When you get your first gun, you are a ball of emotions. If you weren’t really around guns growing up, you could be excited, nervous, and curious which gun is the best one to get…
If you grew up around guns, you might know exactly what you like and what works best for you.
If you are in the first group, you might be a little nervous about getting a gun you don’t like so you read reviews like this one.
I was in the same situation when I bought my first handgun.
After I shot it a few times, and got to know it, there are things I like and things I knew to look for with my next purchase.
The Performance Center Ported M&P Shield has a lot of the things I look for in a concealed carry handgun. I’ll be talking about my experience shooting the M&P Shield for the first time, what worked well, and what I think I would modify at some point.
Taking the First Shot
Not having fired this gun or any other Smith & Wesson gun other than a Bodyguard .380 (full review) until recently, I didn’t know what to expect. I purposely didn’t dry fire or do anything in advance that would give me any indication of where the trigger break would be, the tension, or anything else.
I wanted the experience to be totally new when the first round went down range.
When I squeezed the trigger and saw the flash, it was encouraging. The hole in the target was just left of center, just outside the bullseye.
Specs and Features
As you may have noticed, the M&P9 Shield being reviewed is not the standard model. It’s entirely stock from the factory, but it’s an upgraded model.
Just looking at it, you’ll see two things: the sights and the slide are both different.
The sights are “HI-VIZ” for added visibility in low light situations. I’ll talk more about this later in the review.
Both the barrel and the slide are ported for better performance and less muzzle rise when you are firing. You can more easily reacquire your target. I can affirm that it was a pretty smooth shot overall. I was able to fire a few rounds pretty quickly and have a decent grouping.
What I Liked
The trigger is smooth and it is a pretty short pull.
The trigger safety has a better feel than the Glock. The M&P 9 SHIELD trigger is flat where your finger rests and has rounded edges for a comfortable feel.
The trigger safety is a little different than what I am used to. The easiest way to explain it is that the trigger is separated into two sections; a top and bottom. If you pull the trigger too high, the gun won’t fire.
For comparison, the Glock trigger safety is on the front of the trigger. As you pull the trigger, you depress the safety. The Glock trigger feels blocky compared to the Smith & Wesson M&P 9 SHIELD trigger.
Of course, if you want to upgrade to a different trigger, there are a number of compatible M&P drop-in options out there.
The length of the grip is a great. It’s a happy medium between a compact and a sub-compact, even with the flat magazine in it.
If you like a wider grip, this may not be for you, but for me, it works well. The single stack magazine still holds 7 rounds, which is respectable for a CCW choice.
The length of the barrel is about ¼ inch shorter than the Glock I am used to carrying, so that’s helpful. Where I was really happy was the width of the grip. Losing almost ¼ of an inch in width makes it fit a little nicer in my waistband.
The grip of the Performance Center Ported M&P 9 is a little longer than the Glock 27 when they both have the standard magazines.
What I Didn’t Like
The night sights are not very functional. No matter the level of light or the time spent in the light, they just didn’t seem to have any glow to them. It would have been better to just have white dot sights.
I am not a big fan of the way Smith & Wesson uses the little lever key to hold the slide in place. It’s a pain to remove and reinstall. It makes me not want to clean and oil the gun. I am sure if you are a frequent shooter and have taken your S&W apart a lot it might be a little easier, but for the noobie, it will take some patience and practice to break down and reassemble your M&P 9 SHIELD.
Other than those two things, which are kind of minor details, the gun is great.
Overall, I like the feel of the Performance Center Ported M&P9 Shield. The grip is a good size for the gun. The molded texture in the grip helps a lot, but doesn’t dig into your hand like the texture on the grips of other manufacturers guns.
The weight of the Smith & Wesson is pretty evenly balanced, even when it’s unloaded.
Judging by my first shot being so close, I will say everything lines up pretty well out of the box. It took a few more rounds for me to get over the shock of the first shot, but after that the rounds were landing pretty close where I was aiming.
I can’t determine for myself how reliable the Performance Center Ported M&P9 Shield is over the long term, but I ran 50 rounds through it and didn’t have any malfunctions. I used Blazer Brass for the test hoping I might get a malfunction because it was the least expensive ammo on the shelf. (The range didn’t allow steel case.)
With the ported barrel and slide and better trigger, I can say it hits most of the things I would think to change. Something I would change out is the sights. They didn’t do it for me and I would have something more reliable if I needed to use the gun to defend myself.
I like the look and feel of the Performance Center Ported M&P9 Shield. The ported slide gives it a great appearance.
For what you get, I think the pricing is very good. The gun is listed at $519 full retail on the Smith & Wesson site, but is available for a good bit less from other distributors.
The package I tested included the gun and two magazines, but I’ve seen other packages that also include a flashlight and knife.
I thought this was a great option for someone who would like a “sportier” gun than what you would get if you bought an entry level model. S&W is good at making guns that are a step above the basic model for those who want a little more performance.
The features I liked by far outweigh the things I didn’t.
When I got a chance to shoot this gun, I was pretty excited. It’s one that I’ve wanted to shoot for a while. a few people I know have this is there CCW choice and love it; and it didn’t disappoint.
If you are one of those people who like to have something just a little bit better than the stock model, the Performance Center model might be right up your alley. If you or someone you love has a bit of trouble with racking a standard pistol slide, you may want to try the M&P Shield EZ model chambered in .380.
You can find the Performance Center Shield on sale at Brownells below, let us know if you pick one up!