The Smith & Wesson Shield is a new pistol currently in production that will be unveiled to the public on April 12 at the NRA show. Designed specifically for the concealed carry and personal protection markets, the new Shield is set to be a significant part of the Smith & Wesson line this year.
“Shield” may not be the final name of the pistol, but it is the name that Smith & Wesson is using in internal documents and SEC filings. The word “shield” also appears multiple times in the company’s teaser video released last week.
The big question that remains is “What exactly is the Shield?” Only the folks covered by a non-disclosure agreement know for sure, but much of the speculation comes down to one of three pistols:
- The Shield is a compact, single-stack .45 ACP pistol in the M&P line that will compete directly with the Springfield XD-S introduced at the 2012 SHOT Show.
- The Shield pistol is a compact, single stack 9mm that will be thinner than current M&P compact pistols and will go after the market current occupied by Kahr, the Ruger LC9, the Kimber SOLO and similar handguns.
- The new Shield handgun will be a Glock 19 sized pistol with a double-stack magazine. The handgun would be sized between the current M&P duty-sized and compact pistols.
There are other suggestions floating around, such as a double-barrel 1911 like the recently introduced Arsenal AF2011-A1 and a polymer-framed 1911. However, I think these are less likely than one of the above choices.
Of the three popular guesses, my money would be on #1 or #2, and forced to pick only one, I’d say the single-stack 9mm is the new gun Smith & Wesson will show.
If S&W introduces a single-stack 9mm as the new Shield, what will it look like? Will it be an upsized Bodyguard 380 or a downsized M&P? Pure conjecture, but I would say a downsized M&P. Here’s why…
Smith & Wesson has touted the strength of the M&P line repeatedly in recent SEC filings, and the company’s desire to “leverage the adoption of the M&P by the professional community in the consumer channel.” If the company believes it has a very strong brand with the M&P, and they want to increase sales in the personal protection market, tying the professional use of their firearms to the launch of a new pistol with the same branding may be a wise marketing strategy.
However, during a March 8 earnings conference call, Smith & Wesson president and CEO James Debney did mention the Bodyguard 380 by name when talking about the products that have driven sales for Smith & Wesson during the most recent quarter. He also mentioned the M&P line. That could suggest that S&W perceives the Bodyguard as an important line they would like to expand.
Further along in the conversation, Debney specifically stated Smith & Wesson growth, “…where we will balance growing market share with our M&P products while developing new products.” Again, Debney highlights the M&P line as being critical to the company’s continued success.
Whatever the Shield winds up being, Smith & Wesson will be ready to start shipping in April. In the conference call, Debney stated “Yes, we started producing [the Shield] in…Q3. And we will be in a position…at launch where we do have inventory as we start to take orders.”