Gun ownership has hit a surge in America recently, with record numbers of people buying guns and applying for concealed carry permits. This means many out there are looking for a new self-defense handgun, and might be comparing some popular models.

Two of the most popular models available, the Glock 19 and the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield, share some similarities but also have some distinct differences. For a potential buyer trying to figure out which one suits them best, it’s important to consider what they are looking for and understand the advantages of each.

The Similarities

Both the Glock 19 and M&P Shield are chambered in the ubiquitous and ever-popular 9X19mm cartridge (also known as 9mm Luger, 9mm NATO, or 9mm Parabellum). This cartridge is popular for its effective power, ease of handling, lightweight, and increased capacity over other defensive cartridges.

Both firearms are striker fired, meaning the firing pin is retained on a striker which is released when the trigger is pulled as opposed to being activated by the drop of a hammer. Both are also effectively sized for the average person to carry concealed on their person with proper holsters.

The Differences

More crucial, perhaps, are the differences between the two firearms. Of the two, the Glock 19 is going to be bigger and take up more space. The Glock 19 is a double-stack handgun, meaning the magazines stack round side-by-side instead of single-file on top of each other. This has the effect of increasing ammo capacity while also increasing the size of the grip.

The S&W Shield is offered with or without a manual thumb safety which prevents the weapon from firing. The Glock 19 is not offered with such a safety, meaning that pulling the trigger will always discharge the firearm if it is loaded.

Overall, the Glock 19 is going to be heavier and larger. It has a higher capacity magazine, a longer barrel, and many shooters will find it more ergonomic to shoot in extended sessions due to lower recoil. The S&W Shield does have a diminished magazine capacity and a smaller grip which can be a blessing or a curse depending on the intended use. Its smaller profile will more easily conceal it for every day carry on the person, and the slim grip might be more comfortable for people with smaller hands. If you’re looking for Glock 19 holsters, read this ultimate guide:

Making the Choice

In the end, the choice must be made by the end user as they are the only ones who can decide what they are comfortable with. A great recommendation before making a purchase is to find a local gun range or shop which will allow you to rent the firearm in question to see if you like it.

With that said, the differences in these two models do lend themselves to different uses. Those looking for an effective firearm for home defense or competition shooting might get better use out of the Glock 19, while the Shield will gain favor with those looking for something smaller to carry.