Smith and Wesson has been a huge name in the handgun industry for far longer than I’ve been alive. During their tenure they’ve had a number of commercial successes, and some missteps (just like any major manufacturer).
Their latest release in the Shield EZ lineup was designed to be a major step forward in what they saw as an underserved demographic. How did they fare?
S&W M&P Shield 9 EZ Background
The Smith and Wesson M&P Shield 9 EZ (hereafter 9 EZ) is a continuation of the EZ line, which started with the .380 EZ in early 2018.
The 9 EZ intended to take everything that made the .380 EZ a success and stretch it around the chamber of the most popular handgun round in the world, the venerable 9mm.
The EZ line is designed as a home defense and/or concealed carry option, most precisely geared towards shooters with limited experience or reduced hand strength and weapons manipulation skills due to age, infirmity or inexperience.
S&W M&P Shield 9 EZ
|Overall Length||6.8 inches|
|Sights||3-Dot, Windage Adjustable|
|Safety||Grip Safety w/ Optional Frame Mounted Thumb|
S&W M&P Shield 9 EZ Features
1Internal Hammer Fired
Has less mechanical resistance than a striker system, which reduces the force needed to rack the slide.
2Flared Edges on the Rear of the Slide
Provides an excellent gripping point on the slide, especially when wet. Also reduces grip strength needed to manually cycle the slide.
3Aggressive Grip Texture
Helps keep the grip firmly in hand when shooting.
4Thumbstuds on Magazine
Helps to ease loading of the magazine.
S&W M&P Shield 9 EZ MODELS
Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9 EZ Review – Our Take
My first time shooting a 9 EZ was this past December at the Smith and Wesson factory in Massachusetts. That was a factory test gun, which showed obvious signs of considerable use. The range trip was quick, but I was able to sling around 300 rounds that afternoon.
I thought the 9 EZ achieved its goal of being easy to manipulate for novice or strength-challenged shooters, but I also had a couple issues with the gun.
One was a mediocre level of accuracy that I hoped was simply the result of a well-worn prototype. The other was a notably uncomfortable fit to my hand, which I wasn’t able to fully diagnose in limited time, especially on a range day that included other handguns.
I’ve had the test & evaluation 9 EZ for around 4 months now, with a good number of range trips under my belt with it. This includes a pretty wide variety of bullet weights from a handful of different manufacturers.
Before I get to shooting, I run a couple dry fire drills. The trigger on the 9 EZ is decent. Not too much creep, good break and only a little on the heavy side. This is not a match trigger, nor a bowl of mush, it’s simply serviceable.
The slide serrations and flared edges are great. They provide excellent gripping points and achieve the intended result of making the slide easier to operate for those with limited hand strength. I can manipulate the slide with my thumb and ring finger alone.
After dry fire drills, it’s time to load up the mags. The thumbstuds on the sides of the magazines are a nice feature to have and really reduce the thumb-strain induced by other mags. I like having these thumbstuds available, so long as I don’t stop to think how much better I might like a double stack magazine.
The magazine body itself seems to be a little short on the internal length measurement though, I’ve had a couple different brands of hollow-point rounds hang up mid-magazine bringing the whole operation to a grinding halt. It’s hard to call the gun itself perfectly reliable (it is, no failures to feed, extract or eject… once the cartridges entered the operating system) when the factory feeding device itself is coming up short.
While most of the hangups were cleared quickly, the Norma 108 gr MHP got stuck so hard I needed to jam a tool in the mag to break up the fight.
The texture on the grip is excellent. It’s aggressive enough to grab on to your hand, but doesn’t wear down your skin until you’ve run 10+ mags on the day. This aspect of the grip is the lone positive for me though. The grip safety doesn’t collapse flush with the grip, rather sticking out of the back like an unintended speed bump.
The 9 EZ doesn’t have much recoil (slightly better than par for a mid-sized 9mm handgun), but all of it seems to be focused into the center of my palm instead of being spread out through my entire hand.
It’s a strange sensation to have a mild-recoiling gun start to hurt your hand, but that’s the case here.
This particular gun is well past the break-in round count, but still suffers from the same mediocre accuracy as the factory test model. I don’t mean to say that the 9 EZ has a terrible or unsafe lack of accuracy, simply that I rarely get this gun to group as well as comparable guns shooting the same ammo at the same ranges.
This isn’t a shooter issue, I can group far better with a Glock (full size or subcompact), a 1911 or even a mid-sized revolver than I can with the 9 EZ.
When you leave the groups behind and shoot defensive drills, the 9 EZ will put your rounds on target. They may be center’ish mass instead of center mass, but the gun shoots straight enough to win a gunfight in close quarters, where most defensive shootings happen.
For me, the 9 EZ’s shortcomings raise an important issue: The M&P Shield 9 EZ is a gun designed for new shooters. Novice leadslingers crave small successes to build their confidence.
But the question lingers…
Does a gun with middling accuracy, feed issues, and a grip safety inspired by a shark fin serve this market as well as it should?
S&W M&P 9 Shield EZ PROS AND CONS
- Easy to manipulate slide
- Easy to load magazine
- Good sights
- Low recoil
- Magazine feeding issues
- Uncomfortable grip safety design
- Marginal capacity
The gun runs well, but the mags are finicky. Will the aftermarket develop a solution?
|Average with occasional ups and downs||
|Unimpressive and unmemorable. A good baseline gun to compare others to. The Andy Dalton of handguns.||
|Good grip texture, slide cuts, slide stop and mag release. Terrible grip safety tanks the otherwise good frame.||
|The $479 MSRP is high, but the ~$350 street price is a good spot for a new handgun from a major manufacturer with a couple shortcomings that might bother you a lot less than they bother me.||
So what’s next? Well, if you decide to get the S&W M&P Shield 9 EZ, you’re going to need to pick up some must-have basics. Here’s our recommendation for what you need to get started:
You’ll probably want to keep your eyes peeled for some aftermarket mags as you run across them.
Best Handgun Lights for the S&W M&P Shield 9 EZ
If this gun is going to be used as a home defense option, you’d better believe a light is a major necessity. When things go bump in the night, you need to identify the problem before you pull the trigger.
For our editor’s choice, we’ve gotta choose the Streamlight TLR-1. Streamlight makes durable and effective lights that cost less than the competition. The TLR-1 has 300 lumens and a rock solid design. CHECK AMAZON PRICE
If price isn’t an issue and you need the ability to melt retinas, the X300 is the gold standard. With 1000 lumens, you can induce the “deer in the headlights” look immediately. CHECK AMAZON PRICE
If you want a low-light aiming solution in conjunction with your light, the TLR-6 gives you a light/laser combo. It has a small profile so it will work with more holsters than the bigger housings. CHECK AMAZON PRICE
Best Holsters for the S&W M&P Shield 9 EZ
If you plan on carrying this weapon–either open or CCW–you’re going to need a proper holster. Here are our favorites:
Alien gear Cloak Belt Holster
Alien Gear is a manufacturer of top-notch concealment holsters. If you’re going to carry the 9 EZ as a concealed carry piece, the Alien Gear Cloak Belt holster has an unbeatable combination of comfort and price. CHECK PRICE
The Hybrid ST-2 is overbuilt and underhyped. A leather/kydex combination, this is where comfort meets durability in the shape of an inside-the-waistband holster. CHECK PRICE
OTHER PISTOLS OF ITS CLASS TO CHECK OUT
If you’re looking for other options to the M&P Shield 9 EZ, you’re in luck. There are plenty of other great options available.
How to Care for Your S&W M&P Shield 9 EZ
Taking apart this weapon can be a bit trickier than other weapons if you’re not sure what you’re doing. Thankfully, Shoot Point Blank has put together a thorough and easy to follow instruction video describing the manufacturer’s take-down instructions.
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