By Bob Walsh
The Gun of the Week this time around is the immensely popular Smith and Wesson Shield pistol.
This weapon has been around in the 9mm configuration since 2012. It is now produced in .380 auto, 40 cal and .45 as well as the 9mm.
This is a nice compact pistol with a slightly staggered magazine holding either seven or eight rounds of 9mm, depending on if you use the flush fit magazine or the slightly extended magazine. The barrel is just a tad over 3 inches long and the pistol has an overall length of a tad over 6 inches long. They come either with or without a manual thumb safety (necessary in some states) and can be had with a Massachusetts trigger (meaning you need a bumper jack to fire it). It is of course striker fired and has a polymer lower. There is a pretty substantial steel subframe embedded into the polymer.
These are very popular pistols with the concealed carry crowd. The handling characteristics are good and the sights are very decent. They are now available from the factory with a HiVis front sight. The pistol is very narrow, about one inch wide and weighs only about 21 ounces unloaded.
I have heard tales of problems with some of them while cruising some of the firearms forums. Unfortunately once you crank out enough of something you will have some bad ones. Ideally quality control should catch them all. It doesn’t.
The only thing I really don’t care for about my Shield is that I have slightly fat hands and most of the time I have to alter my grip slightly to get the magazine to drop free. Also, when the magazines are new you REALLY need a magazine loader or you will tear up your thumb trying to get that last round in. Once the magazines have been used a bit you can stuff them full without one. I have put well over 600 rounds thru mine now with no trouble. I confess I don’t usually carry mine, I prefer a small 1911 in 9mm or .38 Super. Never the less if this was all I had available I certainly would not leave it at home. The MSRP is around $450 but you can find them at a $75 to even $100 discount if you look around or wait for a sale.