After running an optimized PPS through the ECQC program this year, I decided to get my hands on a Shield, make some useability modificaitons and see how it stacks up in the end. The two pistols are very similar, with comparable capacities, weights and overall sizes. This is not a straight comparison of the two weapons, but rather a write up of the Shield with a few comparative comments thrown in for good measure.
I've had the gun for about 3 weeks now with 2 range trips to date and about 500 rounds fired.
The stock trigger was very rough and the actual break was a little heavy for my taste. After an Apex Tactical Carry Kit install it is much better. I tried just the sear & USB, but I really prefer a stronger trigger return spring, so I added that & the sear spring in after getting home from the NM ECQC class. I doubt the sear spring does a whole lot in the grand scheme of things, but I figured I might as well plug it in. It seems like there is a lot of variation in the Shield triggers. Some are unusable, some are moderately poor (mine) and some are really good. If you get one, see if you can dry fire the guns your shop has in stock & pick the best one. Adding the Apex Tactical parts isn't hard, especially with all the YouTube videos they have, but it could be more work and expense than some are willing to incur.
Recoil isn’t too bad. It is heavier than a full size M&P 9 but not unmanageable. It does wear out my hand faster than the full size M&P, but that's to be expected. Compared to the Shield the recoil of my full size M&P felt like a Care Bear snuggling into my hands with each shot.
On my first range trip I shot 210 rounds of ball & 105 of 147gr Gold dots. 2nd trip was less well tracked & I would estimate it at about another 200 rounds of ball.
The stock sights are mediocre at best, but better if you black out the white dots on the rear. My rear sight was installed off center from the factory. These were the hardest set of M&P sights that I've ever taken off. I stripped out 3 Allen wrenches on the rear sight set screw and ended up having to use a drill and an extractor to get that thing out. I also had to use a steel punch & full size hammer on the sights to get them moving, which was a first in 3 M&Ps that I’ve swapped sights on. Usually a brass punch with the big hammer works fine. The brass punch was just deforming and not moving the sights at all. I also managed to hammer my thumb into the slide a few times when the brass would shear or slip off the rear sight. I was not pleased with that experience.
Shooting left handed I had to be careful to keep my firing hand thumb away from the slide. The front edge of the ejection port would beat on the front left of my thumb as the slide cycled & that got real old real quick. That part of my thumb is still a little sore, almost 3 weeks later. I also think the thumb interference caused the one failure to eject on my second range trip. This was the only malfunction I experienced in about 500 rounds, and I felt the empty case hit my thumb when it was ejected, so I’d call this one an operator-induced malfunction.
I shot two mags with as limp a grip as I could manage & had no malfunctions.
Shooting at speed with my grip clamped down hard my support hand middle finger would press on my shooting hand middle finger, which would press the mag release & drop the mag. I only had this problem with the 8 round mags, probably because my pinky gets a little under the base pad on the shorter 7 round mags & holds them in. I filed down a section of the bottom of the mag release (which is actually all metal) & that seems to help.
I got to compare my Shield to SouthNarc’s (aka Craig Douglas) Walther PPS and the PPS feels like it shoots softer than the Shield. Not by much, but it was noticeable. We didn’t have the time, or a timer, to check splits, so this is just a by-feel assessment, but Craig & a couple other guys who were at ECQC thought the same thing. If I can remember to put my timer in my range box one of these days I’ll run a little comparison between the Shield & my full size M&P9
The mags can pinch your palm during a reload, but you have to try harder to get the pinch with the Shield than with the PPS.
In hand the gun is a little slick. I’m going to try my hand at stippling on the 8rnd mag spacers & if that goes well I’ll probably hit the frontstrap and backstrap. I’m not much for stippling on the grip sides.
I don’t like the safety since it’s not an ambidextrous one and tried removing it, but when I did I could see that the sear pin was working its way out until it hit the inside of the frame. Eyeballing it, it looked like the pin could move about half way out of the ejection port side of the sear housing block. I don’t know if this would have any long term impact on the durability or function of the gun, but I didn’t feel like risking it, so I put the safety back in
While the slide release isn’t ambidextrous either, I found my index finger could hit it easily enough. Others may not though, as I have girl-sized hands
Accessory-wise I picked up a Raven Vanguard & a Fricke copy of the Vanguard. The VG is definitely the superior product. Between the build quality, cut, and the nose that allows easy removal if the lanyard breaks, there’s no comparison. If the Fricke wasn’t so cheap I’d send it back to Brownells, but I think I’ll keep it as a demo piece to show people why the VG is superior. If my $15 can keep some other people from buying an inferior product, so be it.
Some guys have used standard M&P sights on their guns and reported good results, but when I had the Warren sights from my wife’s M&PJG on my Shield it shot about 3” low at 5 yards. I didn’t have a chance to see what the point of impact was at distance, but that far off that close makes them unusable. I replaced them with a set of Ameriglo iDots, but I don’t really like the width of the front sight. Something closer to the Warren night sight width would be perfect. I haven’t had a chance to really test the accuracy, but I was able to hit a 12” steel plate about 2/3 of the time at 40 yds with the stock, off-center sights. I had to hold well off to the side of the steel plate at that distance, so the new, centered sights should help me stretch that out since I’ll be able to use a definite aiming point.
I want to run a few thousand rounds through the Shield before I pass judgment, but so far I’m satisfied.