting into your ribs, the butt doesn’t rub against the back of a chair, no clothing hanging up on it depending how you move around. One thing is that with the gun fully loaded there’s enough “backpressure” on the magazine that the magazine’s basepad it pushed back from the bottom edge of the magazine well, leaving a space. The edges of everything are rounded off, nothing truly sharp, but it did notice this area “scratching” against the skin of my side a bit. Nothing horrible, just a minor irritation, but there. I’ve got sorta sensitive skin, so I wonder how this will fare over the course of wearing it all day every day. I think it’ll be OK, just something to get used to and then the body will tune it out.

All in all, I like the Shield, and will like it a lot more once Apex allows for a better trigger.

Shooting

I didn’t shoot much, only 200 rounds. 50 rounds of American Eagle 124 grain. 50 rounds of PMC Bronze 115 grain. 50 rounds of my handloads. 50 rounds of Gold Dot 124 grain +P. Everything worked fine, and boy that PMC has a TON of muzzle flash (never shot it before today). But everything fed and shot just fine and dandy, and I consider this a good first sign that the gun runs well, especially with my chosen social ammo.

Accuracy was acceptable, shooting out to 15 yards (didn’t try any greater distances). I know I blew some because of the trigger issues, either because I had too much finger and pulled the gun towards me, or too little and thus yanked it because it is a heavy trigger. In a close up fight, it’ll be fine, but for finer control and longer distance group shooting well… I’m back to wanting the Apex trigger. I wish I could convey the trigger over the Internet somehow so y’all could know… it’s not horrible, I’m sure most people will be fine with it. But once you know there are better triggers to be had in the world, you’ll find the factory trigger to be serviceable but with a lot of room for improvement. Which is why Apex has such heavy business. 😉

It is a little hard to control, because it’s hard to get all your hands on it. Of course, it’s more controllable with the extended magazine since you can get your pinky on there, and pinkies play a large part in recoil management. What I really want to try tho is some faster shooting, like Bill Drills. Just can’t do that at the local indoor range. Also try some one-handed and see how it goes. I will probably try something like the “3 seconds or less” drill.

Reloading actually isn’t all that bad… a little hard to seat things because your palm’s in the way, but really not as bad as some small guns I’ve tried. I did notice that, try as I might, it doesn’t auto-forward. I admit the auto-forward is something I do NOT like about the M&P, so if this doesn’t auto-forward I’ll be happy.

Speaking of that… because of the limited magazine capacity, you’re likely to follow the practice of loading the magazine fully, seating and racking to put one in the chamber, then dropping the magazine and topping it off. Thus with that flush 7 round magazine, you can have 7+1. Thing is, when you do that? It’s VERY difficult to seat the magazine; you really have to slam it home, which is kinda hard when your palm is a bit in the way. It’s do-able, but you need to be careful.

Conclusion

Well… it’s still to early to draw any conclusions. All I did today was start to break it in, throwing lead downrange, some accuracy checking, does it feed different ammo brands, does it function, etc..  The trigger does feel a little better than when I first got it, but it doesn’t matter… it needs Apex improvement. But apart from the trigger, all seemed alright today.

I also want to do more serious shooting with it, like Bill Drills, the 3 Seconds or Less drill, and just put it more through its paces and see how it runs.

Finally, I want to let students try it. I want to see how folks with small hands can handle it. Can they rack the slide? Can they control it? Can they work that factory trigger? All too often small hands also come with “small strength”, so just because they can grip it doesn’t mean it’s going to be a good/right gun for them. I had Wife and Daughter try it, and there was a bit of struggle in working the slide, but with better technique (e.g. racking over the top of the slide, bringing it in close to the body like opening a pickle jar) they could manipulate it.

But I’m starting to like it… a lot.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go dry fire for a while. 🙂

6 thoughts on “M&P Shield – got to shoot one!

  1. Well, it just went on my list of guns to eventually take a closer look at.

    Defiently interested in the “shooting in smaller hands” review if you get the chance.

    • Yeah, I see a lot of promise in this gun for sure.

      Once I get it into the hands of more students and see how it fares for them, I certainly will report on my findings.

  2. I bought one yesterday. See Groundhog’s blog(http://preambleforlife.blogspot.com/) for all the details, he writes better than I do. However to answer some of your questions about smaller hands. It fits me like a glove, I only shot about 60 rounds but was very impressed. I had no problem whatsoever with the slide. That was a major selling point since that is something I have difficulty with doing. The trigger was a bit difficult the first few rounds but once I got into the flow of things it felt very natural. I do agree that the sights will need some adapting. Like you, I figured I would do the magic marker thing for now. I will keep you posted as I put more lead through it. Any questions, you know how to find me.

    • I’ve been waiting for the training post, but this is a good substitute… because I see the progress! 🙂

      I remember the size of your hands, and if this is fitting you that well, that’s awesome. Furthermore, that you had no problems working the slide is also a good data point, since, if I remember correctly, the Glock was giving you some troubles, right?

      The trigger… yes, it breaks in, but it’s still not awesome. I read on Apex Tactical’s Facebook page that they’ll have an announcement maybe this week about trigger improvements for the Shield. John Kolbeson had also posted about some work he did using established “DIY M&P trigger job” procedures, but I’m a little unsure about doing that myself…. I’d probably screw it up, so I’ll just wait for Apex. I also know more companies are working on sights… there’s a Shield in the hands of Dawson Precision right now, so I’m sure they’ll be able to start mass producing them soon. But meantime blacking out the rear dots with a Sharpie has worked acceptably. I’m just happy that S&W opted to put decent factory sights on, like how the front post doesn’t fill up the rear notch — you see light on either side of the post!

      This is all great news! I’m glad you were able to find a gun that worked for you. And to hear the Shield works so well for you gives me further confidence that it’s going to be a good fit for folks with smaller hands. Thank you, Mrs. Groundhog! Looking forward to reading the training write-up.

  3. I see the M&P Shield as a nice competitor to really push the sub-compact polymer 9mm.

    I went through the usual tribulations of finding what I thought was the perfect CCW and holster, then came to my senses, learned more on the subject, and settled on the Kahr PM9.

    At the time, it was the most proven of the sub-compact 9’s, almost a year before the LC9.

    Aside from the con of its high price, I think the PM9 suffers from the same issue of “magazine bite” you may be alluding to with the Shield. Using the 7-round magazine, the plastic extension fits just shy of flush, which can bite your pinky or ring finger during firing or reloading. Hence, I carry the 8-round spare mag.

    I’ll offer my PM9 for you to compare/review to your new Shield. Shoot me a time and place and we can meet up. 🙂

    • This is going to be a problem with any gun where the grip is smaller than the hand holding it… “palm bite”. I’ve done some reloads where I pinched my palm and left a nice blood blister. You just have to adjust technique to ensure your fingers/palm are out of the way, but I hate that because you lose grip on the gun. Once again, tradeoffs. But then, I’ve had enough people with small hands hold this Shield and it’s not a problem for them.

      Thanx for the offer. I’m very tight on time these days so most of my shooting happens before/after classes at KR Training. But trying to do a side-by-side might be interesting.

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