Smith & Wesson M&P9 Performance Center
Ported Shield Review

Part 3 - External & Operational Features
June 5, 2016

S&W M&P9 Performance Center Ported Shield Review

In this part of my S&W M&P®9 PC Ported Shield Review, I try to show all the external and operational features of this pistol.  Keep in mind that throughout this review you can click on nearly any photo and doing so will bring up a high resolution image showing the finer details.

 

The M&P Shield is a single stack striker fired pistol that comes in 9mm (M&P®9) or .40S&W (M&P®40).  I feel this model pistol is intended to be a slim light-weight pistol for conceal and carry purposes, but could also make a great defense pistol for those not wanting to carry.  This pistol comes with a coated stainless steel slide and barrel, giving the pistol an all black appearance.  Like most compact pistols today, the grip frame is made from high strength polymer material (most likely glass filled nylon).  The build quality of the Shield is on par with that of the rest of the S&W firearms in the M&P series.

Figure 1
S&W M&P9 Performance Center Ported Shield

The three key features that set this Performance Center (PC) Ported Shield apart from the standard (or original) Shield are the:

  1. HI-VIZ® Fiber Optic Front and Rear Sights - gives you a quicker sight picture acquisition and stands out in lower light situations
  2. Performance Center Sear and Plunger - gives you a quicker reset on the trigger and a smoother transition of the trigger bar over the striker plunger to give you a smoother trigger pull
  3. Ported Slide and Barrel - reduces muzzle flip which allow faster times to get back on target

Figure 2
S&W M&P9 Performance Center Ported Shield

The pistol measured 6.1" in length and has an overall width of 1.01" across the takedown lever. The width across the grip frame is about 0.95" which is stated in the specifications.

Figure 3
S&W M&P9 Performance Center Ported Shield Top View

The height of the pistol measures about 5.12" with the 8-round magazine installed and 4.65" with the 7-round magazine installed.  I also believe that the 18 degree grip angle allows the sights to naturally align with the shape of my hand when aiming the pistol.

Figure 4
S&W M&P9 Performance Center Ported Shield Right View

I included these photos from Part 2 of my review mainly so that this part of the review has a complete set of photos for my own personal reference.  I go into detail about the features of this pistol further in this review.

Figure 5
S&W M&P9 Performance Center Ported Shield Bottom View

Figure 6                                                            Figure 7                                                               Figure 8
S&W M&P9 Performance Center Ported Shield Front View  S&W M&P9 Performance Center Ported Shield Left View  S&W M&P9 Performance Center Ported Shield Rear View

The pistol weighed in at 1 pound 4.6 ounces (20.6 ounces) empty with the 8-round magazine.  With the 7-round magazine, it weighed in at 20.2 ounces empty.  This is a couple of ounces heavier than the 18.2 ounces stated in the specifications which represents the pistol only weight (no magazine).  The pistol weighed in at 1 pound 8.3 ounces (24.3 ounces) fully loaded with 9 rounds of 115gr ammunition.

Figure 9                                                                 Figure 10
S&W M&P9 Performance Center Ported Shield Weight  S&W M&P9 Performance Center Ported Shield Weight

One of the key features of this model of the shield is the HI-VIZ® fiber optic front and rear sights which gives you (or at least seems to give me) a quicker sight picture acquisition and stands out in lower light situations.  The contrast between the green front and red rear dots also really stands out.  The sight radius measured 5.05" from the rear of the front sight to the rear of the rear sight on this pistol which was slightly shorter than the 5.3" in the specifications.  According to the Instruction Manual, the rear sight is not adjustable and the front sight is drift adjustable for windage corrections only.

 In the photos below you can also see at the rear of the slide there in no exposed hammer which is a good indication that this is a striker fired pistol.  Also note that there are no visible indications that the striker is cocked.

 Figure 11                                                          Figure 12                                
S&W M&P9 Performance Center Ported Shield Sight Picture  S&W M&P9 Performance Center Ported Shield Sights

The right side of the slide is marked with "SMITH & WESSON", "SPRINGFIELD, MA U.S.A." and the cautions statement "CAUTION-CAPABLE OF FIRING WITH MAGAZINE REMOVED".  I feel this "no magazine disconnect" aspect of this pistol to be right in line with what I would want on a model with these enhanced features.  On the right side of the grip frame is an embedded metal plate with the serial number and 2D bar code.

Figure 13
S&W M&P9 Performance Center Ported Shield Right Side of Slide

On the left side of the slide you can see that "M&P9 SHIELD", "Performance Center" and the S&W logo are engraved into the surface of the slide.  I personally own several Performance Center handguns and feel that the Performance Center enhancements are worth the added costs, which is why I feel S&W proudly displays Performance Center on their PC firearms.  In the photos above and below, you can see that the magazine release is not reversible due to the profile in the grip frame which makes this pistol favor a right handed shooter.  Also, you can see the takedown lever on the left side of the frame.

Figure 14
S&W M&P9 Performance Center Ported Shield Left Side of Slide

Probably one of the most recognized features of a Performance Center handgun is the improved trigger pull.  From the exterior, the trigger looks the same as that on the standard Shield.  The trigger has the integrated trigger safety where the lower portion of the trigger must be pulled to rotate the blocking upper portion into the main trigger body.  On the interior of the pistol you get the Performance Center sear and plunger which gives you a quicker reset on the trigger and a smoother transition of the trigger bar over the striker plunger to give you a smoother trigger pull.  Typically this also results in a slightly lower trigger pull weight.  The pull weight on this pistol measured 5.4 lbs based on an average of 6 pulls using my digital trigger pull scale and I feel this is a good pull weight for this style of pistol.  Overall the trigger pull felt very smooth with little if any creep and very little overtravel due to the overtravel stop integrated into the trigger guard.  Reset was also very short being only about 0.20 forward from the stop.

           Figure 15                                                            Figure 16
S&W M&P9 Performance Center Ported Shield Trigger  S&W M&P9 Performance Center Ported Shield Trigger

When you look at the top of the barrel chamber you see two primary features.  The first is the caliber marking which in this case is "9MM".  According to the Safety & Instruction Manual, "Use only commercially manufactured ammunition with internal ballistic pressures which are in strict accordance with the specifications of the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute (SAAMI)."  It also states "“Plus-P” (+P) ammunition generates pressures in excess of the pressures associated with standard ammunition. Such pressures may affect the wear characteristics or exceed the margin of safety. Use of “Plus-P” ammunition may result in the need for more frequent service" along with "“Plus-P-Plus” (+P+) ammunition must not be used in Smith & Wesson firearms."  I interpret all this as this firearm is +P capable, but use it sparingly and never shoot anything that might produce higher pressures than +P ammunition.

The second feature at the rear of the barrel is the loaded chamber indicator port.  You can clearly see when a cartridge case is inside the chamber as shown in the photos below.  You can also get a very slight indication that a case is in the chamber by feeling the position of the extractor.  The extractor protrudes out of the slide slightly when it is gripping a case.  If you are wearing gloves, you would most likely not be able to feel this protrusion.

Figure 17                                                           Figure 18
S&W M&P9 Performance Center Ported Shield Loaded Chamber Indicator  S&W M&P9 Performance Center Ported Shield Loaded Chamber Indicator

The rear of the slide has seven wavy scalloped serrations on each side which allow for a good grip on the slide.  These next two photos show the manual safety in the "Safe" and "Fire" positions.  Although there are no markings indicating Safe and Fire, the manual safety operates in the standard Safe up and Fire down mode.  This manual safety is not ambidextrous which also caters to the right handed crowd.  For those who don't like manual safeties, the safety does not overly protrude and could be left in the Fire position if desired.  For those liking the manual safety, this model includes it and it does protrude enough to allow you to easily engage and disengage it with the side of your thumb.  S&W makes a version of the Shield with no thumb safety, but at this time (May 2016) they don't make a Performance Center Ported version.

Figure 19                                                           Figure 20
S&W M&P9 Performance Center Ported Shield Manual Safety Up  S&W M&P9 Performance Center Ported Shield Manual Safety Down

It is hard to tell in the photo below, but the slide is locked back in the rear position and the slide stop is in the up position holding it back.  The slide stop protrudes more than the manual safety.  It is possible to release the slide using your thumb provided you don't have an empty magazine in the pistol.  The added spring force pushing up on the follower and slide stop is slightly more than most people can overcome with thumb pressure, although, if you have strong hands it is possible to drop the slide.

Figure 21
S&W M&P9 Performance Center Ported Shield Slide Stop Up

These next two photos show the pistol with the slide locked to the rear and you can see the barrel tilts down at the rear when the slide cycles.

Figure 22
S&W M&P9 Performance Center Ported Shield Slide Locked Open

Figure 23
S&W M&P9 Performance Center Ported Shield Slide Locked Open

Another key feature of this Performance Center Ported Shield is the porting in the slide and barrel.  The barrel porting gives you a reduced muzzle flip which allows faster times to get back on target.  The slide is ported in three locations.  The forward location is required to allow the gasses to escape freely up and away from the firearm.  The other two ports allow for a very slight reduction in weight which according to S&W will allow the slide to cycle faster.  Personally I think the extra ports add much more to the looks of this model than reducing the slide cycle time if you consider the very slight % reduction in weight that the ports give the slide.

Figure 24
S&W M&P9 Performance Center Ported Shield Ported Features

This next photo shows the ramp on the barrel and you can see how the edge of the follower pushes up on the slide stop.

Figure 25
S&W M&P9 Performance Center Ported Shield Barrel Ramp

This next photos shows the breech face, fixed ejector and the tall (wide) extractor.

Figure 26
S&W M&P9 Performance Center Ported Shield Breech Face

This next photos shows some Hornady American Gunner 115gr XTP in a loaded magazine.

Figure 27
S&W M&P9 Performance Center Ported Shield Magazine Loaded

The magazine well has a very small taper at the end.  Even though I would consider the magazines to be single stack, there is a slight staggered offset in the rounds in the magazine.  This causes the top of the magazine to have a thinner shape than the body which I feel is the real aid in allowing for a quick magazine insertion.

Figure 28
S&W M&P9 Performance Center Ported Shield Magazine Well

The pistol comes with two magazines.  One is an 8-round magazine and the other is a 7-round magazine.  Actually the magazine stainless steel bodies are slightly different with the 8-round magazine body being slightly longer and having the extra hole indicating eight rounds being loaded.

Figure 29
S&W M&P9 Performance Center Ported Shield Magazines

These next photos show the 7-round magazine in detail.  As I mentioned earlier, you can see how the top of the magazine is narrower than the body.  The body allows the rounds to have a slightly staggered offset to aid in capacity.

Figure 30
S&W M&P9 Performance Center Ported Shield Magazine Back

Figure 31
S&W M&P9 Performance Center Ported Shield Magazine Right

Even though the magazines have catch slots on each side, the magazine release can only be configured in a right hand configuration.

Figure 32
S&W M&P9 Performance Center Ported Shield Magazine Front

Figure 33
S&W M&P9 Performance Center Ported Shield Magazine Top

These next two photos show the 7-round magazine fully loaded with Hornady American Gunner 115gr XTP ammunition.

                                                    Figure 34                                                          Figure 35
S&W M&P9 Performance Center Ported Shield Magazine Loaded  S&W M&P9 Performance Center Ported Shield Magazine Loaded

 

Thoughts

As I ponder my thoughts about the external features of this pistol, it is hard for me to be unbiased due to the fact that I have completed my range testing and the pistol shoots great.  Yet, based on my observations it this part of the review I feel the pistol build quality seems great, it has a good balance of safety features but doesn't go over the top with too many safety features, and the benefits of the Performance Center Ported enhancements seem to make this pistol something that a consumer would find appealing and be proud to carry.

For more detailed photos and commentary, make sure you check out the other parts of this review and feel free to leave comments below.  The following links are provided to help you see other parts of this review. 


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