Our publisher, Athlon Outdoors, holds a Rendezvous in southern Idaho every October. A select number of firearms manufacturers, ammunition makers, and other industry notables are invited to the three-day event to meet with Athlon’s top content creators. It’s a chance to see what’s new and meet industry executives face-to-face in a relaxed and unrushed setting. This is when we get to see the latest and greatest, like the Smith & Wesson Shield Plus OR.
The Smith & Wesson Shield Plus OR
I had already written about the then-new Shield Plus before it was formally introduced in March of 2021. Based on the original S&W Shield the Plus version offered an improved trigger, enhanced texturing, and, most importantly, larger capacity.
The Shield Plus is shipped with a flush-fit magazine with a 10 + 1 capacity while its extended magazine boasts a 13 + 1 capacity. The Shield Plus I reviewed possessed sub-one-inch 15-yard accuracy, 100% reliability, and made a first-class CCW gun. The only feature missing was the ability to mount an optic on the pistol.
Optics-ready guns are quickly becoming the new standard and I was befuddled by S&W introducing a new gun without this feature.
Speaking to one of the S&W representatives at Rendezvous, he said, “That was a huge miscalculation on our part. Carry Optics is all the rage right now. You’ll be glad to know that we have just launched the S&W Shield Plus Optics Ready pistol. It’s available now and has all of the features of the Shield Plus with the addition of an optics plate and tritium night sights.”
Just a week or so after the Rendezvous I had a sample of the new Shield Plus Optics Ready pistol in my hands. One of the best improvements of the Shield Plus over the original Shield is its upgraded trigger.
S&W outfits the new gun with a flat face trigger and my test sample broke right at 4 pounds. After a small amount of take-up, the trigger meets resistance and then breaks crisply. There’s very little overtravel and its reset is short and firm. This trigger will allow shooters to fire the gun rapidly!
S&W also outfits the Optics Ready version of the Shield Plus with TruGlo tritium night sights. The front sight has a fluorescent orange ring around a tritium vial so it can be picked up by the eye quickly in any light. Its rear sight has two tritium dots on either side of the notch and the one-piece sight can be drifted for windage adjustment in its dovetail.
Adding the Optic
To test the new Optics Ready Shield Plus, I obtained a new Crimson Trace RAD™ Micro PRO sample with a 5 MOA green dot. This model has some features that I think make it an appropriate choice for concealed carry. It has the CT Radiant™ Ambient Light Sensor so the optic automatically adjusts the brightness of the dot based on surrounding light.
I tested this gun and optic on a bright and cloudless Arizona morning and never once did the dot “wash out.” A CT Motion™ Sensor is also incorporated into the optic’s design to prolong battery life. After two minutes of inactivity, the sight puts itself to sleep and instantaneously turns itself on with any motion.
The RAD uses a commonly available and very affordable CR1632 battery and Crimson Trace claims a 7000-hour life! Crimson Trace machines the sight’s housing from tough 7075 aerospace aluminum and uses a recessed multi-coated lens so the RAD can stand up to hard use. Suggested retail for this sight is just $299!
On a warm Arizona fall morning, I set up my DOA Tactical shooting bench on a piece of BLM land in Sonoita. I fired all groups from a seated rest and used a Millett BenchMaster to rest the gun’s dust cover on as I added the 4 pounds of pressure necessary to break the trigger.
My targets were set out at 15-yards and at this distance the RAD’s 5 MOA dot fit snugly inside the 2” diameter Shoot N C target paster I used. I fired three, five-shot groups with each of the ammunitions listed. My accuracy chart reflects the most accurate group fired.
|AGUILA 124-GRAIN FMJ||985||267||.86”|
|BLACK HILLS 115-GRAIN JHP||1093||305||.74”|
|DOUBLETAP 77-GRAIN SOLID COPPER HOLLOW POINT||1443||356||.72”|
|FEDERAL ACTION PISTOL 150-GRAIN TSJ||841||235||.81”|
|HORNADY AMERICAN GUNNER 124-GRAIN +P XTP||1092||328||.90”|
|SPEER GOLD DOT G2 135-GRAIN||1006||303||.87”|
Doubletap’s 77-grain solid copper hollow points produced a neat 5-shot group measuring under three-quarters of an inch. This is one of my favorite carry loads. It produced the most energy of any of the six 9mm loads tried. Likewise, it has minimal felt recoil because of the light projectile weight.
Gelatin testing shows it to have better than average penetration and nearly 100% weight retention while expanding to about .70”. This is a standard pressure load and not +P and gave my Shield Plus adequate slide velocity for proper cycling.
Other loads proved almost as accurate but the one thing that impressed me was the Shield Plus gobbled them all up and never once burped! Each of these different ammunitions possess different bullet nose configurations, overall lengths and bullet weights ranging from 77-grains to 150-grains and the Shield Plus ran them all flawlessly!
Optimized for Concealed Carry
Smith & Wesson’s new Shield Plus Optics Ready pistol has everything a Concealed Carrier could want! It holds a lot of bullets for a tiny gun, has flawless reliability, and possesses a great deal of accuracy. Matched with a suitable optic, like the Crimson Trace RAD™ Micro Pro, the Shield Plus OR pistol will make an ideal choice for the defense of yourself and your family! Its suggested retail price is just $595!
For more information, please visit Smith-Wesson.com.
Smith & Wesson Shield Plus OR (Optic Ready) Specs
Model: S&W M&P9 Shield Plus Optics Ready
Sku tested: 13536
UPC Code: 022188888669
Operation: Semi-auto, Locked Breech, Striker-Fired
Caliber/Capacity: 9mm Luger, 10 + 1 Flush-Fit, 13 + 1 Extended Magazine, Both Included
Weight: 19.4 Ounces
Barrel: 3.1”, Stainless Steel Armornite® Finish, 1:10” RH 5 Groove
Slide: Stainless Steel, Armornite® Finish
Sights: TruGlo Tritium Night Sights
Safety: Manual Thumb Safety
Warranty: Lifetime Service Policy