XDs vs. M&P Shield vs. Walther PPS

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.

IMG_20140209_142408From left to right, XDs, Shield, & PPS

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,

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.

  • Size
  • Trigger
  • Sights
  • Ergonomics
  • Recoil
  • Accuracy
  • Malfunctions


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.

17 responses to “XDs vs. M&P Shield vs. Walther PPS

  1. Pingback: Pocket 9mm Shootout - 68 | Triangle Tactical

  2. Interesting article, thank you. My husband would agree with your choice of the XD. I would like to see you include a female in your tests though, as some of us have specific issues we need to address with a firearm. Can we rack the slide easily or is it very stiff (like my Glock 27)? Can our fingers reach the mag release without substantially changing position? Some firearms pose no problems, others do. I’d just like to see a female perspective, if only to say, “I didn’t find any issues that would hinder the average woman from shooting this firearm safely and accurately.” JMHO šŸ™‚

  3. Have you tested the Glock 26 against these 3 weapons and if so what were your findings?

  4. The Glock 26 is not a single stack 9mm, so it didn’t make sense to compare it to these three.

  5. Do you think the XDS came out on top because your more familiar with that platform? Comparing the shield against the XDS, How would you say the recoil is? And have you noticed a difference in the Apex kit on the shield vs a non apex one? Thanks for the review!!!

  6. No, I don’t think my familiarity had much to do with it at all. It was a unanimous decision from all three of us and only I carry an XD.

    The recoil was about the same for all three.

    I’ve not fired a Shield without the Apex kit.

  7. @Curt Wall – I’ve actually bad mouthed the XD pistols quite a bit over the years after a bad experience with my first XD 9 service. Falling in love with the XDs 9mm required me to eat a bit of crow.

    I think the Shield has a smidge more recoil than the XDs, but even shooting them side by side at the range quite a bit, the recoil impulse is really similar between the two.

    Apex kit on the Shield: It smoothed out the pull a bit, and moved the trigger break a little bit further to the rear of the pull. Didn’t really lighten it. If I were to do it over again, I’d spend the $90 of ammo, and keep the factory trigger.

  8. Thanks for this. I’ve been looking for a decent review and comparison between the XDs in 9mm and other sub-compact 9mm pistols.

    The side-by-side comparison of recoil is, I think, the only objectively valid way to write it. Part of that “brisk, but manageable” bit from Tam is that it’s not only a vague phrasing, but also highly subjective. I know people who think 9mm from a full-size pistol is too snappy, and others who comfortably shoot .357 from a micro-revolver; “brisk, but manageable” means two very different things to them.

    Also, the comparison of sights is appreciated. It’s something often overlooked in review articles.

    Again, thanks!

  9. Thanks, Archer. My problem with “Brisk, but Manageable” is the same as Tam’s problem. It’s a cop out. Yes, it’s also subjective, but it’s completely uninformative. I only included it as a joking reference.

    I found the recoil on all of them to be surprisingly light. They are small, and we shot some +P defense rounds from them and didn’t feel abused in any way. That actually surprised me. I’m not a recoil junkie. I don’t like how my XD feels when I’m shooting +P self defense rounds. I expected the same thing from these and I was pleasantly surprised.

    I’ve never shot a .357 airweight, but I’ve shot an LCR with regular ammo, (a bit ouchy) and a Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan in .454 Casull (Felt like someone beat my palms with a baseball bat).

  10. I own a shield & a PPS. I live both of them. The PPS has a better trigger. I have never a FTF or FTE in either. I’ve shot about 1200 rounds through each and have never had a problem

  11. and the winner is…..

    Kahr! duhhh!

  12. Thanks for the info guys! Torn between the XDS, Shield and hoping to see how the R51 is in person. I’m loving the feel of both, don’t like the trigger on the shield, but i find myself riding the slide stop a lot easier on the xds than the shield. Again, really appreciate the write up!

  13. The slide stop problem is just a training issue. A few boxes of ammo though it and you’ll stop having the problem.

    Is this to be a first carry gun? Or is it a second carry gun for those days when you’re wearing special clothes?

  14. CC gun. I carry a full size M&P 45 and i CC a full size M&P 40 but the weight and thickness is a real pain. These are the perfect size, just really trying to debate the two. I honestly think either one will work fantastic so just nitpicking the between the two to decide.

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  16. I actually found this article rather enlightening. I’m small framed (5’7″) with smallish hands and I can completely understand not being able to easily dress around a full-sized handgun for a CCW. My usual preference is for my FNS-9, but it’s proven to be difficult to conceal – hence my interest in a smaller CCW pistol in 9mm to ease my ammunition purchases/requirements.

    From this, and other things I’ve read recently I’m thinking the XDs is an excellent candidate for such.

    Thanks for the reviews and keep up the excellent work with your blog!

    ~A Fayetteville, NC Navy Veteran

  17. Pingback: XDS, Shield, & PPS Shootout! | Carolina Gunrunners