First 100 Rounds with the S&W Shield Plus Highlights Impressive Upgrades
For full disclosure, there are a few things that need to be stated before we start this first impressions review of the Smith & Wesson M&P 9 Shield Plus. One, I carried a S&W M&P 9 Shield sub-compact for years, it holds a nostalgic place in my heart as my first concealed carry pistol. While I’ve since moved on, there were things I loved about it, namely the reliability. There were also some characteristics that left me wanting more, namely the trigger. But I carried it, and it treated me well. I can’t remember a single misfire in over several thousand rounds of fire.
But enough about the old, let’s talk about the new. I’ve put 100 rounds through this new S&W M&P 9 Shield Plus and these are my first impressions.
The 13+1 Upgrade
Smith & Wesson made a huge step forward in the Shield Plus by keeping the same footprint of the original gun, while upgrading the capacity from 8+1 to 13+1. Capacity was the main reason I dropped my original Shield and upgraded to the beefier Walther PDP. While the PDP has won me over in other ways, it may have not even been on my radar had the Shield Plus been introduced but a few months earlier.
That said, the added upgrade is a huge advantage, especially by keeping the same footprint. That means I get an immediate five-round bonus while not having to switch any of my holsters or any different carry methods. Bravo, S&W. Bravo!
The Other Big Added Pros
There are a couple big added pros here. I had never gotten my mitts on the M&P 2.0 when that came out, so the most immediate and obvious upgrade that S&W had followed up with here is their new and improved grip texture on the Shield Plus. I never liked the grip texture on the original M&P 9 Shield because it was lacking. After long days outside, training on the range in the summer’s heat, it had a tendency to get sweaty and move in the hand.
Smith & Wesson has addressed that issue with their new 2.0 lineup, and shooting this new Shield Plus feels a lot better because of it. It has more of a sandpaper texture to it now, allowing the gun to weld to the hand better. The grip texture also covers more of the grip surface area, which is certainly appreciated.
The next big plus is that the mag release button seems a bit more protruded and is easier to actuate. Mags still drop freely with no problem, and the gun ships with two of them. Speaking of mags, another big upgrade from my original Shield is that these mags feature a bright orange follower instead of a gray one, which is nice for aging eyes.
The final BIG plus I’ll give to the Plus – aside from the aforementioned capacity – is the trigger. I already mentioned I didn’t really care for the trigger on the original. There was too much mush at the front and a poor break at the wall, but the new version has solved all that. It’s a nice, flat-faced trigger, which I appreciate. That lost a lot of that mush and now has a nice break at the wall.
I don’t want to get too deep into a trigger comparison here because I haven’t fired the two side by side at the range yet, but the new trigger is certainly miles ahead of its predecessor and makes for a much more enjoyable range trip. Speaking of which…
First 100 Rounds on the Range
Not going to lie, shooting the first mag out of this gun I was far more accurate than most every mag I can remember out of my original Shield. While my original Shield is like an old car in need of an oil change – it desperately needs a new recoil spring - I can certainly say that alone couldn’t lead to this type of increase in accuracy improvement. I really do think the added benefit of the upgraded trigger and grip texture played well in my increased accuracy.
Overall, I really enjoyed shooting the Shield Plus, especially when compared to my original Shield. It feels better in the hands, and I’m shooting it a lot better as well. If this model carries over that same reliability, and there is no reason to think it won’t, then Smith & Wesson will have another proven winner in their already decorated lineup.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised by this offering from S&W. While I wasn’t expecting a flop, I also wasn’t expecting to enjoy this capable sub-compact as much as I have. I’m looking forward to carrying this for a while and feeding it a steady diet of 9mm. Stay tuned to Guns.com as we continue to put this gun through its paces.