Choosing The Right M&P Shield Accessories
Let’s face it. We are in a golden age of guns right now. Years ago, it was not uncommon to buy a pistol and then immediately send it off to a gunsmith so it would work reliably. Today, however, the vast majority of pistols such as the M&P Shield work well right out of the box. In addition, today’s pistols have a long list of standard features that are optimized for concealed carry and smooth, crisp triggers. So why would you want to add accessories to an M&P Shield?
I can’t answer this question for you, but I can answer it for me. I looked at three key areas of a potential defensive pistol encounter and how I could make my daily carry Shield 1.0 work just a little bit better.
Low Light Encounters
There is a big difference between a gunfight that occurs at night and a gun fight that occurs in darkness. The two incidents may seem the same, but they are not. A bad guy needs to identify his target, and you also need to identify your target. In the right circumstances, accessories like night sights and pistol-mounted lights can make identifying your target in low light a lot easier. Let’s look at both options.
Top Accessory – Night Sights
Upgrading the sights is one of the M&P Shield accessories that I recommend most often. The Shield ships with three dot sights. To be honest, they are not my favorite. I find that my eyes have trouble distinguishing which of the three dots is most important. As a result, I lose fractions of a second on the draw as my eyes dance between the front and rear sight. I much prefer sights that place an emphasis on the front sight, giving my eyes a clear place to focus.
I also prefer to have night sights on a defensive carry pistol. A flashlight or pistol-mounted light can help me identify what’s out there and distinguish a target from the surroundings. However, when it comes time to place accurate hits on-target, night sights give me a better idea of where my gun is pointing, as well as a sharper, more distinct sight picture.
I have Trijicon HD XR sights on my Shield. There are similar products from Meprolight, Ameriglo, and others. The bad guys tend to use the cover of darkness when they’re out and about. Adding night sights to your pistol is pretty much a no brainer.
Light Up The Night
I mentioned pistol-mounted lights earlier. In general, I think they’re a good idea, especially in two scenarios.
The first is if you rely on a pistol for home defense. We’ll go into this in more detail in an upcoming article, but if there is one situation where you want to be 100% certain you’re shooting at a bad guy and not a family member, it’s in your home.
I know there are some of you out there who are thinking to yourself, “That’s ridiculous. I would never put a light on a home defense gun. It would give away my position.” The fact is, though, burglars know to head to the master bedroom right away. They know that the things they want the most (guns, jewelry, drugs) are going to be in either the master bedroom or the master closet, so that is where they are going to look first. A light on your gun may give away your position, but it also lets the bad guy know there is something in between him and what he wants.
Secondly, a pistol mounted light is a backup to your main flashlight. A light on your pistol is there to identify and verify targets. It is not the light you use to find your keys or to find your way in the dark. You wouldn’t wave around a loaded gun without a flashlight on it, so why would you wave around a pistol with a light on it?
When it comes to lights for the M&P Shield, there are excellent options out there from Streamlight, Crimson Trace, and others. Some are just flashlights. Others also have a laser sight. Speaking of which…
The company that owns Smith and Wesson recently purchased Crimson Trace. This means that Crimson Trace lasers are now available as standard equipment on some Shield models. A laser sight is not a substitute for good marksmanship. The little dot it projects on the target is often quite hard to see, especially in bright sunlight. A green laser can be easier to spot, but even then, we are talking about a pale little green dot showing up on a target that’s 10 yards away or more.
Where lasers really come in handy is when the lights are low and the dot is easy to pick up on the target. In addition, a laser can project an aiming point on the target even when you don’t have a clear sight picture. This makes them very useful when you’re shooting from an awkward position or from behind cover. Aside from the aforementioned built-in laser versions, there are laser sights for the M&P Shield available from Viridian, Lasermax, and other manufacturers.
The original Shield version had a good, but not great, trigger. The reset on it was mushy and indistinct. I wanted something that gave me a more positive feel. Fortunately, Apex Tactical, which is known for making high-performance upgrades for Smith & Wesson guns, makes a trigger upgrade for the Shield 1.0. Their “Duty/Carry” trigger upgrade gave me the trigger feel I was missing. Plus, it lowered the trigger pull from over six pounds to just over five pounds.
This trigger upgrade only works with Version 1.0 Shields, but Apex also makes trigger upgrades for the Shield 2.0. If you’re looking for a little bit more than what the stock Shield trigger offers, they might have what you are looking for.
Increased Magazine Capacity
One of the Shield’s limitations is its magazine capacity. The standard size magazine holds seven rounds of 9×19 ammo. The gun also ships with an extended capacity magazine that holds eight rounds. I use the extended magazine all the time because the shorter magazine doesn’t give me enough room. There are, however, two problems with the eight round magazine.
The first is the plastic sleeve that wraps around the tube of the magazine. The sleeve helps you grip the pistol tightly, but it is not connected to the magazine’s baseplate. This means it can ride up in your magazine pouch as you carry it, leaving a small gap that will pinch the palm of your hand as you slam the magazine home during a reload. Believe me, that pinch can hurt.
This pinching problem can be solved with an accessory such as the MagFix baseplate. This locks the sleeve around the tube of the magazine, allowing you to reload the gun quickly without a painful pinch.
More Ammo, More Better
The second problem is the Shield’s limited capacity. 8+1 rounds is fine for a lot of us and should get you through most defensive encounters. However, I know a bunch of gunfight survivors, and none of them has ever said “Wow, did I ever have too much ammo with me for that fight!” More ammo can solve more problems, so having a good amount on you at all times seems like a good idea to me.
Magguts is one of many companies that make extended capacity magazines for the Shield. I use their +2 baseplate and follower kit in my carry gun. This allows me to have 10+1 rounds at the ready. Not a bad thing at all. However, an extended magazine adds additional height to the gun. This, in turn, makes the gun stick out from your waist more, which makes it harder to conceal. Yes, you may be able to carry more rounds in your Shield, but it will look like you have a small piece of lumber under your shirt.
Choosing the right M&P Shield accessories can make a good gun even better. The right combination of gear can extend your pistol’s capabilities and allow you to carry with more confidence and know that your gun is up to the task of defending what’s important to you when it matters the most.