EDC EX­CEL­LENCE

S&W’S UP­DATED M&P SHIELD M2.0 MAKES THIS CON­CEALED CARRY BEST-SELLER EVEN BET­TER

Concealed Carry Hand Guns - - TABLE OF CONTENTS - STORY AND PHO­TOS BY RICHARD SCHUTZ

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.

OP­ER­A­TION/ SPEC­I­FI­CA­TIONS

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.

VER­SIONS

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.

AM­MU­NI­TION

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.

RANGE TEST

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.

CON­TIN­UED POP­U­LAR­ITY

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.

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