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Glock 43 v M&P Shield

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The recent release of the Glock 43 has brought a lot of renewed attention to the single stack 9mm auto genre of pistol.  I would call this the mid-size single stack for ease of reference.  We now have a bunch of people clamoring for Glock 43s and probably an equal number asking if the Glock 43 is the best choice if this type of handgun.

I recently found myself in the same boat as the latter group.  The release of the Glock 43 renewed my interest in the mid-size 9mm single stack, but I wasn't completely sold on the gun.  I started looking closely at the other alternatives out there and decided that, for me, there were two choices I was interested in:  the Glock 43 and the M&P Shield 9.

With this choice in mind I ventured to the ever trusty internet to do some research on the two guns and how they stacked up.  I didn't really find what I wanted for information on the comparison so I ordered in both an M&P Shield 9 and a Glock 43 at Alamo Shooting Sports here in San Antonio in order to compare the two.  Both arrived on the same day and we had a chance to compare the two side by side.

The M&P Shield 9mm next to the Glock 43

The Glock 43:

The Glock 43 is a pretty cool little gun.  The very first thing you notice about the gun is how small it feels.  They obviously put a lot of energy into making the grip as small as they could.  The trigger is standard Glock good (or standard Glock bad if you don't like the Glock trigger, I guess) and the sights are standard Glock plastic sights.  The texture on the grip appears to be a modified Gen4 type texture.  It seems slightly less aggressive than its bigger brothers, but reassuringly familiar.

The Glock 43 arrived with two 6 round magazines.  One with a finger extension, one without.

My personal impression was that it felt smaller than I expected it to be.  In fact, it felt smaller than I wanted it to be.  You see, in my opinion, this gun is too big to be a true pocket pistol, but feels smaller in the hand than I really want it to for a gun that I will carry on my belt.  All in all, if you like Glocks, you will probably like this gun. 

The Glock 43 with the magazine with the finger extension inserted.

The M&P Shield 9:

I have owned a Shield 9mm previously, but it was when they first appeared on the market and I chose not to keep the gun.  While I do like a manual safety when they are done well, I did not like the execution of the (then mandatory) safety and the trigger, while not horrible, did leave a bit to be desired.

Smith & Wesson has since made the gun available without the manual safety, and they have put a lot of effort into making the M&P trigger into what the market has asked for.  I expected the trigger to need a lot of work so I ordered in one of the Apex Tactical M&P Shield Action Enhancement Kit, but was very pleasantly surprised to see that the trigger on the gun was easily good enough for a carry gun with no work at all.

The M&P Shield comes from the factory with 2 magazines.  One which fits flush in the gun and holds 7 rounds, and one which has an extension and holds 8 rounds.  

Sights on the M&P are metal and dovetailed into the slide.

The Smith & Wesson Shield 9mm with the 8 round magazine inserted.


Now, to the point of this post, how do the two guns compare?

As stated before, the Glock just feels SMALL in the hand.  The shield feels small, but comfortable.  With either magazine in the Shield it just fits the hand a better, but with the 8 round magazine in the gun it feels almost like a full size pistol.  It's still thin enough that it feels small, but not so much that you suspect that the gun will feel snappy when you shoot it.  It just inspires a hair more confidence. That being said, I also like the slightly more aggressive texture of the Glock 43.  

When it comes to sights, the Shield is head and shoulder above the Glock.  The plastic factory sights on the Glocks have long been a major complaint about the pistols.  The sights provide a decent sight picture, but they are just too delicate for duty on a defensive pistol.  The Shield comes with a decent set of metal sights that can be left in place indefinitely, while the Glock 43 just needs the sight replaced ASAP.  Night sights are readily available for both pistols.

Both pistols have a loaded chamber indicator.  The Shield has a visual only indicator while the Glock has an indicator that can easily been referenced in low light or without having to look at the gun.  While neither of these are big issues, it is nice to be able to just touch the indicator of the Glock for a quick reference in the dark.

As mentioned before, both guns have easily acceptable trigger pulls for defensive pistols.  They both break cleanly with little creep and acceptable pull weight.  Both have a form of manual safety built into the actual trigger.

The Glock 43 is a bit lighter in weight than the Shield -1.05 ounces lighter when empty to be exact.  Obviously, the Shield's higher magazine capacity will make the gun heavier if fully loaded.  If the weight of the gun is the single highest priority then the Glock would have the edge.

The biggest difference between the two guns is the magazine capacity.  Being more of a one and a half stack than a true single stack, the Shield comes with both a 7 and an 8 round magazine while the Glock 43 comes with two 6 round magazines.  The extra two rounds in the Shield gives it the clear edge over the Glock.  You would think that the extended magazine in the Shield that gives it the two round higher capacity would make the gun larger, but as you can see in the photo below, the Shield isn't much bigger even with the larger mag. 

The other difference that is worth mentioning are the prices of the two guns.  The Shield's cost is about $60.00 lower than that of the Glock 43.  That is almost enough to add a set of night sights to the Shield or for a nice holster with the gun.

The Glock 43 sitting atop the Shield 9mm.  The tops of the two slides are lined up so that the differences in the size of the two guns can be clearly seen.

Shooting the Guns:

The guns both shoot very well.  Both guns will shoot to the level of their users ability to do so.  All who shot the two guns at our range session preferred the M&P over the Glock.  As I noted above, both guns are almost the same size, but that perceived additional smallness of the Glock makes it just a little bit snappier than the M&P Shield.  The Shield just fills the hand a little better in a way that inspires a little more confidence than the Glock 43 and makes it a little easier to shoot better than the Glock.

With either gun it was easy to repeatedly shoot entire magazines into a 4 inch circle at 15 yards.  Both draw well from the holster and both point intuitively.

Holster Options:

Both guns have a variety of holster options available. Due to the fact that the Shield has been around longer there are more options at this time, but the Glock has quiet a few and, due to its popularity, its catching up fast. 

The M&P Shield 9mm and the Glock 43 in G-Code INCOG Eclipse IWB Holsters that were obtained through Alamo Shooting Sports.  The INCOG and INCOG Eclipse are easily two of the best IWB holsters on the market and excel at Appendix Carry.

My Choice:

In the end, I chose the M&P Shield.  The magazine capacity was the deciding factor for me, but the way the guns shot as well as the price were also factors.  While I would be more than happy carrying either of the guns, the Shield just offered too many advantages for me to pick the Glock 43.  

I have been carrying the Shield in a Desantis Inside Heat IWB holster in the appendix carry position and it is easy to wear all day long both sitting and standing.  Is it the gun I would want in a fight?  Not really, but its a lot better than a gun left at home because its too uncomfortable to carry all the time.

I will switch to the G-Code INCOG IWB holster as soon as G-Code gets its order to Alamo Shooting Sports.  The INCOG series of holsters, designed by Travis Haley, are some of the best holsters on the market at any price. 

The M&P Shield 9 in the Desantis Inside Heat IWB Holster.  It is all day comfortable in appendix carry sitting or standing with the Shield 9

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