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m&p shield

Should I Get The M&P Shield Performance Center Or The Regular Shield?

Obviously the deluxe model of anything has benefits to it, which leads some people to ponder if they should spring for the M&P Shield Performance Center over the stock M&P Shield. It's like buying a car: the base model seems great, but is it that much better if you add the powered seats, infotainment suite and the rich Corinthian leather?

Is the difference so much better that you're better off putting the Performance Center version in a Shield holster for daily carry?

What's the Difference?

shield performance center

What sets the deluxe model apart in choosing between the Performance Center Shield vs Shield of normal specifications? Well, it's the attention to the details. Just like how trim levels in a car do a bunch of small things a bit better, the Performance Center Shield improves on a number of aspects of the base model Shield.

The Performance Center Shield starts with the same frame, but the barrel and slide are ported to attenuate muzzle rise.

Smith and Wesson's Performance also tunes up the trigger, which some shooters may appreciate.

At this point, it's worth pointing out that there are actually two Performance Center Shield models, but the difference between them is the sights. There's the Performance Center Shield and the Performance Center Shield Night Sights edition.

The difference between them?

The base model comes with low-profile 3-dot white dot sights, both dovetailed. The rear is a low-profile ramp, the front is the typical white dot front sight. The base Performance Center model has HI-VIZ fiber optic sights (also in 3-dot configuration) and the Night Sights edition has a 3-dot tritium sight setup. Both have dovetailed front and rear sights, with a low-profile rear ramp.

The Performance Center versions are also lightened, with 2 ounces of weight taken off the top.

Other than that, the song remains the same. Capacity is the same as the single stack magazines are the same, barrel length is the same and so on, for the 9mm Shield, .40 Shield and Shield. 45.

Is The Shield Performance Center That Much Better Than The Typical Shield?

m&p shield pistol

In an objective sense, the Shield Performance Center isn't exactly an evolutionary leap from the base model Shield; it's just that some of the details have been addressed to hopefully result in a better overall firearm.

Has it worked? Well, that's partially subjective.

First, the weight savings aren't so much that it makes a HUGE difference, but 2 fewer ounces can make carrying a tad more comfortable.

As to the trigger, one of the most constant criticisms of the Shield is the trigger. Common threads being too long a reset, an anemic break and a "numb" feeling trigger overall. The Performance Center trigger is tightened up, and while it retains a very reasonable pull (usually about 6.5 pounds) it's noted for being crisper, with a shorter and much more tactile reset.

Granted, triggers are a bit of a sticky wicket when it comes to the end user. You see, a lot of people out there think that spending a few dollars entitles them to the moon, a garage full of Ferraris and free pizza for life. The Shield is a $400 gun, so not having a Wilson Combat trigger is probably something that should be overlooked and let's face it, a spring kit is pretty darn cheap. Then again, better springs could be arguably put on at the factory because spring kits are darn cheap, so figure that out for yourself.

Point being, the trigger is a bit better.

One of the most common upgrades people get for the Shield is night sights, and either model is going to be more visible in low-light conditions. The choice really is whether you like fiber optics or tritium sights more. Some people can't live without the latter, and some people prefer the former - so that's really buyer's choice.

As to barrel/frame porting, they tame muzzle rise which in the Shield is known to already be moderate. This will allow for faster follow-up shots but comes at the cost of a louder report and larger muzzle flash.

Should I Get The M&P Shield Performance Center Over The Normal Shield

s&w m&p shield

The truth is that while the M&P Shield Performance Center has only incremental improvements over the base model, the other side is that those improvements don't come at too high a price. The HI-VIZ model is only $70 more in MSRP at $519, the Night Sight version is $600 compared to the base model's $449. Granted, that's MSRP and what you'll pay in-store is almost universally less.

Also, and this is something to consider, the two most common upgrades to a carry pistol are usually a spring kit for the trigger and the handgun sights, so that will actually save you the trouble in that sense, and once you factor in what a gunsmith will charge you to install them (if you aren't doing it yourself) then you actually come out ahead.

So, looking at it through that lens, it's a Shield that has the aftermarket stuff you'd already install on a Shield added to it. If you tend to add a few mods to your handgun as a matter of course, then it's well worth the premium as the Performance Center Shield models will have that done at the factory.

However, if you're just looking for a plain Jane CCW gun and don't care about the frippery, the base model might be more your style.

Both holsters available in ShapeShift!
S&W M&P Shield Performance Center ShapeShift 4.0 IWB

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S&W M&P Shield 9 ShapeShift 4.0 IWB

Take advantage of our 30-day Test Drive

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Sam Hoober

About The Author

Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.