The S&W Shield is easily one of the most recognizable concealed carry guns ever created. The S&W Shield has been a mainstay in the concealed carry market after it was introduced in 2012. I remember how hard these guns were to get in 2012, and at that time they were selling for above MSRP. It was a nutty market.
Now that its been 7 years the gun is now one of the most affordable options out there. A little shopping around shows me they routinely retail for below 300 dollars.
A gun that is extremely reliable, made from one of the largest companies out there, and in a multitude of calibers for a great price is hard to beat. The Shield is, of course, a single stack handgun that is available in 9mm, 40 S&W, and even 45 ACP. The Shield in this review is the 9mm variant, which is the most popular model. The Shield, to me, is the perfect size for concealed carry.
It’s not a pocket pistol, it sits right on the edge of small and medium-sized. To me, the compromise of size lends itself well to this gun. It’s small enough to comfortably conceal in a variety of ways. It's a gun you can carry in an IWB, appendix, or OWB with ease. Its a bit big for ankle or pocket carry though. The size of the gun and grip also make it easy to shoot.
Not just easy in terms of hitting a target, but easy to control and shoot in a combat environment. It’s a gun you can shoot drills with easily and very confidently. You can execute double taps and Mozambique drills very easily. The gun is controllable when rapid firing. Smaller guns tend to want to fight their way out of your hand due to the recoil and smallish grips.
The Shield stays in place. On top of that, the gun has right proper sights. No little nubs designed to reduce size. These are proper combat sights and they make it quick to get on target and put lead where it needs to be. The S&W Shield is a gun that’s fun to shoot and fun to practice with.
The recoil impulse is very light in the 9mm variant and there is little challenge to stay on target. This is why smaller isn’t always better for concealed carry guns. The grip is also very comfortable. It’s rounded off and has an excellent swell in the palm. The grip has a great overhang that’s not quite a beavertail but it prevents slide bite.
Outside of being easy to handle the Shield is also easy to reload and operate. The magazine release is a rather big button that’s easy to press and use. The slide lock is also something you’d find on a full sized combat pistol and not a concealed carry gun. The only control I do not like is the safety. Luckily, you can buy a model without a safety.
The gun is still small enough to be concealed. I can carry the gun in shorts and a t-shirt all day long and forget its there. In terms of comfort, I find it well suited for 99% of my endeavors. Very rarely do I ever feel the need for something smaller.
Everything feels pretty round and nothing pokes or prods throughout the day, which is something I adore when carrying a gun. I hate having something sharp prick me all day long. The grip texture is also great for shooting in terms of keeping your hand in one place. It's also great for concealed carry since when it touches the skin it doesn’t rub you raw.
The Shield is quite accurate. Especially when you consider the short sight radius of the gun. The Shield shoots straight and if you exercise the fundamentals right you can create nice and tight groups. At 25 yards it's still a very accurate weapon on small targets. On man-sized targets, you would still be able to score solid vital zone hits.
The biggest problem with the Smith and Wesson Shield is the trigger. It’s really stiff with a long pull and kind of a long reset. It's far from perfect. It could certainly be improved but the trigger is good enough. I can’t say I love it, but I don’t hate it either.
Reliability is top notch. As someone who shoots a ton when testing and reviewing guns and gear, I try to save money on ammo. So I use the cheap stuff a lot and this leads me to use cheap Steel ammo from questionable sources. The Shield doesn’t mind, not one bit. It eats it all and does it well. It has no issues performing with any weight or type of ammo.
Reliability is the key to any CCW and the Shield is reliable and I’d trust my life to it.
The S&W Shield is a great gun, and at the price point, they sell for right now you’d be hard pressed to find something better. It’s fun to shoot, easy to carry, and best of all its reliable. The Shield’s commonality means it's easy to find holsters, magazines, and accessories for. It's not Glock like, you won't find a Polymer80 frame, but there are lots out there. If you’ve been looking for a bit of a do it all gun the Shield can fulfill that role very well. S&W’s little gun that will be around for a long time.
Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record-setting 11 months at sea. Travis has trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines, and the Afghan National Army.
He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and pursues a variety of firearms based hobbies.