I have owned a number of pistols in an attempt to find the perfect pistol for everyday carry. When the S&W M&P Shield first came to the market, it impressed alot of people and became an instant hit. On the other hand, many people figured that the Shield was going to be a flop. It was figured that many other companies already had small, single stack 9mm pistols that were not that popular, so how could this new pistol be any different?
I can only speculate why the Shield has become so popular, but perhaps it is the fact that it gives us everything we want in a pistol of this size, with few disadvantages. I have made an effort to look around the market and play with different designs to see if there are hidden gems out there that may be comparable to the Shield in the small single stack 9mm market. There are a few companies that have great merit, but it would seem that few of them have everything we want and nothing we really don't. Before the Shield, it was hard to find a pistol in this size that was controllable and durable enough to withstand the test of time. The M&P Shield arguably still beats out the competition in terms of recoil control and features, though.
Now, I don't want to sound like the Shield is perfect, because it sure isn't. The grip is slick, and most of us don't care for the version with the manual safety, no matter how low profile it is. But the grips can be stippled, or wrapped in grip tape. Perhaps the trigger is not cared for very much, but there are lots of options for it if you can't deal with it. I personally find all these points to be negotiable, and I ended up just getting the version without the safety on it. The grip is slick, but I can't complain too much about it since it really doesn't slip too much unless you own the Shield in .40 S&W.
I have seen many manufacturers out there compete for the spot that the Shield holds, but they always seem to miss something like reliability, durability, low profile controls, or recoil control. All these little things can dramatically affect the response that the gun community has to a new design. Many people do not like when companies come out with pistols that look or function like already known pistols. Pistols like the Honor Guard have been hit hard from the start for having a pistol that just looks like the Shield. The looks on the outside are deceiving, but there are still issues that the Honor Guard has for me that makes it hard to justify carrying it.
Every time I take a lap around the small single stack market, the Shield always seems to come back to me as being the best choice, for a number of reasons. The pistol is size efficient, the controls are low profile, the springs are tight, the sights are zeroed perfectly, the trigger is perfect, the recoil is low, the warranty is terrific, and the pistol is very reliable. The grip being slightly slick is not that big of a deal for me, so I can't really hold it as a negative for the pistol. What can I say? I shoot the pistol well and I can trust it to function reliably. What more can I ask of a pistol like the Shield?
Some people out there have had their Shields for years and put thousands of rounds through them. I on the other hand, have barely put over 1500 rounds through mine in almost 3 years. The pistol has been very reliable after about 1000 rounds, and feeds everything reliably. It didn't care to function with aluminum cased ammo at first, which was inexcusable, but that changed after about 1000 rounds. The sights on my Shield are perfectly zeroed for a wide variety of carry loads, and the recoil is very low overall. The pistol is very simple, straight forward, and reliable. What more can I ask for?
Perhaps it is time to calm down my search for a good alternative to the Shield. Perhaps there is not a viable alternative for the pistol that has proven itself after over 1 million sold. I will continue to hold my ear to the ground in case something better comes along. But until then, I feel pretty convinced that the Shield is the best small single stack pistol in my collection.
Do It Rite
Alaska-Based Youtube Vlogger, Retired Marine, gun enthusiast, and passionate firearm and gear evaluator.