High Security Required for the New M&P Shield

By Craig Lamb






S&W kept the new 9mm and .40 caliber semi-auto’s identity a secret for months before the official product release on April 12.

One of the most popular segments on Shooting USA is a new gun preview. The buzz builds when viewers get to see the process of building and testing the gun months before it goes on sale.

The debut of the new Smith & Wesson M&P Shield was different. The manufacturer would intentionally keep the new 9mm and .40 caliber semi-auto’s identity a secret for months before the official product release on April 12. The secrecy would also present a new set of challenges for the Shooting USA producers.

“We knew this assignment would be different because initially we had no idea what kind of gun it was,” recalled Scoutten, executive producer and host. “Normally we get product information beforehand to give us an idea how to produce a segment and write a script.”

The covert marketing plan was unusual in the firearms industry. New guns are typically introduced at the annual SHOT Show held each January. Orders are taken from dealers, the gun then goes into production, and the inventory eventually goes on sale. That process can take up to six months or more.

“This time the Smith & Wesson plan was, if we’re going to create a buzz and publicity about a new gun, then have it available for sale at the same time,” said Scoutten.

A video produced by Shooting USA’s production team and released on YouTube and elsewhere on the Internet was a big part of the announcement. Then a Shooting USA exclusive episode followed the gun’s assembly through the highly secured confines of the factory.  The Shooting USA show was scheduled to appear the Wednesday following the formal announcement of the new M&P Shield.



Videotaping behind locked doors at the Smith & Wesson Shooting Sports Center with Jerry Miculek and Julie Golob.

Video production began in February when the crew traveled to the factory in Springfield, Mass. Before cameras entered the factory, Scoutten signed a mandatory non-disclosure agreement, covering all Tier One Media employees who would see the new Shield, including the editors back in Tennessee who would assemble the YouTube video and the show segments for TV.

Nine days later the crew wrapped production with content for the Web video, coverage of the IDPA Indoor National Championships, a series of Shooting USA Pro Tips with Julie Golob, and the behind-scenes episode with the M&P Shield. Part of the field assignment in Springfield included videotaping behind locked doors at the Smith & Wesson Shooting Sports Center with Golob and Jerry Miculek testing and demonstrating the new Shield.

The tradeoff for the long hours was the opportunity for Scoutten and crew to get the first behind scenes look at the process of creating and assembling the new Shield from start to finish. Even that privilege came with security clearance issues.

 “It’s a secure place all around and we’ve been there many times,” said Scoutten. “You get cleared onto the property at the guard gate, you’re issued a security badge to get inside the factory. And you have to be escorted.”



Behind scenes looks at the process of creating and assembling the new Shield from start to finish.

“But when you get to the point where the Shield is actually assembled there’s another level of security,” he continued. “Within this secure area, this big caged room, where the parts from the factory are becoming guns, there’s another check point with magnetometers.  Inside you have this dedicated team who’ve been building the new gun.”

“And there we were in the middle of it,” he said. “There were several thousand guns packaged and ready to be shipped to gun dealers. Those were the guns that would be immediately shipped to dealers the day of the announcement.”

Completing the video work also required taping the Shield in the Shooting USA gun room studio. The gun was still under wraps and the security trail followed Scoutten home to Tennessee. To get it in hand required shipping to the local gun dealer through its Federal Firearms License.  The dealer also agreed to sign the Smith & Wesson non-disclosure agreement and to keep the gun hidden from the public when it arrived.

“One of the partners had signed the paper, so when the delivery truck arrived he knew to discreetly retrieve the package and keep it locked up until I could get there,” recalled Scoutten. “The whole top secret process had followed us back.”

The process came full circle after the Web video was shipped to the marketing department at Smith & Wesson. The video was released April 12 and the Shooting USA episode featuring the gun aired April 18 on Outdoor Channel.

Scoutten was also finally allowed to go public with comments of his own after the non-disclosure agreement expired.

“I have liked the M&P series since it first came out,” he noted. “And what I particularly like is that in any caliber the M&P is a softer recoiling gun in terms of felt recoil than anything else out there.”

“The reason is very simple,” he continued. “The engineers consistently design the bore axis close to the top of your hand so that the gun doesn’t have the leverage on you that a 1911 has, even though it weighs less.  The new Shield follows that design and, from what I hear, they’re selling like crazy, at an average price around $400.”

Link to S&W Shield

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