Smith & Wesson M&P9 Performance Center
Ported Shield Review

Part 4 - Range Tests
June 5, 2016

I actually had the new Smith & Wesson Performance Center (PC) Ported Shield at the range several times during my range test sessions for this review.  During my first session I quickly discovered this new PC Ported Shield was a shooter.  I was easily making hit on steel targets and shooting this compact single stack 9mm pistol as well as some of my full size double stack pistols.  I put a couple of boxes of 115gr FMJ brass cased ammunition through the pistol and it cycled without issue.  Since I didn't have a standard Shield with me at the time I wondered how the enhancements of this pistol would compare to that of the standard model.


At my next range session, a buddy of mine brought his standard Shield I was able to shoot this PC Ported Shield along with the standard version.  He and I both shot several magazines through both pistols and we came to the following conclusions:

  1. Both the standard Shield and the PC Ported Shield shot great
  2. We agreed that the HI-VIZ® fiber optic sights were a great addition to the PC Ported Shield
  3. We agreed that the trigger pull on the PC Ported Shield was smoother and maybe slightly less than that of his Shield (unfortunately I forgot to bring my trigger pull scale so I don't have any objective data)
  4. We also agreed that we could tell a difference in the reduced muzzle flip we felt with the PC Ported Shield

So basically we came to the conclusion that the enhancements on the PC Ported Shield were something that a shooter could feel if the shooter were comparing a standard Shield directly against a PC Ported Shield version.  Now back to the first conclusion above, we thought the standard Shield shot great.  With a price difference of $70, it will be up to the shooter to decide if it is worth the extra price of the PC Ported Shield.  This next video explains in greater detail this range comparison.  Sorry for the video length... I suffer from being an engineer.

At my third session of range testing I decided to get some chronograph and accuracy data on this pistol.  I selected a variety of Hornady premium defensive ammunition along with some 115gr FMJ ammunition for these tests.  You can see the ammo selected below.

Figure 1

The chronograph was setup about 9 feet from the muzzle and the targets were placed 7 yards down range.  I feel 7 yards is sufficient for accuracy testing this style of defensive handgun.  My bench setup was a simple padded bar and a bag full of bird seed.

Figure 2

The results of my bench tests are shown in the table below.  For determining group size, I loaded the 7-round magazine and then shot a 7-shot group.  I then measured the group size for the tightest 6 shots.  The average 6-shot group size for all types of ammunition ended up being 1.01" which I think is really good for a pistol with a 3.1" barrel at 7 yards.

Ammunition Rated Vel.1
Measured Vel.2 (ft/sec) 6- Shot3
Group (in)
Average Std Dev.
American Eagle 115gr FMJ 1180 1079 24 1.02
Hornady American Gunner 9mm 115gr XTP 1155 1016 33 0.98
Hornady Critical Defense 9mm 115gr FTX 1140 1024 12 0.76
Hornady Critical Duty 9mm +P 135gr FlexLock 1110 941 9 1.19
Hornady Custom 9mm 147gr XTP 975 875 13 1.08
Total Average = 1.01
1 - Based on manufacturers specifications
2 - Based on an average of 10 shots with a the chronograph setup 9 feet from the muzzle
3 - Based on the best six of seven shots in a seven shot group fired from the bench at 7 yards

The groups below are those shown with the premium Hornady ammunition and you can see where I discounted the group size to a 6-shot group.

Figure 3 - Hornady Critical Defense                 Figure 4 - Hornady American Gunner

Figure 5 - Hornady Hornady Custom                         Figure 6 - Hornady Critical Duty

One criticism that I have seen on the internet on a ported short barrel (3.1") is that you are already losing velocity (energy) with the short barrel and the ports only worsen this situation.  To get an idea on how much reduction in velocity you get from the ports, I compared the velocity against my Ruger LC9s which has the same barrel length and has no ports.  The average velocity for the LC9s was 1036 ft/sec and 994 ft/sec for the Hornady Critical Defense and Critical Duty, respectively.  Based on the values in the table above, this means that the velocity for the Critical Defense ammunition in the Ported Shield only dropped 12 ft/sec (1.16%) and the Critical Duty 53 ft/sec (5.33%).  From this, I can say there is a drop in velocity due to the barrel ports, but I don't consider the 1.16% drop in velocity for the Critical Defense ammunition to be significant and worth fretting over.

I didn't have the opportunity to get any video on the difference in muzzle blast and will look for an opportunity to get some photos or video in the future.



I feel my range testing proved that the trigger enhancements and porting are features that the shooter can discern when comparing the PC Ported Shield directly against the standard Shield.  The pistol shot great and I was very pleased with my range test results, and a group average of 1.01" for this style of pistol at 7 yards is most likely greater accuracy than you would ever need in a defense situation.

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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