These days it’s not often that we see leaps and bounds in innovation, technology-wise almost all industries have come a long way; firearms being no different. Aside from full-size firearms, most guns these days are designed to disappear under clothing. The problem with pistols this size is they are often hindered by their limited capacity. As of the last few years, we’ve seen the innovative catalyst come from magazines, as capacity became king.
For me, this era of the extended capacity micro compact just so happened to be the point in time when I was getting into the 2A community. After selling my first home and embarking on a new career, I used some of my proceeds to purchase my first handgun – a Springfield XDM® compact, which I thought was everything I was looking for in one gun. What I soon learned was that for my body type and wardrobe, it was like carrying a brick on my hip.
After getting my Concealed Carry License, the hunt was on for a firearm that I could comfortably conceal. At the time the Sig Sauer® P365® had just come out and was on paper, the most appealing option. Between this pistol and my XDM, I was able to conclude that while the small gun was easier to conceal, the short barrel tends to tilt outward from my body and my felt recoil was still a bit jumpy and uncomfortable. For a long while, I had my decision made, stuck with it, and I was happy enough. In time, I added a Glock 48 for concealment on colder days. Up until recently, the P365 and the Glock 48 had been my regular carry rotation. That has since changed…
I recently connected with the folks over at Smith & Wesson® and we talked about alternatives to my carry rotation. We talked about what I look for in my EDC and we concluded the M&P9 Shield Plus Performance Center® would be the right choice for me. There are a few different options available and based on my experience I have found that a 4” barrel helps me to conceal the gun better, so we opted for the 4” ported option.
When it arrived, I was impressed with the finish of the gun. It felt great in my hand, and the texture was rough enough to be sticky, without being overly coarse – something that is necessary on smaller guns. Necessary both for good grip and also to not rub your skin raw when carrying. I aimed the firearm and found that my eyes naturally found the front sight. The gun pointed where I looked and lucky for me I had time to shoot it that day. I grabbed 100 rounds, went to my lane, loaded up the mags, aimed at my target, and proceed to be extremely pleasantly surprised!
Shooting a new gun is always a fun experience. Though at times, you might find yourself disappointed; some triggers might feel gritty and need to be broken in, or you might have a beautiful piece, but have unpleasant recoil. My first time out with the Shield Plus, I couldn’t believe it, it felt like home. The trigger has a distinct wall and clean break that makes it very easy to run fast.
Despite the fact I was only shooting at 5 yards, I stacked five shots on top of each other in less than three seconds. Ok, I thought, that is a good start. For the next 95 shots, I continued to focus on controlling my recoil, following my irons, and shooting with precision. I ended up blowing through my rounds quickly, finding the gun to recoil softly, track well, and just shoot straight. As I recorded some of the shot strings on my phone, I can see myself smile knowing this gun was impressive.
I had always found my trusty P365 to be an okay gun to shoot, I had over 1000 rounds through it, several classes, but each time I went to the range, I would reach for my full-size guns. What continues to shock me, now 450 rounds and counting into the Shield Plus, is how easy and enjoyable it is to shoot. The porting provides a soft recoil, aids in quick shooting, and lessens jump. In my opinion, it is significantly more enjoyable to shoot than other guns in this class. The 4” barrel and slide cycles quickly and predictably returns to zero. I am consistent when shooting from concealment. My rounds group within a 3” diameter.
Again, all smiles. I honestly can’t explain why this gun works for me, it just does. The only way to put it is that I enjoy shooting it. With a new holster setup, I even found that it concealed better for me than my previous carry guns. With all of these factors, I actually sold my P365 in favor of the Shield Plus.
While I was excited to add a new CCW pistol to my collection, I’ll admit, I was apprehensive about this one. I was interested in shooting it and seeing what magic Smith & Wesson worked on the 2.0 and Performance Center triggers. It still fascinates me, that I could have disregarded a gun, or just have been so certain in my current one, and then be blown away to the point where it replaces my carry. I say all this in earnest, sharing my genuine experience. As the industry innovation continues, we are seeing guns with great capacity, in small frames, that are reliable, lightweight AND easy and pleasant to shoot. This M&P9 Shield Plus Performance Center is certainly a game changer.