Shooting Review: The Ruger Security-9

Shooting Review: The Ruger Security-9

Ruger has recently been on fire, coming out with interesting and even compelling new firearms in quick succession. At a time when so many manufacturers are missing the boat, it’s good to see an American gun manufacturer doing some good things.

One of the new releases from Ruger is a compact 9mm pistol, the Security-9. It’s a double-stack, mid-sized pistol that very closely follows the dimensions of the Glock 19, but in a hammer-fired configuration that doesn’t show the hammer (it’s internal). The exterior and interior of the Security-9 make it seem very much like a larger version of the LCP II. But since it so closely mimics the Glock 19, it would seem to be a direct challenger…for nearly half the price!

Why Consider the Ruger Security-9?

Price and size vs. capacity would seem to be the strongest reasons to consider the Security-9. Its height, width, and length are almost identical to the G19 and it has the same 15+1 capacity. However, instead of a $500-$600 price tag, the Ruger comes in at $289-$380 (I’ve seen $289 already).

Its size and capacity make it a good choice for concealed carry, but it has other features that may appeal to some people. Being hammer fired, the slide is a bit easier to rack than that of a striker-fired gun. So people who have trouble with stiff recoil springs will better enjoy the Security-9. Also, the grip has a smaller circumference than that of many pistols, so those with smaller hands may like this pistol for that feature.

 

Ruger Security-9

 

Ruger Security-9 Specs:

  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Length: 7.24″
  • Height: 5”
  • Width: 1.02”
  • Barrel: 4” blued, alloy steel
  • Sights: Drift-adjustable U-notch
  • Safety: Left-side thumb lever
  • Weight: 23.7 oz. w/empty magazine
  • Slide: Blued, Through-Hardened alloy steel
  • Frame: Glass-filled nylon
  • Capacity: 15+1 or 10+1 (2 magazines)
  • MSRP: $379

First Impressions from Shooting the Security-9

I found nothing remarkably good or bad about shooting the Security-9. It feels and shoots pretty much like any other polymer gun. The rear sight is a U-notch, just like that on a stock Glock pistol. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that, but I did find it a bit difficult to pick up the front sight in the U-notch—specifically because my near vision is not the greatest—like most men my age I use reading glasses. 3-dot sights are no problem for me, but the Security-9 sights were not as clear for me and I had to work harder than normal to get proper sight alignment. Therefore, those who need reading glasses would do well to replace the dovetailed rear sight.

The sight discomfort aside, I found the Security-9 to be an accurate pistol. I did some bench-rest shots and my hits were right on at 15 yards. Unlike a Glock 19, I felt no discomfort under the trigger guard. I did notice a bit more felt recoil with this pistol than with my Glock, I guess owing to the lighter recoil spring weight, but this was negligible.

Comfort, Controllability, & Capacity
The capacity is what one would expect from a pistol of this size, but which few deliver: 15 rounds in the magazine. Most guns with 15-round capacity have a taller grip than a G19, but this Ruger manages to match that height.

The Security-9 felt good in my medium-sized hands and allows for easy reach to the trigger. The controls seem well placed and I got no raw spots on my hands from abrasion or controls rubbing me while firing. It’s a comfortable gun.

My only gripe about shooting this pistol was the lack of any structure or texture on the forward frame for my support-hand thumb (this is a common complaint of mine) so I was unable to enlist the help of my thumb to mitigate muzzle flip. It’s likely that a bit of stippling there would help (if it’s possible to stipple a glass-filled-nylon frame). Muzzle flip wasn’t bad, after all the pistol has quite the low bore axis, but I’d prefer a landing for my thumb.

Components and Features
The slide is nicely contoured and has curved serrations front and rear. I found them to be easily grippable for slide racking. The hammer is concealed inside the slide so this looks and seems to work like a striker-fired pistol. The glass-filled nylon frame grip has texture identical to that on the LCP II, so it’s grippy, but mild. I still say it’ll require stippling for daily carry.

The trigger is almost exactly like that of the LCP II. It is very smooth and almost without a wall. It does not bind up before the break, but has more of a hammer-fired characteristic (since it is a hammer-fired gun). There is absolutely no overtravel, due to the built-in stop on the bottom of the trigger guard. The reset is a bit long for my taste. I short stroked the reset a time or two when shooting. That said, the trigger is really quite nice and I would not balk at this trigger on any of my guns.

The sights are drift adjustable and are, I believe, metal of some sort, though I cannot find information on just what material they’re made from. There is a thumb safety lever on the left side of the frame. It is small and unobtrusive, but I found it very difficult to operate. I could not use my strong-hand thumb to engage the safety, but managed to thumb it “off”. I had to use my support hand to engage the safety. Really stiff.

Some components that immediately got my attention were the aluminum (!) slide rails and the thin, contoured barrel. The slide rails are the full length of the internal components, but they’re made of aluminum. I don’t know how common aluminum slide rails are among firearms, but I cannot imagine this is a good choice, as the steel of the slide will surely wear down the rails in time. The barrel is quite thin as compared to other 9mm pistol barrels, and it has that LCP contour toward the mouth of the barrel, rendering it paper thin at that point. Again, I’d prefer a thicker construction and have to believe this is a potential point of failure with much use.

Comparing the Security 9 with the Glock 19

Since the Security-9 is almost identical in dimension and weight to the Glock 19, one assumes it is meant to be a commercial challenger. So here is a side-by-side comparison of specs:

Model: Ruger Security-9 Glock 19
Chambering: 9x19mm 9x19mm
Length: 7.24″ 7.28″
Height: 5″ 4.99″
Width: 1.02″ 1.18″
Barrel: 4″ cold hammer forged 4.02″
Trigger: ~5 lb. ~5.5-6 lb.
Sights: Drift-adjustable w/U-marked rear Polymer w/U-marked rear
Weight: 23.7 oz. 23.65 oz.
Slide: Blued Black Melonite +nDLC
Capacity: 15+1 15+1
MSRP: $379 $600
 
 

Ruger Security-9

 

Conclusions

Pros
This is a 15+1 pistol that is light and almost exactly the size of a G19 for about 60% of the price! This makes it an inexpensive way for responsible folks to carry an adequately sized gun. It is comfortable, easy to rack the slide, and is good for folks with smaller hands. The trigger is quite nice and it’s an accurate pistol for defensive ranges. The sights are drift adjustable.

Cons
The slide rails are made of aluminum. The barrel is of less than optimal construction and thickness. The sights will likely need to be replaced.

So for rating the Ruger Security-9 SECURITY-9…

Ergonomics (***)
It’s no Sphinx, but the grip is comfortable and most of the controls are well placed, but for the thumb safety.

Shootability (****)
Definitely an easy-to-shoot pistol, but the frame construction doesn’t allow you to use your support hand to mitigate muzzle flip.

Accuracy (****)
I found it accurate out to 15 yards (likely more, but I didn’t test at longer ranges).

Concealability (****)
The Security-9 is slightly thinner than a Glock 19, making it eminently concealable for many folks.

Value (*****)
For the price, the Ruger Security-9 appears to be a very good value.

In Summary

This is an interesting pistol. It would seem to embody some important trade-offs. It’s a pistol almost identical in dimension and size to a Glock 19, but the construction and components are not on par with Glock quality. However, you get an otherwise nice pistol for around 60% of the cost of the Glock! It’s a hammer-fired gun, but you don’t see the hammer. You get a nice trigger, but the components may not last for as many rounds as would a more expensive gun.

My conclusion here is that if you’re looking for a mid-capacity, concealable, well-functioning, easy-to-shoot pistol but have a tight budget, this would be a good one to pick up. For the price, the Ruger Security-9 would seem to offer an excellent value.

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About The Author
Andy Rutledge is a design professional, competitive shooter and avid road cyclist. He trains at Eagle Gun Range and elsewhere a few days a week to hone his shooting and defensive skills.
“Weak-Hand” Shooting

“Weak-Hand” Shooting

Like most folks, I’m right handed. Like many serious shooters, I don’t like the idea of referring to my left hand as my weak hand because I don’t want to get comfortable with the idea or even the label of weakness. So for shooting, and like a lot of folks, I refer to my left hand as my support hand. It is a fact that I’m more competent with my right hand for most things, but responsibility requires that I work to develop and maintain left-handed skills; in shooting and in other things.

Support-hand shooting is something that not many gun owners practice. From what I’ve seen, even those who are serious about training devote precious little time and effort to developing support-hand skills. This is especially true with regard to manipulation skills, like malfunction clearing and in-fight reloads.

That said, support-hand shooting competence is something every responsible citizen should continually work to develop. Among the reasons for this is the fact that if you are unfortunate enough to find yourself in a gunfight in defense of your life or family or home, it is not unlikely that you yourself will be wounded by gunfire. If one of those wounds is to your primary hand or arm (which is highly likely since it will probably be in front of your body), without support-hand competence you are no longer capable of defending life or home. As a result you will be defeated. In a gunfight, this means you and perhaps others will die.

Therefore, support-hand training is not something that should be relegated to the military or LEOs or competitive shooters. It’s fundamental and should be a part of each week’s training, in both live-fire and dry-fire practice. If one is not capable of support-hand manipulations and marksmanship, one is 50% incapable.

While support-hand live-fire and dry-fire drills are important, there is yet more one can do to improve support-hand competence. If you get into the habit of using your support hand in mundane tasks in your daily life, your body will grow new neural pathways and establish more confidence and a more holistic physical competence.

A Holistic Approach

What follows here are anecdotes from my own life and approach, but I share them as an illustration of ideas and methods you might adopt in your approach to become more competent in your left-handed activities, shooting or others.

I’ll admit right now that I’m a bit of an odd character because since childhood I have been uncomfortable with the idea of “handedness”—right or left—and so I have struggled against it in various ways. I can remember in high school I once turned in a 3-page essay I wrote with my left hand and in mirror-image cursive, which required my teacher hold it up to a mirror to read and grade (I got an A). While that was mostly a prank, it was also a test for me to see if I could actually do it and write legibly. Though I don’t practice it, to this day I can write near perfect cursive in mirror image at speed with my left hand. I’m strange that way.

I later adopted other practices that exercised my left hand and left-side competence. In the late 1980s I took up martial arts practice, which has a built-in doctrine of all techniques being practiced lefty and righty. I’ve since spent almost 30 years in several-days-a-week left-hand defensive training. In order to gain more competence with my left-handed defensive techniques early on, I changed conventions in my life outside of martial arts training. For instance, I took up eating exclusively with my left hand. I had to learn to not decorate my face with my food or perform clumsily on the plate with a fork or spoon. I also began brushing my teeth left handed. After decades, these are practices that I maintain today.

Support-Hand Shooting

It is no fluke then that when I took up shooting I was eager to explore left-handed pistol technique and switch-handed rifle manipulations. The latter is especially useful for left-side barricade/cover shooting, as it allows you to conceal as much of your body as possible when defending from a left-side wall opening or corner. There are many drills one can do to practice support-hand competence, but I’ll show a few fundamental ones.

Here (below) is an example of a left-hand pistol drill, where my primary hand is out of the fight before I go to my pistol (the reload is just an opportunity to practice this component in a left-hand drill). Therefore I have to draw and reholster with my left hand only:

 

Here (below) is an example of a drill that simulates a primary-arm injury mid fight, where I have to switch to my support hand to finish and prevail:

 

And for rifle…
Here (below) is an example of right and left-handed rifle manipulations around a barricade:

 

These are just some practical drills, but there are many more drills one can do to practice support-hand competence. A good place to start is to do with your support hand anything/everything you do with both or just right hand during a training session. Just add left-hand sequences as a matter of course.

Caveat Bellator

The biggest obstacle to support-hand training, and the reason almost no one does it, is because we typically suck at it, and it is hard and galling to spend time doing what you’re terrible at. This is especially true where there are other people at the range who will see you sucking at stuff. In this respect, we allow our egos to perhaps one day get us killed.

That said, this ego obstacle must be overcome if one is to become a competent shooter and gun handler. The alternative is that one lives as a secret incompetent; never publicly shamed until that fateful day when one gets killed by a punk because of an inability to draw a concealed pistol or clear a malfunction with the untrained hand.

Bite the bullet and resolve to be clumsy and inaccurate in front of other people. It doesn’t matter and most folks are ignoring you at the range anyway. An easy way to approach your training is to run every drill or shoot every string three ways: both hands, right hand, and left hand. In time that incompetence will turn into semi-competence and then actual competence. But that will never happen if you never work on what you’re now terrible at doing.

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About The Author
Andy Rutledge is a design professional, competitive shooter and avid road cyclist. He trains at Eagle Gun Range and elsewhere a few days a week to hone his shooting and defensive skills.
Shooting Review:  The Hudson H9

Shooting Review: The Hudson H9

There is precious little innovation in the firearms industry. With few notable exceptions, just about any new pistol is little more than a cosmetic makeover of another. But sometimes a company makes a bold move and releases something truly new and different. The results may be good or not so good, but disruption is a worthy goal.

Hudson is a new gun company, founded by Cy and Lauren Hudson. Their first pistol is the Hudson H9 chambered in 9mm. It’s an interesting attempt at creating a pistol with 1911-style geometry, but in a low-bore, striker-fired package and without all the crummy external controls. It’s the kind of Frankenstein creation that many gun enthusiasts have wished for and joked about for years. The H9 would seem to be the first serious attempt at realizing this fantastical ideal.

The Hudson H9 is interesting and I mean that in both the positive and negative senses of the term. Being the first of its kind, it is due both thorough exploration and likely much criticism. That’s the nature of going first. Pioneers take plenty of arrows and after spending some time this month shooting the H9 I aim to shoot a few arrows myself.

 

 

Why Consider the Hudson H9?

As a first for me, and unlike every other review I’ve written, I’m going to suggest that one should consider the Hudson H9 almost exclusively for its novelty and not for any specific use purpose. I say this because I cannot think of a specific purpose this pistol serves beyond representing an interesting exploration of new configuration.

The H9 is likely too large and too heavy to serve well as a concealed-carry tool. Its oddly-shaped forward frame means that any rail accessory, like a flashlight or laser, will produce an awkward pistol to holster for duty carry. Otherwise, duty carry could be a relevant consideration for this pistol, but I say that with reservation: this pistol configuration is as yet unproven and perhaps not optimal. I note that given its weight, good sights, and flat-shooting traits, one possible employment could be as a stock competition gun.

Hudson H9 Specs:

  • Caliber: 9x19mm
  • Length: 7.625”
  • Height: 5.225”
  • Width: 1.24”
  • Barrel: 4.28”
  • Trigger: ~5 pounds
  • Sights: Anti-glare iron rear, Trijicon HD front
  • Weight: 34 oz. w/empty magazine
  • Frame: Steel
  • Slide/Frame Finish: Black nitride
  • Capacity: 15+1
  • MSRP: ~$1,147
 

Hudson H9

 

Before Shooting the Hudson H9

As there was a lot of buzz surrounding the H9 before it came to market, there was sure to be a lot of gossip about it after the fact. When talking to folks who had the chance to shoot it, and before I had that chance, almost to a man they told me that the H9 shoots low. The general consensus is that the front sight is too tall, resulting in a low point of impact vs. aim. I was therefore expecting to experience this same issue. As I’ll detail below, I did not…with an asterisk…

Shooting the Hudson H9

The Hudson website refers to their new pistol saying, “From its steel frame, to its straight-pull trigger, to its striker-fired design the H9 will feel instantly familiar to firearms enthusiasts.” I call false advertizing: there is nothing familiar feeling about shooting the H9. This is something different.

The recoil impulse is different. As compared to the 9mm 1911s I’ve shot, the recoil impulse is pretty strong. Having said that, there is very little muzzle flip with the H9 as compared to a 1911. I’ll attribute this to the deliberate and interesting placement of the recoil spring assembly, which rides low, inside the frame and just in front of the trigger guard. This lower placement of the recoil spring directs the impulse, in part, lower into your hand. However, the spring’s placement necessitates a shorter spring assembly, which allows for a bigger kick (I believe).

 

first shots on target

 

Right off the bat the pistol experienced a malfunction, as it failed to feed the first round of the first magazine when I slingshot the slide. I tapped the back of the slide and it went into battery, loading the first round. I saw no hiccups after that. My first shots were not consistent and I later attributed this inconsistent shot placement to the odd trigger construction and action. The H9’s trigger has a full-width shoe/safety that compresses upward, as it is hinged at the bottom. This action is unlike any other trigger on any pistol. The rest of the trigger press is, like that of a 1911, straight back. After the safety shoe takeup, there is very little travel before the crisp break. However, the odd, bottom-hinged safety action tends to result in an odd-feeling press action and perhaps compensatory hand manipulation. It is this odd mechanic to which I attribute the low hits so common to folks who have shot the Hudson H9.

 

Hudson H9 trigger

 

In short order I was able to correct my tendency to use a different press action and accuracy returned. I soon found the H9 to be as accurate as most pistols I’ve shot. Granted, I only took the H9 out to 15 yards, but I was able to get good groups while firing multiple shots at less-than-a-second intervals. The bright front sight certainly helps with mechanical accuracy. Note that I did not do any bench-rest shooting to test the true precision of the H9.

Comfort & Controllability

The grip of the Hudson H9 is chunkier than I imagined it would be. But after all, it is still a double-stack pistol. The lack of grip contour on the front and back makes this not a terribly comfortable gun to hold, but it’s not particularly uncomfortable either. My medium-sized hands could get decent purchase, but I felt like my trigger finger needed to be slightly longer. Perhaps this is something that smaller grip shells (something coming in the future) could mitigate.

One thing I don’t like about the H9 is the flat and slick forward frame. There is neither contour nor texture for the support-hand thumb to gain purchase to help manage the recoil motion. As a result, I got more muzzle flip than I wanted, but this is not a gun that has much muzzle flip in the first place so the result was not as bad as one might expect. I expect that the relatively low bore axis and lowered recoil spring location has something to do with this. The recoil is a bit stiff for such a heavy gun, but it is rather flat shooting and easy to get the excellent sights back on target immediately.

The slide lock mechanism is kind of touchy, resulting in the pistol going into battery most times when a new magazine is inserted. It also results in the slide slipping into battery when you gently set a cleared and open pistol down on the bench. This happened to me a few times. I’d prefer a surer locking mechanism.

 

Hudson H9

 

Components and Materials

The Hudson H9’s frame is steel and the forward slide configuration is large, which makes for quite a heavy gun. The grip shells can eventually be replaced so one will soon be able to configure the size and texture to suit. As is, the gun is a bit slick and I would not want to run it in the rain or if I had sweaty or bloody hands.

As mentioned earlier, the trigger is an odd bird. The action is straight back, similar to a 1911 trigger. However, the first press movement is the finger closing the safety/shoe onto the trigger body. This safety is hinged at the bottom so the safety moves at the top rather than at the bottom, as all other trigger safeties work. The result is a trigger press that makes the Hudson H9 feel like no gun ever made. I believe this “upside down” feel is responsible for most folks shooting low with the H9. The trigger reset is very short and quite pleasing.

The sights are excellent. The rear is serrated and blacked out and the front is a Trijicon HD sight that is highly visible and certainly helps with proper aim when shooting. Both are dovetailed and one assumes replacements will eventually be available (though likely not necessary!).

I found the external controls to all be well located for my medium-sized hands. The reversible mag release and ambidextrous slide-lock controls will be a boon to some folks. The one component that I think is just poorly done is the slide serration. I don’t care about the front serrations, but the rear serrations are rather mild, shallow, and slick. I found it easy to miss my grip and fail to cycle the slide sometimes.

Conclusions

Pros
With its straight movement and short reset, the trigger is great to run during fast-string shooting. The sights are excellent and the overall aesthetic, the chunky nose aside, is handsome. The recoil impulse, while stiff, is not accompanied by much muzzle flip. The Hudson H9 is an interesting exploration of a concept. I give Hudson props for jumping in with both feet in this admirable effort.

Cons
Unfortunately, I think this gun is a solution to a problem that does not exist. The H9 does not approximate the soft-shooting action of a 9mm 1911. The grip lacks any ergonomic contours. The trigger, while having some good qualities, feels odd to engage and I believe this causes sympathetic hand manipulation during the press. The slide serrations are nowhere near aggressive enough. This is quite a heavy pistol and…it’ll cost you $1,200 bucks!

So for rating the Hudson H9…

Shootability (***)
The interesting trigger is not smooth enough and has a weird-feeling press that I believe compels inaccuracy. However, the gun stays relatively flat when firing and the stock sights are excellent. Ambi controls are in the right spots.

Ergonomics (***)
The Hudson H9 is not a very ergonomic pistol. The ambi controls are a plus, but the grip is like a shovel’s handle.

Accuracy (****)
I found the H9 to be hard to shoot accurately at first, but later found my groove. I’d say it’s as accurate as a Glock 17.

In Summary

The Hudson H9 is a gun that someone needed to make. I called it a solution to a problem that does not exist, but it is the answer to a question many have had for a long time. I believe that Hudson did a pretty good job here, but there’s just too much that is not yet right, in my opinion. The concept may have legs, but Hudson needs to stretch them a bit before I’ll be sold on a gun like this. Designing toward a specific purpose would be a great next step. At present, this gun has no specific purpose for existing, beyond novelty.

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About The Author
Andy Rutledge is a design professional, competitive shooter and avid road cyclist. He trains at Eagle Gun Range and elsewhere a few days a week to hone his shooting and defensive skills.
Opinion: One in the Chamber?

Opinion: One in the Chamber?

 

Properly considered, the question for whether or not to carry with a round in the chamber is only partially concerned with self defense. The issue is substantially about whether one is developing and reinforcing habits to become a competent and safe gun handler – or – a perpetual incompetent who is a danger to oneself and others.

An opinion of the author, Andy Rutledge, and not necessarily that of Eagle Gun Range.

* * *

A common logic for carrying unchambered is “because it is safer and prevents unintended discharges.” This foolish placebo replacement of actual firearm safety can be made only when one holds the first 3 rules of firearm safety in contempt. The results of this foolishness are manifold and dangerous, including:

  • The individual erroneously relies on the firearm’s assumed condition as the barometer for gun safety
  • The individual erroneously believes that safety is determined by the mechanism rather than by the person handling or carrying it
  • The individual erroneously believes and may professes that “It’s not loaded/chambered” is a statement relevant to gun-handling safety
  • The individual believes that s/he and others should take different precautions with a firearm that is loaded and chambered than with a firearm that is unloaded or that is loaded but not chambered
  • Etc…

These ideas and behaviors are concerned with and cultivate negligence, not safety. These ideas and behaviors are responsible for 100% of negligent firearm discharges, injuries, and deaths. And it all starts with the idea that not having a round in the chamber somehow changes the way one can or should interact with a firearm. One who holds with these ideas is a danger to himself and everyone nearby.

Gun safety is your responsibility and not the gun’s responsibility.

The Other Side of Firearm Carry Condition

While the context of this post is meant to address firearm safety, the practice of carrying without a round in the chamber has further consequences. As to the self-defense aspects of carrying a not-ready-to-work firearm, consider the real-world evidence presented in this video from Active Self Protection:

If your gun is not ready to work the instant you need it, you’re not armed. You’re merely encumbered and deluded.

If you carry, carry with a round in the chamber.

A carried firearm is carried for one purpose only: immediate, emergency deployment as a fighting tool. A carried pistol lacking a round in the chamber is a defensive liability and an invitation to negligence. The purpose of the holster (and every carried firearm should be in a holster) is to mitigate issues related to people and objects unintentionally fouling the trigger while clothing and hands are interfacing with the firearm in cramped quarters. Once drawn from the holster, only one action can cause the firearm to discharge: you depressing the trigger.

If your desire is to not fire a gun, it is your responsibility to not depress the trigger. One not capable of managing one’s trigger finger and safely holstering and unholstering the firearm has an obligation to refrain from carrying a firearm until they are capable of managing these operations safely. Until then, adopting the habit of carrying without a round in the chamber is neither a good nor safe alternative.

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About The Author
Andy Rutledge is a design professional, competitive shooter and avid road cyclist. He trains at Eagle Gun Range and elsewhere a few days a week to hone his shooting and defensive skills.
Shooting Review: M&P 9 Shield M2.0

Shooting Review: M&P 9 Shield M2.0

 

Recently, Smith & Wesson has been revamping its M&P line with the M2.0 series. The latest in this series is the M&P Shield M2.0. Available in 9mm and .40 (the newish 45 Auto version is not technically in the M2.0 series), with and without an external safety lever, the Shield is one of the most popular pistols ever so an updated model is kind of a big deal.

By Andy Rutledge

* * *

There’s no denying the Shield’s popularity and its genuine suitability to its primary purpose of concealed carry. I’ve recently spent a few days shooting the new M&P 9 Shield M2.0 and here I’ll detail my impressions from that experience and offer some technical comparison with popular competitor models.

M&P Shields comparison

Why Consider the M&P 9 Shield M2.0?

The M&P Shield is a purpose-made concealed carry pistol. It’s a single-stack model with a slim slide and frame that easily disappears on or into one’s waistline with a quality holster. It is not meant to compete with or replace popular double-stack pistols and it’s a bit too large to be a good pocket pistol. So it is made to fill a specific niche and it fulfills that duty as well as or perhaps better than any other pistol, depending on your taste.

The M2.0 feature updates are meant to make an already top-notch pistol a bit better. However, as I’ll detail later, the M2.0 updates don’t really amount to much of an upgrade. The changes and improvements are few and slight, but not necessarily insignificant. So while the M&P Shield model has always been worthy of consideration, the M2.0 upgrade is even more worth one’s consideration for an everyday-carry pistol.

Note that there are some variations available for the Shield M2.0, as shown on the S&W website…

Shield options

M&P 9 Shield M2.0 Specs:

  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Length: 6.1″
  • Height: 4.5” with flush magazine, 5” with extended magazine
  • Width: .99”
  • Barrel: 3.1” stainless steel Armornite™ finish
  • Trigger: ~5.5 lb.
  • Sights: 3-Dot steel
  • Safety: available without or with thumb lever
  • Weight: 18.3 oz. w/empty magazine
  • Slide: Black, stainless steel Armornite™ finish
  • Capacity: 7+1, 8+1 (extended magazine)
  • MSRP: $479

Note that the model I’m evaluating here was without a thumb safety lever.

Shooting the Shield M2.0

The Shield is a subcompact pistol so it is a bit snappier than your average compact or full-size pistol yet I found the Shield M2.0 to be no more so than similar pistols, like the XDs or Glock 43. I shot the pistol from 3 to 15 yards and found it easy to maintain hand-sized groups while shooting at faster than 1 round per second. One-handed shooting was easy too and I appreciated the new grip texture. I found the 3-dot iron sights to work just fine

As an update, I’d say that this M2.0 model is quite a mild one, as it is virtually identical to the original, save for the grip texture. The M2.0’s trigger is perhaps better than its predecessor, but I still don’t like the long reset. When I did rapid-fire shot strings I didn’t short stroke the trigger, but my finger was doing more work that I’d prefer in a defensive situation.

Comfort, Controllability, & Capacity
I mentioned in other articles that I’ve not been a big fan of the Shield and primary gripe with it owes to the otherwise positive feature of the very slim grip. This slim profile aids in concealability, but the tapered elliptical radius of the back of the grip is uncomfortable for me. As a prolific shooter (several days a week) I’m not bothered by recoil impulse or snappiness, but when I train I typically shoot 200 to 400 rounds in a session. The Shield’s comfort firing a few rounds is just fine, but shooting 100+ rounds with the recoil impulse delivered into the palm of one’s hand and focused on a thin and comparative sharp backstrap is not comfortable at all. I’ve heard other shooters mention this issue, too. The wider or flatter backstraps of other similar pistols are far more comfortable than this one. Surely this won’t be an issue for everyone, but it is for me.

The M&P 9 Shield M2.0 comes with two magazines: a flush magazine that holds 7 rounds and an extended 8-round magazine. With the flush mag, my medium-sized hand just fits about half of my pinky and the extended mag offers an ample and full grip. The extended magazine makes a good backup, but it makes the grip too long for advisable concealed carry. Still, seven rounds in the flush mag and one in the chamber is pretty good for a single-stack 9mm subcompact. Though it has as good or better capacity than its competitors, that extra capacity comes at the price of the Shield 9 M2.0 being taller than any of them. The extra height may make it a bit less concealable than some, though only slightly if at all with the proper holster.

The M2.0 grip texture is quite good. It is more effective and covers more surface area than standard M&P Shield grip texture. It makes it quite easy to maintain a good grip when firing strings of several rounds. I had the opportunity to fire some rapid-fire strings and never felt like I was having trouble maintaining control of the pistol or my grip. Missing, however, is the same texturing on the forward thumb position of the frame. This position where the support-hand thumb rests is an important component to recoil management and the slick polymer here does the shooter no favors.

Shield M2.0 texture

Components and Features
The most conspicuous feature of the M2.0 line is the aforementioned grip texture. The new texture is subtle, but quite grippy and might mitigate the need for stippling. I’d have to try it with wet hands to be sure and did not have this opportunity for this review. As with other M2.0 models, the Shield’s slide has the addition of some scalloped texturing on the lower portion of the front area of the slide. I can’t imagine what purpose this feature serves and it is not very attractive.

front serrations on the Shield M2.0

The model I used for evaluation came without the external thumb safety (as all pistols should), but the Shield is available with an external safety lever. I found the slide lock to be easy to manipulate when I wanted to lock the action open. It did not get in my way when shooting and I never rode the control preventing the slide from locking back on the last round of a magazine, as can happen with some guns. The takedown lever is quite unobtrusive. It is smooth, rounded, and very low-profile on the frame. Well done with all of this.

The Shield M2.0 has the hinged trigger, with a trigger stop on the upper portion of the trigger well as an interesting way to prevent overtravel. The M&P 9 M2.0 Shield has white 3-dot sights that seem to work just fine for my eyes.

Comparisons

Here is how the M&P Shield 9 M2.0 measures up physically against other popular competitors (with a flush magazine):

  M&P Shield M2.0 XDS 9 Glock 43 Kahr PM9
Length 6.1″ 6.3″ 6.26″ 5.42″
Height 4.5” 4.4″ 4.25″ 4″
Width .99″ .9″ 1.02″ .9″
Barrel 3.1″ 3.3″ 3.39″ 3.1″
Weight 18.3 oz 23 oz 17.95 oz 14 oz
Capacity 7+1 7+1 6+1 6+1
MSRP $479 $499 $519 $810

Conclusions

Pros
For its size and in its category, the M&P 9 Shield M2.0 is an eminently shootable and concealable, single stack pistol. The external controls are well designed and unobtrusive and the capacity is as good as one might hope, given the small size.

Cons
The narrow backstrap makes prolonged training uncomfortable. Other than this and the lack of texturing on the forward frame for the support-hand thumb, I can think of nothing substantive to criticize on the Shield 9 M2.0. As for nitpicks, it doesn’t have the best trigger around, with quite a long reset, and I’ll point out that the small area of serrations on the bottom of the front of the slide are as useless as they are unattractive.

So for rating the M&P Shield M2.0…

Ergonomics (****)
The controls are well placed and unobtrusive and the grip texture is excellent. The thin grip is both good and bad, depending on your preferences. Some shooters will prefer the more vertical grip angle of the Shield as opposed to the more acute angle of the Glock 43.

Shootability (****)
Definitely a shootable pistol, though less comfortable to shoot than most 9mm subcompacts. The grip texture does a good job here.

Accuracy (***)
I found it to be plenty accurate for serious business at close range, but less so than my Glock 43 at 10-15 yards. The 3.1” barrel is not best suited to great distances. For most defensive uses, no complaints here.

Concealability (*****)
The Shield 9 M2.0 has a thin frame that easily disappears on or into your waistline—with the flush magazine. The extended magazine causes some concealability issues. Carry that one as your backup.

In Summary

This is a solid and well conceived thin-framed subcompact in 9mm. The Shield has been the popular standard for this type and size of pistol for quite a while. There have been some new competitors in recent years, but the Shield remains a top pick. I wouldn’t say it is the best of the best, but it’s certainly one of the best.

The M&P Shield is a proven performer and popular success. I have to believe that this new iteration will only help with its popularity. Also, I would tend to trust the quality of Smith & Wesson’s M&P line. Come by Eagle Gun Range and rent the M&P 9 Shield M2.0 and see what you think.

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About The Author
Andy Rutledge is a design professional, competitive shooter and avid road cyclist. He trains at Eagle Gun Range and elsewhere a few days a week to hone his shooting and defensive skills.
Shooting With Both Eyes Open

Shooting With Both Eyes Open

When any of us first starts shooting we make a point to close our off eye so that we can have a clear sight picture. That clear, unambiguous sight picture is vital at this stage because we typically have no trained mechanics or muscle memory to assist with our effort to shoot accurately. What’s more, most of us are unaccustomed to unconsciously or even consciously directing our focus into one eye while the other eye remains open.

All of this is to say, there’s a bit of a learning curve to proper defensive firearm technique (of which the eyes are just one component).

I say defensive firearm technique because there is little benefit in target shooting with both eyes open. This doesn’t mean one shouldn’t target shoot with both eyes open, but the point of having both open is so that your field of vision remains as wide as possible so that you don’t miss something important or deadly in a fight for life; yours or someone else’s. However, since humans are creatures of habit, it is best to make a habit of shooting with both eyes open.

First Steps

This process won’t be easy and you will continually find yourself wanting to cheat. The good news is that it’s okay to cheat. It actually helps.

You’ll first want to know which of your eyes is dominant. There are a few well-documented ways to figure this out, so I won’t go into that here. Go figure it out then continue reading.

Here’s your target:

a shooting bay target

Next, step up to the line with your pistol, take aim as usual, with your off eye closed and your finger taking the slack out of the trigger, then open your off eye and note the sight picture. With both eyes open, depending on what your focus habit is (front sight or target), you will have either two targets or two pistols in view, but only one properly aligned sight picture.

As shown in the images below, if your focus is on your front sight, you will have two targets in view. In this case, the target you should aim at is the one on the side of your dominant eye (right target if you’re right-eye dominant). You can confirm by blinking your off eye.

Conversely, if your focus is on your target, you will have two pistols in view. In this case, the proper sight picture will be with the pistol opposite your dominant eye (left pistol if your right-eye dominant). You can confirm by blinking your off eye.

Sight picture

Shooting with both eyes open

Note: The photos above are representative of a right-eye-dominant view.

Now, close your off eye and then open it again, all while keeping your sights on target and your finger on the trigger. Break the shot with both eyes open and while concentrating on the proper sight picture. Repeat this process roughly 50 times.

Next, repeat the process, but instead of starting with your off eye closed, start with both eyes open and try to seize the proper sight picture. Then blink your off eye once or twice to confirm (and adjust if necessary). Once you’ve confirmed and with both eyes open, break the shot. Repeat roughly 50 times.

You’re on your way!

Even so, don’t expect to transition from a one-eyed shooter to a two-eyed shooter in one day. Give the process some time.

Now, when you go back to the range or while you’re doing dry-fire practice at home, use the second method. Instead of blinking to confirm every time, try only doing so when you lose track of the proper sight picture. In other words: when you find yourself losing focus, cheat.

In time, you’ll seldom have to blink to confirm your sight picture, as your brain learns to focus exclusively on the proper sight picture. Start today and resolve never to backslide to shooting one-eyed again.

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About The Author
Andy Rutledge is a design professional, competitive shooter and avid road cyclist. He trains at Eagle Gun Range and elsewhere a few days a week to hone his shooting and defensive skills.