The Shield Goes PC

Smith & Wesson's Performance Center M2.0 .45

The Performance Center Shield 2.0 in .45 is an amazing CCW handgun at a very reasonable price.

Whatever the setting, when a dedicated shooter hears the words “Smith & Wesson,” their ears perk up like a wise, old German Shepherd hearing a suspicious sound. Follow this iconic manufacturer’s name with “Performance Center” and tails start wagging. Drifting closer toward the person spewing these seductive words, they know they’re in store for something special whenever someone starts bragging about their newest shooter from the “Center.” It’s where guns are given the highest attention to detail, with options available only from the most special of places, reserved for the best of the best. These guns are the shining stars of S&W.

The Performance Center M&P .45 Shield 2.0 is riding in a Milt Sparks
55-BN holster. Add a Bear & Son 112 frame-lock folder and ADCO STG-3
magazine loader and it makes a pretty slick kit.

The M&P Story

S&W introduced their M&P model in 2005: A full-sized, double-stack, polymer-framed, striker-fired pistol intended for duty use or home protection. In 2007, a .45 ACP version was introduced with a 4.5″ barrel, and in 2008 the M&P 45 mid-size and M&P 45 Compact were released. The mid-size has a 4″ barrel with full-size grip and the Compact has a 4″ barrel with shorter grip.

In 2012, the M&P Shield 9mm, and .40 S&W subcompact, both single-stack pistols, were released. Their thinner profile proved popular with concealed carriers, being less than 1″ thick. Then in 2016, a .45 Shield was released with a 3.3″ barrel. The M2.0 enhancement to the M&P line came out 2017, featuring a full-length steel chassis, rough textured grip and improved trigger system.

The ported barrel and slide: The simple dispersion of gases helps
us by reducing felt-recoil and muzzle-flip. It works, too!

Performance Center Pride

Now, the Shield 2.0 is getting the Performance Center treatment with premium features such as factory-ported barrels and slides. The ports lessen muzzle-flip during firing, while also conveniently reducing a few ounces of total weight from the pistol.

The whole action is tuned by the Performance Center, as only they can do, culminating in a smoother functioning firearm with a lighter trigger-pull and shorter reset. Tritium night sights are now an option. Encased in white circular buffers, they provide a white, three-dot sight system in conjunction with the front sight during daylight and the famous tritium green glow during low/no-light conditions.

Front cocking serrations were added for a more positive grip during slide manipulation and press-checks. The polymer frame has its stainless steel chassis system embedded in the polymer frame for steel-on-steel contact between frame and slide.

The tritium three-dot dovetailed sights provide a great sight picture.

Overall Observations

The M&P 45 Shield 2.0 polymer frame has a pleasing texture on the grip creating a positive, slip-free purchase when held in your hand. Even when the flush 6+1 magazine is inserted, the top half of my pinky finger wraps around the bottom of the magazine, and my hand is larger than most.

The extended 7+1 magazine provides a full grip. The magazine release is easily reached with my thumb, without interruption of my
“shooting grip.”

The trigger only needs to travel forward roughly 0.3″ before resetting. The S&W trigger does not have a bladed safety as do most poly-framed guns, but rather an articulated two-piece trigger in which the lower portion must be pulled for the gun to fire. The top portion of the trigger remains blocked until the lower portion is pulled, releasing the spring-loaded wedge.

The trigger guard is ample, complete with an index-finger groove to provide a safe place for your trigger finger until you’re ready to fire.

The stainless steel slide displays an overlapping waves pattern for serrations, front and rear. The tritium night sights are dovetailed, both front and rear for secure attachment and easy adjustment.

There are three oval ports on either side of the slide, and the stainless steel barrel has oval ports directly under the corresponding slide cutouts. The barrel hood provides a chamber cutout for quick visualization of chamber status. The whole upper is finished in black Armornite.

Takedown is achieved by locking the slide rearward, depressing the takedown-lever 90 degrees and removing the slide. The trigger pull averaged 3 lbs., when measured for 10 pulls with the Lyman trigger-pull gauge.

The Performance Center Ported M&P .45 Shield 2.0 has an overall length of only 6.5″, and weighs a mere 22.6 oz., making it the proverbial pocket cannon. The stainless steel, ported barrel is 3.3″. The stainless steel slide has both front and rear
cocking serrations.

The slide finish is black Armornite and frame finish is matte black. The gun ships with two magazines, one standard flush fit 6+1 and an extended 7+1 magazine.

The ADCO Super Thumb made magazine loading a cinch.
The Black Hills HoneyBadger shot extremely well in the .45 Shield.

Shooting The Shield

While describing the attributes of the Performance Center .45 Shield 2.0 is informative, the real proof in the porridge is how it performs on the range shooting different types of ammunition. Besides accuracy, we’re looking for function and reliability of the gun in question with the many different types of bullets available today in factory ammunition.

Shooting was done at 50 feet in groups of five with my forearms perched on a piece of 6″ by 6″ piece of carpeted lumber. I had four different factory loads to shoot, the first being Black Hills 135-gr. HoneyBadger ammo. This ammo has been accurate in just about every gun I’ve shot it in, and I carry it on a daily basis in my older pre-2.0 .45 Shield compact. Four out of five rounds were in a 1 1/4″ group, with the lone flier stretching it to 2″. The next load tested was also from Black Hills featuring their 230-gr. JHP +P ammo. The .45 Shield liked it as well, with five shots going into 1 1/2″. SIG SAUER’s 230-gr. V-Crown performed to its usual high standard — four out of five rounds went into just over 1″ and the fifth round stretched it to 1 1/2″.

Lastly, I had some of Federal’s new Syntech Action Pistol ammo to try. I was really excited to test this factory ammo. Four out of five went just over an inch with the fifth slug stretching things to 1 1/2″. The barrel was clean as a whistle, with no leading or streaking. It will be interesting to see how the shooting public takes to these Syntech-coated slugs. As for me, I’ve been sold on them since I started powder coating five years ago.

The .45 Shield 2.0 breaks down easily into five main components for cleaning and maintenance.

Some Handy Help

Admittedly, magazine fed semi-autos are great for fast “hot tactical reloads,” but there is one caveat to them … loading those suckers is a pain, especially when you’re doing a lot of shooting. S&W magazine springs are particularly stout and loading them can be a struggle, especially the last round.

Alas, just as necessity is the mother of invention, ADCO comes to the rescue with its Super Thumb STG-3 Magazine Loader. Simply a marvel of modern-day injection molding production, this little baby is a thumb-saver!

With your magazine sitting on a firm surface, simply slide the STG-3 over the magazine and lay a cartridge on top of the magazine follower. Push the STG-3 down until the cartridge slides beneath the magazine lips and release tension of the STG-3. Push the cartridge fully to the rear. Your first round is loaded.

Place the “finger” of the device on the first cartridge, push down, add a cartridge and let up on the STG-3. Push the second cartridge fully to the rear. Continue this sequence until the magazine is full.

The trigger’s integrated safety is an articulating lower “leg” of the trigger.

Closing Thoughts

Overall, the Performance Center .45 Shield 2.0 lives up to all expectations. It’s not hype! When it comes from the Performance Center, it’s the best Smith & Wesson has to offer, and at an MSRP of only $623, it’s a steal!

For more info:
Ph: (800) 331-0852;
Ph: (781) 935-1799

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