min read
shield vs lc9s

Showdown Of Subcompact Strikers: M&P Shield vs. Ruger LC9s

If you're after a subcompact striker gun, two of the most popular candidates on your list will likely be the M&P Shield vs Ruger LC9s. In fact, those happen to be two of the most popular holster models we sell here at Alien Gear and with good reason.

Both of these pistols are slim, light, hold a decent capacity for their size, and aren't too dear when it comes time to fork over your cash. They also happen to be fairly simple and easy to learn to use and carry safely, and not too bad to shoot either!

The Shield is an institution in the civilian market, and the LC9s - along with the Ruger LCR - is one of Ruger's best CCW guns. Each has a lot going for it, so deciding between them...is probably going to come down to you.

Ruger LC9s: Evolution In Action


The Ruger LC9s is an instance of product evolution in action. The LC series got started in 2008 with the LCP or Lightweight Compact Pistol, a DAO mouse gun in .380. Three years later, they released the LC9, a slightly larger version in the ruger 9mm lineup.

The LC9 and LCP were double-action-only (internal hammer) guns with a stiffer, longer trigger pull than many shooters prefer. Ruger, who know their business, then decided to integrate a striker-fired operation instead which - in the case of the LC9 - led to the LC9s. The "s" stands for "striker," as you might imagine.

The LC9s has a shorter, lighter trigger pull than its predecessor, breaking around 5 lbs. It stands 6 inches long, 4.5 inches tall and 0.9 inches wide, with a barrel length of 3.12 inches and unloaded weight of 17.2 ounces.

You might not expect it on a tiny gun, but the three-dot sights are actually adjustable, a feature the original LCP actually lacks. There is a manual safety, integrated tabbed-trigger safety and magazine disconnect safety, though a model without the thumb safety or magazine disconnect (the LC9s Pro) is available. Other options are available too, including stainless and other slide finishes, HIVIZ fiber optic sights, even a model or two with a LaserMax.

Standard capacity is 7+1, though a 9+1 extended magazine is available through Ruger. You get a flush-fit magazine and a pinky extension if you want to install it. The 9-round magazine has a lowered floorplate, so it's the same size and also has the pinky extender.

It isn't supposed to run +P, but it's a compact that will shoot well, can be found in most gun stores, and with MSRP of $499, won't come too terribly dearly.

The M&P Shield: The New Standard In CCW Guns

smith and wesson

The M&P Shield...makes a strong case for itself on reputation alone. While it isn't perfect (no gun is in the grand scheme of things) it is the standard by which a modern concealed carry pistol is judged. It has nearly everything.

S&W makes dozens of factory options available. Lasers, upgraded sights, Performance Center models, even the new Shield M2.0 line that's just been released, with or without a manual safety...you name it, you can get it. There's a lot of aftermarket support for it too.

The Shield is 6.1 inches long, 4.6 inches tall and 0.95 inches wide. The original weighs 20.3 ounces unloaded, the M2.0 weighs 18.3 ounces unloaded.

Capacity is 7+1 or 8+1 of 9mm, depending on whether you select the flush or extended magazine. The latter adds about a half-inch in height. However, unlike the LC9s, it's also offered in .40 S&W. There is also a slightly bigger M&P Shield 45, which chambers .45 ACP.

The Shield starts at $449 MSRP, and is often found for closer to $350. It's in basically every gun store nationwide. If you hunt a bit, you can find it for much less; an M&P Shield 9mm for less than $300 is not unheard of at all.

The accuracy and ease of shooting the Shield belies its small size. People who whinged about the trigger were crying with two loaves of bread under their arm, because the quality relative to price is almost unparalleled by any gun made by anyone, full stop.

Again, it isn't perfect like a 1911 but there may be no better gun for the money.

But Wait...There's An EC9s Now Too!


Ruger also makes the EC9s too, an economy model of the LC9s. The primary difference is that the sights of the EC9s are machined into the slide, rather than dovetailed in. That means they aren't adjustable and swapping them for, say, night sights or fiber optics would require a trip to a machine shop. Other than that, everything is the same.

And what does that simplification mean in terms of purchase price?

The EC9s has an MSRP of $299. In-store, you're looking at more like $250 or less, which means you can get a slim, single-stack 9mm from a major brand from a serious bargain.

It's rather short on features, as it's basically an LCP sized up for 9x19mm rather than .380 ACP. But it's everything you need and nothing you don't.

M&P Shield vs. Ruger LC9s

ruger vs m&p

Out of these two striker-fired subcompacts, which is better between the M&P Shield vs. Ruger LC9s? Or, for that matter, the EC9s?

There are a couple of small differences that just might tilt one to one side or the other.

The Shield's sights are a tad taller, but not by very much at all; we're talking about a millimeter or two. However, a lot of shooters find it's enough to make a difference.

That can be fixed by opting for the HIVIZ sight model of LC9s, or buying aftermarket sights if you find you prefer the Ruger. Some people plan to upgrade the sights on a carry gun as a matter of course; some people prefer not to. You'll have to hash that out for yourself. Then again, not everyone loves the stock sights on the Shield, either. With the EC9s, you either can use the sights or you have to get a different gun.2

You might also find you don't like the stipling on the grips. Something about the old-school guns is that you can always swap the grip panels. Don't like the checkering on your 1911? Revolver grips don't quite fit your hand? You can swap them! Don't like how your Shield feels? Get a grip sleeve or get over it, because plastic fantastics come as-is. You may prefer one to the other.

The Shield has a better trigger. Granted, the M&P Shield's trigger is not a custom 1911 trigger. It's not a VP9 or PPQ trigger. In my humble opinion, Ruger's best bang switch is on the Redhawk, which is smooth and non-stacking for easy DA trigger work. But you don't buy a Redhawk for everyday carry (unless you intend on asking someone if they feel lucky) and the LC9s and EC9s can be worked with.

If you're trying to decide whether you like the M&P Shield vs. Ruger LC9s, the best way to do it is going to be to get to a gun store. Handle both and shoot both, if possible. The one that you subjectively like more from handling it, and can shoot most accurately, is going to be the better pick.


More S&W M&P Shield holsters are available on our Search By Gun page under S&W!


Have you shot these firearms? What did you like, and what didn't you?
Let us know in the comments below!

About The Author

Writer sam hoober