How can you improve upon success? Well, it can be done and as James Cash Penney, the founder of J.C. Penney department stores, said:
Improvement is the logical form of success.
As I discovered in my previous original Shield review, Smith-Wesson’s Shield is one of the best values and often used concealed carry handguns, and now they have refined it. In 2017, Smith-Wesson introduced the M2.0 features to its M&P pistol lines in 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP calibers. In January, Smith & Wesson introduces the M2.0 changes for full-size M&P pistols, the compact M&P M2.0 changes appeared in September (see: S&W M&P M2.0 Compact 9mm In-Depth Review), and the subcompact M&P Shield with the M2.0 changes was just released a few days ago in October. So, what are the unique M2.0 improvements to the already-successful M&P subcompact striker-fired Shield? Will the new features and changes help with concealed carry?
Smith-Wesson asked me if I wanted to review their new M&P 9 Shield M2.0 in 9mm and I jumped at the opportunity. I have the original Shield, wanted to see the changes for myself, and want to help folks decide on this new gun for concealed carry.
To begin, I want to give you the M2.0 Shield’s specifications and then some of its new features. The original M&P Shield met my 12 main and key concealed carry factors for my top concealed carry handguns. I evaluated it in depth with specific drills and then ranked it in my Top 21 concealed carry guns in my recently-published book “Concealed Carry & Handgun Essentials.” I rated the 21 guns by width, weight, capacity, trigger press, price, features, Overall, etc. While the original Shield was not in my top 5 concealed carry guns then, this new Shield M2.0 is a very serious competitor and will rank high. But, how high? Again, your personal preferences have a crucial role in your selection. Here I want to give a brief review of this new M&P M2.0 Shield in 9mm with my opinions. The standard Shield M2.0 9mm model #11808 (not reviewed here) is very similar, but comes with standard 3-dot sights, two magazines, and cost about $100 less. There is also a Shield M2.0 9mm model #11671 with Crimson Trace red laser sight and two magazines, priced reasonably.
Criteria and Considerations for My M&P Shield M2.0 Subcompact 9mm Review
Here are just 10 of my criteria and factors for evaluating the M&P Shield M2.0, and I will apply them for my concealed carry purpose. Also, other features may be appealing for some. Examples could be a particular style, mag release location, action, caliber, appearance, number of mags included, type of sights/modifications, bore axis, rail, non-porting, added extras like a holster and pouch, customer service, etc. So, I combined these into my last Miscellaneous criterion. I assigned a total possible point score of 10 points for each of my ten criteria for an overall possible score of 100 points. You can certainly add your own additional criteria and preferences or subtract any of mine.
Remember, there are a lot of attributes, pros and cons, and criteria to include and consider and you make your tradeoffs according to your priorities, preferences, and defined needs and use.
A Quality Holster is a MUST
To effectively use this new Shield M2.0 you need at least one quality holster for your preferred carry method. There are several holsters available that are custom fit, all-day comfortable, conceal well, have good retention, easy access, etc. If I were to buy this subcompact 9mm pistol (and I probably will), I would use it for concealed carry and wear it mostly Outside-the-Waistband (OWB) and sometimes Inside-the-Waistband (IWB), depending on my type of activity, cover garment at the time, danger level, weather, etc.
I found three exceptional custom OWB and IWB holsters for this M&P M2.0 Shield subcompact 9mm.
Kramer Handgun Leather Horsehide Holster
KHL makes a beautiful, high-quality OWB Horsehide Leather custom holster. It has excellent workmanship, is very comfortable, extremely durable with the horsehide material, and conceals well. The KHL Leather OWB holster has a nice FBI forward cant and rides high for easy draw. It has the classic “pancake” design and works well for the range and home use, as well as for concealed carry and competition. Here is the M2.0 Shield in the KHL OWB holster.
Urban Carry Revo Holster
UCH just introduced their Revo Holster System, which is an interchangeable modular system combining a carry Rig with a gun Shell. There are seven ways to carry (i.e., Rigs- e.g., IWB, OWB, Shoulder, Ankle, etc.) and you can use several Rigs and combine them with your particular handgun preferences and their matching custom Shells. This is a very flexible system with 360-degree angles of options so that you can interchange and rotate your many carry guns in one modular system at a decent price. Just attach your gun’s Shell by velcro to the Rig which represents the way you want to carry. The holster’s cant is adjustable, it has plush expanded padding, and premium, saddle-grade leather and stainless steel clips, snaps, and uses rivets. Below is the Shield M2.0 pistol in its holster Shell and attached to the IWB Rig of the Revo Modular Holster System.
Alabama Holster Kydex Holster
ALH makes a very concealable and durable OWB Kydex pancake holster, with a (half) sweat shield. The Flapjack holster uses thicker .093 Kydex for extra strength, so rivets are not needed to strengthen it. It is comfortable with rounded edges and costs about $75. It comes in a variety of belt widths, including 1.25, 1.50, 1.75, and duty belts. Here is the Shield M2.0 in their Flapjack Kydex OWB holster.
M&P Shield M2.0 9mm Field Test
I shot a lot of rounds through this new Shield M2.0. Of course, I wanted to test it adequately, but I also really enjoyed shooting this gun. Some of my students shot it, and they gave it stellar reports. I sincerely hated to stop shooting it and ended up firing about 250 rounds. This small-barreled and lightweight concealed carry gun was not that harsh to shoot, and I could easily handle the felt recoil. (Your mileage may vary.) Below are my evaluations for each of my ten criteria for my concealed carry purpose. Recognize that I am not a top-gun shooter by any measure and this new gun is not broken in yet. I bought some test and evaluation rounds myself, but Sig Sauer ammo helped by providing some great ammo. Thank you, Sig Sauer, for giving me various high-quality V-Crown 9mm 124 and 115-grain JHP and Elite Ball 115 grain FMJ ammo to test the Shield M2.0.
While I had very high expectations for this new Shield M2.0, I wondered if it would come thru with high ratings, given the changes made. Well, it indeed met my expectations and this 9mm M&P Shield M2.0 has excellent ergonomics, was very comfortable in my hand, and was accurate and reliable. I had no malfunctions, stoppages, nor any problems at all. My students also liked it. For my brief live-fire testing, it proved to be accurate, reliable, comfortable, and safe to operate. I will buy it as one of my concealed carry options, and you should give it a serious look for your concealed carry.
During live-fire at the range, I shot my first three mags (2 loaded with eight rounds and one with seven rounds) at 5, and 7 yards in rapid fire and all hits were in the 7 to 10 rings. Given my aging eyes, I was pleased with the 3-inch max groups over different distances with the standard testing drills I use from my book. Below are my slow-fire hits on one of my targets at 7 yards with a mag change from my range field testing of the M&P Shield M2.0. For a short-barreled subcompact, It was an accurate and comfortable gun to shoot.
Field Test Result for Each of my 10 Criteria for the M&P Shield M2.0 9mm pistol
1. Accuracy and Reliability – Score: 10
The accuracy of the Shield M2.0 was perfect for me at distances of 7, 10, and 15 yards, given my aging eyesight. My groups at each of the ranges were about 3.0 inches or less for the first time I ever fired the gun. I used my Modified-Isosceles Stance, a two-handed grip, and shot various 115 grain and 124-grain JHP and 115-grain FMJ ammo. The Sig Sauer 124 grain JHP seemed to perform best for me.
2. Trigger Press – Score: 9
The trigger press for this new, not broken-in gun averaged 6.1 pounds, with ten readings with my Lyman Electronic Trigger Pull Gauge which is slightly better than their advertised 6.5-pound press. This weight was near my preferred trigger press range and was indeed acceptable, but I was hoping for closer to a 5.5 pound or so press. But, I could tell a difference in the press. It was crisp, light, very smooth, and felt good. I expect that after more break-in time, the press will get even better.
3. Trigger – Score: 10
The trigger had a short travel distance, a very identifiable reset, and it was smooth. My shots were consistent each time, and I liked the subtle travel distance and reset. The reset was very tactile, audible, and identifiable. The trigger gave me consistency from shot-to-shot. This gun shoots very well, and I enjoyed shooting it.
4. Barrel Length – Score: 9
The 3.1-inch Stainless Steel Barrel with its Armornite finish helps control muzzle flip and the felt recoil, as well as making the gun very concealable. The recoil was very manageable and controllable.
5. Sights – Score: 10
The Tritium Front and Rear Night Sights were very nice and helped my older eyes with front sight acquisition, especially in the evening, at dusk, and on cloudy days. These Tritium Night Sights transition from standard white dot sights during the daylight to glowing green dots in the dark or low light, without needing a light source to charge. They do not need batteries and glow to help to aim. Nice for home defense and concealed carry.
6. Proper Gun Weight – Score: 9
The slim polymer frame made the overall weight about 21 ounces loaded and is nice for a concealed carry gun. Although lightweight, it was easy to handle with acceptable accuracy.
7. Caliber – Score: 10
The 9mm Caliber Shield was pleasant to shoot and made recoil very manageable. It handled all the brands, weights, and qualities of ammo without any malfunctions or stoppages. I prefer 9mm for concealed carry.
8. Capacity – Score: 9
The 7 and 8-round Capacities of the 3 included 9mm mags were acceptable, given the small size of the Shield for concealed carry. The night sights version of the Shield M2.0 comes with three magazines. The 8-rounder is not best for concealed carry, but works and the seven rounder is fine. There are concealability and capacity tradeoffs.
9. Ergonomics – Score: 10
The ergonomics of the slim, single-stack Shield were super great and comfortable. My medium-sized hands fit just right, and the aggressive grip texture on the front and rear straps and side panels helped me have a firm and solid grip. It was not too rough and did not catch on any of my clothes. Like its predecessor, the M2.0 Shield has the 18-degree grip angle and a thin grip. I could easily reach all the controls like the magazine release, slide lock lever, and takedown lever without adjusting my grip. The positive reset makes it easy to shoot rapidly.
10. Miscellaneous – Score: 9
Before I shot it, I disassembled, re-assembled, and cleaned the Shield M2.0, and I did not have to press the trigger to do it. Its sear deactivation system works. The price of the gun is kept reasonable, partly due to shipping it in a box and not with a hard case or other accessories. No holster, loader, rod, or brush included, but a lock and manual were. With the night sights and the three included mags, the price was slightly more but acceptable for what you get.
Total Points = 95 out of 100 Possible.
I RECOMMEND this excellent handgun for your concealed carry, primarily because of its lightweight and thin profile, new crisp, light, and smooth trigger, new aggressive and solid grip texturing, manageable felt recoil, tactile and audible trigger reset, and accuracy. Its reliability, excellent ergonomics, great trigger, and accuracy were very impressive. This is just my personal opinion, so try it for yourself. This gun is an attractive option for concealed carry and the trigger, reset, and grip improvements over the original Shield are apparent and excellent.
I hope this review of the new Shield M2.0, single-stack 9mm has helped you gain some information you did not previously have. Consider that this is just my point of view with limited live-range fire and using only 250 rounds of various ammo. Like always, I recommend that you shoot any handgun yourself before you purchase it. Decide on your criteria, how you will primarily use the gun, and what features are important to you ahead of your range time. Then critically evaluate the pistol YOURSELF per your criteria and purpose, with standard drills (several mentioned in my book), with various ammo types and brands, over an extended break-in period of about 500 rounds. Remember, safety first always.
Photos by Author.
Smith & Wesson
Sig Sauer for Elite V-Crown 9mm FMJ & JHP ammo
Kramer Handgun Leather
Tacoma, WA 98411
Urban Carry Holsters
Sanford, FL 32771
Silverhill, AL 36576
* This personal opinion article is meant for general information & educational purposes only, and the author strongly recommends that you seek counsel from an attorney for legal advice and your own personal certified weapons trainer for proper guidance about shooting & using YOUR firearms, self-defense and concealed carry. It should not be relied upon as accurate for all shooters & the author assumes no responsibility for anyone’s use of the information and shall not be liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information or any damages or injuries incurred whatsoever.
© 2017 Col Benjamin Findley. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in whole or in part by mechanical means, photocopying, electronic reproduction, scanning, or any other means without prior written permission. For copyright information, contact Col Ben Findley at [email protected].