The Smith and Wesson M&P Shield and Glock 43 are both very popular 9mm micro-semi-automatics. The M&P Shield was the first commercially successful 9mm micro gun on the market back in 2012 when it was introduced. It was preceded by both Walter and Kahr offerings. Neither of those ever achieved the commercial success of the Shield. Where comparing the Glock 43 vs Shield since the 43 was the shield’s first real competitor.
The Smith and Wesson M&P Shield hit the right combination of price point, capacity, weight, and availability that the others failed to meet. Glock saw this happening and they introduced their Glock 43 to compete with the Shield. For years, the only comparison was the Glock 43 vs M&P Shield. They were the only micro-9mms on the market. Things have changed since then, but it’s still very relevant.
Now, this is not a comparison to see which one is the best gun overall. But which one is the best for you? We’re going to cover every feature in-depth so you can then tally up which are most important for you. Then you can draw your own conclusions.
Table of contents
- Glock 43 vs Shield Concealed Carry
- Glock 43 vs Shield Aftermarket
- Shooting Glock 43 vs Shield
|Metrics||Glock 43||SW M&P Shield|
|Weight w/ no mag (Oz)||16.5||18.4|
|Weight w/ empty mag (Oz)||18.3||20.4|
|Weight w/ full mag (Oz)||20.9||23.4|
|Height (top of slide to bottom of magazine baseplate) (Inches)||4.10||4.45|
|Width of grip (Inches)||0.92||0.95|
|Width of slide (Inches)||0.87||0.09|
|Width across controls (Inches)||1.07||1.03|
Glock 43 vs Shield Concealed Carry
When you look at these guns for concealed carry, there’s a clear size and weight difference. That’s to the advantage of the Glock 43. The 43 is three-eighths of an inch shorter and comes in at around three ounces lighter than the Smith and Wesson M&P Shield. However, the Shield does get one extra round of capacity for that additional size and weight.
Weight is only going to be very important if you’re carrying a gun without a belt. Otherwise, the weight difference is negligible. If you’re carrying this gun with a holster using the Discreet Carrier Concepts clip or something like the Ulticlip, then the Glock 43 is right away going to be an advantage. When it comes to concealment, the 43 is smaller and better for things like pocket carry. Or carrying with a tucked-in shirt. The Smith and Wesson M&P Shield can definitely do both those things. But the 43 is going to give you a wider error of margin when it comes to concealment.
Neither of these frames has any modularity built into them — what you see is what you get. The overall feeling of these guns is a little bit different, though. The Glock 43 feels pretty good and not as blocky as the typical Glock.
The Smith and Wesson M&P Shield, on the other hand, is well-rounded but can feel a little bit like holding a one-by-four. It’s blockier than the 43, so looks may be deceiving here. If you were to look at the guns side-by-side, you would think the Shield would feel more ergonomic than the Glock 43, but that isn’t the case.
When you look at the overall grip length, this is where the M&P Shield starts to gain an advantage. My pinky hangs halfway off the Smith and Wesson baseplate, but I can still get some leverage from that pinky, which is very important when it comes to controlling recoil. Unfortunately, my pinky hangs completely off the Glock 43.
Now, they do have magazine extensions for this gun that will add capacity as well as pinky extensions for the Glock 43 magazines. But the pinky extension is frankly a waste of time in my opinion because you don’t get any extra capacity and it only makes the gun larger. You’d be much better off getting an actual mag extension that will add capacity than going with something like the pinky.
The texture on both these guns isn’t great, but I’d say there is a clear advantage for the Glock 43. The Smith and Wesson Shield has a very slick texture while the Glock 43 sits in between the original Shield and the Shield 2.0. The texture of the 2.0 is very, very aggressive. The downside of that is that if you’re carrying this gun up against your skin (as you likely would be with a concealed carry firearm), it might cause chafing. You don’t have to worry about that with the original Shield or the 43. Overall, the Shield 2.0’s texturing is just a bit too much to the point where it’s going to cause concealment issues.
On the other hand, it can really help when you’re shooting the gun. Having that aggressive texturing on the grip really allows your grip to not be as good on the gun and not as tight as it should be while still getting pretty decent recoil control. The Glock 43 is a good in-between, but if you can deal with the potential comfort downsides on the 2.0, then that is going to be the better texture by far.
The serrations on the Smith and Wesson Shield are better than the serrations on the Glock 43. They’re just more aggressive and it makes the gun a little bit easier to rack.
Now, there are a couple of sighting options for both of these guns. The Smith and Wesson Shield, both in the original and 2.0, usually comes with a set of three-dot sights. The three-dot sights are metal and they’re decent, but not great. You’ll likely want to replace them if you’re going to use this gun for serious self-defense. There’s also a variant called the Smith and Wesson M&P Pro Series. The Pro is a slightly more customized gun with a couple more bells and whistles.
Those bells and whistles include a set of sights that have fiber optics in both the front and the rear. The rear sight’s fiber optics are green while the front sight is red. That’s not ideal as the red optics tend to be less bright than the green, making the rear sight overpower the front. It’s unfortunate color placement since you want to have most of your focus on the front sight of the gun.
I am not a fan of their sights, but some may like them. The Glock 43, on the other hand, comes with other plastic slot fillers or Ameriglo glow sights from the factory. The Ameriglo sights are better than any option offered on the Smith and Wesson Shield and they have a bright orange front with a blacked-out rear as three-dot night sights. That makes for a really excellent sight picture, and you’re not going to get a better set of sights from the factory than those.
There are a wide variety of aftermarket sights for both of these guns, although there will be more choices for the Glock 43. Due to this, I’m going to have to give the advantage here to the Glock 43 vs. the Smith and Wesson M&P Shield.
Red Dot Optics
Apparently, the Smith and Wesson Shield does have a red dot option for the four-inch models, but the only option is to use the Crimson Trace red dot sight they provide with the gun. You can’t add something like the Hollison or a Sig Romeo Zero. This is a downside in my opinion, but the Glock 43 doesn’t have factory options at all. Glock has released the Glock 43 X MOS (modular optics system) which uses the same slide as the 43, so maybe we’ll see a Glock 43-specific MOS in the future.
As you probably know, there are no external safeties on Glocks in the United States,, but there is a safety option for the Smith and Wesson Shield on both the original and the 2.0 models. It’s just a safety on the left-hand side of the pistol where you can easily swipe it on or off with your thumb. It’s fairly well-designed, but a little low-profile for my taste. I’d like to see something that sticks out a little more so you know you have a positive interaction with that safety, but it works.
The triggers on these guns are drastically different. The Smith and Wesson M&P Shield uses a hinge-style trigger while the Glock just has a little dingus or trigger safety on it. The hinge-style on the Shield does not work for me. If I were to carry this gun for self-defense, I would have to switch out to a more normal trigger shield, of which there are plenty of aftermarket options.
The reason the trigger doesn’t work for me on the Shield is that my finger only wants to touch the top portion and your finger needs to touch the bottom of the trigger shoe to disengage the safety. Because of that, what happens is that I end up applying a large amount of pressure at the top portion of the trigger shoe and eventually it slides down, hits the bottom, and I jerk the trigger. This is something unique to my hand size and I haven’t seen a lot of other shooters have this issue, but be aware. This is something that can happen with any hinge-style trigger shoe. Obviously due to this issue, I’m going to say the better trigger is the Glock 43 vs. the Smith and Wesson M&P Shield thanks to this flaw in the Shield’s trigger shoe.
How the Triggers Pull
Now, let’s talk about the trigger pulls themselves. The trigger pull on the Smith and Wesson Shield is pretty similar to all other striker-fired trigger pulls. You’re going to disengage that hinge safety and then you’re going to pull up pretty much all the slack, hit a little bit of creep, and then get a hard break on the trigger. From there, you’re going to have a fairly short reset back to the reset point. The curvature of the trigger shoe is very extreme, which is also something I also really don’t care for. I’m not a huge trigger shoe snob, but I really don’t like the trigger shoe on the Shield.
On the Glock 43, you’re also going to have to disengage the trigger safety but since it’s the dingus, it just seems to work a little bit better. You’ll have that light take-up where you’re immediately going to hit a wall which functions as a hybrid of a hard wall and a rolling break, similar to a Glock 19 Gen4-style trigger pull. It’s a little bit harder than your standard Glock Gen4, but it’s not as stiff as a Glock Gen3 wall either. I know this probably sounds confusing, but it’s just the way it is. The Glock 43 is technically a Gen4 gun.
The slide lock looks better on the Smith and Wesson M&P Shield, but the Glock 43 outperforms it in my opinion. Both slide locks are mounted on the left-hand side of the gun and the Glock 43 slide lock sits just back just a tad more. If you have smaller hands, it will be easier to reach as opposed to the Smith and Wesson Shield slide lock that sits pretty far forward. I find that it’s easier to drop the slide using the Glock slide lock than the Smith and Wesson slide lock.
The magazine releases on these guns are pretty similar. If you have smaller hands, the Glock 43 is probably going to work a little bit better for you than the Smith and Wesson Shield. The Smith and Wesson Shield magazine release reach is similar to a full-size gun. My medium to large hands reach the magazine release on the Smith and Wesson Shield similar to the way I would on a Glock 19, whereas the 43 sits a lot closer.
The quality of these guns are pretty similar, but I’m going to have to give a slight edge to the Glock, though not by a lot. In my opinion, the Glock seems to have a better feel and be of a higher overall quality than the Smith and Wesson M&P Shield. They’re both polymer, striker-fired handguns with nitrided slides, so there’s not a ton of difference between them, but the Glock texturing on the frame just seems to add value over the Shield.
Glock 43 vs Shield Aftermarket
There is a wide aftermarket for both guns, but the Glock 43 has a lot more options and it’s not as hard to find them as it is with the Smith and Wesson Shield series. Everybody that makes Glock aftermarket parts makes parts for the 43. As for the Shield, there are only a couple manufacturers out there making stuff for M&P Shields in both models. With the Glock, you can probably find ten options for every part you can imagine; comparatively, it’s going to be more like one to three options for the Smith and Wesson Shield.
The Glock 43, in my opinion, is a very cute gun. It’s very proportional and looks great in a “cute gun” sense. It’s the feminine firearm from Mr. and Mrs. Smith, even if it wasn’t in the actual movie. The Smith and Wesson M&P Shield, on the other hand, kind of looks like an ugly teenager that hasn’t grown into their body yet. It’s really disproportional. I’m not a huge fan of the way the Shield looks, but looks aren’t everything in a gun.
Shooting Glock 43 vs Shield
Shooting these guns side-by-side is probably about what you’d expect: they both have a lot of recoil because they’re very small pistols. Now, if you’re a very small-handed shooter, you’re likely going to shoot these guns and have them feel like they have less recoil than something like a Glock 19 because your hand will be able to control them the way they should. As for myself with larger hands, I can’t grip these guns as well as I would like to.
Personally, I find the Glock 43 shoots a little bit better than the Smith and Wesson M&P Shield, but specifically with a magazine with a pinky or plus-two extension. Now, you’re going to lose some capacity doing that, but you’re going to have the gun. The guns are going to be of a similar length if you throw an eight-round mag in the Smith and Wesson M&P Shield. If you’re running the Shield with a seven-round magazine, it comes with a flush-fit so there’s not a huge difference in length. Like I said before, I like the way the 43 shoots a little bit better, being better matched (or “sprung”) in relation to the recoil spring.
It’s really going to come down to opinion. I know a lot of people with larger hands shoot the Smith and Wesson a lot better, but I seem to shoot the 43 better. I really think this is a gun that I can’t make a determination on who it will shoot better for, which is unusual. Thankfully, these guns are very common and if you can go rent them at a range beforehand, I would highly recommend doing that. Shooting them pre-purchase is probably going to be the only way you can be sure.
Prices for the Shields tend to be very good in normal times especially if you’re looking at the original model. The 2.0 models go for quite a bit more. You can normally find Glock 43s for $450 and the Shield 2.0 for $440, so there isn’t a real price difference between the two, but you’re going to get metal sights and a cleaner trigger break on the 2.0 vs. the 43 which will come with Glock plastic sights at that price point.
The Glock is a bit smaller, so it’s slightly easier to conceal as well as carrying nontraditional positions like at the pocket or ankle. Personally, the size difference is worth the extra money for the Glock 43 vs. M&P Shield. As I write this, the original Shield model is selling for a very high price due to an unprecedented market. In the past, I’ve seen them as low as $220 with a manufacturer rebate. At that lower price, the Shield is clearly the best value, but when the guns cost within $50 of each other, the size of the gun is going to be the deciding factor in my opinion.
Pros/Cons Glock 43 vs Shield
Glock 43 Pros
Glock 43 Cons
S&W M&P Shield Pros
S&W M&P Shield Cons
- Hinged trigger shoe
This is an opinion piece, but I always aim to eliminate bias. Look, we’ve all read them before. Gun reviews that claim to be helpful, but they’re really thinly veiled hit pieces trying to get you to buy something before you’ve even started your research. Or, even worse, a review put together by a content writer who has never even held a gun.
I’ve trained with some of the best in the business to learn various shooting styles and ideologies to better serve our customers. I’ve purchased guns of all price points, calibers, and action types to build the best products for the market. I want you to walk away knowing you have the information you need to make a sound purchasing decision.