If you’re in the market for a reliable, simple-to-operate semi-auto handgun, don’t look past Smith & Wesson’s M&P Shield M2.0

by Jace Bauserman

I don’t want to get too fluffy, especially penning a handgun review, but holding Smith & Wesson’s M&P Shield M2.0 gave me a sense of nostalgia.

My first-ever handgun, one I purchased right out of college, was a Smith & Wesson. I couldn’t tell you the make or model of the firearm, but I do remember the semi-auto was tough as nails, smooth, more accurate than I was, and felt remarkable in hand.

Fast-forward 18 years. The make and model of the handgun is Smith & Wesson’s M&P Shield M2.0 chambered in .45 Auto. The micro-compact shooter called to me from the get-go. I love the clean, simple look, and the aggressive grip texture jumped out at me.

 

Initial fit and feel were everything I hoped for — perfect — not ultra-light and not ultra-heavy. This everyday carry shooter felt balanced, especially for its compact 6.45-inch total length. The grip offers ideal girth and promotes a high grip, which I appreciated. The magazine release button is located behind the trigger guard and, like the grip, is textured to boost control. A button press dropped the 6+1 magazine, and when reinserted, the magazine clicked in place. The stainless steel slide, like the barrel, has an Armornite Finish, which is corrosion-resistant, and slide operation is smooth and easy.

A nice bonus feature is the included second magazine, an extended magazine branded with a 7+1 capacity. The extended capacity allows the shooter to achieve a full grip.

The right side of the slide has a small slit recessed into it, and when the slide is pulled back, you can push a stainless steel lever in the polymer frame up to engage the slide, and when pressed down, the slide is released. The function is quick and easy. The safety is located behind the slide lever, and the firearm’s safety is engaged when pushed upward. It’s simple to engage with the thumb.

The front and rear sights are open — the front sight has a single white dot and the rear sight has a pair of white dots. Again, simple but functional, and that’s a theme that will be reiterated time and time throughout this test.

Concealment when working with a handgun the size of your hand isn’t complicated. For weeks, I wore the M&P Shield M2.0 on the outside of the waistband and inside. I wore it in the appendix area and the small of my back, and not only did it disappear, but it rode comfortably.

Bang! 

One thing I wasn’t a big fan of, and one we can get out of the way, is the magazine. Yes, I love the gridded, ergonomic bottom that helps with extraction and insertion, but the spring inside the magazine is ultra-stiff, and loading takes a lot of brute strength and a bit too much time for my liking.

As mentioned, the gun feels fantastic in hand and throws down quickly on the target. The front and rear sight combo means rapid target acquisition, and the trigger is crisp. There is some initial creep, which is designed to ensure precise trigger pull, but the final stage of the trigger is solid. At 10-pounds, I didn’t find the trigger overly heavy, but I wouldn’t mind it being a tad lighter. Recoil and muzzle jump is minimal as the trigger breaks and the .45 Auto goes boom. I expected more, and while hotter loads (I tested several) produced more recoil, I had zero trouble reacquiring the target and sending more rounds.

I will note that the ultra-compact, semi-light, and thin nature of the handgun chambered in .45 Auto may produce too much recoil for a small-framed shooter, and my wife, after shooting the firearm several times, said, “I like it. It’s pretty accurate, but the recoil is too much for me.” Just food for thought.

With a barrel length of just 3.3 inches, this is by no means a long-range handgun. Smith & Wesson designed this semi-auto for tactical use and personal defense, and that’s where it shines. I found the pistol highly maneuverable, and quick draw and press out are easily mastered with practice.

Most self-defense situations require shots between 6 and 15 feet, and this shooter handled these distances and every distance in between with ease. My groups started to spread apart at 20 feet, but I could still empty an entire magazine and make lethal shots.

Over two weeks, I ran 275 rounds through the handgun. My two loads of choice were Fiocchi’s 155-grain Blue Guardian and Federal’s Syntech Defense 205-grain. The M&P handled both with ease, and I did not once experience any feed or ejection issues.

Removing the slide and cleaning the handgun is a breeze and can be accomplished in minutes.

First, remove the magazine and run the slide multiple times to ensure there is no round in the chamber. Next, pull the slide back and lock it in place with the slide lever. With the slide back and the lever engaged, rotate the slide locking lever (the furthermost lever on the handgun’s right side toward the muzzle) clockwise and release the slide lever. Lastly, pull the trigger and pull the slide forward and off the polymer frame.

I was impressed with how clean the handgun was after having 275 rounds put through it, and deep cleaning produced very few black stained patches.

Putting the slide back on the frame is equally as simple as removing it. With the slide locking lever rotated clockwise (pointing downward toward the trigger), move the slide onto the receiver and turn the lever counterclockwise. That’s it.

Not only does the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 2.0 promise to be a functional concealed-carry gun, but I also like it for backcountry adventures in bear country. This handgun is simple to operate and durable as the day is long, which means it will perform as advertised no matter the situation.

What We Liked

  • Compact
  • Lightweight
  • Maneuverable
  • No jams
  • Close-range effective
  • Easy to operate
  • Easy to clean

What Could Be Better

  • Better magazine design

Smith & Wesson M&P Shield M2.0 .45 Auto Specifications

  • Caliber: .45 Auto
  • Capacity: 6+1 rounds
  • Safety: Manual Thumb Safety
  • Action: Striker Fire
  • Front Sight: White Dot
  • Rear Sight: White Two Dot
  • Grip: Polymer
  • Barrel Length: 3.3 in.
  • Overall Length: 6.45 in.
  • Weight: 20.5 oz.
  • Frame: Polymer
  • Barrel: Stainless Steel Armornite
  • Slide: Stainless Steel
  • Barrel/Slide Finish: Armornite
  • Frame Finish: Matte Black
  • MSRP: $505

Born and raised in southeast Colorado, Shoot-On contributor Jace Bauserman cut his hunting teeth chasing ducks, geese, quail, and pheasants near his southeast Colorado home. The seed that was planted stuck, and Bauserman’s outdoor pursuits grew. He started chasing elk and mule deer in the Colorado mountains with his 7mm Rem. Mag., and coyotes, fox, and bobcats across the plains. In 2003, Bauserman started writing about his adventures. Today, Bauserman is an accomplished outdoor writer. He has served as editor-in-chief of Bowhunt America and Bowhunting World magazines and has penned thousands of articles for top-tier outdoor publications.

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