Firearm: Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield Plus Optics Ready (MSRP: $595)
We’re taking another look at the Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield Plus, Optics Ready pistol today, for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it’s a well-made, dependable handgun that can be concealed easily without being so small it’s difficult to shoot more than magazine or two through it. Since it shares most dimensions with the original Shield, there’s a wide variety of holsters and other related gear for it. And, lastly, now that there’s an Optics Ready version with an RMSc footprint, any number of red-dot optics can be installed.
When Smith & Wesson released the Shield Plus, we were seeing a tidal wave of micro-9 mm double-stack pistols hitting the market. Rather than engineer a pistol from the ground up, the company took a look at how it might increase capacity in its existing single-stack to stake a claim of the double-stack marketplace. Smith & Wesson accomplished this by widening the grip to accept a slightly staggered double-column magazine, increasing capacity of the Shield Plus to 10 rounds in a flush-fit magazine from the seven rounds of the original Shield.
While those three rounds might not seem like that big of a deal, it’s the slightly extended, 13-round magazine that really makes a difference. With the small extension on the floorplate, all three fingers of the strong hand can comfortably wrap about the grip, giving extra control on the range and allowing the pinky finger solid placement on the grip, one of the keys to achieving rapid acquisition of a red dot. Since dots often wind up slightly high, applying pressure with the strong-hand pinky finger helps bring the dot into the window. Again, detailed practice and dedicated instructors like Scott Jedlinski of Modern Samurai Project can help with this if it’s an issue.
With solid night sights as an option, a new, bladed-safety trigger and more aggressive texture rounding out the non-capacity-related changes to the Shield Plus, it’s clear Smith & Wesson intends for the M&P9 Shield to stake its claim in the micro-9 mm double-stack marketplace. With a pistol this easy to both shoot and carry, it’s an excellent option for the concealed carrier to investigate.
Holster: KSG Armory Halcyon (MSRP: $75)
The small size of the Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield Plus makes it a natural for appendix-style carry. KSG Armory offers its Halcyon holster, a single-sheet Kydex holster with multiple attachment options, for the Shield and Shield Plus with and without optics. Soft loops, DCC monoblock or tuckable options allow the Halcyon to be configured to your preferred carry method, while a variety of color options are selectable for a slight upcharge should you want something that’s a little more than ordinary.
One note on the appendix holsters from KSG: The company intentionally makes its appendix-carry holsters slightly oversize, specifically to allow more holster below the belt line to minimize the likelihood of unwanted outboard movement. In the case of the Shield Plus, there’s about an extra inch of holster to keep it from pulling away from the body – it looks like it would accommodate one of the Performance Center Shields with the 4-inch barrel. This is intentional, and makes for a more stable carry method. Wedges are available should the user wish to angle the holster more into the body for greater comfort.
Optic: Trijicon RMRcc (MSRP: $699)
We’ve opted for the Trijicon RMRcc on this Optics Ready Shield Plus, the first time we’ve featured Trijicon’s little brother to it’s standard RMR. Coming in at a size more appropriate for micro-9 mm double-stack pistols like the Shield Plus, the RMRcc offers Trijicon’s legendary robustness and reliability, just in a slightly smaller package. The RMRcc still has the same user-selectable brightness settings, and offers eight daytime settings, two night-vision settings and a setting Trijicon calls “super bright.”
Available with either a 3.25- or 6.5-MOA dot, the RMRcc claims a four-year battery life on setting 4 using a single, common CR2032 battery. The RMRcc does have the battery located on the bottom, meaning it will need to be removed from the pistol to change, but you’re only going to have to do that every time the Olympics roll around, so… One note on the footprint, though: it’s unique, so an adaptor plate will be needed to mount it to your pistol. This means it will sit a little higher than other sights, so be aware of that extra height.