For years, the perfect “do-all” gun has been the holy grail of the gun world. When it comes to pistols, those are difficult shoes to fill. First, it needs to be comfortable to shoot for extended periods of time; next, it needs to be easily concealable; and lastly, it should have a higher ammo capacity. Features like a great trigger of course are a huge plus, but for a do-all pistol it needs to land in the middle ground of those first three requirements. Many people can carry mid-size or even full-size guns with bulky clothing in the winter, but for most of us, male and female alike, our usual clothing does not allow that without obvious printing. In order to have an easily concealed gun, we had been forced to make trade-offs in size for something we can hide comfortably. Those trade-offs historically have come at the expense of reduced mag capacity, smaller caliber, and more significant recoil.
At least that’s how things were until now… A new class has been recently perfected that fits our needs in a way very few pistols have. The high-capacity micro-carry 9mm market has been evolving the last few years and Smith & Wesson coming to the table to meet everyone’s request. The new M&P Shield® Plus pistol series checks all the boxes. This pistol is enjoyable to shoot for long periods of time, easy to conceal, and holds more rounds of ammunition than most handguns in its class. A special thanks to Smith & Wesson for sending me this M&P Shield® Plus pistol to review.
With efficiency in mind, Smith & Wesson re-engineered the popular M&P Shield to create the M&P Shield® Plus. The new M&P Shield® Plus has a slightly thicker grip than the previous Shield™ but is barely noticeable. It feels even better in the hand as a result and even fits the same holsters. So, if you’ve been carrying a Shield all these years, there’s no need to update the holster you’ve grown to love so much. The magazine now fits a staggering 10+1 rounds in the flush mag and 13+1 rounds in the magazine that adds only an extra 1” extension (where available), which is the perfect addition for those who have larger hands. And for even greater capacity, Smith & Wesson teamed up with Federal Premium to help launch their newest caliber, 30 Super Carry™. With 30SC the capacity is upped to 13+1 with the flush mag and to 16+1 with the extended mag (where available), taking the Shield Plus’s capacity to a whole new level.
While the M&P Shield® Plus maintains a very small overall size, the felt recoil seems less than other similar sized pistols. Smith & Wesson designs their handguns with a low bore axis, which means the barrel sits lower and lines up closer to your grip to reduce torque. Less torque means reduced felt recoil because the muzzle does not flip as much. There is also a 4” ported model from the Performance Center® to further reduce muzzle flip while still being very concealable. Muzzle porting directs gas upwards providing thrust to further reduce muzzle flip by pushing the muzzle downward with the expelled gas. Though many people often suggest that ported muzzles can “blind” you if you ever use them in a low-light scenario; in actuality, when firing in near darkness however, you can tell very little difference between a ported and non-ported pistol in terms of muzzle flash. That bit of lore is easily disproved with a few quick rounds on the range with the lights off.
Even the 3.2” model without porting feels very much like shooting a larger pistol. Put it all together, unlike most other compact carry guns, the Shield Plus is one you can shoot all day on the range without it wearing you out. In contrast, other snappy compacts can feel uncomfortable from the sharp recoil after shooting so they may be easy to carry but are not comfortable to train regularly with. For a good EDC, you want a gun you can comfortably shoot so you are well practiced in all aspects of the gun including clearing malfunctions. Practice, practice, practice is an adage we use often, and your everyday carry is the most crucial firearm you should practice with.
Another area that compact guns often fail to include is an upgraded trigger. Micro compact guns have been notorious for having heavy double action triggers and/or very long take-ups, but the new trigger on the Shield Plus is awesome. It is smooth and light and has a clean, short reset. I’m a bit of a trigger snob and this trigger out of the box is better than aftermarket triggers you commonly spend more than $150 on.
Smith & Wesson also added options for optic-ready versions of the Shield Plus. With the increase in popularity of red dots, this has pleased many. The optic adds a little more footprint to the gun for carry, but a lot of people have been carrying them daily now because the optic provides faster target acquisition. This is also a good option for newer shooters as red dots are easier to learn and become proficient with. Anything that can give you an edge is worth exploring. Additionally, Smith & Wesson has wisely designed their slides to allow co-witnessing the iron sights through the red dot as well in case the battery was to fail. In my opinion, this is a must.
Whether you’re brand new to firearms or a veteran, the Shield Plus is definitely a gun you should take a look at for its versatility. It’s a great handgun for first-time buyers looking to start out with just one firearm, and is a great value, serving as both a concealed carry and enjoyable range gun. The same goes for the experienced shooter. Many people don’t shoot their carry guns enough to be proficient with them because they aren’t as comfortable to practice significantly with. For these reasons, the M&P Shield Plus fits the bill; I highly recommend you check it out.