Jody Lewis talks upgrades for the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield.

Like many folks out there carrying the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield, I have found it to be one of the best all-around carry guns on the market. It is a light, slim, small package that I am accurate with. I often forget it is even on my person, which is great for summertime carry when clothing is generally light in nature.

Not one to leave anything alone, I am always looking for upgrades and options. Surprisingly there are a plentiful amount of options for the Shield considering the its recent entry into the market.

Photo Credit: Crossfire Photography

Some may question the use of a laser on a firearm. For those who have had professional training, know a laser can be an essential tool for getting on target in a hurry during a stressful situation. I use them on my carry guns for many reasons, from training to target acquisition even though I generally I don’t like extra things hanging off my gun.

Crimson Trace has done an excellent job of innovating a laser unit so seamlessly integrated into the profile of the gun that it just feels natural and does not take up a lot of real estate. Dubbed the “Laserguard”, it is easy to install and sighting it in took a matter of minutes. Installation did not require any special tools or skills.

There are two simple adjustments for windage and elevation and the battery included is a 1/3N Lithium.

Adding a laser does change the profile slightly and therefor does require a new holster. Below I review a few holsters that work with a shield and the Crimson Trace Laserguard.

Photo Credit: Crossfire Photography
HOLSTERS for use with CTC Laserguard

DeSantis CTC Edition – DeSantis partnered with Crimson Trace to make a leather OWB holster for the Shield/CTC Laser combo. I found the gun and laser fit snug and retention was good. The holster is designed to accommodate a 1 3/4” belt and was a little flimsy on my 1 1/2” belt. DeSantis does include a retention screw so there is some adjustment to the retention strength. They designed it a little loose so that you could have some play in cant but I found it moved around a lot. This holder is only made for right hand shooters.

5.11 Tactical Kilts are Back

MultiHolster – MultiHolster is a Kydek only manufacturer who makes IWB and OWB holsters for the many guns including the Shield with a CTC Laserguard. In fact they make an assortment of holsters with several different laser and light configurations. For this review MultiHolster sent me an IWB Kydex with CTC Laserguard option. MultiHolster was the only Kydex holster with retention adjustment. The holster hardware is coated for rust protection and fit and finish were excellent. If I had to run an ultra concealed with say dress clothes, this would be by go to holster. I was extremely impressed by their turn-around time as well.

Photo Credit: Crossfire Photography

Changing your sights is usually something left done for the local gunsmith, but if you are up to the task, you can do it yourself. There are three main options as I see it. First you can use a good old hammer, brass punch and action block, but keep in the mind S&W installs their sights with a hydraulic press and that is a lot of pressure my friends. Some sights come off with little force; some require a lot of pounding and risk of marring your slide.

Your second option is to rent or borrow a sight pusher from a friend. Currently, Speed Shoot Specialties is the only company I know off who rents their M&P sight pushers and please note, the shield requires a different pusher than the standard M&P Line. Third and last option is to break down and buy your own pusher. MGW is the most common and can be had for around $100 through Brownells.

10-8 Performance – Officer, competitor and designer Hilton Yam is behind the 10-8 line of sights utilizing a Novak style blacked-out rear sight with a fiber optic front that is changeable. The sights required a little fitting, but following the instructions made online from 10-8 made it easy. Sight picture is easy to obtain, but not something I would want to run in the dark on a carry gun unless I had a laser too.

XS Sights Big Dot – XS’s sights are some of the most unique I have seen, utilizing a single white filled line in the rear and an oversized front that is Trijicon tritium filled dot and large outline in white. Sight acquisition is fast and performs well day and night. Installation was equally as easy as the rest.

Trijicon HD – Perhaps the staple to which all sights are measured. Trijicon is the leader in sights for a reason. Their HD sights are no different with the oversized tritium front dot outlined in your choice of yellow or green. I find these to be similar to the XS sights in the front but employ a u-notch in the rear. These sights are fast and easy to use day or night.

Photo Credit: Crossfire Photography

Apex Tactical Duty – Apex is one of those staple companies that you just cannot live without. I have been using their M&P triggers for years and I swear by them. The DCAEK (Duty/Carry) trigger kit is hands down one of the smoothest semi-drop-in triggers on the market, perhaps the only. Utilizing their YouTube installation videos, it takes about hour or so to install and was quite easy with minimal tools. The Apex action block really aided in easy installation as it holds the frame in place while you work.

With their kit installed, trigger pull is smooth, consistent, not to light and a huge improvement over the factory. If you make one upgrade, it would be this one.

Photo Credit: Crossfire Photography

To stipple or not to stipple, that is the question you must ask yourself. Some guys love it and some hate. Personally I enjoy a moderate amount of stippling but what I really dig is some of the frame cutting to allow for a higher grip. As my buddy and trainer Stephen Pineau told me, the higher you can get your grip the more you are able to control the recoil pulse of the gun. I highly recommend you try a gun that has had the frame modified in this way.

When it comes to modifying your frame, there are only a few people that I would let have at it with my guns.

Enhanced Precision Products – Based in California (Sorry Logan). EPP has average turn around time of a few weeks and the quality and expertise is excellent. I run several EEP guns and I would rate their overall texture from light to medium with a very consistent pattern.

Chris Damato – Damato has been stippling guns for a long time and has developed many patterns and design that are very pleasing to the eye. In general they are little more aggressive patterns than I like but many of my officer friends prefer that, so to each their own.

Sweaty Muddy Bloody – You may not have heard of SMB, but surely you have heard of ATEi. SMB does all of the stippling for ATEi’s production guns, which are run by guys like Costa, etc. SMB’s texture is also fairly aggressive and has a very unique look.

LightFighter Innovations – LFI is a disabled veteran owned and operated company who produces amazing work. The attention to detail is some of the best and their turn around time is faster than most. The pattern is similar to EPP’s in that it is light to medium. The shield used in our photo shoot was done by LFI.


  1. I think one of the best holsters you left out was the G Code Incog. Along with this it allows the carry of a spare magazine in a space already allocated in the fit without additional bulk.

    Informative article nevertheless.

  2. I was thinking about getting the xs big dot sights but I’m wondering how much that will limit my holster selection? Particularly kydex and even more specifically the crossbreed minituck.

    • Crossbreeds will build the holster to fit the XS big dot sights, just leave the instruction in their online order form.

  3. You should have mentioned talon grips. Stipling isn’t the only option for improving the Shield’s grips, and Talons are a non-permanent modification that make a huge difference

  4. justin

    i have talon on my shield and had my glock stippled…omg it made the talons feel like the slipperiest grips u ever held…sending mine in today to get stippled

  5. Remember that depending on how sharply stippled the weapon is will determine how much skin rash you get on your ” love handles”, (or belly if appendix carry).and or wear on your t-shirts, and cover clothing if you wear them 😉

    Did this to my HK USP- 40C and had to knock some of the sharpness off with emery cloth on the body side of the gun.

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