UPDATE: You can listen to the Triangle Tactical Podcast where Luke, Ben, and I talk about this comparison. At the bottom of this post there is a player. You can either play it from the player, or download it directly.
There are few things finer than a day at the range with good friends. Today I got a chance to spend 2 hours with Luke and Ben of Triangle Tactical Podcast shooting the
- Springfield XDs 9mm
- Smith & Wesson M&P Shield
- Walther PPS
They all turned out to be fine guns, but only one could come out on top.
After the shoot, we all got together and talked about these three guns on the Triangle Tactical Podcast. Click here to download the episode.
I would like to give a special thank you to LuckyGunner for providing the ammunition for this test. They were very generous in providing us 125 rounds for each of the three guns,
- 150 rounds of PMC Bronze 115gr FMJ
- 150 rounds of 115gr Federal Hi-Shok 9mm JHP
- 75 rounds of 124gr +P Remington Golden Sabre
All three types of ammunition performed well. I was especially pleased that the recoil on the Golden Sabre did not greatly exceed the recoil from the standard pressure ammunition.
We decided to evaluate the three guns in the following categories.
All three of these guns are basically the same size. The only real difference in size was the fact that the PPS’s standard magazine was a 6 round vs. the 7 round magazines for the other two. When the PPS had the 6 round mag in it, it was the same size as the other two with 7 rounds.
If you put the 7 round mag in the PPS it was slightly larger.
That being said, these were all very small guns, and I don’t think it makes much of a difference. The PPS has 6, 7, and 8 round mags. The XDs had 7 and 9. The Shield has 7 and 8 round mags.
The winner here was the PPS. It was really nice, smoother and lighter than the other two. The M&P had an Apex Shield kit installed and was still rated the “worst” of the three. But it was “worst” only in the fact that it was merely good. All three of the triggers were serviceable and easy for me to shoot, but the PPS was just a cut above.
The M&P sights were basic, no frills sights. Nothing special, nothing strange. The XDs sights had an extremely bright fiber optic front, which I liked. It was super bright in the indoor range, and Ben, at least, found it to be distracting. I didn’t like the PPS sights. The rear sight on the PPS was a big notch, leaving a lot of airspace on either side of the post. The thing is, I am not sure that it made a whole lot of difference. I shot it pretty well, so I can’t complain that they weren’t effective, but I just didn’t like them. It is certainly possible that the only reason I didn’t like them was because they were different than what I was used to.
They were all pretty comfortable to hold, point, and shoot. The only one that had a problem for me was the PPS because of it’s odd magazine release. I disliked it, and I would not buy a PPS because of the mag release. That’s a personal preference, and you may feel very different. I never lost any skin because of the slide biting me on any of the guns. The one problem we seemed to have with the ergonomics was the fact that both Ben and Luke had a lot of trouble with the slide failing to lock back. They were riding the slide stop lever, which is a common problem with the non-1911 semi autos which often have slide stop levers mounted so far to the rear. I had less of a problem with that because my primary carry gun is an XD.45ACP, and I trained myself out of the problem. I’d rate it as a training issue, and one that’s not hard to solve.
I want to tease Tam by saying that they were all “brisk, but manageable,” but that’s not really true. None were difficult to shoot. The recoil on all of them was easily managed, and none of the three of us had any trouble. The Shield did beat up my trigger finger. Neither Ben, nor Luke had the same problem. I found the Shield to be painful, which would make me less likely to shoot it. Other than that, they were all pretty easy on my hands.
Again, to tease Tam, I’d say that they all offered “acceptable combat accuracy.” The reality is that all three were more accurate than I am. I fired 10 rounds each at 15 meters. All the rounds fired were Remington Golden Sabres.
You can see that I was more accurate with the XDs.
The majority of the problems we had were failure to lock back on the last round because of riding the slide lock lever. The XDs had a strange off center primer strike once. We shot the round again and it fired. The problem never reoccurred. The PPS had serious troubles with the 7 round mag, but once Linoge disassembled and reassembled it, it seemed to work fine. There was one fail to feed on the Shield with the Hi-Shok rounds, but it never happened again. Of note was the XDs never had any feeding problems with the Golden Sabers. The XDs has a reputation for being finicky about hollowpoint choices, but it fired the Golden Saber ammo without a problem. Luke says he will probably start carrying them as his normal carry ammunition.
All three were fine pistols. Given the choice, I’d pick the XDs over the other two. I did not like the PPS mag release and I would not buy it because of that. The M&P was painful on my trigger finger. The XDs gave me no troubles and I was more accurate with it.
I am still not sold on the “very small gun” category. If that’s what you want, all three would do fine for you. I still prefer a larger size firearm with more ammunition capacity. But some people can’t dress around a Glock 19, so these three will offer you some good choices.
Again, I’d like to thank LuckyGunner for their generosity. Without their help we could not have done this comparison.