How does a particular firearm become iconic? Is it purely in the numbers sold, or the level of recognition it gains from the masses? Is it because of military adaptation or law enforcement agency proliferation? This is an interesting question in the case of the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield. While it may not be “iconic,” it is highly recognizable in the realm of practicality and popular as all hell.

With a successful package such as the M&P Shield comes the ever-looming potential to screw things up with the introduction of new iterations. Smith & Wesson has fared well in this vein. Through the use of Performance Center, Smith & Wesson managed to make a good gun even better. Looks like they may have done it again with the first-ever 4-inch model.

The 4-Inch Performance Center M&P Shield M2.0

Smith & Wesson now has an M&P Shield Performance Center, chambered in 9mm, sporting a four-inch barrel. In addition to that, it gets a new designation of OR for “optics ready.” That’s right, the M&P Shield M2.0 gets a touch of modern aiming technology, marking the first time it’s ever had a red dot attached.

The optics-ready M&P Shield comes with an optic in the box. The shooter only needs to remove the optics mounting plate/cover on the rear section of the gun, and replace it with the supplied optic. All hardware is included, as well as a dial to help you get the dot quickly sighted in.

One of the great things about the Shield has always been it’s incredible concealability. The narrow frame and slide make this a comfy carry to say the least, although it gives up some capacity in the process. Nonetheless, many a shooter finds it comfortable to carry and easy to shoot whether you have smallish hands like myself or meathooks like some others. Thankfully the optic shouldn’t alter any of its sleek goodness, as it is just a hint wider than the frame and slide.


The optic features an 4 MOA dot and it’s self-adjusting to light conditions. It’s bright enough on a sunny day and no issues were experienced when presenting the pistol. The window of the optic is fairly large for being so small. It also allows for seeing the fiber optic front sight.

One of the keys to using an electronic optic effectively on a pistol is proper presentation. You must not forget how to properly align your sights. Having this skill down will make the transition to using an optic much easier as you use the sights to lead your eyes to the dot. Sounds complicated but it’s really not, and the excellent grip angle of the Shield keeps this rather simple because it points so well.

The Performance Center Difference

Being a beneficiary of the S&W Performance Center treatment means the action receives some tuning and the trigger gets some magic to make it cleaner and crisper. The trigger is nice. It broke consistently at about 4.5 pounds by my scale. Smith & Wesson advertises a tactile and audible reset, and it’s a solid claim. You’ll know it when you get there, although the reset feels a bit longish to this shooter. I choked it up a couple of times during test firing. It’s nothing that a little repetition can’t iron out.

The M&P Shield Performance Center is a rather alluring carry piece with a laundry list of additives like an Armornite finish, front cocking serrations, fiber optic front and rear sights, two magazines, and a cleaning kit to boot. Yeah, the value here is pretty wild.

Range Testing of the 4-Inch M&P Shield Performance Center

On the range the new 4-inch M&P Shield Performance Center is easy to handle and quick to get on target. It’s lightweight, so there is a bit of snappiness to it, but nothing uncomfortable. Maybe it’s best described as “fast recoiling.” I can’t comment on how it feels compared to the shorter 3.1-inch barreled version.

While sending freedom pills downrange, it’s easy to understand why the M&P Shield is so likable. It’s mostly drama free and functions reliably. I’m not aware of any complaints in reliability with this line. The grip texture is literally just right — enough without being too much or too little. Many different shooters can enjoy this pistol, especially in 9mm trim.

Final Thoughts

If you have an M&P Shield of any variety, you’ll probably be interested in trying out the 4-inch Performance Center, optics-ready version. It may not be a necessary upgrade but it is a practical one into the pistol optics realm, and Performance Center helps keep the transition easy by giving you all the tools you need. If you’re a fan of optics on pistols in general, you’ll find this to be yet another capable and highly recognizable addition to the concealed carry space.

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Available in 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 AUTO, these new pistols are enhanced with the M2.0 feature set and are available in multiple configurations:

Performance Center M&P Shield M2.0 (4-inch Barrel) Specs

  • Features a 4-inch barrel and slide, providing a longer sight radius for more accurate shots
  • MSRP: $532

Performance Center M&P Shield M2.0 (4-inch Barrel, 4 MOA Red Dot Sight) Specs

  • Features a 4-inch barrel and optics-ready slide
  • Includes 4 MOA Red Dot Sight for quick target acquisition
  • MSRP: $826

Performance Center M&P Shield M2.0 (4-inch Ported Barrel, 4 MOA Red Dot Sight) Specs

  • Features a ported 4-inch barrel and optics-ready slide, reducing muzzle flip and felt recoil
  • Includes 4 MOA Red Dot Sight for quick target acquisition
  • MSRP: $854

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