Home»Commentary»Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9 Plus OR, is this S&W’s Best Optics Ready Carry Gun Yet?

Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9 Plus OR, is this S&W’s Best Optics Ready Carry Gun Yet?

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Article first appeared on Ammoland.com

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U.S.A. -(AmmoLand.com)- My first dedicated handgun was a Smith & Wesson, and now after 15 years and dozens of other guns I’m returning to the company thanks to their new M&P Shield 9 Plus OR. But wait, you might ask yourself, hasn’t the M&P Shield line of handguns been around for a while? What makes this new one so much better that you’re changing your current carry gun for it?

To be honest, it’s not one single factor or feature on the gun, but rather the culmination of everything the new Shield 9 Plus brings to the table. Buckle up, we’ll delve into everything you need to know about Smith & Wesson’s latest offering.

Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9 Plus OR

The Shield 9 Plus – just like the standard Shield 9, is a locked-breech, magazine-fed semi-automatic pistol chambered in 9mm parabellum. It feeds from stagger-column, box-type magazines and includes two in the box – one 10-rounder and one 13-round version that includes an extended baseplate.

MP Shield Plus 01
The new M&P Shield 9 Plus OR is a very solid carry piece. IMG Jim Grant

The pistol is definitely an M&P through and through. It features the same aggressive molded stippling, wave-pattern slide serrations, and solid ergonomics as the original Shield, but the new OR or Optics Ready version now includes a cut for Shield-pattern reflex sights. And in a nutshell, that’s it. If you’re familiar with the Shield series of handguns, the new Shield 9 Plus OR offers no surprises – and that’s a good thing.

Don’t get me wrong, I love new and innovative designs, but when it comes to concealed carry firearms, I’m not interested in being a beta tester for a new system. This is why I’m very happy that the new Shield is just as reliable as previous models were purported to be. And that word choice wasn’t accidental.

Shield ACTION
Despite its compact size, the Shield 9 Plus OR had relatively little felt recoil. IMG Jim Grant

I have almost no experience with the M&P Shield series of handguns – but not for any negative reasons. Simply, none of my shooting buddies own one, and I already have a SIG P365XL I use for everyday carry, and a Smith & Wesson 442 hammerless .38 I run for pocket carry or deep concealment. I frankly wasn’t in the market for a new carry gun when the Shield originally came out, and when I finally replaced my old single-stack micro 1911 with a higher-capacity pistol, I did so based on the fact that I really enjoyed the SIG at SHOT Show, and that my local gun shop had a used one for sale for $250 under MSRP.

So when the new Shield arrived at my FFL, I had no expectations. I literally didn’t have any first-hand experience with the gun, so I didn’t know what to expect.

Performance

As soon as I got home, I loaded up both magazines and walked out back to my home gun range.

MP Shield Plus 02
The Shield Plus OR can also be used without optics. IMG Jim Grant

After firing 150 rounds of various types of 9mm through it, I was sufficiently satisfied that it was exactly what I thought it would be – a very competent design with great accuracy and reliability. I then mounted a Shield RMSc Micro Red Dot on the Shield 9 Plus OR and the gun didn’t seem to mind at all.

Between filming the action shots for the review and just getting myself familiar with the gun, I managed to fire 450 rounds through the gun with nothing but factory oil on it.  And in all that time, it never malfunctioned or slowed down in any way. The grip isn’t uncomfortable, the sights are easy to see in basically all lighting conditions and the integral optic mount held up perfectly. The gun just works.

And when coupled with the aforementioned red dot, I was able to stretch the pistol’s legs out to an impressive 75 yards aginst an 8-inch steel gong. And it’s not that the gun is capable of hitting that target that’s truly remarkable, but rather how effortless it feels to do so.

Verdict

MP Shield 9 Plus Jim Grant
Compact, reliable, and easy to conceal. The newest Shield pistol is a solid choice for concealed carry. IMG Jim Grant

So is the new Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9 Plus OR worth a buy? With an MSRP of $595, the Shield Plus OR isn’t the cheapest option on the market, but it certainly isn’t the most expensive. And because it’s made by a company with a lifetime warranty and a track record of producing dependable, long-lasting handguns, you’ll certainly get what you pay for.

MP Shield Plus 03
The Shield’s grip texture is very aggressive and greatly aids in weapon retention. IMG Jim Grant

And given its 13-round magazine, the Shield 9 Plus OR would make an excellent bedside gun, concealed carry option, or even a first pistol for a new shooter. Especially given that they offer the model both with and without an external safety. And yes, the gun is a very safe option for S&W to bring to market, and some might even say boring. But when it comes to concealed carry pistols and any tool you might have to depend on for your life, boring is exactly what you want.


About Jim Grant

Jim is one of the elite editors for AmmoLand.com, who in addition to his mastery of prose, can wield a camera with expert finesse. He loves anything and everything guns but holds firearms from the Cold War in a special place in his heart.

When he’s not reviewing guns or shooting for fun and competition, Jim can be found hiking and hunting with his wife Kimberly, and their dog Peanut in the South Carolina low country.

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