By: Justin Hilbert

The Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm has been my go-to concealed carry handgun for several years now. It’s small, powerful, comfortable to wear and shoot, and is an all-around great subcompact. Here’s why you should consider including the M&P in your concealed carry lineup:

It’s Designed for Law Enforcement
Smith & Wesson introduced their M&P line of handguns in 2005. “M&P” stands for “Military and Police,” which, as the name suggests, were Smith & Wesson’s main target markets for the new model. If you remember the Smith & Wesson Sigma, the M&P pulled a lot from that model to create a high-quality alternative to Glocks for working sidearms.

The end result was more than just an alternative to Glocks. S&W succeeded in creating an excellent sidearm that police forces around the world use as their standard issue. Various U.S. police departments use the M&P, as does the Mexican police, South Australian and Victoria police, Belgian Federal Police, various Canadian police services, and many more throughout Europe, Asia, and Latin America.

It wasn’t until 2012 that the S&W M&P was miniaturized into the M&P Shield model. The Shield 9mm and Shield .40’s 3.1-inch barrel is almost a half-inch shorter than the regular compact version, and nearly two inches smaller than the full-size version. The Shield also weighs close to three ounces less than the compact because of a smaller magazine, and five ounces less than its full-size brother. It’s less than an inch thick, making it substantially thinner than its M&P predecessors.

Why I Trust the Shield as My Everyday Carry

The Profile & Grip
Smith & Wesson really nailed the dimensions of this little weapon, which is why the Shield 9mm has become my favorite concealed carry. It’s slim enough that you can carry it all day without it getting uncomfortable, but still has enough mass to look intimidating and feel good while shooting.

The grip feels just a tad wider in my hand than the GLOCK 43 does and allows me to control the Shield better than the little Glock while firing. I like the G43, but it definitely bucks and rolls more in my hand than my Shield 9mm. I prefer single-stack magazines, which both the Shield and the G43 have, but the Shield allows for 8+1-rounds without having a double-stack mag. The G43 features a 6-round magazine.

The Trigger
I mention the M&P Shield and its trigger pull in my recent article reviewing the SCCY CPX-1. One of my main complaints about the CPX-1 was how long the pull was. The M&P Shield was the first of the M&P series to get an improved, positive reset trigger. It’s short. It’s consistent. And I love it.

The trigger seems to engage the striker right at the sweetest spot. I don’t have to concentrate nearly as much on the trigger-squeeze while firing my M&P Shield 9mm as I do with other subcompacts. And because of this, for the most part, my rounds land where I’m aiming. I don’t send rounds low or off to the side.

Sear Deactivation Lever
The sear deactivation lever is a simple, up and down toggle that allows the shooter to disengage the trigger from the striker. It’s found inside after dropping the mag and racking the slide back. Using the tool that comes with the firearm, or pretty much any other pick tool, you just toggle the lever into the “down” position and strip your weapon without ever pulling the trigger.

Some people have complained about the sear deactivation lever because it creates an extra step in the breakdown process. Some have said this feature makes the M&Ps inferior to Glock’s comparable line. But what many don’t realize is that you don’t need to use the internal sear lever, and that it is actually quicker and easier to disassemble the M&P than the Glock using the more traditional “takedown lever” located above the trigger on the left-hand side of the gun.

That said, I, myself, am a fan of the sear deactivation lever. It allows you to remove any chance of accidental discharge by sticking to the golden rule, “Never put your finger on the trigger unless you are ready to fire.”

It Shoots Like a Bigger Gun
The Shield, as I mentioned earlier, has a short trigger pull. Moreover, its slide profile is low, which helps decrease muzzle rise, allowing me to recover my aim better for faster firing. This is just my opinion, but the ergonomics, in general, make the Shield comfortable to shoot, and it performs much more like its larger brothers than other subcompacts I’ve fired.

‘One Million Shield Owners Can’t Be Wrong’
The Shield 9mm is the perfect concealed carry for me. It’s comfortable to pack all day, and though its overall length is only 6.1”, it performs like a larger gun, which gives me confidence if, heaven forbid, I would ever have to use it.

The Shield also comes in .40 and .45 ACP. For me, though, the 9mm is just right. Once you start packing more stopping-power into such small handguns, they tend to get really jerky. This might not be a problem for some, but for me, I’ll stick with the 9mm with which I can quickly recover my aim.

Like it says on the Smith & Wesson’s website, “One million Shield owners can’t be wrong.”

Justin Hilbert is a copywriter and content strategist, writing from Florida and Costa Rica. Contact him at

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Gunpowder Magazine.

Photo Credit: Smith & Wesson