S&W’S UPDATED M&P SHIELD M2.0 MAKES THIS CONCEALED CARRY BEST-SELLER EVEN BETTER
S&W’s updated M&P Shield M2.0 makes this concealed carry best-seller even better. By Richard Schutz
Smith & Wesson has long been a leader in handgun manufacturing, particularly concealed carry handguns.
Consider the company’s first gun, the Model 1 seven-shot .22 Short revolver in 1857, the Safety Hammerless “Lemon Squeezer” revolver in 1887, and the Model 36 Chief’s Special in 1950 that continues with the firm’s lineup of concealable J-frame revolvers today.
But one of the company’s most successful concealed carry handguns today is a semi-auto pistol, not a revolver. And now S&W has updated that pistol—the M&P Shield—with some M2.0 enhancements to make it even better.
A TOP SELLER
With more than 2 million built since its introduction in 2012, the M&P Shield has risen to what is one of the most popular concealed carry handguns in the United States. The owner of my local gun store, Liberty Guns, tells me that it is by far their most popular selling handgun. As such, Smith & Wesson must make sure that it stays at the top, thus the recent introduction of the M&P Shield M2.0.
During the past year, Smith & Wesson introduced the M&P M2.0 to update the existing line of full-size M&P pistols, which were first introduced in 2005. The all-new M&P Compact M2.0 was released last year, too, with the M&P Shield M2.0 right on its heels. Shield M2.0 enhancements include an improved trigger, revised grip texture and front slide serrations. These changes are subtle but important to the pistol’s operation.
The M&P Shield M2.0 is a polymer frame, striker-fired, semi-automatic, single-stack, slim-line pistol designed for concealed carry. Magazines are of a center-feed, slightly staggered design. They are available in flush baseplate seven-round capacity and extended, eight-round capacity.
The eight-round capacity magazines have a filler collar between the grip and the baseplate. These slightly wider magazines allow for an additional capacity of one or two rounds over the true single stack design used by other gun manufacturers, without adding to the overall thickness of the grip.
The function of the Shield M2.0 is similar to that of other polymer frame, striker-fired pistols. The trigger safety uses a pivoting lower half rather that the blade-type used by Glock. The function is the same. The trigger cannot be fully depressed to move the trigger bar rearward and release the sear unless the lower half of the trigger rotates a stop out of the way of the frame.
A firing pin safety blocks the forward travel of the firing pin (striker) unless the trigger moves the trigger bar to the rear, pushing the firing pin block up, out of the way of the firing pin.
Some models feature an external thumb safety that stops the rearward travel of the trigger bar, thereby preventing the sear from dropping and releasing the firing pin. The thumb safety is not easy to engage, so you won’t do it accidentally. For right-handed shooters, the thumb will easily release the safety. For all of you lefties out there, I don’t see how it can be disengaged quickly using only the left hand.
Fieldstripping the Shield M2.0 is pretty straightforward. After you have reached down into the magazine well area and operated the little yellow sear deactivation lever a few times, you will probably decide that it is a whole lot easier to just pull the trigger
“THE REVISED GRIP TEXTURE AND LIGHTER TRIGGER MAKE THIS GOOD EDC GUN EVEN BETTER.”
instead. Pull the trigger when you are moving the slide forward, off of the frame as it stops. Just remember to make sure that the gun is unloaded and pointed in a safe direction if you choose that method.
A loaded chamber indicator is built into the top of the slide and barrel hood. It is not tactile, only visual. Just look into the little funnel-shaped hole on the top of the slide at the rear of the barrel hood. If you see a casing (brass, aluminum or steel), the chamber has a round in it.
The magazine release is easy to operate on the left side using your thumb. It is somewhat protected and I think it unlikely that it would be accidentally depressed, thereby unintentionally releasing the magazine.
The extractor is robust but the ejector looks a little flimsy. Fortunately, it isn’t. Even though it is small, it’s tough. It would take quite a hit with the slide removed to damage the ejector.
The front slide serrations are a nice touch for those who like to do press checks, but I don’t find them necessary. I don’t advocate doing a press check, but I must admit to doing them occasionally. Even without front slide serrations, I’ve never have a problem doing one.
Smith & Wesson listed 10 models of the M&P Shield M2.0 at the time this article was written, including those available in 9mm or .40 S&W, with or without an external safety, a choice of sights (white dots or night sights) and a Crimson Trace laser option. At this time, the night sights are available only on a model without a thumb safety.
The current .45 ACP version of the Shield already incorporates the M2.0 features. Smith & Wesson would not confirm future Performance Center versions of the Shield M2.0, but I feel confident that they will be available in the not-to-distant future. The original version of the Shield will continue to be offered.
To evaluate the M&P Shield M2.0 in 9mm, I used five factory loads from four different manufacturers. All of the loads functioned flawlessly through the magazines and the gun. In a de-
“THE SHIELD M2.0 WAS QUICK TO DRAW AND EASY TO MANIPULATE.”
fensive handgun like the Shield M2.0, this is probably the most important test of all.
Smith & Wesson states that the use of +P ammunition may affect the wear characteristics or exceed the margin of safety and may result in the need for more frequent maintenance. The use of +P ammunition is not specifically prohibited, however. The use of +P+ ammunition is prohibited from use in all Smith & Wesson firearms.
After cleaning the barrel and lubricating the pistol in accordance with the manual, I broke in the M&P Shield M2.0 with approximately 50 rounds of FMJ ammunition. I then cleaned the barrel again and began the accuracy and velocity evaluation. Three five-
shot groups were fired at both 15 and 25 yards for each factory load. I cleaned the barrel and fired two fouling rounds after each set of groups (15 rounds).
Sig Sauer 124-grain V-Crown JHP ammunition had the smallest individual group and smallest average group size at both 15 and 25 yards. Unfortunately, this doesn’t tell the complete story. When I loaded five rounds of this ammunition into a magazine to shoot a five-shot group, the first round always hit very low and the remaining four rounds created a nice tight group.
I worked around this by loading six rounds, wasting the first round, then firing a nice, tight five-shot group. No other load demonstrated this anomaly, not even the 147-grain version of the Sig Sauer V-Crown load. In a gunfight, the first round fired is usually the most critical one, so I want to know that it will hit where I am aiming, not 3 or 4 inches low at 15 yards.
For my concealed carry ammunition in this M&P Shield M2.0, I would choose either the Black Hills 124-grain JHP or the Hornady Critical Duty 135-grain FlexLock load.
The trigger is lighter than that of the original Shield, but I could not detect any difference in the feel of this “improved” trigger. The grip texture is definitely an improvement over the original. It is significantly more aggressive and makes the Shield M2.0 easier to control.
I found the serrations on the front of the slide to be mostly cosmetic. They are so low on the slide that when the slide is pulled back using them, your fingers are forced away from the slide by the frame where it becomes wider behind the dust cover.
Overall, I found the Shield M2.0 pleasant to shoot for its size and it functioned as designed. The extended eight-round magazine creates a grip that makes the Shield M2.0 easier to shoot than when using the flush-fitting seven-round magazine. I carried the Shield M2.0 with the seven-round magazine for better concealment.
I was able to shoot some decent groups out to 15 yards both strong and weak side. I also performed a drawshoot-reload-repeat drill at 7½ yards. The Shield M2.0 was quick to draw and easy to manipulate. Reloads were smooth and quick. The steel magazine bodies dropped free every time and slid into place nicely during reloads.
The M&P Shield M2.0 is a very good concealed carry pistol, an opinion that is shared by some 2 million owners. The size, capacity and operation are spot-on for a 9mm pistol of this type. Larger pistols become increasingly more difficult to conceal and smaller pistols are increasingly more difficult to shoot. The Shield M2.0 in 9mm is not a pistol that I would want to take to the range and shoot all day, but you certainly could put 100 rounds through it in a single range session.
From my perspective, this is the perfect size for a concealed carry pistol. Some, including my editor, would argue that it’s too small, but I believe it is an excellent size for EDC. Under certain conditions, a larger pistol with greater capacity and possibly a larger caliber would be appropriate, but not all.
While the changes to the M&P Shield M2.0 are good ones, I'm still a huge fan of my first-generation Shield, so I would not trade it in for the M2.0. When purchasing a Shield for the first time, however, I definitely wouldchoose the M2.0 version over the original. The revised grip texture and lighter trigger make this good EDC gun even better.
While carrying the Shield M2.0 as my EDC and shooting it at the range, I was mildly surprised at how many people carry a Shield and/or practice with them. They are very popular indeed.
“...IN THIS M&P SHIELD M2.0, I WOULD CHOOSE EITHER THE BLACK HILLS 124-GRAIN JHP OR THE HORNADY CRITICAL DUTY 135-GRAIN FLEXLOCK LOAD.”
Above: The texture applied to the grip and spacer on the eight-round magazine is much more aggressive than that of the original Shield. This allows greater control of the gun without being so aggressive that it will damage clothing and upholstering. Bottom Right: The new M&P Shield M2.0 has retained the size and look of the original Shield.
Right: The M&P Shield M2.0 is shown next to a Murph’s Custom Leather IWB leather holster. xxx
Far Left: This single stack pistol is a slim 1-inch wide. The reviewed pistol had 3-dot tritium night sights.
Below: New for the M2.0 version, front slide serrations are provided to assist with performing “press checks.” To the author, these serrations are more cosmetic than functional.
Right: For accuracy and velocity evaluation at 15 and 25 yards, a sandbag rest was used. Velocity was measured and calculated using a Lab Radar device.
Above: Field stripping the pistol breaks the slide into its three main components, the stainless steel barrel and slide with Armornite finish and the captive dual spring recoil rod assembly.
Above: The operating system used on the Shield M2.0 is unchanged from the original version. It is a short recoil operated lockedbreech, tilting barrel semi-automatic design.