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Smith & Wesson has just released a new pistol to the M&P line. Named the Shield, this polymer-framed subcompact comes in 9mm or .40 S&W. Using a single-stack design, the Shield is indeed compact, weighing 18.5 ounces and measuring only 1-inch wide, 6.1 inches long and 4.6 inches high with the flush-fitting magazine. Capacity of the 9mm and .40-caliber versions is 7+1 and 6+1, respectively, using the flush magazine. Included is an extended magazine with a finger grip that gives many shooters a full grip on the pistol and adds one more round in either caliber.

Though the silhouette of the Shield is nearly identical to the M&P subcompact, it is different not only in its slimmer dimensions and weight, but the inclusion of a flat-profile frame-mounted thumb safety for right-handed shooters and an improved 6.5-pound trigger. This design breaks cleanly and predictably and has a shorter reset. It will be incorporated into all M&P pistols in the future. The Shield also does not have an ambidextrous slide stop or changeable grip panels, as with other M&P pistols.

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The Shield is built around the M&P design envelope and is equipped with features required by professional users, such as a corrosion-resistant Melonite finish applied to the barrel (inside and out) and stainless steel slide, and steel sights. To increase stiffness, the Shield’s polymer frame is molded around a one-piece stainless steel chassis that incorporates the slide rails and locking block. The action parts are also connected to the chassis. This contrasts to other designs that mold the slide rails and locking block into the frame and have steel-to-steel connection to each other.

With an MSRP of $449, the Shield is very competitive with other polymer-framed, single-stack pistols in its class and comes with two magazines when some competitive models do not. Shields chambered in 9mm are now available with the .40 caliber version due out this summer. Holsters and accessories are also now available from several makers. For more info, visit smith-wesson.com or call 800-331-0852.

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