Statistics claim the number of concealed handgun permits in the USA has increased dramatically in the past few years. Generally, most first time concealed carry permit holders decide to purchase small, reliable, and easy to use weapons and the Smith and Wesson M&P Shield semi-auto pistol checks off all of the boxes.
With over one million pistols sold in just a few short years, the Smith & Wesson CCW Shield is not bad for a production gun. However, the main complaints about this weapon are generally the sights, grip area, and the trigger.
Whereas some shooters were fine with the stock trigger, more experienced users often decide to purchase replacement triggers, as the typical M&P trigger is said to be heavy and squishy.
Comparison of the Best M&P Triggers
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Pros and Cons of Aftermarket M&P Shield Triggers
While the M&P Shield is one of the best concealable auto handguns in the industry. It is also known for its infamous dead trigger, a flaw which causes the pistol to randomly malfunction after firing a shot, keeping the trigger from resetting.
Custom trigger systems offer a solution, including a consistent trigger pull by reducing pre and over travel and giving you a smooth shot every time. On the other hand, some aftermarket kits will shorten pre-travel whereas they would lengthen over-travel. To cure that issue you should only add trigger stops to the trigger guard.
Along with a crisp, clean break with every shot, replacement triggers dramatically improve the reset and provide smooth uptake without the gritty feeling.
The main advantage of choosing an aftermarket trigger set is a drop-in concept, which uses a single housing to encompass all tiny components into one block. This means you will not need expensive gunsmith services because drop-in triggers require minimal effort to install with a couple of quick modifications.
What Makes a Great M&P Shield Trigger?
As with all trigger mechanisms, you have two ways to improve them: replacing the trigger or purchasing a new kit. Although it depends on your preference, the replacement trigger is a much better option as it offers quick and easy improvements in less than an hour with tools you likely have around the house.
First, the M&P Shield should have a 6.5lb +/- trigger pull out of the box. That is a decent amount for a defensive handgun and particularly in comparison to similar-sized, double-action only (DAO) semi-autos such as the Kel-Tec P11 and Ruger LC9. However, you may come across states that require a 10lb trigger, but in most cases, people just want to reduce the trigger pull on their CCW by a couple of pounds.
Besides lighter trigger pull weight, another improvement aftermarket triggers should provide is a smoother and shorter trigger pull than factory, with a shorter reset.
Review of the Best M&P Triggers
Apex is known for designing aftermarket fire control system improvements for a variety of Smith & Wesson handguns, but they are particularly popular for their series of action enhancement triggers for the M&P Shield pistol family.
For anyone who wants to make a few modifications in order to obtain Shield perfection, we have selected several alternative triggers from Apex’s offerings.
1. Apex Tactical Specialties Inc. - S&W M&P M2.0 Shield Action Enhancement Trigger & Carry/Duty Kit
The Apex Action Enhancement Trigger & Duty/Carry Kit is designed for all Smith & Wesson M&P Shield M2.0 Pistols in 9mm and .40 calibers and consists of eight total pieces. The kit includes a trigger, duty/carry kit (1-Dot sear, sear spring, striker block, and spring), 4 lb. rated trigger return spring, trigger return spring installation shield slave pin, and tool.
Whereas Shield owners can install the upgrade themselves, a gunsmith installation is strongly recommended for fitting an Apex Ultimate Striker Block (USB) into the Shield slide.
Apex Tactical’s trigger enhancement and duty/carry kit are engineered to replace the factory-hinged polymer trigger of the M&P M2.0 and provide a handgun owner with a smooth, consistent trigger pull that is approximately 2 lbs. lighter than the stock trigger.
This Apex kit is made of a solid aluminum body and comes with a center-mounted pivoting safety to keep up the factory safety values.
Unlike some other products on the market, the Apex trigger is engineered entirely differently to stay within the parameters required for law enforcement approval.
This Apex combination was designed to improve the feel of the Shield trigger pull for law enforcement officers by taking two pounds off of the trigger pull and reducing pre-travel and over-travel by about 20 percent.
If the 6.5-pound trigger in a defensive pistol such as a Shield is too hefty for your taste, this Apex kit is expected to provide doable 4.5 to 5.0 pounds of trigger pull weight. Additionally, this trigger enhancement is allowed in all 3GN divisions so you will gain a little edge against the competition.
2. Apex Tactical Specialties Inc. - S&W M&P M2.0 Shield Action Enhancement Trigger
There is nothing wrong with the original S&W M&P 2.0 Shield trigger, but thanks to the modular concept of Apex`s Action Enhancement Trigger is able to shorten a stock trigger engagement and get a cleaner trigger break.
While most Shield users find the Apex replacement to be a night and day difference over the stock trigger, this trigger kit actually replaces the original hinged trigger and reduces pre-travel and over-travel by approximately 20%.
This Apex offering features a smooth face with a center-mounted pivoting safety to enable trigger manipulation directly in line with the bore axis.
Moreover, the Apex Action Enhancement Trigger prevents negligent discharge by creating a trigger block that will not disengage until the shooter places their finger directly on the trigger face.
The Apex AET model 100-170 works with all 9mm and .40 calibers Shields, enhancing your M&P M2.0 trigger function while preserving all factory safety values. It can be used as a stand-alone with the stock sear or can be paired with the earlier mentioned Apex M2.0 Shield Duty/Carry kit.
3. Best M&P Trigger Second Runner-up: Apex Tactical Specialties Inc. - S&W M&P M2.0 Shield Action Enhancement Components
This Apex Tactical enhancement is machined to improve every element of your S&W M&P M2.0 Shield`s firing mechanism`s internals. This package includes the Talon Tactical tool and six components designed to provide a pull weight within the acceptable range for a defensive compact like S&W Shield.
The main selling point of this kit is the Apex fully-machined sear, designed with a 1 Dot, the gold standard for M&P sears. It reduces trigger pull weight in the 5-5.5-pound area, shortens over-travel and improves reset.
Furthermore, the kit consists of an ultimate striker block and spring, sear spring (1/8"), trigger return spring, and polymer slave pin that work in conjunction to enhance your go-to personal defense 9mm/40, S&W Shield.
While the kit itself is designed to be drop-in, you will probably need a gunsmith to install the ultimate striker block.
The Apex Tactical S&W M&P M2.0 Shield Action Enhancement Component kit is also offered as a part of Shield Duty/Carry Kit but can be purchased and operated completely independently with the factory trigger.
4. Apex Tactical Specialties Inc. - S&W Shield Flat-faced Enhancement Trigger & Duty/Carrier Kit
The Flat-Faced Enhancement trigger & Duty/Carrier Kit is intended for competition use and people who prefer a flat trigger shoe as opposed to a curved one.
Featuring solid aluminum trigger housing, this kit has a smooth, flat-face profile with a center-mounted pivoting safety.
The combination of the Apex Duty/Carry Kit and Flat-Faced trigger reduces trigger pull by approximately 2 lbs. and provides shorter over-travel. It also provides more noticeable trigger reset, a crucial feature for quick follow-up shots.
The aluminum body with flat profile trigger itself reduces pre-travel and over-travel by approximately 20%.
The package under Apex manufacturer code 100-146 consists of flat profile trigger, machined 2-Dot .45 sear, sear spring, trigger return spring, polymer slave pin, the ultimate striker block (USB), and block spring. It also includes a Talon Tactical Rear Sight tool.
Although the 2-Dot sear initially was machined for the M&P 45, it will work only with second-generation weapons such as the 9mm, 40 S&W, and 45 ACP of the M&P Shield 2.0 series.
The Flat-Faced Enhancement Trigger & Carry Kit comes in purple, but it is available in three additional colors. While the Apex Flat-Faced Action Enhancement features a drop-in trigger system, the USB necessitates removal of the rear sight and requires some gunsmithing.
5. Brownells Exclusive Shield Flat-faced Action Enhancement Trigger
The new Brownells Exclusive Action Enhancement Red Trigger by Apex replaces the factory polymer trigger with a red trigger body featuring a flat-faced profile.
Having a center-mounted pivoting safety and the flat-face, the trigger provides a comfortable surface for the shooter’s finger while firing and maintains the factory-safe design found in the M&P Shield system.
The Flat-Faced Action Enhancement Trigger reduces reset length and provides a smoother uptake for a better shooting experience.
Made of solid anodized aluminum, the Apex Action Enhancement trigger is engineered to be the drop-in unit for M&P Shield 9mm pistols and 40 S&W, but will not work with the .45 ACP Shield.
Compared to the factory trigger, the Apex Flat-Faced red trigger reduces pre-travel and over-travel by approximately 20%.
The Apex Red Flat-Faced Action Enhancement Trigger for the Shield can be purchased as a stand-alone replacement unit marked as part #100-142 and will correctly function with the factory sear and other components.
Additionally, it can also be found as a component of the popular Action Enhancement Trigger & Duty/Carry kit designated as part #100-141. Both of these Apex Tactical units are sold exclusively by Brownells.
How to Install the Apex Trigger Kit
Currently, compatible replacement triggers for the Shield are kits and triggers from Apex Tactical Specialties Inc. As one of the best Shield trigger upgrades in the business, the Apex trigger kit is sometimes referred to as ‘Love at First Pull'. Their drop-in trigger kits besides being a great alternative to the stock Shield, are reliable and designed for hard use, enabling a better level of shooting with this weapon.
As their name suggests, Apex sells drop-in trigger kits that M&P Shield owners can install themselves. There are many video tutorials for aftermarket trigger installation, but we will add a step-by-step guide to make it easier for you.
After a safety check and separating the slide from the frame as in a regular cleaning procedure, you should perform the next steps like in the following video:
- First, take out the sear housing and locking block assembly by punching the two pins from left to right.
- The third trigger pin you should punch from right to left.
- Next, remove the take-down lever.
- Now you can take out whole trigger group assembly
- Depending on the type of Apex kit you have purchased, you may need to switch out new parts or simply drop in the trigger kit and then you are ready to go.
The world is not that big when it comes to the Smith & Wesson’s M&P Shield aftermarket triggers. Apex Tactical Specialties is the leader in the industry, providing a vast number of models and variants of enhanced trigger systems for the M&P Shield and other handguns.
On the above list, we have offered an overview of only a few Apex triggers and kits just to scratch the surface of their huge offerings and ignite your curiosity and natural desire to improve your weapon.