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Both M&P Shields are solid and dependable concealed-carry pistols. Based on the two million sold since their introduction five years ago, many others agree.

In the competitive market of concealed-carry handguns, new or revised products are introduced frequently. In its effort to maintain the popularity of the M&P Shield line of concealed-carry semiautomatic pistols, after five years and two million produced, Smith & Wesson recognized the need to keep the Shield current with a refresh. It announced the release of the M&P Shield M2.0 on October 16, 2017.

“The Shield M2.0 is an evolution of the original Shield, with three improvements and one additional option.”

Overview

The revised M&P Shield M2.0 arrived after the January 2017 introduction of the full-sized M&P M2.0 version and just two weeks after the release of the all-new M&P Compact M2.0 pistol. The M&P Shield M2.0 followed in the footsteps of these pistols by inheriting most of the M2.0 changes from its siblings.

The Shield M2.0 is an evolution of the original Shield, with three modifications and one additional option. The revised grip texture and trigger enhancements are significant, whereas the forward slide serrations really aren’t. Even Smith & Wesson doesn’t mention them in its press release.

The slide on the Shield M2.0 (right) has forward slide serrations. Unfortunately, they are small and low on the slide, making them more cosmetic than functional.

Personally, I don’t have a need for forward slide serrations, but even if one does, the serrations on the Shield M2.0 fall short on functionality. On the other hand, the availability of an integral Crimson Trace laser is an excellent enhancement to the line. Now that Smith & Wesson owns Crimson Trace, I’m sure you will see more such options in the S&W lineup.

Because the Shield doesn’t have a rail, there was no need to extend the frame forward for added strength, as it was in the full-sized and compact models. As for the slide, the original Shield already got the Armornite hardened nitride finish, so for the M2.0, no change was needed there either.

The M2.0 has a Crimson Trace laser integrated into the frame, available for $20 more than the standard model. It’s an easy move for S&W, since it now owns Crimson Trace. (Photo by Robb Manning)

Operation/Specifications

The basic design of the M&P Shield hasn’t changed. It is still a polymer-framed, striker-fired, semiautomatic, single-stack EDC pistol. It also remains relatively inexpensive, considering its features.

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Magazine capacity of the Shield (original and M2.0) is greater than most of the competition due to the slightly staggered design of the magazines. They are available in seven-round capacity with a flush baseplate and eight-round capacity in a slightly extended version. The eight-round-capacity magazine provides a little more vertical real estate with which to grip the pistol than does the seven-round version.

The trigger safety on all Shields uses a pivoting lower half rather than the blade type used by Glock. When the trigger is at rest, a trigger stop prevents the trigger from being depressed enough to release the striker. When a finger presses the trigger, the lower half of the trigger pivots on the pivot pin, rotating the trigger-stop out of the way of the frame—thereby allowing the trigger and attached trigger bar to move rearward. A firing pin (striker) safety blocks the forward travel of the striker, unless the trigger moves the trigger bar to the rear, thereby pushing the safety out of the way of the striker.

When the trigger is pulled, the bottom half of the trigger rotates around a center pin, thereby moving a stop away from the frame, allowing the trigger to move fully to the rear.

The M&P Shield M2.0 can be had with a manual thumb safety (but as of this time, that model does not come with night sights). When in the “up” position, the manual thumb safety prevents the trigger bar from moving rearward, causing the sear to drop and release the striker.

Some shooters won’t even think about purchasing a semiautomatic pistol without a manual external safety. Others, like me, don’t find one necessary in a striker-fired pistol, which already has multiple passive safeties. If you want one, this one works fine … unless you are a southpaw. In that case, it is stiff enough to operate so that anyone shooting the Shield M2.0 left handed will have trouble disengaging it quickly while maintaining a proper grip.

One nice touch to both generations of Shields is the loaded chamber indicator. It is visual only and consists of a funnel-shaped hole on the top of the slide at the rear of the barrel hood. Simply peer into the hole, and you can see the rim of the casing if one is in the chamber.

The funnel-shaped hole in the rear of the barrel hood and front of the slide cutout allows the shooter to look into the rim area of the chamber and determine whether or not there is a casing in the chamber.

Another positive feature I found on both versions of the Shield is a large extractor. It looks like overkill, but it’s unlikely that it will break or cause a malfunction in the middle of a gunfight.

When disassembling the Shield following the directions in the Safety and Instruction Manual, you are instructed to rotate the little “yellow(ish)”—S&W’s terminology—lever in the rear of the magazine well forward to disengage the sear. This is undoubtedly safer than pulling the trigger, as in the disassembly of a Glock. However, after doing it a couple of times, most people will opt for just pulling the trigger. If you decide to use that method, make sure the gun is pointed in a safe direction and is unloaded when doing so.

The yellow(ish) sear deactivation lever can be seen in the “down” or “forward” position. When in the “up” or “activated” position, it sits vertically against the rear of the magazine well and is a bit difficult to grasp or get behind and then rotate down/forward.

Some people like forward slide serrations so they can grasp the slide in the front and push it to the rear to check for a round in the chamber. Many instructors advise against this, because they feel it puts the shooter’s hand in jeopardy in case of a negligent discharge.

Whatever your preference, the forward slide serrations found on the new Shield M2.0 aren’t going to help much. Functionally, they are too small and too low on the slide to be of much assistance. When the slide is retracted using the forward serrations, the frame becomes wider, forcing your fingers away from the slide as you draw it to the rear. This negates any small benefit the serrations might provide. They do look nice, however.

The slide, barrel and captive dual spring recoil rod are similar to most striker-fired, polymer-framed pistols. The large extractor can be seen protruding into the slide at the rear of the barrel hood opening.

The standard sights and the night sights are both steel and are drift adjustable. The rear sight has a locking set screw. One of the best parts of the Shield M2.0 is the availability of an integral Crimson Trace laser in place of the add-on Crimson Trace Laserguard. My test gun only had night sights installed, so I can’t comment on the operation of the laser. However, for only $20 extra, I’m betting it will be a popular option.

The three-dot tritium night sights are easy to pick up in the dark or at dusk. The standard sights are configured similarly, using white dots instead of the tritium tubes.

Versions

The M2.0 version of the Shield is an addition to the Shield lineup and does not replace the original Shield, which will still be made. Initially, 10 models of the M&P Shield M2.0 were added to the Shield lineup.

Both 9mm and .40 S&W calibers are available. Each caliber is available both with and without a manual thumb safety with standard sights—or both with a Crimson Trace laser with standard sights. If you want night sights, you can’t have a Crimson Trace laser or a thumb safety.

The existing .45 ACP Shield already has the Shield M2.0 features without the M2.0 designation. Smith & Wesson personnel won’t confirm it, but I would look for Performance Center versions of the M&P Shield M2.0 in the near future.

“The new texture on the grip … is a small change that makes a big difference in the controllability of the Shield M2.0.”

Ammunition

I used five 9mm Luger factory loads from four different manufacturers for this evaluation. Two were practice loads, and three were defensive loads.

The usual warnings regarding which ammunition should and should not be used in the Shield M2.0 are found in the Safety and Instruction Manual. Only ammunition that conforms to Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturer’s Institute (SAAMI) standards should be used. I found no notice that the use of handloaded/reloaded ammunition would void the warranty.

The use of +P ammunition is not specifically prohibited in the Shield M2.0. Nevertheless, Smith & Wesson prohibits the use of +P+ ammunition in all of its firearms.

Head To Head At The Range

At the range, I performed a direct comparison between the original Shield and the new Shield M2.0 for both accuracy and handling. For the accuracy evaluation, I fired three five-shot groups at 15 yards for each factory load and each gun. The barrel was cleaned, and two fouling rounds were fired between each type of ammunition evaluated.

Both Shields preferred Federal Premium defensive ammunition. The Shield M2.0 preferred the HST 150-grain HST JHP, with a small group of 1.69 inches and a three five-shot group average of 1.91 inches. The original Shield preferred the 124-grain Hydra-Shok JHP, with an incredibly small single group of 0.76 inch and a three five-shot group average of 1.70 inches. These factory loads would be my choice for defensive loads in their respective guns.

I found the trigger on the M2.0 version to be lighter than that of its predecessor, but I could not find any discernible difference in the feel of the trigger pull. The reset of the original Shield has a “two-stage” feel, whereas the reset of the M2.0 version had a single-stage feel that was slightly crisper and more audible.

Using the Shield M2.0, this B-27 target was shot at 7½ yards using a “draw from concealment,fire two rounds and re-holster” drill four times until eight rounds were fired.

The new texture on the grip of the Shield M2.0 is significantly more aggressive than that of the original Shield and makes the Shield M2.0 easier to control on follow-up shots. Even so, it is not so rough that it will excessively wear clothes or upholstery. This is a small change that makes a big difference in the controllability of the Shield M2.0.

I carried the Shield 2.0 in a Murph’s IWB holster using the flushfit, seven-round magazine for better concealment. At the range, I used the eight-round magazine in order to obtain a better grip.

Out to 15 yards, it was sufficiently accurate for defensive purposes. A target pistol it is not. It was relatively quick to draw and easy to reload quickly. Here, I found that the steel magazine bodies operated more smoothly than some polymer magazines I have used in the past. Like the original Shield, I found the 2.0 to be reasonably pleasant to shoot, considering its somewhat small size.

The Shield M2.0 grip (right) has a much more aggressive texture than the original Shield grip (left). The added texture allows for a more secure grip and quicker, accurate follow-up shots.

Final Words

Both M&P Shields are solid and dependable concealed-carry pistols. Based on the two million sold since their introduction five years ago, many others agree. I believe the average person with a concealed-carry permit would be well served by either version of the M&P Shield. That said, there are those who believe that anything smaller than a Glock 19 or an M&P Compact M2.0 is too small.

These naysayers make some good points regarding capacity and shootability, but they are willing to dress around their gun and the weather. I find that many of these people are former military or law enforcement and have seen the worst of the worst and been around guns most of their lives. For the average person who wants to carry concealed for their own protection but is not yet ready to build their life around their gun, the Shield is a better choice.

The changes to the M&P Shield M2.0 are small but helpful. I wouldn’t trade in a first-generation Shield for an M2.0 version just to have the upgrades, unless I really had to have the Crimson Trace laser. If I were purchasing a Shield for the first time, however, and had a choice between the two versions, I would certainly choose the M2.0 version over the original. The improved trigger pull, aggressive grip texture and available Crimson Trace laser make a good concealed-carry gun even better.

During my time carrying the Shield M2.0 and evaluating it at the range, I discovered that a lot of people own Shields for their EDC gun. It is not at all hard to believe that Smith & Wesson has produced more than two million of them.

New For The Shield M2.0

  • Lighter trigger pull with tactile and audible reset
  • Aggressive grip texture
  • Front slide serrations
  • Available integral Crimson Trace laser

This 9mm model of the Shield M2.0 has standard sights and a thumb safety (leftside operation only). The thumb safety is quite stiff to operate, and anyone shooting the pistol left handed would have a difficult time removing the safety quickly when drawing from a holster.

Performance

M2.0

Original Shield

Ammunition

Avg. Velocity (fps)

E.S. S.D. Best Group (inches) Avg. Group (inches) Best Group (inches)

Avg. Group (inches)

Federal Premium HST 150-grain HST JHP

830

33 9.7 1.69 1.91 2.79

3.17

Hornady Critical Duty 135-grain FlexLock

948

42 12.5 2.88 3.25 2.45

3.13

Winchester 115-grain FMJ

1,050

32 10.5 1.44 2.47 2.97

3.30

American Eagle Syntech 115-grain TSJ

1,053

37 13.1 3.70 4.67 2.96

3.78

Federal Premium 124-grain Hydra-Shok JHP

1,014

85 22.5 2.36 2.87 0.76

1.70

Average for five factory loads

3.03

3.01

NOTES: Velocity is an average of 10 consecutive shots, measured at the muzzle using a LabRadar device. E.S. = Extreme Spread; S.D. = Standard Deviation. Groups are five shots at 15 yards, and the average is taken from three groups.

Specifications

Action: Striker-fired, recoil operated, locked breech
Overall Length: 6.1 inches
Overall Width: 1.0 inch
Height: 4.5 inches with seven-round magazine, including sights
Barrel Length: 3.1 inches
Weight: 20.3 ounces (with empty seven-round magazine)
Capacity: 7+1; 8+1
Sights: Standard steel with single white-dot front; dual white-dot rear; optional steel night sights; optional Crimson Trace laser
Trigger Pull: 6.5 pounds
Finish: Armornite
Warranty: Smith & Wesson’s lifetime service policy
MSRP: $479 base; $499 with Crimson Trace laser; $579 with night sights

*Average of 10 consecutive trigger pulls using a digital Lyman Trigger Pull Gauge

Contact Information
Smith-Wesson.com

 

Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the March 2018 print issue of Gun World Magazine.