Firearm: Smith & Wesson M&P 9 Shield Plus Optics Ready (MSRP: $595)
It’s hardly surprising that Smith & Wesson would quickly follow up its new M&P 9 Shield pistol with an optics-ready version, given that the original Shield also had an optics-ready version in the M2.0 Performance Center pistol. Given that the vast majority of the wildly popular micro-compact 9 mm double-stack handguns released recently have optics capability, it didn’t take tons of market research to convince Smith & Wesson to add it to the new Shield Plus.
The footprint is the standard RMS/JPoint/Sentinel footprint, and Smith & Wesson includes three different sets of screws to mount optics of varying heights. As most of the optics that use this footprint have the battery located on the underside of the unit, using a torque driver to tighten screws to factory specifications will allow easier removal of the optic when the battery needs replacing. While the optic should theoretically keep zero, it’s never a bad idea to check just to be sure once it has been re-installed on the pistol.
Other than the optics cut, the M&P 9 Shield Plus Optics Ready is virtually identical to the non-optics-ready model, as you might expect. It has the same bladed-safety trigger that differentiates the Plus from the standard Shield models, as well as the same in-between texture on the grip. Capacity is 10 rounds with the flush-fit magazine and 13 rounds with the slightly extended version, and the M2.0-like forward and rear slide serrations are also present, just like on the non-optic-ready model.
About the only difference on the optics-ready Shield Plus is the sights – the front sight contains a tritium-vial with orange-ring outline as opposed to the standard white dot of the original Plus. Well, and of course the cut milled into the slide. If you saw the Shield Plus and decided to wait for an optics-ready version, your patience has been rewarded. If you’ve been on the fence between optics ready and standard, it’s a $50 difference that gives a lot more options down the road should you decide to add a dot.
Holster: JM Custom Kydex IWB3 (MSRP: $55, $62 as configured)
For the new optics-ready Shield Plus, we’ve gone with a JM Custom Kydex IWB3 holster. Available in a variety of colors and attachment options, the IWB3 can be configured as a standard inside-the-waistband holster or canted with a straight drop for appendix-style carry. Single-sheet kydex construction with a single retention screw keeps things simple, and we continue to be impressed by the precise fit and finish of JM Custom Kydex offerings.
Again, we return to the “Custom” in JM Custom Kydex. The IWB3 can be had with five different attachment methods and two different belt sizes. Eight color schemes are available, with other-than-black options incurring a very slight upcharge. Six options for cant exist, with five fixed angles or an adjustable model. Sweatguards can be had in mid- or full-length, or omitted entirely. That’s a lot of customization in a holster that tops out at $65. All that and it’s a holster that’s sturdy, works well and is held in high regard by folks that run them hard.
Optic: Shield Sights RMS2 (MSRP: $430)
I couldn’t help myself. When I saw that the Smith & Wesson Shield Plus now had an optics-ready model, there was only one red-dot sight I could consider: The Shield Sights RMS2. I mean, who couldn’t resist putting a Shield on their Shield? While we have covered the RMS2 previously, it’s still an excellent option for the Shield Plus, with a 4-MOA dot and automatic brightness detection. Additionally, there’s a section relieved in the center to allow co-witnessing with the iron sights, a thoughtful touch – and one that doesn’t require suppressor-height sights.
To accomplish this, though, Shield had to move the battery compartment under the unit, meaning that in order to change the battery, it has to be removed from the slide. Using a top-mount or slide-out tray wouldn’t have allowed the unit to be low-profile enough to allow co-witnessing. As long as you check your zero when re-installing the optic, things should be fine.