First Shots: Smith & Wesson Shield Plus

Smith & Wesson Shield Plus

Back in 2012, Smith & Wesson released their subcompact M&P Shield 9mm, now referred to as the 1.0. In 2017, they rolled out a new Shield 2.0 version. The latest, and possibly best, variation of the Shield 9mm line is the Smith & Wesson Shield Plus. Here are a few thoughts on the Shield Plus after my first two sessions with it.

Frame of reference

First, let’s look at the perspective I will be using. I owned a Shield 2.0 and was happy with it. The gun performed well and concealed well. The trigger on the 2.0 was an improvement over the 1.0 version I shot, but to be honest, I’ve never loved the hinged trigger setup of the line. Still, the Shield 2.0 was my EDC…until I shot the Sig P365. I tried one as a rental and I was hooked. Soon, my Shield 2.0 was sold and the P365 was my new EDC. I’ve included some pictures of the P365 with a 12-round magazine for comparison.

Initial Differences

Let’s face it, the P365 changed the subcompact market. It brought an increased capacity to the class and gave the competition a new target to shoot for. Later competitors like the Springfield Armory Hellcat increased that capacity. The Shield Plus does also. It comes with a flush-fit 10-round magazine and a 13-round extended mag.

Picking up the Shield Plus, I noticed the difference in the grip texture. The 1.0 had a grip texture that was not a fan favorite. The 2.0 upped the texture considerably. The much more aggressive texture was often compared to the tape on skateboard decks. Some carriers found it to be a little too rough. The Shield Plus splits the difference. It is more aggressive than the 1.0 while being less rough than the 2.0. Smith & Wesson tried to create a warm cup of porridge in the compromise, and I think they succeeded.

The other immediate difference to notice is the trigger. Gone is the hinged trigger, now replaced with a flat-faced trigger that breaks nice and clean at about 90 degrees. It is definitely an improvement over the 2.0.

The interesting part here is that the Plus slide is still as slender as the single stack 2.0 version. I’m told that the Plus will work in holsters made for the 2.0, but I did not try this myself. My research says that it will work in most cases, but always make sure you check your holster fit yourself. The size difference is really just in the girth of the grip.

Shooting the Smith & Wesson Shield Plus

Let’s jump right into it. This gun shoots nicely. I put about 200 rounds through the gun in total. There was a mix of CCI and Norma, both in 115-grain FMJ. I did some slow fire to get used to the gun, then picked up the pace. I stayed in the 5-15 yard distances for the purposes of this review.

The Plus comes with steel, 3 dot sights and they shoot nicely. The X-ray night sights on my P365 may be a little better, but the Plus sights are perfectly usable.

The trigger is definitely an improvement over the 2.0. As I mentioned earlier, I was never a fan of the hinged trigger. Frankly, it was really the only knock I had on the 2.0. I’ve become a fan of flat triggers in the past year and the version on the Plus was very good. Smooth take-up and broke nicely. It was easy to shoot well. The reset was pretty short as well.

The recoil impulse on it is good. It may actually be better than my P365. The grips were tacky enough to keep a good purchase on the gun and it felt just a bit less snappy than my Sig. If you are recoil sensitive, this could be an even bigger consideration than it is for me.


The metal mags performed as I expected. I’ve never had a reliability issue with S&W magazines and didn’t expect any here. The one thing I will complain about is the filler they use on the extended mag. That little jigsaw puzzle piece can move on you. I ran into this with the 8-round mags on my 2.0. If you changed mags quickly and slapped one in, it was possible to pinch your hand in them. Let me tell you, it will definitely wake you up. Come on S&W, just make those floor plates one piece. I used my Pitbull Tactical mag carriers (which I originally bought for my 2.0) during the test.

The Shield Plus keeps the fish scale slide serrations on the front and back like the 2.0 had. They’re useable without being super aggressive. The Plus also uses their Armornite finish. I live in South Florida, so sweat and humidity are a real concern. I had no complaints with the Armornite finish on my 2.0 and would expect the same level of quality on the Shield Plus. Frankly, the Armornite seems to hold up better than the Nitron finish on my P365.

Bottom Line

Hey, this is just my opinion based on a sample size of 1, but I think this is a great little gun. Unlike the Beretta APX A1, I’d have no hesitation in recommending it to family or friends. In fact, if it was for a newer shooter, I may recommend it more highly because of the recoil impulse. The P365 is a snappy gun and the Hellcat is even more so. The Plus already has plenty of holsters and accessory options.  

Will I be replacing my P365 with a Smith & Wesson Shield Plus? Not likely. To be honest, if the Plus had come out first, I probably wouldn’t give it up in favor of the P365. The guns are evenly matched in my mind. But I’m not going to make the switch to get 1 more round. Still, if my wife decides to get me one for Christmas, there could be a change in the future.

Have you shot the Smith & Wesson Shield Plus? Did you like it? Let me know in the comments below.

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