In 2012, Smith & Wesson’s M&P Shield semiauto pistol was poised to take advantage of a primed concealed-carry market from its introduction to the gun market. The first 9mm variants were wildly successful and soon became the hottest selling semiautos in the United States.
The Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield 9mm is an internal-hammer-fired pistol with a striker-fired action based on a polymer frame.
This semiautomatic double-action pistol has everything you want, from self-defense and a home-defense pistol. It comes with manual thumb safety, reversible magazine catch, and now a standard 2-piece trigger that serves as a safety mechanism.
Though not a real pocket size pistol, the M&P Shield 9mm boasts less than 1″ thin profile and flush, single-stack seven-round magazine offering a balance between double-stack compact pistols and pocket-size semiautomatics.
While mirroring the dimensions of the .380 models, the slim M&P Shield chambered for a duty cartridge is easy to conceal and it’s also easy to shoot, making it almost perfect for concealed carry.
It features smooth and rounded edges that make the handgun more concealed-carry oriented. As a small self-defense handgun, the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm models with a 3.1-inch barrel are known to make them easy for persons to carry around easily.
- Holster considerations
- Best Holster For M&P Shield Reviews 2021
- Final thought
As with other compact-sized 9mm pistols, for the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield, you will need a practical holster to pair with. The most competent holsters should provide several benefits, such as safe carry and a smooth and easy draw.
Additionally, a properly designed holster should protect your firearm either from strong impacts, curious eyes and unauthorized access as well.
The holsters may come with different retention levels when talking about safety, but the best safety for your M&P Shield is a holster that covers the trigger.
The following two considerations are holsters style and holster material, but both are the primary matter of personal taste and affinity.
Besides classic belt holsters, there are a plethora of holster options, including shoulder rigs, ankle and pocket holsters or belly band holsters. What type you choose depends on your body type and build, dress style, lifestyle, or shooting style.
When we talk about carry position, there are two general types of holsters known as IWB (Inside the Waistband) and OWB (Outside the WaistBand). These holster types will allow you to carry a gun in several positions around the waist. For dominant right-hand shooters, common positions include 1 o’clock (Appendix carry), 2 o’clock (right side front), 3 o’clock (right hip), and behind the hip at 4, 5 and 6 o’clock (Small of the Back).
If you want a holster comfortable to carry for prolonged periods, besides design, a holster material is decisive for the proper choice.
While the leather sidearm holsters have been the conventional choice for carrying a handgun for a very long period, modern materials like thermoplastic synthetics and nylon fabrics are prevailing materials these days.
All three materials have advantages and disadvantages, leaving a choice up to you and your preferences.
Best Holster For M&P Shield Reviews 2021
1. We the People Holsters Smith & Wesson M&P Shield OWB Holster
Until now we have mostly reviewed IWB holster types. However, our next proposal is an exceptionally lightweight and practical all-around option for outside the waistband carry from the We The People Holsters. We The People Holsters (WTP) is an American manufacturer of IWB Holsters, OWB Holsters, and accessories, founded in 2016.
This Las Vegas-based company is renowned for their custom-made hand-molded OWB and IWB holsters.
WTP Holsters features an extensive line of carry rigs for every popular pistol and revolver model. Their products are available in a wide array of colors and designs.
WTP outside-the-waistband holster for Smith & Wesson M&P Shield is crafted from robust 0.08 inches thick Kydex. While this sturdy thermoplastic material is custom molded to fit your Shield it will also provide you all day comfort and perfect retention.
Unlike top brands, We The People sells holster without a bunch of bells and whistles, but with all features expected from an high priced OWB holster.
The company’s OWB (outside the waistband) model is a paddle holster, which is designed to work with or without a belt.
Although this OWB holster rests outside your pants, you can carry it comfortably as a concealed waistband holster due to the adjustable paddle with six angled notches to customize the fit by moving the paddle up, down, or changing the angle of holster.
Besides adjustable ride height and angle (cant), the WTP OWB holster boasts a sweat guard which protects your skin and keeps your skin and holster sweat-free.
2. We the People Holsters SMITH & WESSON M&P SHIELD IWB HOLSTER
Of course, carrying a mid-size handgun like the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield probably is the best suited for Inside the Waistband concealed carry holster. Besides popular OWB options, We the People Holsters cover a wide range of inside the waistband carry rigs designed to keep a low profile with your handgun.
Like its OWB cousin, the company`s IWB (inside the waistband) holster is custom-molded from durable 0.080-inch thick Kydex designed to be worn inside the waistband with a 1.5-inch belt and an untucked shirt. Using a clip with angled edges, The WTP IWB holster offers flexibility with no sharp edges to cause discomfort making it comfortable and discreet enough for everyday use.
While M&P Shield 9mm belongs in between a compact and a subcompact, the WTP holster allows you to adjust up to 12 different positions including appendix, strong or weak side draw, behind the hip or cross carry.
It comes with an adjustable retention to keep your gun safe and to provide you a fast and smooth draw every time.
Along with trigger cover, We The People features a protective sweat guard to protect your Shield from sweat and corrosive body oils. Like with the OWB paddle holster, pairing this IWB with an extra layer of high-riding underwear or a t-shirt increases comfort by leaps and bounds.
Like all We The People’s products, this IWB holster model is backed by a Lifetime Warranty.
3. Amberide IWB KYDEX Holster
Another IWB Kydex holster comes from a relatively new Texas based company Ambridge. They are well known for gun-specific holsters, custom molded to fit particular firearm models like a glove.
Like all Amberide holsters, the IWB holster for S&W M&P Shield is made of strong, genuinely high-quality Mil-Spec .08″ Kydex. This robust and durable material is waterproof and thanks to the clever design, it ensures the highest comfort for everyday use as well as intense physical encounters.
The holster comes with the posi-click audible retention lock system as a standard feature found only on the best holsters in the industry. Unlike higher priced rigs, this budget IWB Kydex holster offers adjustable cant from 0 to 30 degrees to accommodate your wardrobe and style of carry.
You can attach Amberide discreet holster on your belt using a 1.5” standard belt clip made of stainless steel.
In addition, the Amberide Kydex IWB Concealed Carry S&W M&P Shield Holster boasts a sweat guard panel that covers the entire length of the slide to protect your firearm.
While this IWB rig covers the trigger guard, it is built without sharp edges or corners for more effective concealment under clothing.
4. Galco KT652B Kingtuk
When the hybrid holsters faced the gun market, they were an instant success providing CCW license owners an entirely new level of concealment and comfort.
As a highly esteemed brand in the industry, Galco Gunleather released their hybrid version of the Inside-the-Waistband holster called Kingtuk.
The Galco Kingtuk is an all-black combination of leather and Kydex. The backplate that protects the body is made of premium center cut steerhide, whereas the shell for the handgun is created from a strong and rigid Kydex.
The idea of hybrid design is to provide comfort and distribute the weight using a wide, smooth leather backer, while the polymer holster pocket ensures fast draw and easy holstering.
The KingTuk KT224B is a tuckable, IWB rig with a snug and secure fit due to the pair of metal belt clips. These metal clips are removable, so you will be able to set the carry height and cant of your M&P Shield to suit your needs.
Due to the finest materials, the Galco Kingtuk holster is on a higher price end. Still, its quality, traditional design and wide range of applications make it very popular with both professional and civilian gun owners.
5. Relentless Tactical The Defender
Relentless Tactical is a brand that brings high-quality and offers durable products that can withstand the test of time.
Bearing the title of the best M&P Shield IWB leather holster, the Defender IWB holster from Relentless Tactical is proudly manufactured in the USA from genuine cowhide leather.
The Defender Leather IWB holster is rugged and held together with quality stitching. This elegant and attractive leather rig fits snugly yet comfortably against your body for a slimmer profile.
Unlike some cheap, mass-production holsters, the Defender offers optimum concealment and all-day carry comfort. The Defender holster is available for over 80 different handguns, and since this holster is somewhat molded to a specific model, it will fit all Smith & Wesson M&P Shields.
The Defender is a tuckable holster without retention devices. Typically for leather IWB rigs designed to be worn inside the waistband of your pants, the Defender’s weapon security relies on pressure from the waistband. This smooth leather holster features a reinforced top that is thick enough not to bend when the Shield is drawn, aiding in re-holstering.
The Defender is available in three stylish color options and both right- and left-hand models.
6. ComfortTac Ultimate
As a small, versatile pistol, M&P Shield can be holstered in many different styles of rigs, but belly band holsters proved as a great option for Shield owners with active lifestyles.
One of the best M&P Shield belly band holsters comes from the ComfortTac manufacturer in the model labeled as the Ultimate Belly Band.
Like most belly band rigs, the ComfortTac Ultimate Belly Band combines surgical-grade elastic and neoprene backing, making it breathable.
The ComfortTac belly band boasts a universal style holster compatible with most guns ranging from micro to full-size pistols and revolvers.
The ComforTac belly band holster can be worn high on the torso as a pseudo shoulder rig or low around the waistline, allowing you IWB, OWB, appendix or cross-draw holster carrying style.
The belly band from ComfortTac has belt 4 inches wide and thick of 1/8th of an inch. You can secure the belly band using a 2 inches long strip of Velcro.
The holster is stitched into the belt and uses a strap retention system. While you can wear the belly band in almost any position on your body, your Shield will be set up in a 12-6 orientation.
For more versatility, this universal belly band holster comes with a magazine holster and secondary pocket that rests just to the side of the holster, suitable for spare cash or multi-tool.
Finally, the belly bands are easy to adjust for proper fitment, but you should choose one of 3 lengths, medium, large and extra-large.
7. Concealment Express IWB
There is no concealment rig list without the holster bearing the logo of Concealment Express. With a reputation for the best M&P Shield Kydex holster, the Concealment Express has offered a simple, minimalist Kydex IWB holster for several years.
Concealment Express IWB holsters are made of strong 0.08 Kydex to survive everyday use. The CE holster is perfect for concealed carry at any position along your beltline, but this thin rig really shines in the appendix inside the waistband (AIWB) carry.
The rigid holster structure provides a smooth draw and reholstering of your M&P Shield, with an audible “click” that inform you know your pistol is fully seated in the holster.
Speaking of retention, cant and ride high, the Concealment Express holster is fully adjustable. You can easily customize friction by adjusting a single screw below the trigger guard. Moreover, you can also adjust your carry angle by changing the cant to anywhere from -5 to +20 degrees.
The CE manufacturer has improved upon the original by adding their “claw” kit to help keep the gun close to your body. The Anti Print Wing actually pushes your Shield closer to your body from the grip side.
As a genuine minimalist IWB holster, the Concealment Express Kydex holster provides many configuration options allowing you to carry your M&P Shield in almost any location on the waistline, including appendix, carry, and hip, small of back, cross draw, and anywhere in between.
The Concealment Express holster features an undercut trigger guard, but as you would expect from this highly popular IWB Kydex rig, the trigger is wholly encased, facilitating safe carry.
The Smith & Wesson M&P Shield models are very attractive for concealed carry, so the industry is offering tons of holsters out there that are easy to conceal in multiple locations.
In this unpretentious guide, we have handled only a few typical holster representatives on the current market.
Most of our proposals are great entries in simple yet effective IWB options with a reasonable price tag that doesn’t break the bank. These inside waistband (IWB) carry holsters have specific selling points that make them a “should-have” rig for any handgun owner, from beginners to seasoned competitors and professionals.
Brian Belko is a freelance writer and blogger. His primary areas of focus include the outdoors and shooting sports. In addition to his freelance work, Brian also writes for Wide Open Spaces and is on the Pro Staff at Military Hunting and Fishing. When he isn’t busy writing, Brian enjoys fishing farm ponds for bass and hitting the spring woods during turkey season.