Smith and Wesson M&P Shield 9 EZ Review [2021]: Is It Worth It?

by Jens Hammer

January 11, 2021

1 comments

4.5
(19)

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?

Smith and Wesson’s bold combination of the .380 shield platform in 9 mm.

Sold at Brownells and Palmetto State Armory

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S&W M&P Shield 9 EZ Specs

  • Caliber 9 mm
  • Capacity 8+1
  • Overall Length 6.8 inches
  • Weight 23.2 ounces
  • Sights 3-Dot, Windage Adjustable
  • Safety Grip Safety w/ Optional Frame Mounted Thumb

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 Features

1 Internal Hammer Fired

Has less mechanical resistance than a striker system, which reduces the force needed to rack the slide.

2 Flared 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.

3 Aggressive Grip Texture

Helps keep the grip firmly in hand when shooting.

4 Thumbstuds 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

Report Card

Reliability

The gun runs well, but the mags are finicky. Will the aftermarket develop a solution?

C
Accuracy

Average with occasional ups and downs

C+
Shootability

Unimpressive and unmemorable. A good baseline gun to compare others to. The Andy Dalton of handguns.

B-
Ergonomics

Good grip texture, slide cuts, slide stop and mag release. Terrible grip safety tanks the otherwise good frame.

B
Value

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.

B

Our Grade

B-

Reviewed by Jens Hammer

Reader’s Grade

TBD

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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 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

The Pro Stealth is as simple as they come. Ballistic nylon with a metal belt clip, it’s as straightforward as it is inexpensive.

Check Amazon 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.

#1 Canik TP9SF

Check Latest Price

  • Reliability A+
  • Accuracy A-
  • Customization A
  • Ergonmics B+
  • Value A

Our Grade

A

Reviewed by Jens Hammer

Reader’s Grade

TBD

Based on 0 Reviews

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Added To Our Reader’s Score

If you’re looking for another affordable budget gun that can hold its own, check out the Canik TP9SF. Honestly, we just can’t recommend this gun enough!… READ MORE

#2 Springfield Hellcat – 9MM

HELLCAT-REVIEW

Check Latest Price

  • Reliability A+
  • Accuracy A
  • Ergonomics A
  • Shooting Experience B
  • Value A-

Our Grade

A-

Reviewed by Jens Hammer

Reader’s Grade

TBD

Based on 0 Reviews

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Success Your Grade Has Been
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This pistol is proof that big things can come in small packages. This is one of our favorites. There’s only a few things holding it back from hitting our vaunted A+ score… READ MORE

#3 Mossberg MC1SC

Check Latest Price

  • Reliability A+
  • Accuracy A-
  • Operations A
  • Ergonomics B+
  • Value A+

Our Grade

A

Reviewed by Jens Hammer

Reader’s Grade

TBD

Based on 0 Reviews

Your Grade

Do You Own This Gun? Leave A Review

Success Your Grade Has Been
Added To Our Reader’s Score

Did you even know Mossberg made a pistol? Well, technically it’s their second pistol. Regardless, this is one heck of a pistol you’ve got to see.  READ MORE

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.

Important Links And Manuals For Your S&W M&P 9 Shield EZ

Looking more info regarding the Smith and Wesson M&P 9 Shield EZ? Check out the following resources:

  1. M&P 9 Shield EZ
  2. M&P 9 Shield EZ Manual
  3. GlockTalk Forum on the M&P 9 Shield EZ

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About Jens Hammer

Life is an adventure for Alaskan expat Jens Hammer-a.k.a. Rex Nanorum. He’s a combat veteran with the 2nd Bn, 75th Ranger Regt and has completed 5 tours between Afghanistan and Iraq. Now, Rex is a certified helicopter pilot instructor, salvage diver, commercial fisherman, and personal trainer. And Gun University contributor.

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