Smith & Wesson Performance Center Ported M&P 45 Shield – A Pocket 45 You Can Shoot

By Tom McHale
Gun writer, Tom McHale, reviews the Smith & Wesson Performance Center Ported M&P 45 Shield with Tritium Night Sights.

The ports on this new Smith & Wesson Performance Center Ported M&P 45 Shield make this pocket 45 pleasant to shoot.
The ports on this new Smith & Wesson Performance Center Ported M&P 45 Shield make this pocket 45 pleasant to shoot.
Tom McHale headshot low-res square
Tom McHale

USA –-( Is that a 1911 in your pocket, or are you just… Never mind, we’ll just leave that one be. But you can have a 1911 in your pocket if you like.

In fact, the one we’re looking at today packs up to 7 rounds in the magazine plus one in the chamber. That’s the same capacity as a “standard” 1911 full-size pistol. If you’re in the .45 camp that believes each round can level a city block, this is good news for you, because you can pack eight of those rounds in your pocket pistol.

Pocket .45 pistols are nothing new. Two of my favorites are the Springfield Armory XD-S and Smith & Wesson Shield. If one is not faint of heart, willing to practice, and feels the need for recoil, they’re a perfectly good carry option. They work. They launch a big fat bullet. They let you know when you torch off a round. In other words, they’ll wake you up in the morning.

Smith & Wesson Performance Center Ported M&P 45 Shield with Tritium Night Sights

Now there’s a pocket .45 that has put on its jammies and relaxed, at least in terms of shooting comfort. New from Smith & Wesson is the S & W Performance Center Ported M&P 45 Shield. As the name implies, unlike the plain old Smith & Wesson M&P Shield it comes with a factory ported barrel.

Smith & Wesson Performance Center Ported M&P 45 Shield Trigger
Smith & Wesson Performance Center Ported M&P 45 Shield Trigger : Unless the hinged part of the trigger is pressed, the gun can’t fire.

When you pull back the slide, you’ll see two small oblong holes drilled through the barrel. They’re located about one-half inch back from the muzzle and placed at approximately the ten and two o’clock positions. The slide has a series of three holes cut on each side.

The idea is that some of the hot gas from cartridge ignition blasts out of the ports. Since this exhaust is aimed upward, the force tends to push the barrel down, thereby compensating against muzzle flip during recoil.

While the primary Performance Center customization on this pistol is the porting and associated slide cuts, there’s also an enhanced trigger in this model. I measure the weight on this sample right at 5 ½ pounds, each and every time. There’s a take-up stage with slight resistance, followed by perhaps ¼-inch of constant pressure leading to a crisp break.

The trigger is noticeably better than that on the original standard M&P pistols. Like the originals, it features a hinged trigger face as a safety mechanism. Unless the hinged part of the trigger is pressed, the gun can’t fire.

The Shield 45 shown here comes with Tritium night sights. If you prefer, you can order one with Hi-Viz fiber optic sights instead.
The Shield 45 shown here comes with Tritium night sights. If you prefer, you can order one with Hi-Viz fiber optic sights instead.

With the introduction of the family of M&P Shields in .45 ACP, Smith & Wesson quietly introduced one of the subtle features present in the new M&P 2.0 family – front cocking serrations. They’re not full height, but rather a short section of the trademark scalloped pattern along the bottom edge of the slide well forward of the ejection port. I think the idea is to provide a little extra grip in you like to press check with a forward slide grip, but also keep the pattern out of the way. It definitely helps you get a solid grip and won’t interfere with your holsters.

The model shown here is equipped with Tritium night sights front and rear. The MSRP on this one is $742. If you like, you can also order a version with Hi-Viz fiber Optic Sights. That one lists for $609. Everything else is identical between the two models.

So the S&W Shield 45 has the same capacity as a standard 1911 assuming you use the included +1 magazine. That add a little length to the grip, but nothing significant. The pistol also ships with a flat base magazine that holds six rounds, plus the extra in the chamber. The idea of a 1911 in your pocket is cool. What gets really interesting is not only the pocket-size dimensions, but the weight. This Performance Center Shield weighs in empty at just over 22 ounces. The 1911 that I like to carry tips the scales at over 42 ounces empty.

If I so chose, I could carry a New York reload, meaning another entire Shield 45 for the same approximate weight. Ah, if only dual-wielding made sense outside of Hollywood fantasies.

I’ve been shooting the Wesson Ported Performance Center Shield 45 with a variety of full-power defensive ammo, primarily the heavier 230-grain stuff. The first thing I noticed was how much of a difference the porting makes in terms of felt recoil. The ports slow down and diminish the degree of muzzle flip significantly. While recoil is recoil, the dampening of the violent muzzle jump of a pocket 45 makes felt recoil a completely different experience. The gun is not at all punishing, even when shooting defensive ammo.

I shot this model with a variety of 230-grain .45 ACP ammo. No issues yet and the recoil is perfectly reasonable for such a small pistol.
I shot this model with a variety of 230-grain .45 ACP ammo. No issues yet and the recoil is perfectly reasonable for such a small pistol.

I’ve been testing the Shield with four types of ammo, all of the 230-grain variety: Federal HST, Sig Sauer Elite Performance V-Crown, American Eagle FMJ, and American Eagle Syntech. The Shield had no function problems with any of these and didn’t seem sensitive to less than rock-solid holds. I did much of the shooting one-handed simply to get a feel for the porting effect.

I did set up a chronograph to see what type of velocities came from this little pistol and recorded the following:

If you haven’t shot a Smith & Wesson M&P Shield before, be sure to try one out, in any caliber. The company makes them in 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP. It’s a great little gun that is just large enough to control well but still very easy to conceal. I suppose that’s why the company has sold over a million of them in various calibers.

Now with the ported Smith & Wesson Performance Center Ported M&P 45 Shield in .45 ACP, you can carry the big bore version with confidence. It’s comfortable enough to shoot that you won’t mind practicing with it at the range.


Tom McHale is the author of the Insanely Practical Guides book series that guides new and experienced shooters alike in a fun, approachable, and practical way. His books are available in print and eBook format on Amazon. You can also find him on Google+, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

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Al Castonguay

The only problem with the Performance Center 45’s is the lack of a mechanical safety. Both versions are available in 9MM and .40 but as of right now there are none offered in .45 with a mechanical safety. This is an important feature for those of us who carry in our hip pocket. An accidental discharge can take a leg off, so a mechanical safety is comforting.


I have the old un-ported Shield .45 (look at above comment) and IT HAS A 1911 TYPE SAFETY!

George Burns

There is no such thing as a safety being safer than not having one. The only way a gun goes off is if you pull the trigger, I am 70 and have carried for 48 years. The idea that will shoot yourself is telling me you really should not carry a gun. Fumbling around with a safety is more likely to get you shot when the adrenaline starts pumping, been there, and unfortunately had to fire my weapon. It is much easier to draw and pull the trigged than to screw around with adding another Long as you don’t… Read more »


If you carry a 1911 you train to disengage the safety as you draw the pistol.

The same can be done with a manual safety on an IWB micro carry gun like a shield.

If you carry both and *train* properly it becomes as second nature to pulling the trigger.

Dale Cowboy

I see so many people commenting about muzzle flash and how it will blind you at night. I have found you will get flash out of any gun. My Karh Glock or my M&P. The flash out of ant of them is not like turning on the lights in the middle of the night.. Have you gone and shot in low light?? If it’s 100% dark you can’t see what you are shooting at so you already have some light and will not go blind.. You are not welding.. My question is. How many people have ever had to pull… Read more »


Anyone who puts a bare gun in their pocket is…
Get a pocket holster and ONLY re-holster with the holster IN YOUR HAND! Then PUT THE GUN IN ITS HOLSTER in your pocket!!!


Question: why go through all the trouble of getting guns that are ported and having to deal with small guns that kick like a pissed off mule? Just seems silly to me to have to go to those extremes to have protection. IMHO if the “puny” 9mm is good enough for our armed forces and law enforcement for the last 35 or so years, well then maybe there is something to that. Just my 2 cents but alot of the people I’ve encountered in person and on comments like these that swear by the “high and mighty man and wild… Read more »


Locally about 7 years ago there was a female police officer that was involved in a shooting. She was attacked and had to resort to her duty weapon to stop her attacker. That attacker took 8 rounds from her 9mm before he stopped advancing. She switched to a .45, and so did I. If the 9mm is so good for our military, why did NSW use the H&K Mark 23, and more recently the H&K Mark 24(HK45CT Variant 3 in the civilian world). Why did USMC switch to the Colt M45A1(1911)? Because they are finding that although it is cheaper,… Read more »


I get what you are saying, I never disputed the power of the .45. All I was asking was why carry something ported that when shot will make you and everyone around you that you are trying to protect deaf and if it is in low light conditions half blind and can’t see for a follow up shot or a shot at the second attacker. I choose to carry a 9mm because the recoil is slight allowing me to place accurate shots in a precise location with ease,I like the high capacity because criminal activity has changed over the years,… Read more »


Also forgot to mention that the military and police uses ball ammo which in my opinion is only good for range practice. In today’s defensive shooting there is a multitude of better 9mm defensive ammo such as Hornady critical defense Federal hydroshok etc. Also there is 9mm +p which still has less recoil than a .45 so that IF the day comes that some one needs to use their defensive carry gun and they are scared and all jacked up on adrenaline they can still hit their intended target and not the innocent child down the street playing where as… Read more »


Very few if any law enforcement agencies allow the use of ball ammo, and there are many good reasons why.
The military uses ball ammo due to signing the of the Laws of War in the Hague Peace Conference of 1899 and 1907. This probably should be revisited since ammunition has greatly improved over the last century!

James Harrison

The U S never signed it but obeyed it


It’s the SW.40 that kicks like a mule, the .45 ACP has far less recoil. I didn’t believe that until I tried them both, side by side, in the range. Just my experience.


I shot my old model .45 Shield (NO PORTS), My S&W 625-8 4 inch barrel .45 revolver AND my Colt 1911 Gov’t Model one after the other with the same box 230 grain ball ammo. The Shield was no more uncomfortable to shoot than the other two MUCH HEAVIER guns!


“LE has used 9 mm for the past 35 years or so ” ?????? Wrong. I am retired LE after 33 years and we all carried 40 cal ( Glock 22 ). 9 mm has just recently become popular. I Have no idea why.


I can tell you sometimes a lesser load can be trouble. I met a guy who made 2 big mistakes that greatly contributed to him spending a year in jail unjustly (also due to gun hating liberal bitch Miami prosecutor) until he won his trial. He was attacked by an angry tenant with a 2 foot piece of pipe and shot him dead in self defense. His first mistake (not ammo related) was to have the revolver in his pocket but NOT in a pocket holster, that allowed for fast draw. He lost precious seconds while fumbling with the snap,… Read more »


Because Congress purchases for the military, the military has no voice in the matter. The Special Operations forces don’t use 9mm.

Harm Uden

I just bought the PC Shield 45 today. I ran one hundred rounds through it and felt I could go for more and had zero malfunctions/failures of any kind. I did rent a non-ported Shield 45 before my purchase just the get a sense of felt recoil. My initial thoughts on the non-ported Shield 45 was that it is actually reasonably controllable for a 22 oz. 45 ACP. I figured the PC Shield 45 would be even more shootable and I was not disappointed. If you want a small, easy to carry 45 ACP, then get the PC Shield 45.

Mike Murray

Ever shot a ported gun in the dark? Ever shot a ported gun from the close contact position? Ported guns suck for personal defense. Manual safety? The only safety worth a damn is keeping your finger (and other things) off the trigger.


The safety for most of us is ONLY for reholstering. You stiker fired nuts will one day understand when you blow your nuts off reholstering in AIW mode. If the trigger is the only safety any snag in that direction can make for a bad day. On the draw there is no issue due to the direction of gun travel. Feel free to sweep it off after its holstered. The shield safety is very low profile and has a noticable detent to prevent it from accidental engagement. I have never seen it engage accidentally on mine.


HA!!! Got you beat! My Para-Ordinance PC-12 LDA .45 ACP fits in my pants pocket (BARELY!) and carries 12+1=13 shots AND has a 1911 safety!!!
BUT, you need a LOOONG coat if you want to fully conceal it!


I have been patiently awaiting for the ported .45 shield. A now I will own one. Love my shield, but guess it’s time to pass it it on to my son.

Wm Hogsten

How come no one ever mentions the Colt New Agent in their comparisons to other concealed carry weapons? I love mine and it eats all kinds of ammo no failures as yet. Great carry and I just ordered my first custom holster (leather) from Wright’s Leather Works. That’s how much I love this little cannon. But I think it get a bad rap because of the trench sights which I have found great for me. I enjoy your articles. Keep on shoot’n. And like my uncle once told me. “Son if you ain’t taking flack, you ain’t over the target.”… Read more »