Truth be told I have enough guns to cover most purposes and over the years I’ve used and enjoyed them all.  If not they were sold.  Room in the family safe is too precious to waste on things  you don’t like or use.  Yet, technology marches on and my recent evaluation of the gun market revealed more than a few handguns that caught my interest either because they promised to fulfill a specific function better than a model I already have, or they had features making them more safe and friendly for my family members to enjoy.

 

To this end I think my current primary carry gun to still be ideal and I feel no need to replace it. But my backup carry, or the carry gun that’s small enough to get me through a hot summer in shorts and a tee-shirt, they always seemed to not fit.  Models I’ve used before range from a Walther PPK/S in .380 which was my backup when I was a police officer in San Diego, to a delightfully flat lightweight aluminum frame Colt Mustang .380 Pocketlite.  Properly “tuned”  all these guns were reliable and could be counted on or I wouldn’t have kept them.  But did you notice they were all .380’s?  Yep, every one of them.  The two I listed and 4-5 more.  

 

Ideally I want my backup gun to use the same ammunition as my primary.  Well, ideally I carry two primaries but we’ll talk about that in another article.  My primaries depending on the season are .45acp or 9mm.  Also fodder for a future article.  Modern ammunition has improved in all calibers including .380’s, but I think we’ve seen the most gain in +p or +p+ 9mm.  So, ideally both my primary and backup will use the same cartridge.

 

After reading hundreds of gun magazines, talking with instructors who train law enforcement and Tier 1 units, a few candidates emerged.  With their appraisals still fresh in my mind I went into a local gun shop Dave’s.  They had both models I was considering on display and they were happy to show them to me. Immediately I didn’t like one but the other, a Smith and Wesson  M&P9 Shield, talked to me in the sweetest voice.  She was attractive, sultry even with her dark finish and sleek lines, and wonderfully flat promising easy concealment.  Unfortunately the trigger wasn’t impressive which is contrary to what I’ve heard from others. 



 Smith and Wesson  M&P9 Shield


 


They didn’t have a second one in inventory to compare it against so I went home that day and made a few phone calls asking about the trigger.   I was told by several sources their triggers were great out of the box, a rare feat even in modern times.  I enjoy shooting my guns and I shoot and train with what I carry.  I typically keep a carry gun at least 10 years.  This means I’ll fire thousands if not tens of thousands of rounds though these weapons during their period of service. I want the trigger to feel right.  Call me picky, but a good trigger helps me achieve greater accuracy.  A bad trigger is just annoying.  Don’t settle for a gritty hard to pull trigger, you just won’t enjoy shooting the gun and if it’s really bad you might not be able to shoot it well.



Call me picky, but a good trigger helps me achieve greater accuracy.  A bad trigger is just annoying.  Don’t settle for a gritty hard to pull trigger, you just won’t enjoy shooting the gun and if it’s really bad you might not be able to shoot it well.


 



What makes a good trigger?  It depends on the gun, and since we’re talking about a double action striker fired S&W Shield that’s what I’ll describe in this article:  The trigger should be smooth and it shouldn’t “stack”, or in other words it should be consistent all the way through and not get harder to pull towards the end.   Pulled slowly and with care you shouldn’t notice any grit or parts going over machine marks or filings or anything of that nature.  The reset should be strong, I prefer audible, and easy to feel for fast follow-up shots.  There shouldn’t be excess take-up or over-travel.   

 

A week later I had time to visit a new range in town, again fodder for another article, and I enjoy shooting more when one of my sons accompanies me.  I get a lot of enjoyment watching them shoot and wishing I could do as well.. J   Next, my son and I were in the car headed for Danville to visit Ray O’Herron CO INC, a police supply store with an excellent gun counter.  Walking in I immediately felt at home and memories from the past flooded my mind as my senses took in all the tools of my past trade.  My son enjoyed it too, he said “Dad, this is your kind of store!”  Indeed it was, and the friendly employees topped it off as they took the time to talk to me about some concerns, what I could buy in the store, or not.



A week later I had time to visit a new range in town, again fodder for another article, and I enjoy shooting more when one of my sons accompanies me.  I get a lot of enjoyment watching them shoot and wishing I could do as well.. J   Next, my son and I were in the car headed for Danville to visit Ray O’Herron CO INC, a police supply store with an excellent gun counter.  Walking in I immediately felt at home and  memories from the past flooded my mind as my senses took in all the tools of my past trade.  My son enjoyed it too, he said “Dad, this is your kind of store!”  Indeed it was, and the friendly employees topped it off as they took the time to talk to me about some concerns, what I could buy in the store, or not.  It turns out only their Glock handguns are limited to civilians.  However as retired military they were available to me which means the entire store was open to me.  Wonderful!  As you’d expect a police equipment store is stocked more with the guns law enforcement uses and not necessarily sporting or target firearms.  This is fine with me.  Law enforcement officers keep up on the best equipment and if it’s popular with them, it’s a good indication it would suit your CCW needs as well.


 




It turns out only their Glock handguns are limited to civilians.  However as retired military they were available to me which means the entire store was open to me.  Wonderful!  As you’d expect a police equipment store is stocked more with the guns law enforcement uses and not necessarily sporting or target firearms.  This is fine with me.  Law enforcement officers keep up on the best equipment and if it’s popular with them, it’s a good indication it would suit your CCW needs as well.

 

I tried several Smith and Wesson M&P9 Shields and even a M&P40, every one of the triggers were not just good, but very good, even excellent.  I noticed the black finish seemed very durable and the slide and 3.1 inch barrel were both stainless and coated.  The contours were smooth and void if sharp edges.  The three dot sights were not cheap plastic like what comes on a very popular Austrian handgun, but instead were metal and the white dots expertly placed..  It comes with one 8 round extended (with a finger groove floorplate) mag and one flush mount flag.  The maximum length is 6.1 inches with 5.3” of those being a very generous sight radius for these genre of handgun.



I tried several Smith and Wesson M&P9 Shields and even a M&P40, every one of the triggers were not just good, but very good, even excellent.  I noticed the black finish seemed very durable and the slide and 3.1 inch barrel were both stainless and coated.  The contours were smooth and void if sharp edges.  The three dot sights were not cheap plastic like what comes on a very popular Austrian handgun, but instead were metal and the white dots expertly placed..  It comes with one 8 round extended (with a finger groove floorplate) mag and one flush mount flag.  The maximum length is 6.1 inches with 5.3” of those being a very generous sight radius for these genre of handgun.


 

Weighing in at only 19 ounces with an 18-degree grip the weapon points naturally and the 5.3”  sight radius feels like it belongs to a much larger handgun.  Coupled with the excellent sights, long sight radius, comfortable grip with extension, and smooth trigger pull I expect a very enjoyable backup firearm.  And in 9mm!  S&W also covers all of their products with a lifetime service policy which is par with other American and some import manufacturers. 



Weighing in at only 19 ounces with an 18-degree grip the weapon points naturally and the 5.3”  sight radius feels like it belongs to a much larger handgun.  Coupled with the excellent sights, long sight radius, comfortable grip with extension, and smooth trigger pull I expect a very enjoyable backup firearm.  And in 9mm!  S&W also covers all of their products with a lifetime service policy which is par with other American and some import manufacturers.


 



The only other thing left to evaluate is how it shoots and THAT really is fodder for a second article. The friendly employee at Ray O’Herron’s helped me with the paperwork  and told me I could come pick it up in three day’s time.   This is more than questionable, we’ve already applied for our Firearms Owners Identification Card (FOID) cards and been cleared, they call right there to the Illinois State Police and obtain clearance, yet we still have to wait three days.  As far as I can tell nothing happens during those 72 hours.  Nothing.  This needs to change.   Common sense laws and regulations we can live with, but silly superfluous nanny regulations are annoying at best.

 

In anticipation of this purchase I contacted Bruce Weiler over at Contact Concealment and ordered one of their excellent Kydex AP holsters in black and Bruce was great getting it out to me within days.  The normal waiting period is 30 days.   You’ll read more about these excellent holsters once I have the time to properly use and evaluate the three models we have here at Champaign CCW.  (a CC Paddle for a Glock G19 is shown below)



In anticipation of this purchase I contacted Bruce Weiler over at Contact Concealment and ordered one of their excellent Kydex AP holsters in black and Bruce was great getting it out to me within days.  The normal waiting period is 30 days.   You’ll read more about these excellent holsters once I have the time to properly use and evaluate the three models we have here at Champaign CCW.  (a CC Paddle for a Glock G19 is shown below)


 

Next week I’ll go pick up my new Smith and Wesson M&P9 Shield, and while waiting I’ll source a set of sights, some extra mags, and make sure I have the proper tools for a full disassembly.  

 

I’ll get back to you soon after I visit the range and go through multiple drills, a few tear downs and cleaning, and we’ll see if I keep and use it.. or not.

 

Until next time..