The Shield is one of the, if not the, most talked about handguns within the shooting community this year. The trend for small carry guns in 380 seems to have been set aside for compact single stack 9mm guns. The Shield certainly isn't the smallest of the "pocket 9s" but it may well be the best. I've shot the Nano, Solo, PF9, PM9, P938, and own the CM9... if I had to pick one of them it'd be the Shield. Here are some reasons why:
-Reliable. I just passed the 1K round mark with this gun using everything from steel cased Russian ammo to quality JHPs it's never missed a beat
-Shootable. Of the guns I mentioned above, the Shield is the easiest to shoot well. Many of these small guns tend to jump around in your hand causing the shooter to re-grip halfway through the magazine; the Shield doesn't seem to have that problem
-Lightweight. It comes in at 19oz unloaded
-Great finish. The melonite (68 HRc) finish is top notch. With over 1K through the gun it shows less signs of wear than my SIG P229 did after 200 rounds
-It comes with usable sights. I replaced my sights with Trijicon NS but the factory 3 dot sights are easy to use and better than most guns in its' class.
-Cost. I got mine for $389 OTD right when they were released and used the Nation's Finest rebate (they used to honor it for the Shield but no longer do. They now have MIL/LE pricing however) for an additional $50 off.
-Value. For the cost above you get a well built, seeming very durable firearm that carries extremely well. Due to this, demand is currently exceeding supply and they're hard to find.
-Lots of aftermarket support from Apex parts to night sights to holsters.
-Comes with two mags (some of the competitors don't); a 7 round flush fit and 8 round extended mag.
-It has by far the best out of the box trigger of any gun in the M&P lineup; the reset isn't faint like the rest of the series. My trigger breaks consistently at 6lbs.
-You don't have to pull the trigger for disassembly. That's important to some people so I mentioned it to me but I don't mind pulling the trigger (as you'll see in the video below).
-Fish scale serrations allow for a positive purchase on the slide when manipulating the weapon.
-Right side only controls. If you're a lefty you likely won't appreciate that.\
-External safety. I'm in the camp of the people who do not like external safeties on a striker fired gun. That said, it takes an intentional sweep to put it in the 'on' position and I worry little about it accidently coming on (has never happened yet). Also, for those who like external safeties it's still a con. Reason being it's small and difficult to manipulate... likely more so under stress. I think they tried to compromise here and missed both ways.
-It's larger than some of its' competitors. I don't find it to be a pocket gun (I know some do) unless I'm wearing cargo pants/shorts.
Here's a video with some shooting from the 12m line, a size comparison with a couple carry guns, demonstration of disassembly and assembly of the gun, a quick discussion of the guns' pros and cons, and some chronograph testing with some popular defensive rounds
Hornady 147gr TAPs: 894 fps, 261 ft/lbs energy
Federal 124gr HSTs: 1016 fps, 284 ft/lbs energy
Speer 124gr Gold Dots: 1076 fps, 319 ft/lbs energy