Smith & Wesson Equalizer vs Shield Plus


Smith & Wesson Equalizer vs Shield Plus

S&W Equalizer vs Shield Plus: Is the Equalizer Better for Concealed Carry?

S&W Equalizer vs Shield Plus leaning on shotgun shells Yes, the S&W Equalizer is better for concealed carry. The S&W Shield Plus is good. However, the Equalizer is better.

The S&W Shield Plus is an amazing pistol. It’s small & lightweight, but so is the Equalizer. The Shield Plus holds 10 – 13 rounds in the mag… but so does the Equalizer.

It seems that the Equalizer can do everything the Shield Plus can do but also brings a couple more tricks to the party. Most notably, the Equalizer is very easy to use. It has a passive grip safety and it’s incredibly easy to rack the slide. Heck, even the take-down lever is way easier to push down. S&W Equalizer on ammo box Smith & Wesson Shield Plus next to Bible While the S&W Shield Plus is an amazing pistol, the S&W Equalizer is just plain better. There’s a lot to this story though. Let’s do a complete, deep dive and find out exactly why the Equalizer is one of the best pistols ever made for concealed carry.

Smith & Wesson Equalizer vs Shield Plus

Overall specs

Smith & Wesson Equalizer vs Shield Plus Specs Chart

Build Quality

S&W Equalizer on concrete floor There are two different ways you can look at the build quality.

You can look at the quality and craftsmanship of the individual components. Or you can ask whether the whole is greater than the sum of its components.

In the case of the individual components, the Shield Plus and the Equalizer are both on par with each other. They are, after all, both manufactured by Smith & Wesson. Also, they are very close in MSRP.

Smith and Wesson doesn’t make cheap pistols. They make good, reliable pistols (quite often with police duty in mind). The engineers at S&W didn’t cut corners on either of these pistols in design or execution.

What about the other idea of build quality? Is the whole greater than the sum of parts?

Overall, the Equalizer has way more thought, planning, and outside-the-box thinking than the Shield Plus.

In fact, I would say that the Equalizer would outshine 95% of pistols out there in this department. Smith & Wesson was very forward-thinking when they started this new project.

I see the Equalizer kind of like I see Elon Musk’s Cybertruck. It’s kinda ugly, its name is a little weird, and it’s way different from what we’re used to seeing in this space.

That’s not a bad thing.

So, while the build quality of the individual components is quite equal, I very much believe the design and engineering of the Equalizer outpace the Shield Plus. S&W Shield Plus on Gun Bench What engineering could possibly make this S&W Equalizer vs Shield Plus comparison come out in the Equalizer’s favor?

The same engineering that works so well for Apple: Ease of Use.

The Equalizer’s grip safety takes zero thought to use. Simply hold the pistol in a firing grip and the grip safety is disengaged.

Its slide is incredibly easy to rack. It seems to require about half as much force as the Shield Plus to push the slide back.

Plus the slide has deeper and wider grooves to help with your grip purchase. Smith & Wesson also added a couple of wider wings at the back of the slide to help with grip purchase.

Even the take-down lever is easier to push down when you field-strip the pistol. Everything about the Shield Equalizer is easier to use.

That’s great engineering and great build quality.


Magazine in mag pouch The mags for both these pistols are identical and interchangeable. Also, the magazine well on the Equalizer is chamfered a bit on the front strap side.

This helps make speedy mag swaps less likely to hang up.

Smith & Wesson supplies a flush-fitting 10-round mag with both pistols as well as an extended 13-round mag.

The Equalizer actually comes with a 15-round mag in the box. That same mag does indeed work with the Shield Plus but you’ll have to purchase it separately if you want it.

Ease Of Concealment (Good for Concealed Carry?)

Smith & Wesson Equalizer in Holster Smaller pistols conceal better. Both of these pistols are about the same size and will conceal about the same.


If you carry your pistol in an appendix carry holster, you’d probably prefer the shorter Shield Plus.

That’s because a longer barrel will press into your crotch region if you conceal carry in the appendix carry position.

However, I estimate that over 90% of our holster customers carry just behind the hip. In the strong side position, a longer barrel doesn’t really affect concealment that much.

The Shield Plus 3-inch pistol is just 6.1 inches in total length compared to the 6.75-inch length of the Equalizer.

If you prefer the longer barrel, the Shield Plus is offered in a 4-inch barrel that measures 7.0 inches long.

So the Equalizer is about two-thirds of an inch longer than the shorter Shield Plus and a bit shorter than the longer-barreled Shield Plus. S&W Equalizer vs Shield Plus on table Let’s not forget about weight! Weight plays a big role in concealed carry. You don’t want to carry a gun so heavy that your pants droop down.

That look hasn’t been cool in over a decade.

The Shield Plus weighs either 19.3 ounces or 23.8 ounces depending on which version you buy. Obviously, the 4-inch barrel version is just a bit heavier.

The Equalizer is right in the middle at 22.9 ounces.

It would be difficult to tell the difference of 3 ounces while concealing that pistol inside a good concealed carry holster. After all, a 9mm cartridge weighs almost half an ounce.

If you fired half your rounds from your pistol and re-holstered it, would be able to detect it weighing less?


But if you did, you’d have to think about it pretty hard.

My point is, the only way you’d notice 3 ounces is if you were thinking about it really hard. Even then, the perceived difference might be in your head.

All in all, both these pistols conceal just as easily.

However, if you consider the peace of mind, some people might say concealing the Equalizer is way easier for them.

That grip safety makes some people a lot more comfortable with sticking a loaded pistol into their pants.

For those people, the Equalizer is definitely easier to conceal carry.

Especially if that pistol is aimed at their giggly bits in the appendix position!

——— Holster Selection

S&W Shield Plus on Firewood Both of these pistols were designed for concealed carry, plain and simple.

Look at either pistol in this S&W Equalizer vs Shield Plus debate and you’ll see a slim and trim pistol that’s meant to be easy to carry and easy to conceal.

All that design that Smith & Wesson put into designing a concealment piece would be completely wasted if you don’t pair that pistol with a highly capable holster.

It makes no sense to spend $500 on a nice, high-quality pistol and then put zero thought and very little money into the holster that carries it!

A crappy holster can turn a good pistol into a lousy concealed carry companion. Some holsters lean away from the body, are bulky, and don’t click when you holster the firearm.

Other bad holsters don’t hold onto the belt well when you draw your pistol.

Most holsters out there are completely uncomfortable. S&W Equalizer on large tire Be careful to find a holster that is safe, functional, and comfortable. It must conceal well and be comfortable enough to wear all day long.

Thank goodness there’s Clinger Holsters.

The Clinger Cushion turns any of our Kydex holsters into the most comfortable holster you’ve ever used.

Plus it’s thin enough that it doesn’t affect concealed carry in any way. Smith & Wesson Equalizer in holster with cushion Clinger Holsters conceal so well, nobody will know you are concealing.

With an incredible warranty and Two-Week Buy Back Guarantee, everybody should try Clinger Holsters.

Shooting Impressions


The recoil on both the Shield Plus and the Equalizer is quite light for the size of the gun.

These are both light-shooting pistols with easy follow-up shots.

No doubt, Smith & Wesson’s full-size pistols will have considerably less recoil.

However, there are many micro-compact pistols in this category that kick quite a bit more than either of these pistols.

This category is definitely a tie. You can’t have a clear winner in every category when you write a Smith and Wesson Equalizer vs Shield Plus review.


The Equalizer comes with a standard 3-Dot sight system. The Shield plus has this same sight system.

You have one white dot up front and 2 white dots in the back. Simply center the front sight between the two rear dots.

It’s a good combat sight as it favors speed over extreme accuracy.

The Shield Plus can be had in a Performance Center version that has fiber optic/tritium night sights that are quite nice. Shield Plus fiberoptic sights Also, the Shield Plus has the option of a red dot cutout in the slide.

The Equalizer comes standard with this feature.

In my opinion, every pistol should have this option out of the box.

Red dot sights are a true game changer.


Both of these pistols have different trigger systems.

With that being said, they are both excellent.

While the Shield Plus is a typical striker-fired affair, the Equalizer is a less common internal hammer-fired trigger.

Both have similar characteristics: The trigger is crisp and clean Short take-up Nice break Short reset.

It’s honestly kind of weird how similar these two triggers feel considering how different they are. S&W Shield Plus Trigger The S&W Equalizer Trigger is curved without an integrated trigger safety. The S&W Shield Plus has a flatter trigger with a wide, integrated trigger safety. The Shield Plus has a bit of a more tactile and audible reset.

The Equalizer has a bit of a shorter reset. They are both excellent.


The frames on both these pistols are rounded and comfortable. They both feel good in the hand.

The Shield Plus can’t win this battle against the Equalizer though.

Smith & Wesson put more thought into the Equalizer’s ergonomics.

For instance, the Shield Plus’ safety lever has a very low profile. That helps slim the pistol and makes it conceal better.

The Equalizer has a big and wide thumb safety (if you buy a thumb safety version). This makes it way easier to flick off the thumb safety.

The light recoil spring makes press-checking the Equalizer easier.

The take-down lever flicks down with much less effort.

The serrations on the Equalizer’s slide are like huge canyons compared to the Shield’s very shallow serrations. S&W Equalizer vs Shield Plus Slide Serrations Combining the deep serrations, cocking wings (on the back of the slide), and light recoil springs together, you feel the difference. The Equalizer is definitely easier on your hands, easier to use, and more ergonomic. S&W Equalizer Stippling The S&W Equalizer stippling is very similar to the Shield Plus’ stippling. S&W Shield Plus stippling


Don’t think for a second that Smith and Wesson would release an unreliable pistol today. S&W has hit one home run after another for years and years.

When we look at the S&W Equalizer versus the S&W Shield Plus, you don’t have to ask which one is more reliable.

They both are.

I’ve personally put hundreds of rounds through both of these pistols without a single malfunction of any kind.


While both of these pistols are safe, the Equalizer takes the win in this category because of the integrated grip safety.

You can’t help but love passive safety. It’s disengaged just by holding and shooting the pistol.

Plus, when you holster your pistol, you don’t have to worry about anything getting in the way of the trigger and causing an accidental discharge.

Just make sure you don’t depress the grip safety when you holster your gun. As long as the grip safety isn’t pressed in, the pistol can’t go bang.

This is a great feature for experienced shooters and novices alike. When I first started my concealed carry journey, I bought a Springfield XD (the original version from way back).

That’s because it made me feel more comfortable about sticking a loaded gun in my pants.

It was a new experience for me and I liked that extra security. Many years later now, I still see the benefits of this.

I for one like the grip safety and I don’t feel like it interferes with my firing grip or ergonomics.


Both of these pistols are quite accurate for their size. These aren’t target pistols. However, both pistols are more than capable of firing accurately at combat distances.

——— Shameless Holster Plug

Take a second and imagine carrying your pistol around for the day. I’m not talking about putting it in the glove box of your truck.

I mean when you get dressed in the morning you put your gun on your belt and leave your home for the day. S&W M&P Shield Plus IWB Holster Shop Holsters button You probably researched your pistol for a long time before you bought it. You wanted the best gun you could find for your dollars.

That gun may work well at the gun range but it won’t work well for concealed carry unless you pick out the perfect concealed carry holster.

You put all that time, thought, and money into picking out your pistol but it’s only half of the concealed carry equation. You need the perfect holster too.

Some holsters don’t hold your pistol close enough to your side. Almost all holsters are uncomfortable.

Many holsters are outrageously expensive.

Clinger Holsters solves all these problems. First off, Clinger Holsters conceal incredibly well.

They are designed to pull the grip of your pistol in close to your side (that’s the real secret to concealing your pistol well).

Secondly, the Clinger Cushion makes our holsters more comfortable than any other holster ever designed.

Just a couple of millimeters of the right materials make all the difference in comfort.

The Clinger Cushion attaches directly to your holster and turns that hard holster into a cushioned dream come true.

Plus, it wicks away sweat. The best part is that it’s very thin so it won’t interfere with great concealment.

Get the perfect companion to your perfect concealment pistol. Get a Clinger Holster.

You’ll love our S&W Equalizer holsters & our S&W Shield Plus holsters.

Conclusion: S&W Equalizer VS S&W Shield Plus

Overall, both pistols are great but the Equalizer outshines the Shield Plus.

They are about the same size, and weight, and have the same capacity.

However, S&W really put a lot more thought into the ergonomics and usability of the Equalizer.

Companies like Apple learned long ago that when you make products easier to use, the customer has a more enjoyable experience with the product.

You can’t help but love the passive grip safety and easy-racking slide of the Equalizer.

It’s a fantastic gun and deserves a spot in your concealed carry collection.

Don’t forget to pick up a Clinger Holster to pair it with.

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