At this past Saturday’s KR Training class, my M&P Shield saw some more action and had a few hundred more rounds put through her.
First, I’ll say, installing that Apex Tactical hard sear was a good decision. It really helps improve the Shield’s trigger. I cannot wait for Apex to put out their full trigger kit. Note that I don’t believe Apex is officially supporting this configuration… I’m doing so at my own choice and risk.
The first bit of action was lending it to a student. She shot it well, but it did give me some pause. First, one reason for the Shield is for folks with small hands. But as she showed me, even the Shield can be big for some hands. This student’s hands were alright for the Shield, but it was on the cusp of being big for her (in terms of proper gun fit and trigger reach). She told me she actually owned a Shield, but didn’t like it as much because it was snappy and hurt to shoot, or at least, hurt more than shooting her full-sized M&P9. This makes sense, and that’s a reality of a smaller gun: lighter in weight, the gun thus cannot absorb the recoil and so you get to feel it. These are the tradeoffs.
Apart from that, she managed alright… the lack of magazines and lack of capacity made using it in class tough. I really hope S&W will sell magazines soon, and that they won’t cost a fortune.
After class was over and everyone cleared out, I spent a couple hours doing some shooting on my own. I just wanted to shoot because I had the opportunity, but I also wanted to do some more work with the Shield to evaluate how it worked for me.
I shot numerous drills and standards, including some of the standards from the Rangemaster Instructor course, Paul Howe’s standards, the KR Training 3 Seconds or Less drill.
Overall the shooting went well, but I can make some comments.
My draw was slow. I was drawing from concealment, and I just felt like my arms were made of lead and I couldn’t get the moving fast enough. I used a shot timer throughout and most of my first shots were taking 1.5 to 1.7 seconds… and I felt so slow. So for the most part, I think it was me.
But I did notice on numerous draws that my grip was not solid. Was it because the size/shape of the gun? That when my hand met grip there just isn’t much to grip because it’s so short and thin? Or could it be because I’m just not used to it, after so many years of coming down on a full-sized grip? So many times I found myself, hand hitting grip, and then fiddle-farting for a moment or two to ensure solid grip. That’s going to take a tenth or two-tenths of a second. In the end tho, I chalk this more up to the man than the tool.
Reloads were just hard. On a full-sized gun, everything sticks out so it’s easy to get into the magazine well and slam a new mag home. It’s even easier to let an empty mag drop free. But on this gun — and I strove to shoot with the flush-mount mag, only using the extended mag as the reload — everything is “in”, nothing sticks out. So when I press the magazine release button, I have to release my grip on the gun, gripping it almost like I’m trying to daintily hold a fancy champagne flute, so I can get my palm out of the way so the magazine can drop free. Then seating the new magazine is difficult because left palm meets right palm unless again I’m way out of the way. Then seating the magazine can be a bit of a challenge. Finally I have lost so much of my grip I have to reacquire it all over again and ensure I don’t rush and fumble and blow the first shot post-reload.
And it just adds up to precious time being spent in a way that I don’t prefer.
But this again isn’t the gun, it’s the person. The lady that shot the gun in the morning? I reckon she’d not have these same problems because her hands just don’t “consume” the gun like mine so.
This is the one that really bugs me.
I have noticed when I shoot the gun weak-hand-only (left hand), sometimes the trigger hangs up on something and will not fully depress and the gun will not go bang.
It only happened once today (and blew an otherwise perfect run on a test, argh!), but it’s happened to me enough times in dry practice too.
Frankly, that it happens once is one time too many. At least, for a piece of life-saving equipment.
I’m not sure what’s going on with it, why the trigger is hanging up like that. But because it doesn’t always happen and seems to involve the “angle” at while my left index finger is pressing the trigger and maybe “pulling” or “pushing” it into something well… this is not the man, this is the machine that’s at fault. The trigger should NOT require me to have to press it “just so” in order for the gun to work. There’s something wrong.
And if I remember correctly, this did happen before I installed the Apex hard sear, so I don’t think it has anything to do with that change or part.
I’ve touched on this before, but gee, it really made things go slow. With only 6+1 (plus 7 in the extended mag for a reload), I would have to reload after almost every string since most required more than 3 shots. It got really old, things went really slow. It will be partially remedied when/if S&W ever starts selling magazines, but even still, a couple of the drills I had to modify because I just didn’t have enough ammo period.
On the one hand, having 17+1 in my full-sized M&P9 really helps with the administrative side of things. On the personal defense side having 17+1 means you can handle a lot more. While I just shot drills, that I couldn’t manage 2 strings in a row is a bit bothersome… what if that equates to having to deal with 2 bad guys in a row?
The day after, I noticed the pad of my right ring finger was hurting. There were a couple “white dots” on it, a hint of purple, and the pad was very tender… like it was bruised.
I realized it was due to the Shield. All that shooting with the flush magazine and how my fingers then wrapped around and interacted with the gun during recoil. It just beat the dickens out of my finger.
Never had that happen before.
It’s not a horrible thing, but when a primary activity in your day is typing, and a secondary activity is grasping things, well… you get a constant reminder of it being there. It’s annoying.
All in all, I shot well and did a lot better with the Shield than I expected. I did find myself mashing the trigger more due to the ergonomics of the gun. I haven’t touched my full-sized gun since I started this Shield experiment, but I really should go back and see how it goes. I hope I didn’t pick up too many bad habits, and I hope I can undo my trigger mashing. I didn’t think to bring the full-sized M&P with me so I could do some side-by-side comparison, but I now wish I had.
The trigger problem bothers me.
So I’m warming up to the Shield in some respects… but I’m still not sure it’s right for me.