Smith & Wesson released the M&P Shield .45 ACP version of their very popular pistol line at the NRA Show a few weeks ago. This is not the first time Smith & Wesson has chosen the NRA Show to release a new Shield. At the 2012 NRA Show S&W released the original M&P Shield in 9mm. Since then S&W has added a .40 caliber Shield and now completes the offering in the three most popular calibers in the pistol market.
The M&P Shield is a single-stack, compact pistol particularly designed for concealed carry. As the firearms industry was literally exploding in concealed carry firearms, Smith & Wesson did an end-around on Glock and produced what so many firearms enthusiasts had been demanding for years – a slim, single-stack, striker-fired 9mm pistol. The success of the Shield was so hot at first, that dealers had to establish waiting lists to get the pistols to buyers.
S&W M&P Shield .45 ACP
The new S&W M&P Shield in .45 ACP takes on most of the same features as the other pistols in the Shield line but comes with a few new offerings besides the larger caliber. The frame is a black polymer, reducing weight without compromising strength and integrity. The striker-fired action is very good, and will likely be the go-to action type for law enforcement and many civilian shooters for decades to come. Smith & Wesson uses a stainless steel slide with a trademarked Armornite finish.
The new .45 ACP Shield adds front cocking serrations on the slide. They are minimized to the lower half making them discreet, and perhaps more aesthetic rather than practical. I’m not familiar with too many shooters who reach all the way to the front of the slide to rack the slide. Still, the appliance is nice even if they are not going to be used.
The new .45 ACP M&P Shield also has a redesigned grip texture. Instead of only having texture on the backstrap, and a thin layer on the front, like the original M&P Shields, the new .45 ACP version has a much more aggressive texture over the entire surface of the grip. With the heavier recoil potential of the .45 ACP, this new addition is both wise and attractive.
The grip on the original Shields, like most M&P pistols, is one of the most ergonomic pistol grips on the market in my opinion. The narrower grip for the single-stack Shield feels different from its full-size brothers but is still comfortable to hold. The grip feel will be very familiar for those who have or like the larger M&P pistols. The new Heckler & Koch VP series pistols may be the best, in both comfort and grip angle.
The Smith & Wesson Shield uses an 18-degree grip angle, which provides excellent comfort and recoil management. The top of the grip angles inward slightly to allow the webbing of the shooter’s hand to find a rest and secure location for a proper grip. There are no finger grooves on any of the M&P Shields.
The .45 ACP Shield uses the same hinged trigger as the entire M&P line of pistols. Originally the M&P Shield trigger had a little too much give at the beginning of the take up making the trigger feel squishy during the pull. However, Smith & Wesson listened to consumer complaints and increased spring tension. The trigger has been much improved ever since. The Shield trigger uses a trigger safety similar to the Glock, but without the protruding safety at the front of the trigger. Instead, Smith & Wesson uses a slightly forward angled lower half of the trigger that detaches the trigger safety as the trigger is pulled.
The Shield comes with two versions, one with and one without a manual safety lever at the rear of the frame. Though the initial M&P Shield in .45 ACP only comes with a 3-dot white sighting system, I’m very confident that in the near future there will be options with Tritium or other forms of night sights. The rear slide serrations take a rolling wave appearance and are much more aggressive than the front serrations. The rear serrations will provide the necessary grip to rack the slide unless the shooter prefers the support hand over the top of the slide approach.
S&W M&P Shield .45 ACP Features
- New aggressive grip texture for M&P 45 Shield
- Front cocking serrations
- Incorporates the design features of other M&P Shield line of firearms
- Extremely thin and lightweight
- 18-degree grip angle for natural point of aim
- Striker-fired with short consistent trigger pull
- Backed by Smith & Wesson’s Lifetime Service Policy
- Armornite Durable Corrosion Resistant Finish
- Optional Manual Safety.
S&W M&P Shield .45 ACP Specifications
- Slide Material: Stainless Steel
- Slide Finish: Armornite
- Frame Material: Black, Polymer
- Action: Striker Fired
- Overall Length: 6.45″
- Barrel Length: 3.3″
- Height: 4.88″ (with flush magazine)
- Frame Width: 0.99″ (1.05″ with slide stop)
- Weight: 22.7 oz. (with empty magazine)
- Capacity: 7+1 or 6+1
- Front Sight: Steel, one white dot
- Rear Sight: Steel, two white dots
- MSRP: $479.00. (Expect much lower through dealers)
I like the S&W M&P Shield a lot, ever since I saw it at the NRA Show in 2012. In fact, I own 2 Shields in 9mm, one for me and one for my wife. She really enjoys the ergonomics and the increased control from the 9mm cartridge. I enjoy having a very slender off-duty option, that I can shoot relatively cheaply but still have decent confidence in performance with quality self-defense ammunition.
The standard Shield sights leave a lot to be desired. They’re fine for lighted range work, but anyone seriously considering this as a back-up or off-duty self-defense pistol needs to upgrade the sights to self-illuminating. Capacity is decent, and what is typically accepted for a concealed carry pistol.
I have no problems recommending the S&W Shield as a back-up or off-duty pistol, and the Shield .45 ACP can really give the extra punch some may be looking for. Though the MSRP is $479.00, I fully expect dealer prices to be around $400, at first. When I bought my 9mm Shields I had to wait about 2-3 weeks on a waiting list – they were selling that fast. The MSRP was $450.00, but I picked mine up for $400.00. Now there are some dealers selling them for $350.00.