Smith & Wesson M&P 45 Shield Review

Smith & Wesson M&P 45 Shield Review M&P 45 Shield questions *Updated December, 2017 Here are the most popular questions the Gear Report Nation asked about the M&P 45 Shield: […]

Smith & Wesson M&P 45 Shield Review - display shotSmith & Wesson M&P 45 Shield Review

M&P 45 Shield questions

*Updated December, 2017

Here are the most popular questions the Gear Report Nation asked about the M&P 45 Shield:

  • How bad is the Shield 45 recoil?
  • How does the size of the S & W M&P 45 Shield compare to the Springfield XDs 45?
  • Is the S&W M&P 45 Shield the same size as the Shield 9 & Shield 40?
  • Smith & Wesson M&P 45 Shield Review - grip textureWhat are those little cuts near the muzzle end of the slide for?
  • How does the new “sandpaper” grip texture feel?
  • How many rounds does the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 45 hold?
  • Is the M&P 45 Shield ambidextrous?
  • How much does the M&P 45 Shield cost?

I’ll answer all of those and more in this review.

M&P Shield Review Video – New!


Smith & Wesson used to be King. If you were serious about carrying a pistol for police work or personal protection, then a S&W revolver or 1911 was likely on your hip.
Then the “plastic” semi-auto pistols gained momentum and brands like Glock started pushing S&W out of some segments of the market. One of S&W’s responses to this is the “Military and Police” (M&P) line of pistols and rifles. I fully admit to buying a first generation Glock 17 in 1996 and only recently replacing it with a Glock 17 Gen 4 as my EDC, which made me a bit late to the M&P game. However, I have owned the M&P Shield 9 and the M&P Shield 40 and liked both. I have even given the M&P Shield 9 an edge over the Glock 43 for EDC (comparison review).

Smith & Wesson M&P 45 Shield Review - in the boxWhy the Smith & Wesson M&P 45 Shield?

The M&P line spans various sizes of handguns for different uses. The Shield line is dedicated to smaller, lighter pistols for concealed carry. Recent FBI data shows that modern 9mm defensive rounds are as effective as other options like .40 S&W, 10mm and .45 ACP, while allowing for smaller, lighter, more concealable handguns, often with higher capacity. So, why would anyone opt for a small, light pistol in .45 ACP when there are lighter, smaller options in 9mm that also hold more rounds?

A few reasons come to mind… The shooter:

  • is more accurate with the pistol in .45 ACP
  • has other handguns in .45 ACP and wants to limit the number of cartridge types in their inventory
  • hasn’t read or doesn’t believe the FBI data
  • was told by an old-timer that .45 ACP is the only cartridge to consider

As you can see, I think there are times when a concealed carry pistol in .45 ACP might make sense, and times when it probably doesn’t.

The answer to “why” S&W has come out with the M&P 45 Shield appears pretty simple to me:
Consumer demand!
While the FBI ballistics data may suggest that many people would be better served by the M&P 9 Shield, there are some that would legitimately benefit from the .45 ACP cartridge, and others that simple want one.

Smith & Wesson M&P 45 Shield Review - slide openHow S&W describes the M&P 45 Shield

M&P45 Shield™ Thumb Safety (they also offer a model with no thumb safety)

The price is $479.00 *Suggested Retail, Dealer Sets Actual Pricing

  • SKU:          180022
  • Model:       M&P 45 Shield
  • Frame Size:Compact Slim
  • Caliber:    .45 AUTO
  • Action:     Striker Fire
  • Capacity:  7+1 and 6+1 Rounds
  • Barrel Length: 3.3” (8.4 cm)
  • Front Sight:      Steel – White Dot
  • Rear Sight:        Steel – White Two Dot
  • Overall Length: 6.45” (16.4 cm)
  • Frame Width: .99” (2.5 cm)
  • Frame with Slide Stop: 1.05” (2.6 cm)
  • Overall Height: 4.88” with Flush Magazine (11.9 cm)
  • Grip:      Polymer
  • Weight: 20.5 oz. (581.2 g)
  • Weight Empty Mag: 2.2 oz. (62.4 g) – 6 Round Magazine
  • Barrel Material: Stainless Steel – Armornite™ Finish
  • Slide Material:    Stainless Steel – Armornite™ Finish
  • Frame Material: Polymer
  • Finish: Black
Smith & Wesson M&P 45 Shield Review -front slide serrations

front cocking serrations

Other Features
• New aggressive grip texture for M&P®45 Shield™.
• Front cocking serrations.
• Incorporates the design features of the M&P Shield line of firearms.
• Extremely thin and lightweight – can be comfortably carried all day.
• 18 degree grip angle for natural point of aim.
• Striker-fired for short consistent trigger pull, every time.
• Backed by Smith & Wesson’s Lifetime Service Policy.
• Armornite® Durable Corrosion Resistant Finish.


Availability subject to applicable federal, state and local laws, regulations, and ordinances.


Smith & Wesson M&P 45 Shield Review - first shots

First shots with the MP 45 Shield

That’s all nice, but  HOW DOES IT SHOOT?!

So far, the Smith & Wesson M&P 45 Shield has performed very nicely.

As of initial writing of this review, the M&P 45 Shield has just started shipping, so it should be available for purchase very soon. We appreciate Smith & Wesson sending one for the Gear Report team to evaluate.

Given that this is a brand new model I can’t comment on long term reliability yet. For the first range trip I put 8 mags full of Defender Ammunition Company 230gr plated RN ammo through the M&P 45 Shield as an initial function check and it worked flawlessly. Just to keep things interesting I took a few other pistols for comparison (with links to read more or purchase):

On the second range trip with the M&P 45 Shield I only took the Springfield XDs 45 3.3 for comparison. The slightly larger handgrip on the M&P 45 Shield fit my hands WAY better than the smaller Springfield XDs 45 3.3. The bigger grip and aggressive surface treatment helped me keep muzzle flip under control better with the M&P 45 Shield.

S&W_M&P_45ACP (41)Results:

The S & W M&P 45 Shield was taken out of the box, loaded and shot. As with many review guns, it arrived well oiled and already test fired. So, I didn’t even oil or clean it. The M&P line are supposed to be combat or police guns. So, I expect it them to work well without obsessive cleaning and oiling.

First Impressions:

  • The S & W M&P 45 Shield shot fairly true to point of aim with the 3 white dot sighting system. I only shot it at 7 yards for this initial test and will update as I shoot from greater distances.
  • The M&P 45 operated flawlessly with no failure to feed, failure to fire or failure to eject.
  • I have fairly big hands as a 6’4″ 205Lb dude, and there was just barely enough room for all 4 fingers on the pistol grip while using the short magazine.
  • I shot several magazines of Defender Ammunition Co. ammo and most grouped fairly well.
  • Smith & Wesson M&P 45 Shield Review - shootingPOA vs POI was pretty close. I tended to hit a bit low and right of my aim point, but close enough for a small, concealed carry pistol.
  • Compared to the Springfield XDs 45 3.3 the M&P 45 Shield had a bit less “snappy” recoil, allowing me to get back on target quicker.
  • Compared to the Ruger LCS9 Pro in 9mm the M&P 45 Shield felt a bit heavy, with a good bit more recoil. Both have aggressive grip surfaces. The Shield grip is a bit wider and taller, fitting my hand better.
  • Compared to the Ruger SR1911 with threaded Storm Lake barrel the M&P 45 shield felt small, light, and snappy. Well, of course it did… the Ruger SR1911 is a full sized 1911!
  • Compared to the Glock 22 in .40 S&W the M&P 45 felt a bit lighter with more abrupt recoil.
  • The M&P 45 Shield magazines were rather difficult to load the first time, but got MUCH easier on subsequent loadings.
  • The white dot sights on the M&P 45 Shield are painted, not night sights. I prefer night sights. However, for what they are, the sights work well. I appreciate that S&W chose metal sights that are windage adjustable for the M&P 45 Shield. I will never understand why Glock puts plastic sights on their pistols. Way to go S&W!!
  • The front slide serrations really do improve grip on the front of the slide for cocking and are well placed.
  • The rear slide serrations are scalloped and are VERY grippy. Grab them too aggressively and I predict you will lose some DNA.

Questions answered:

  • Smith & Wesson M&P 45 Shield Review - from the barrel endHow bad is the S&W M&P 45 Shield recoil? 
    • Not nearly as bad as I expected. Sure, the 23 oz compact pistol has snappier recoil than the heavier SR1911, but it is not as bad as I expected. You know that you are shooting a .45 when you shoot the M&P 45 Shield, but it didn’t hurt my hand. Sure it stung a bit after 13 rounds with the aggressive grip texture, but nothing too bad.
  • How does the size of the S&W M&P 45 Shield compare to the Springfield XDs 45?
    • The M&P 45 Shield is very slightly larger in length and height. I would be remiss not to mention that the XDs only holds 5 rounds in the flush mag, while the M&P 45 Shield holds 6.
  • Is the  S&W M&P 45 Shield the same size as the Shield 9 & Shield 40?
    • No. The M&P 45 Shield is very slightly larger in all dimensions.
  • When will the  S&W M&P 45 Shield be available for purchase?
    • Good question. My contact at S&W says that they are SHIPPING NOW! (08jul16)
  • What are those little cuts near the muzzle end of the slide for?
    • They appear to be scallop cuts to increase grip when racking the slide.
  • How does the new “sandpaper” grip texture feel?
    • So far I have mixed feelings. The M&P 45 Shield grip stays put in my hand and feels very secure. However, it does leave my hands stinging a bit after a few magazines worth of shooting. I suspect that I will get used to it, just as I have gotten used to the obnoxiously aggressive bumps on the Glock 17 Gen4 handgrip.
  • Smith & Wesson M&P 45 Shield Review - texture made hand red

    The grip made my hand a little red

    How many rounds does the  S&W M&P 45 Shield hold?

    • 6 in the standard magazine, 7 in the extended magazine… plus one in the chamber.
  • Is the M&P 45 Shield ambidextrous?
    • Nope. Sorry lefties.
  • How much will the M&P 45 Shield cost?
    • MSRP is $479, although dealers may choose to sell for a bit more or less.


My experience with S & W M&P 45 Shield has been very positive. It is a bit large for pocket carry, which I have done a fair amount of lately due to wardrobe constraints in the hot summer months. However, it is pretty small by IWB concealed carry standards. I am impressed that S&W fit 7+1 capacity of .45 ACP in such a compact package. It handles the kick of the 45 cartridge pretty well for handgun with rather low mass.

Do I expect the M&P 45 Shield to replace the Glock 17 or Ruger LCS9 Pro as my EDC pistol… not right away. I REALLY like the capacity of a full sized 9mm handgun. However, with the extended magazine providing 7+1 capacity, the M&P 45 Shield might work it’s way into the rotation if it continues to be as reliable as it has been testing.
It also appears that although the M&P Shield 45 is a touch bigger than the 9mm and 40 S&W versions, it still fits well enough in my Alien Gear holster that I may be able to carry it without buying a new holster.

Where to buy M&P Shield pistols

Trusted retailers like:

Gears rating

Gear Score
The S&W M&P 45 Shield is a solid entry in the concealed carry market for folks that prefer the .45 ACP cartridge and want a compact package that is very shootable.

 Ammo for testing provided by

Without the support of our ammo suppliers we would not be able to do nearly the amount of gun reviews that we do today.

Defender Ammunition CompanyDefender Ammunition Company

Big thanks go to our primary Ammo Sponsor Defender Ammunition Company for supplying ammo for our tests and reviews on an ongoing basis. For this review we shot more than a few magazines of Defender’s 230gr FMJ .45 ACP ammo with great success. is a proud member of Team Defender

Sig Sauer

SIG provided FMJ and V-Crown defensive ammo for this test.

Gorilla Ammunition

Gorilla Ammo provided .45 ACP ammo for this test.

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More M&P 45 Shield review images:

Originally posted 2016-07-08 13:17:35. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

About Jeff

Jeff is the Editor in Chief of Gear Report and a National Shooting Sports Foundation Media member. He reports on the outdoor industry, reviews gear for camping, hiking, shooting, hunting, paddling, backpacking and other active pursuits. A USAF veteran, Jeff earned a MBA in Marketing and Health Services. He specializes in consultative selling and internet marketing. As the VP of BD & Marketing, Jeff provides sales and marketing leadership to MGECOM, Inc. and helps acquire new clients in need of solutions for online merchants in need of Affiliate Marketing program management. Jeff founded and manages Cress Sales & Marketing LLC, offering online sales and marketing consulting and services to online merchants and service providers.