500+ Rounds Later: The S&W Shield Plus Continues to Impress
It’s been over two months since I put the first 100 rounds through the S&W Shield Plus. My round count is now pushing north of 500, that’s about the minimum I’d like to give before recommending a gun for concealed carry. There are features that continue to impress me about this latest handgun from Smith & Wesson. Let’s dive in to see what is still impressing me and what could use some work.
Is It Reliable?
This is the biggest question you’ll want to answer for any concealed carry handgun. While 500 rounds may not be the ultimate concealed carry test, it should be a big enough buffer to let you know if there are any significant issues with the gun. This Shield Plus ran a mixture of Wolf and PMC FMJ ammo with zero issues. Having carried the original S&W Shield 9 for years, I can attest that these guns are 100-percent reliable.
I’ve said in articles before that I’ve put thousands of rounds through my original Shield 9 carry gun, and I couldn’t recall a single failure. I think this new upgraded Shield Plus would continue the tradition while cycling through anything thrown its way.
The Capacity and Trigger Continue to Shine
The biggest win I think S&W has here is somehow plugging in an additional five rounds into the gun without changing the footprint. I was impressed by how the gun matched my original Shield 9 perfectly, and I was able to swap a Galco Scout 3.0 between the two models with ease. This is a huge boon for Shield 9 shooters who have trained with a certain holster for years. You literally don’t have to change anything about your style or preferred brand to start carrying and training right away.
I carried the gun a handful of times for nostalgia. It carried comfortably, and I noticed zero difference when tucked AIWB from the original Shield 9. I will say that if you have mag pouches or a holster with a sidecar, like I have from Knightfall Customs, you’ll need to upgrade as mags are different sizes from the original Shield 9.
If you own the original Shield, than upgrading to the Shield Plus is really a no brainer. It gives you an additional five rounds with the extended magazine, and you sacrifice nothing. That’s called a win-win.
In addition to the capacity, the trigger has continued to impress me, especially when compared to its older counterpart. I love the flat trigger design. The take up is minimal, and it delivers a crisp break at the wall with a short and tactile reset. Overall, if it were only for these two features combined with the reliability, the S&W Shield Plus would make for an excellent carry gun.
There are many upgrades worth mentioning here, but the big ones are the grip texture, the upgraded sights, and the Performance Center upgrades. The upgraded grip texture, when compared to my old Shield 9, shouldn’t go unstated. S&W carried over the same grip texture from the M&P 2.0, which is a huge improvement from the original Shield. The new grip texture has a very positive connection to the hand with an almost sandpaper-like texture. I find it similar to the Springfield Hellcat.
While I didn’t get a model with the new fiber-optic sights, know that they are available for a small $70 upgrade right out of the box. Even the white three-dot sights seem to be a small improvement from the old model.
Finally, if you’re someone who has to shoot with an RMR, Smith & Wesson wasn’t going to let you down. They ran the Shield Plus through the Performance Center and out the other side came a model equipped with a Crimson Trace RMR ready to go. The Performance Center edition clocks in with a higher MSRP of $896. Add a ported slide and barrel, and that price will jump up to $925. The standard white three-dot setup is the most affordable with an MSRP of $553.
Range Time & Upgraded Accuracy
I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I am far more accurate with the Shield Plus than I ever was with my original Shield 9. Even right out of the box, cold on the first mag at the range, I was shooting the Shield Plus head and shoulders above the old Shield.
When I compared the two at the latest range visit the Shield Plus again show its superiority. I attribute this to a couple things. First, and most obvious to me immediately, is the upgraded trigger makes for much easier and more accurate shooting. If you’re someone who is worried that you won’t like the new Shield Plus because you didn’t like the previous models triggers, I can assure you this is in a different ballpark.
The other possible thing that could be helping me with the new Shield Plus is the newer, and brighter sights. My old Shield 9 has been through a lot and the sights are pretty dull now compared to this new model. While this certainly could be a contributing factor I still think the biggest factor for shooting better is the trigger.
Everything can’t be all sunshine and rainbows with the new Shield Plus, can it? For all the major stuff, it kind of is. But there are a couple of things I could nitpick. The first thing I wish could be different is the slide serrations on this gun. They aren’t aggressive enough, and that can sometimes lead to a hand slipping when racking the slide. Granted, you should be able to easily train around this issue.
They did add forward slide serrations, another upgrade carried over from the M&P 2.0, but the aggressiveness and design of the serration is actually a holdover from the original Gen 1 Shield. If there could be one upgrade, I would ask it to be more aggressive slide serrations. Other than that, everything else is great.
Would I recommend the Shield Plus for concealed carry? The answer is an emphatic yes! I know the reliability and durability of this gun has been proven. I’ve proven it to myself with my first Shield 9.
When you mix the proven reliability of the Smith & Wesson Shield lineup with some great new upgrades and enhanced capacity, it’s bound to be a proven winner. S&W has done it again with another affordable carry pistol, and they’ve made a move to offer the best micro-compact handgun on the market.