Smith & Wesson Performance Center Shield 2.0 11786 9mm Luger

The longest of the pistols tested in this group, the Shield was, in our opinion, the softest shooting handgun of the four and barely missed being our Best Buy.




The Smith & Wesson Shield has been one of the biggest success stories in American firearms history. Introduced in 2012, S&W now reports sales of more than 3 million units. It is small, easy to carry, and shoots well. It is also relatively inexpensive. What’s not to like? Except, perhaps, an only-okay trigger, and maybe the sights could be more visible. The Model 2.0 set out to fix those issues, and the Performance Center made the pistol even better. Gun Tests acquired the newest model with a 4-inch barrel. The extra barrel length almost puts the pistol into a different category. The longer barrel and the more muzzle-heavy feel make this pistol a bit softer to shoot than the smaller versions. Using the extended magazine, this pistol could have enough ammunition capacity to be considered as a true home-defense pistol, but it is still small enough to easily carry it concealed.

Action TypeSemi auto, striker fired
Overall Length7.1 in.
Overall Height5.13 in.
Maximum Width1.04 in.
Weight Unloaded (no magazine)20.1 oz.
Weight Loaded26.5 oz. w/9 rounds
Slide MaterialStainless steel, Armornite finish
Slide Retraction Effort13.7 lbs.
Receiver MaterialPolymer
Front Strap Height1.8 in.
Back Strap Height3.0 in.
Barrel Length4.0 in.
Grip Thickness (Maximum)0.95 in.
Grip Circumference5.2 in.
Magazine(1) 7 round & (1) extended 8 round
Rear SightFiber optic in drift-adjustable dovetail
Front SightFiber optic in dovetail
Sight Radius5.9 in.
Trigger Pull Weight4.3 lbs.
Trigger Span2.1 in.
SafetyTrigger safety, hammer block
WarrantySmith & Wesson Lifetime Service Policy
Telephone(800) 331-0852
Made InUSA

The Performance Center did some extra magic on this pistol. The trigger has been improved considerably both in weight and crispness. Trigger compression only required 4.3 pounds on average. There is some take-up before the shooter gets to the pressure wall, as on most striker-fired pistols. After that point is reached, there is very little creep, and the trigger breaks cleanly. The PC even added an overtravel bump behind the trigger to cut down on required trigger movement and to speed reset.

The sights were improved from the standard three-dot set to fiber-optic sights both front and rear. The front sight is a single, green-optic tube covered by what can best be described as a cage. The rear sight is a double set of red-optic tubes also surrounded by a cage. These cages allow a lot of light to reach the optic tubes while still protecting them from damage. Stippling on the grips has been improved to allow a much more secure grip. It’s perhaps even a bit too aggressive in texture, and we would suggest that some sort of garment be worn between the shooter’s skin and the pistol. The sides of the slide are scalloped both front and rear to allow the slide to easily be retracted or a to perform a simple and safe press check.

Last, the slide is already milled and drilled for the mounting of a Shield SMS sight, which is included in this package. The SMS version of the sight is slightly larger than the RMSc, but the difference is small enough that we had to use a set of calipers to make sure our eyes weren’t deceiving us. The way the SMS sight is mounted on the Shield pistol allows the user to leave the rear sight on the pistol when the SMS is installed. We like that.

Battery longevity is a concern with any electronic device. How long will they last? In the case of an electronic sight, how easy are they to access for replacement? Does the sight have to be removed and, if so, how much work and time are involved to sight the pistol back in? The Shield sight website claims that batteries should last two to three years under normal usage. This is not an on/off switch relying on motion-detecting technology. The sight is on 24/7 and this is just expected battery life. We can’t hold onto these guns for years as part of the test, but we can report that sights have stayed on for several months without problems or any weaker beam. The Shield RMSc and SMS models require the sight to be removed to change the battery. We found this to be easy to do, and the zero was closely maintained when we put the sight back on.

Our Team Said: The Shield has the longest barrel we tested in this group of pistols. We felt that extra weight out front softened the recoil and the muzzle flip noticeably. Function was flawless. This pistol had the lightest trigger in this group. While still very safe, we thought it contributed to the overall shooting results. The Shield allowed excellent speed and, except for the magazine capacity, might well have been our overall top pick. If you think eight (plus one) is enough for you, check out the Performance Center Shield.

Written and photographed by Joe Woolley, using evaluations from Gun Tests team testers.

Value Guide: 9MM Luger Handgun Rankings

Arex Rex Delta REXDELTA-01 9mm Luger, $425Feb. 2020ABest Buy. Reliability and practical accuracy are good, and the pistol is the right size for concealed carry.
Stoeger Industries STR-9 31721 9mm Luger, $350Feb. 2020BIf you like the Glock 17, you will like the STR-9. Worth the money, but it is not our favorite.
Ruger Security-9 Compact Model 3818 9mm Luger, $309Feb. 2020BThe pistol is adequate for the task and will not break the bank.
SIG P365 Nitron Micro-Compact 9mm Luger, $465Feb. 2020BThe SIG costs more than the Ruger Security-9 without overwhelming advantages.
S&W M2.0 PC Shield 11787 9mm Luger, $430Jan. 2020ABest Buy. Smooth and accurate, great sights and trigger. Costs a lot less than the SIG.
SIG Sauer P365XL P365XL-9-BXR3 9mm Luger, $580Jan. 2020AOur Pick. The SIG P365XL was the most accurate of the four pistols tested.
Springfield Armory XDE9 XDE9389B 9mm Luger, $460Jan. 2020ASlide is easier to retract, hammer-fired, DA/SA trigger set the XDE apart in this test.
Springfield Hellcat Micro-Compact 9mm Luger, $500Jan. 2020F/AHellcat #1 failed when the trigger wouldn’t reset (F). Hellcat #2 worked perfectly (A). Best accuracy.
Glock 43X Ameriglo Night Sights PX435SL301AB 9mm Luger, $542July 2019AOur Pick. Firing grip is superior to the G43 and allows better shooting with little compromise.
Glock 48 PA485SL301AB 9mm Luger, $488July 2019ABest-shooting pistol in the test and the most powerful. Minimally more difficult to conceal.
Mossberg MC1sc 89001 9mm Luger, $365July 2019A-Best Buy. The Mossberg 9mm gave up little to the Glock designs. Reliability was never a question.
Springfield XD(M) 4.5 9mm Luger XDMT9459FDEHCE TB, $505Apr. 2019AOur Pick as a personal-defense, home-defense, and tactical pistol.
Glock G34 Gen5 MOS PA3430103MOS 9mm Luger, $710Apr. 2019AThe Gen5 guns are the best yet, with superior accuracy and features over earlier Glocks.
CZ-USA CZ P0-9 91620 9mm Luger, $402Apr. 2019BBest Buy. CZ has managed to pack a lot of value into the P0-9. 19-round magazine.
FNH FNS-9L Longslide 66725 9mm Luger, $570Apr. 2019BHeavier trigger than the other pistols. Accuracy wasn’t as good.
Glock 45 9mm Luger, $546Jan. 2019AFast from concealed carry. The action allows a trained shooter to make fast hits. Reliable.
Beretta APX Compact JAXC921 9mm Luger, $449Jan. 2019BMagazines were difficult to load. Slide was difficult to rack. Takedown button too tight.
SIG P320-M17 320F-9-M17-MS 9mm Luger, $770Jan. 2019BThe grip fits most hands well and the sights are excellent. The DAO trigger was too heavy.
Beretta 92 FS JS92F300M 9mm Luger, $562Jan. 2019BShows the age of its design with a slide-mounted decocker and long DA trigger pull.
Taurus G2S 1-G2S931 9mm Luger, $204Nov. 2018ABest Buy. The Taurus pistol was reliable and controllable in rapid fire.
Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield SW180021BW 9mm Luger, $400Nov. 2018AThe Battleworn Shield is reliable, accurate enough, and compact enough for EDC.
Bersa BP9MCC 9mm Luger, $295Nov. 2018A-Reliable, feels good in the hand, and offers excellent handling in fast-paced drills.
Honor Defense Honor Guard HG9SCF FIST 9mm Luger, $400Nov. 2018A-The FIST option is viable. We tested it against barricades with excellent results.
Ruger EC9s 3283 9mm Luger, $231Nov. 2018B-Most accurate handgun of the test, despite its light weight.
Smith & Wesson M&P9 M2.0 Compact 11686 9mm Luger, $476June 2018APleasing trigger action, good gripping surface, a rail, and grip inserts.
Glock G19X G5 PX1950703 9mm Luger, $594June 2018A-Has many of the good features of the Gen5s. Fast from leather, fast on target, reliable.
Ruger SR1911 L’wt Commander 6722 9mm Luger, $739June 2018BFor those who like the single-action 1911 cocked-and-locked, this is a good choice.
SIG Sauer P225-A1 Nitron 225A-9-BSS-C 9mm Luger, $880June 2018B-Slim grip appeals to shooters with small hands. No rail and low magazine capacity.
Glock 17 Gen5 9mm Luger, $545Mar. 2018B-A credible firearm, but the sum of its parts is not a great leap forward.
CZ-USA CZ P-10 C 91520 9mm Luger, $480Feb. 2018A-Best Buy. Well-designed sights, decent trigger, ambi slide lock and magazine catch.
Lipsey’s Glock 17RTF2 Vickers FDE 9mm Luger, $630Feb. 2018A-Our Pick. Includes Vickers Tactical sights, a mag guide, and mag basepads.
Beretta 92FS W/Wilson Combat Upgrades 9mm Luger, $550Feb. 2018BSmooth, well finished, and the most accurate handgun tested. Grip did not fit all shooters.
Arex Rex Zero 1 Standard FDE 9mm Luger, $634Feb. 2018BFit, finish, and an absence of internal tool marks show high build standards.
Smith & Wesson M&P9 M2.0 11537 9mm Luger, $599Dec. 2017AA refined striker-fire pistol with a crisp trigger, excellent grips, and good accuracy.
Springfield Armory XD MOD.2 4-In. Service 9mm Luger, $565Dec. 2017A-Easy to shoot due to the fiber-optic front sight, textured grip, and consistent trigger.
Ruger American Pro Duty 8605 9mm Luger, $579Dec. 2017B+The American is capable and ran well with good accuracy. Grip inserts gave trouble.
Kimber Micro 9 Desert Tan (LG) 3300168 9mm Luger, $659Oct. 2017AThe laser grip complements the large sights on this micro pistol.
SIG Sauer P938 Emperor Scorpion 9mm Luger, $639Oct. 2017AWith large sights, a crisp trigger and toothy grips, this was easy to shoot and control.
Springfield Armory XD-E 3.3 XDE9339BE 9mm Luger, $519Oct. 2017BTrigger geometry took some getting used to. Decocker was hard to manipulate.
Walther PPS M2 2805961 9mm Luger, $451Sept. 2017AThe Walther PPS M2 is a class act. It was the most expensive pistol tested this month.
Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield 180021 9mm Luger, $394Sept. 2017ABest Buy. Well designed grip checkering, good sights, and a decent trigger action.
Glock 43 Subcompact Slimline G43 PI4350201 9mm Luger, $445Sept. 2017BAccurate enough for personal defense, reliable, and fast handling.
Honor Defense Honor Guard Sub-Comp. HG9SC 9mm Luger, $449Sept. 2017BThe only defect was the problematic slide lock, which was too heavy to operate quickly.
Taurus 709 Slim 1-709031FS 9mm Luger, $198Aug. 2017ABest Buy. We would buy this gun, and we would carry it for personal defense.
Kel-Tec PF-9 9mm Luger, $257Aug. 2017A-The Taurus outshot the Kel-Tec, but that doesn’t mean the PF-9 is out of the running.
SIG Sauer P938 Micro-Compact 938-9-ESR 9mm Luger, $730Aug. 2017BThe pistol had enough break-in glitches to be rated down a full grade.
Remington R51 96430 9mm Luger, $400Aug. 2017DIt simply refused to function with one type of ammunition. The trigger was poor.
Ruger American Compact 8633 9mm Luger, $579July 2017D-We could not complete our tests without reseating the recoil assembly multiple times.
Honor Defense Honor Guard HG9CLE 9mm Luger, $499July 2017B+Admirably fills the role of a highly concealable fighting gun that’s inexpensive and fun.
Springfield Armory 1911 EMP PI9229L 9mm Luger, $1220July 2017AThe EMP delivered accuracy and ergonomics on par with more expensive custom guns.
CZ-USA 75D PCR Compact 91194 9mm Luger, $546July 2017AWe like everything about the 75D except the absence of a light rail.
Tristar Canik 55 C-100 9mm Luger, $365July 2017C
CZ-USA 75 P-01 9mm Luger, $576July 2017A


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here