The M&P Shield Experiment

Several years ago I was carrying an M&P Shield and experimenting with different modifications that could be made to it. I ran the gun, with a variety of increased capacity magazines, in a John Farnam class and wrote a blog post about it.

After that class I did some additional experimenting, posted about it in some online discussions, but was reminded today that I had never written it all up as a blog post. Longer sight radius and longer slides and barrels generally reduce recoil, improve reliability, increase bullet velocity, and improve accuracy. At the time S&W had not introduced a long slide version of the Shield (now available as a Performance Center model).

Silencerco makes a threaded barrel for the Shield with a standard 1/2-28 thread, and I found one on sale at a great price. Taylor Freelance makes an interesting product called the Glock Sight Block that adds 3/4″ of sight radius. It’s basically the same sort of barrel weight/sight extender that people used to run on single stack 1911’s back in the early days of USPSA before those barrel weights were turned into compensators.

I bought one of those (an earlier model with a slimmer profile), and threaded it onto the Silencerco barrel, removed the front sight from the Shield’s slide and installed a Dawson Precision Glock style fiber optic front sight of appropriate height into the sight block, making a Shield that looks like this:

I also added a Crimson Trace laserguard to the gun, to experiment with using the laser instead of iron sights.

All the mods made the gun completely incompatible with any holster made for a normal Shield. I discovered, though, that the Raven Morrigan holster I had for a 4″ M&P could be tightened up, using the velcro strap, to fit the modified Shield.

Results

All the mods worked OK, but I found that I really didn’t see that much difference in performance between the stock Shield and the sight block extended gun. My primary complaint with the Shield became the challenge of doing reloads with a gun that only allowed me three fingers on the frame. My pinky didn’t know where to go, and sometimes wanted to block the mag well.

A lot of shooters are attracted to the 3-finger framed guns, thinking that they are easier to conceal than a 4-finger frame gun — but then those same shooters stick a pinky shelf magazine in the 3-finger frame gun, ending up with a frame that is just as long (3 finger frame + pinky shelf) as a 4-finger frame with a flush mag. So they end up with no concealment advantage but a disadvantage when reloading the gun.

The only way to get the true advantage of the 3-finger frame is to run the flush mag and have a true 3-finger gun. What I finally decided was that the Shield’s best role was in that truly minimal configuration, with no laser and no sight extender, carried as a pocket gun or deep concealment option. The experimental Shield got parked back in the gun safe after the Glock 48 came out, which gave me a 4″ barrel and a 4-finger frame with a flush mag holding 10+1 (and later 14+1 using the Shield Arms S15 magazines. I run the S15’s with the 10 coil heavy springs loaded to 14, and I get better reliability this way than loading to 15 with the 9 coil recoil springs).

The next experiment I’m going to do with the Shield, though, is to put it back to stock configuration and try the deep concealment approach shown in this Rhett Neumayer video, using a PHLster Enigma and Dark Star Hitchhiker holster.

I’ll do another blog post after I get my Enigma (they are sold out again) and can get some dryfire and range time in with that configuration.