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.

12 thoughts on “Carrying the Shield – an update

  1. I am curious why you think you need to download a modern pistol magazine. Is this based off of personal experience, documented studies, or anecdotal evidence?

    • Or if you’re talking in general (i.e. not the specific reasons why you had to with the Shield), it’s based upon learning this from some of the top trainers in the country, teaching for enough years and observing what succeeds and what fails (and why), and certainly personal experience.

      • I have never heard Karl or Tom Givens mention downloading magazines (in pistols) in any of their classes. What personal experience have you had that makes you download your mags by one?

        • Never heard Karl Rehn mention to down load magazines? I’m out at his place assisting him with classes at least twice a month for the past few years, and I hear it all the time. I learned it from him.

          The main reason for doing this is spring compression. When magazines are loaded to the manufacturers’ stated (marketing) capacity, the spring is fully compressed and there’s almost no room left to move. When you load the gun with the slide forward (common in a reload situation), further downward pressure is exerted on the magazine when the top round in the magazine comes in contact with the bottom of the slide. Well, the spring is almost fully compressed and now it needs to compress more. Sure it CAN go in, but it generally takes a lot of upward pressure on the baseplate to ensure the magazine seats. And so yes, too many times when the pressure is on, reload, magazine fails to seat, and now you’ve got an empty gun and a magazine on the ground. If you down load by one, the spring has more room to move, more space to compress, and so it’s not as difficult to ensure the magazine seats and locks.

          Sure reloads can still fumble and fail no matter what you do. And sure, some people are able to make their gun run no matter what. But downloading by 1 is a good general rule that works best for most people. If you’re an exception to the rule, great.

          Specifically with the Shield well… if you try it you’ll understand. Yes sure, you CAN load the Shield to S&W’s stated capacities, but it’s a struggle to get the magazine to seat and there’s just no way that’s going to happen in the middle of a fight. Practically speaking the gun holds 1 less than what S&W states… but that just doesn’t look as good in marketing and advertisements.

  2. Great write up.

    Here are the reasons my primary carry is the shield during the summer months.
    -I enjoy being able to wear shorts and a t-shirt. This works well with the shield. It is hot here in central Texas. I did not want to restrict what I wear too much just so I can carry.
    -It fits my small hands (not weak) better then my normal carry Glock19. Glock 19gen4 is still good. It is just that the shield is better.

    I come from a motorcycle racing and riding background. I’ve found that if the safety gear is not very comfortable that we are less likely to use it or even ride. I am all about walking the fine line between comfort and comforting with a keen eye utility.

    On a side note. I think you have convinced me to carry the shield 8 round mag in the pocket with 7 rounds in it.

    Thanks Hsoi. I’ll see you at the next KRTraining event I attend.

    • Certainly if something is too uncomfortable we’re not going to carry it at all. But we’ve all got our different lines, and for me, I find the full-sized gun works best and is something I can handle all year round. But then, back when I rode a motorcycle, trying to wear IWB under all that gear was about impossible. 🙂

      When you come out to KR Training, be sure to introduce yourself to me!

  3. Pingback: On small guns « Stuff From Hsoi

  4. Pingback: On small guns « Stuff From Hsoi

  5. Pingback: Later thoughts on the M&P Shield | Stuff From Hsoi

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