Smith & Wesson's new M&P45 Shield packs the firepower of the potent .45 Auto cartridge into the manufacturer's classic single-stack carry pistol.
First introduced in 2012, the M&P Shield line of pistols has been a huge success for Smith & Wesson, with the company selling 1 million Shields by November 2015. Slim and trim, the single-stack 9mm and .40 S&W models are a favorite with concealed carriers. But if there was one complaint, it was that the Shield wasn’t available in a larger caliber. Until now.
At the NRA Annual Meetings, Smith & Wesson launched the M&P45 Shield chambered in .45 ACP. It is a bit heavier than previous models but has essentially the same proportions as its smaller-caliber cousins.
“We were often asked at trade and consumer shows, ‘When are you coming out with a Shield in 45?'” said Jan Mladek, Smith & Wesson’s director of marketing. “Listening to our consumers, combined with our own market research, made it clear that we needed to develop an M&P Shield to chamber the popular .45 Auto.”
For accuracy and function testing, the .45 Auto ammunition brands I used were American Eagle’s Syntech 230-grain FMJ, Creedmoor Ammunition 230-gr. FMJ, and Remington UMC 230-grain FMJ.
Also, for general shooting practice and functionality, I added two more .45 ACP loads to the mix: Dynamic Research Technologies 150-grain HP frangible and SRPS Team Never Quit Ammunition’s 155-grain HP frangible.
With well over 300 rounds through the M&P45 Shield, I experienced zero malfunctions. Every round fed fine and ejected positively; the slide stayed open when each magazine was empty.
Once I began firing the pistol, the first thing I really noticed was the texture on the pistol’s butt. As Mladek told me, “The 45 Shield has a new, more aggressive texture compared to our other Shield models, and it was developed for the heavier recoil of the .45 Auto round.”
I find the recoil on most mid-sized 9mm and .40 S&W’s snappy — sharp and mostly up — including Shields. The recoil on the M&P45 Shield is more substantial than these smaller calibers, of course! Yet, it’s more of a shove back into the hand versus the snappy up-pulse of the 9mm and .40 S&W Shields. The new texturing on the .45 Shield grabs the skin of the hand in a way that directs the recoil more or less straight back toward the forearm.
Of course, there is muzzle flip. You are firing a .45 Auto load out of a 3.3-inch barrel, after all. But that texturing helps you get back on target quite fast.
The M&P Shields were known for pretty good triggers, and Smith & Wesson went one better with the 45 Shield, incorporating a lighter, crisper trigger; the striker-firing system makes for a fast reset, too. The trigger is also hinged, and it won’t pull back unless the tip is first engaged. A Lyman Trigger Pull Gauge measured the Shield’s trigger pull at 5.6 pounds.
I also used the M&P45 Shield for my daily concealed carry for the better part of a week. I used an inside-the-waistband Sticky Holster (Model MD-4) and tucked it into the small of my back. I found the 45 Shield comfortable to carry. That aggressive texturing also makes it easier to grab onto and withdraw than a number of other carry pistols I have tried.
All in all, the Smith & Wesson M&P45 Shield is one fine pistol — slim and concealable, easy to use, accurate and packs that .45 Auto punch. I’ve got nothing against smaller calibers, but if an armed confrontation is coming my way? Well, in that case, I’d much prefer a carry pistol that can launch .45 ACP self-defense loads downrange versus 9mm or even .40 S&W. That’s my personal preference, and it is a comforting one.
Smith & Wesson M&P45 Shield
Type: Semi-auto, striker-fired
Frame Size: Compact Slim
Caliber: .45 Auto
Capacity: 7+1, 6+1
Barrel: 3.3 in., stainless steel, Armornite finish
Overall Length: 6.45 in.
Trigger: 5.6 lbs. (as tested)
Sights: steel, white three dot
Width: 0.99 in.
Height: 4.88 in.
Grip: Polymer, textured
Weight: 20.5 oz. (empty)
Slide: Stainless steel, Armornite finish
Manufacturer: Smith & Wesson
Editor's Note: This article is an excerpt from the December 2016 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.