What if I told you that the best Smith & Wesson Shield accessory available is the MagFIX baseplate from Safety Solutions Academy? Well, that’s exactly what I am doing in this MagFIX review.
I own a S&W Shield, and I really like the gun a lot. However, I’ve always had a problem with the extended magazine and the kludgey spacer. In fact, it is one of the few flaws in the gun – and something the company failed to address in the M2.0 line.
Fortunately, a solution now exists that turns my Shield into a better self-defense weapon. It is affordable, reliable and doesn’t require the use of a special holster. The bonus is that it is made in the USA.
In this review, I’ll explain what the MagFIX is, the problems it solves and how it actually preformed on the range in my hands.
The Smith & Wesson Shield may be the most popular sub-compact pistol on the market today. I can understand why: it is relatively thin and easy to conceal, but just large enough to have full sized sights and shoot well.
However, I believe the Shield has a significant flaw: the design of the magazine base pad and spacer used on the included extended magazines. This system can foul your reloads in two different ways. If you’ve really trained with your Shield, there is a good chance you’ve experienced at least one of these two problems.
Smith & Wesson includes both a flush fitting and extended magazine with the Shield. Many people carry the gun with the flush-fitting magazine inserted in the gun and the extended mag as a backup. The reasoning is fairly simple: the flush magazine is easier to conceal when in the gun and the longer magazine is easier to manipulate under the stress of a reload.
This is where the potentially lethal flaw comes into play. Smith & Wesson uses a floating sleeve as a spacer on the magazine body to prevent over insertion into the magazine well. Without the spacer, the magazine can slam into and break the ejector. This will take the gun out of action when you need it most. So, a spacer is needed.
So, what’s the problem? Well, the factory spacer is free floating and relies solely on friction to hold it in place on the magazine body. The magazine body is intentionally smooth as it needs to easily slip into the magazine well. But this smoothness means that the spacer can also slide on the magazine body. So, when you go to make a reload with it, the spacer might be out of place and prevent you from seating the magazine.
If you don’t think this is a problem, visit a weekend firearms class with a few Shield shooters. It won’t happen every time, but it happens enough to warrant real concern.
Ok, but what if you carry the extended magazine in the gun and the shorter mag as a backup. Problem solved, right?
The factory spacer acts as an extension of the magazine well and extends the gripping area of the gun. While this is great for shooting, it can cause the magazine to hang up during ejection. When you hit the magazine release, the factory spacer may retain friction or pressure on it from the hand. This will prevent the magazine from dropping free without an exaggerated hand movement.
People with larger hands might run into the second problem more often, but even with my small-to-medium sized paws I experience it frequently.
These problems have existed for a while and are not limited to the Shield pistol. I’ve identified the same problem with the magazine not dropping free in my Springfield Armory XD-S review. So, S&W is not alone in ignoring obvious issues with existing spacer sleeves.
Idea Origins & Development
Some of the best ideas come from bad experiences. In this case, the MagFIX was created due to a problem seen by firearms trainer Paul Carlson. Carlson, the owner of Safety Solutions Academy in Chagrin Falls, OH, was teaching a self-defense course one weekend with a student armed with a S&W Shield. The student was having a problem with the factory magazine spacer sliding out of place and fouling his reloads.
In an effort to fix the spacer problem, the student removed the spacer entirely. Not long after, the ejector broke from the repeated magazine impacts on it. Seeing a student’s problem with the spacer, Carlson began to investigate solutions and discovered their were not any good ones. So, he designed one.
After coming up with the basic idea, Carlson worked with engineers to develop CNC machined prototypes made of aluminum. These went out to former students and other members of the gun community for feedback. Over time, the MagFIX went through several pre-release versions as feedback was incorporated into the design.
The final result is the injection molded product that is sold today.
I was fortunate enough to get early samples of the MagFIX and offer my opinions on it. It’s not very often I get to influence the design of a gun product, and it was great to see my suggestions taken seriously.
The MagFIX is a baseplate replacement for your Smith & Wesson Shield magazines. Extended magazines have a spacer sleeve that is designed to improve performance as compared to the factory magazine spacer. Additionally, the baseplates also offer improvements over stock parts.
- no free floating spacer – The extended magazine spacer locks into the baseplate to prevent it from moving out of position. A spacer that moves can foul a reload, but a spacer is needed to prevent damage to the gun’s ejector. The MagFIX locks the two together to prevent unwanted movement.
- relief cut on spacer – The rear of the spacer sleeve is less bulky than a factory magazine. This helps to eliminate drag on the hand when ejecting a mag. This drag can prevent the magazine from dropping free and slowing your reload.
- baseplate ledge – The baseplate has a tiered edge to better allow for stripping the magazine in a double feed or other malfunction. There are baseplates for both extended and flush-fitting magazines that have this advantage.
If you look at the above photo, you can see how the baseplate locks the spacer into position. This prevents the spacer from sliding up the magazine body and screwing up your reload.
While many shooters will be most interested in the MagFIX products for the extended magazines, the company also makes replacement baseplates for the standard magazines. Carlson indicated that the tiered edges on the flush-fitting magazine baseplate makes it much easier for shooters to strip a magazine out of the gun when a malfunction is experienced. Also, the edges allow for a single hand magazine strip should it be necessary due to an injury or other problem.
The MagFIX was originally designed for the Smith & Wesson Shield line of pistols. However, the concept should be easily adapted to other pistol magazines such as the Springfield Armory XD-S. Also, the technology can be adapted to double-stack magazines, so full-size pistols can also benefit. I hope to see more gun fits for the MagFIX in the future.
The MagFIX was designed in the USA. It is also made here in the United States of America.
I had a chance to try several of the early generation MagFIX products, and all of them worked fairly well. However, once I had the final product, I wanted to really test it out. My experience related here is based solely on the shipping product.
First – They work exactly as intended. The spacer prevents the ejector from over-insertion of the magazine while remaining locked to the base plate. Also, the cutout on the rear of the spacer allows me to drop the extended magazine free from the gun without it hanging on the meat of my hand.
Second – I left the MagFIX baseplates – both the extended and standard models – installed on my Shield magazines for two months. With the magazines fully loaded, the baseplates did not develop any visible cracks or bowing. They look rock solid.
Lastly – I’ve experience no malfunctions with the pistol when using the MagFIX products. I did not expect any issues, and I discovered none. As far as my testing goes, these Shield magazine baseplates are as reliable as the factory models.
Installation was dead simple. All you need is a screwdriver or punch to remove the factory baseplate. Once removed you just swap in the MagFIX parts. Keep in mind that magazine springs are under pressure, so use caution to prevent any parts from flying free. Also, make sure you pay attention to which way the follower rides in the magazine body so you don’t waste time trying to install it backward.
The MagFIX is one of the only Smith & Wesson Shield accessories that I endorse without any hesitation. They did the job that they were designed to do and did not reduce the reliability of my gun at all. Other than the cost of buying them, I can see no downside to installing them on your Shield magazines.
There are alternatives on the market that increase magazine capacity. I have not tested any of these, so I cannot offer any recommendations if that is what you are looking for. While additional capacity has appeal, you do have to be careful to thoroughly test whatever you buy to ensure reliability. I’ve seen some products that increase capacity, but at the cost of introducing regular malfunctions.
If you are not legally allowed to increase the standard magazine capacity, then the MagFIX is also a no-brainer for you.
Is this the best Smith & Wesson Shield accessory on the market? I think so.
More people use the included extended magazine than add a white light or laser. So, I think it has a broader range of application and really solves a problem that many people have. That doesn’t mean that I am recommending this instead of a light – rather that this would be my first upgrade on any new S&W Shield I buy. Of course, your opinions may vary – feel free to share them in the comments section below.
Last Update: June 17, 2022
All reviews I conduct on GunsHolstersAndGear include a disclosure that covers any potential biases that may influence my writing.
An obvious influence in this review is my relationship with the inventor, Paul Carlson. Carlson and I are friends, and as I mentioned earlier in the article, I did get a chance to offer input on the ongoing evolution of the MagFIX design. I freely admit this bias. However, I also would like to point out that I use these baseplates on all of my Smith & Wesson Shield magazines. So, I believe in the product.
Safety Solutions Academy is not a sponsor or advertiser on the site. No monies were offered, asked for, or exchanged for this article to be written.
I do not have any financial interest in any firearms manufacturer or in Safety Solutions Academy. Another company operated by a relative of mine does sell the MagFIX as a small part of its business.
GunsHolstersAndGear.com is an independent, for-profit website. I do not charge readers a dime to access the information I provide.
Some of the links on this page and site are affiliate links to companies like Amazon and Palmetto State Armory. These links take you to the products mentioned in the article. Should you decide to purchase something from one of those companies, I make a small commission.
The links do not change your purchase price. I do not get to see what any individual purchases.
If you have any questions or ideas, feel free to drop them in the comments section below.