I took the M&P Shield out to KR Training last Saturday for Basic Pistol 1 and Defensive Pistol Skills 1. My original intention was to take it just for the BP1 class to have all the students try shooting it, given the “buffet” nature of the class. However a few days before class, Karl told me of a returning student that wanted to try shooting the Shield during DPS1. I remember the student, she had small hands, and so it made good sense to have her try it because that’s the main thing we’re thinking the Shield would be good for: folks with small hands. Plus I figured it’d be good to have the gun run for a little while in some different classes and environments, get more rounds through it and so on.
So how did it go?
I think alright.
I read somewhere someone’s description of the Shield as “too big to be a small gun, and too small to be a big gun”. I think that’s a reasonable description. It’s not really a pocket gun, tho I guess if you had big cargo pants pockets it could work; it certainly fits into the pocket of some of my larger cargo pants/shorts. But it’s not big enough to do things like allow me a really good grip on it, or have a nice long sight radius. But wearing it in a holster on my belt? That’s fine, and frankly I think a bit more appropriate than in a pocket.
There’s no question that it fits well for folks with small hands. Numerous sets of small hands went onto the gun and they worked out quite well. The recoil spring is strong so it takes a bit of work for people to rack the slide (many times small hands also means less strength), but with good technique it can be done. So this bodes well.
Given the “small/weak hands” situation tho… the trigger. Well, it can be worked, but it’s got such a heavy break on it that it can make it harder for these very people to shoot it. It’s not impossible at all, but they’ll probably shoot it better if they got some trigger work done. I’d be curious to see how the forthcoming Apex Tactical SCK trigger kit could help things out here for folks.
The gun ran well during the day. Probably had 300 rounds put through it over the course of the day (so now about 500 total). I only saw a couple problems. First, the slide often didn’t go into battery. My suspicion here isn’t the gun but the operator, but it does harken back to issues of strength and technique. Second, the lack of magazines was a bit hampering for a class. Whenever Smith & Wesson finally starts selling magazines, you’ll want to get a bunch. Having just the 2 magazines made it difficult to manage class. Plus, while the magazines claim 7 and 8 round capacity, you really only want to use 6 and 7, else it can become difficult to seat the magazines. Again, this harkens back to a strength issue.
I’m happy that the gun continues to run and seems to be getting better with break-in.
It’s a little hard to shoot because it’s a bit muzzle-flippy and a bit hard to get a grip on. It’s also a bit hard to manipulate. While it’s certainly proving to be a good fit for smaller hands, if those smaller hands are also weaker hands well… the gun isn’t unmanageable, but it can be tough. Technique can help overcome this tho, but that’s going to require some training and practice.
I’m not down on the gun at all…. just trying to be realistic about it. It’s quite appealing given the name, the engineering behind it, the features, the pricepoint. But is it just going to be sexy, or actually useful? I’d like to be useful in general and to specifically solve problems for people.