Firearms

Review: Smith and Wesson M&P9 Shield EZ

M&P9 Shield EZ

It is common in the firearms industry for shooters to wait months or more to obtain a new introduction. Some of the firearms seem made of unobtanium or another rare element. The newest 9mm from Smith and Wesson is an exception.

The M&P9 Shield EZ is being shipped and readily available. This handgun isn’t similar to the original Shield as far as mechanics go, although there is a certain family resemblance. Instead, the 9mm EZ builds on the success of the .380 EZ.

M&P9 EZ vs Shield .22
The new M&P9 EZ compared to a Shield .22.

Comparisons to the .380 EZ

I have fired the .380 EZ extensively and find it an excellent handgun in most particulars. The .380 pistol is reliable, low-recoiling and surprisingly accurate. The Walther PK .380 is similar as far as accuracy goes and so is my old Colt 1903.

The EZ pistol features a hammer-fired mechanism and hidden hammer, a distinct departure from the modern polymer-frame, striker-fired handguns. While a firearm is better than tooth-and-nail, I have reservations concerning the .380 ACP cartridge.

The 9mm Luger is much more powerful and crosses the threshold into what I consider effective wound ballistics. The M&P9 EZ does so without excess recoil and very little extra weight.

S&W 9mm vs Colt Cobra
The S&W M&P 9mm compared to a Colt Cobra.

M&P9 Shield EZ Features and Specifications

Before we get into design, form, function, performance and so forth, let’s take a look at some features and specifications for the M&P9 Shield EZ:

  • Safety: Thumb (optional)
  • Frame Size: Compact Slim
  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Action: Internal Hammer Fired
  • Capacity: 8+1 Rounds
  • Barrel Length: 3.675″
  • Front Sight: White Dot
  • Rear Sight: White Dot, Adjustable for Windage
  • Frame Width: 1.04”
  • Overall Height: 5.05”
  • Overall Length: 6.85”
  • Sight Radius: 5.875”
  • Weight: 23.2 ounces
  • Barrel Material: Stainless Steel with Armornite® Finish
  • Slide Material: Stainless Steel with Armornite® Finish
  • Frame Material: Polymer
9mm EZ Shield Mounting Rail
Although the 9mm Shield EZ is slim, there is a generous rail for mounting a combat light.

Design and Ease of Use

The purpose of the original EZ design was to make the pistol easier to use at every level. This means ease of loading the magazines, easy racking of the slide, simple manipulation, simple field-stripping and modest recoil.

The pistol isn’t the smallest it could be, but it is a compact handgun well-suited to personal defense. It is a good size for concealed carry and control in firing. There are many shooters that have difficulty with self-loading pistols. They strain to rack the slide or load a magazine.

The EZ design helps in these important functions. Some have physical limitations and all of us will face old age one day. The magazines feature a thumb assist to help depress the magazine spring. Some magazines are a bit difficult to load and this feature is a big help.

S&W M&P9 EZ Magazines
The EZ magazines are “E-Z” to load!

Racking the slide is downright easy. The cocking serrations are well-situated and offer good adhesion. There are bosses at the rear of the cocking serrations to increase leverage. The forward-cocking serrations are so minimal they are not very useful.

M&P9 EZ Rear Slide
Note bosses on the rear of the slide for additional leverage when racking the slide.

Form and Function

The trigger breaks clean after a modest take-up at six pounds. This isn’t a target trigger, but makes a good combat trigger. Trigger break is clean and reset rapid. In common with a number of modern handguns that reset is indistinct—if there is a click. it is nearly imperceptible.

(Although, the wife heard a faint click on reset when she tried the gun. Most shooters over 40 will not hear the reset.)

The frame stippling features excellent abrasion and adhesion. I cannot think of how to improve this texture; it is that well-designed and executed. The slide lock and magazine release are positive in manipulation.

M&P9 EZ Take-Down Lever
The take-down lever, slide lock and safety are unobtrusive.

I like the dual ambidextrous safety. A grip safety doesn’t lock the trigger as a 1911 does; rather the trigger is dead—as when applying a Beretta 92 safety, as an example. When the grip safety is disengaged by pressing inward, the trigger is connected.

This is similar to the operation of the HK P7M8. There is a version without the thumb safety. I prefer a safety on a self-loading pistol and especially on a single-action handgun. While the grip safety may be enough, the thumb safety isn’t difficult to disengage quickly.

The sights are high-visibility units with a three-dot white outline.

M&P9 EZ Sights
The sights are well-designed for personal defense.

Performance and Accuracy

Smith and Wesson met its design criteria. The magazines were easily loaded and the cocking serrations and bosses aided in racking the slide. I began the test with Winchester 115-grain FMJ loads. The S&W M&P9 Shield EZ pays a price for easy racking.

This 9mm isn’t a locked breech in the conventional sense, but neither is it a fixed barrel blowback like the PPK. It is a delayed blowback. The result is a snappier recoil than some pistols.

It isn’t anything that a trained shooter will have any problem with; it is simply a consideration. This isn’t the pistol to load with +P. I found that the pistol clears leather quickly, offers real speed and has high hit probability.

M&P9 Draw
The pistol draws smoothly.

I fired the pistol at seven, 10 and 15 yards and found the pistol offers good performance for a compact 9mm. The 18-degree grip angle makes for a good natural point and straight-to-the-rear recoil.

I broadened the test with Winchester’s 115-grain Silvertip, Hornady’s 115-grain XTP and the Hornady’s Critical Defense 115-grain, as well as Gorilla Ammunition’s 135-grain JHP.

It didn’t take long to go through 160 rounds of ammunition—all without a single failure to feed, chamber, fire or eject.

S&W EZ - Retention Position Firing
Even firing from the retention position, the pistol proved reliable.

Absolute accuracy is interesting. The pistol was fired from a solid bench rest at 15 yards. I fired the Winchester FMJ and Hornady Critical Defense, firing two five-shot groups with each. The average of the four five-shot groups was 2.5 inches.

Conclusion

The M&P9 Shield EZ is a good shooter and a good choice for those that need a pistol a bit easier to handle than some of its competitors or Smith’s own Shield 9mm. The pistol field-strips easily and is designed to be cleaned easily.

It all panned out in the test program. The M&P9 Shield EZ is a great handgun that will serve well.

Do you think you’ll try Smith and Wesson’s latest M&P? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (16)

  1. I just picked up a M&P9 shield EZ at an auction. Lucky it was Valentine’s so I told my wife “Hey, guess what I got you this year” heheh. She was under the weather when I picked it up but I put about 75 rounds through it and really like how it shoots and feels. My wife loves the feel and can’t wait to shoot it.

  2. I bought the M&P9 Shield EZ, with my wife’s needs in mind. She has had difficulty in racking the slides on other handguns. Up to now she has found that the Sig p238 was easy enough for her to rack. I thought it would be good if she also had a 9mm that would work for her. In trying the 9 Shield EZ at the store, she noticed that it was definitely “rackable”. She has not yet taken it to the range. However, I’ve taken it to the range a couple of times. I notice that posts on this and other sites have characterized accuracy as “good groupings”. I achieved “good groupings” at 15 yards, as well.
    However, that doesn’t tell the whole story. The first time to the range I noticed that the gun shot low and to the left. Prior to my second visit to the range, I adjusted the rear sight for windage using a bore sight. That adjustment brought the windage into alignment. However, the vertical placements were still low. At five yards they were at least 2 inches low and at 15 yards they were at least 4 inches low. (Please don’t apply a geometric analysis to these rough estimates). I have several handguns and have been shooting many years. Targeting results for all of my other guns have been as expected. Those other guns include several calibers in S&Ws (including the M&P9c), Glocks, Springfields, Rugers and Kimbers. I only mention all of those others to demonstrate that the 9 Shield EZ seems to be an outlier, in terms of shot placement.
    I’ve been checking around for the availability of Trijicon sights or Truglo sights to see if I can achieve greater accuracy with those. (I’ve found that with some of my other guns, Trijicon sights give for me better target acquisition than factory sights). Trijicon has none yet available and Truglo has a couple only for the 380EZ. Anyway, it will take a while for those sight manufacturers to catch up. For the present, I have to keep in mind that I have to aim high with this gun.
    On another matter, Francis Petroff asked on January 11th: “How does the m&p9EZ compare to the Springfield Hellcat?” I also own the Hellcat. I believe that the two guns fit into two different niches. By design, the m&p9EZ is easier to rack than the Hellcat. The Hellcat is much smaller than the M&P9EZ, but with a greater magazine capacity (up to 13+1 vs. 8+1). Of course, the felt recoil for the Hellcat is greater, being a smaller gun. Finally, in my experience, the accuracy of the Hellcat is spot-on, whereas my M&P9EZ has shot placement issues, as discussed above.

  3. In response to the post by Lamar H. Stewart, on January 9, 2020, at 6:16 PM:

    First, let me thank you for your service to our country. The personal sacrifices you and your family have made to defend our rights and protect our freedoms are truly appreciated.

    While the review to which we are replying is for the Shield EZ, like you, a few years ago I also purchased the Shield 9 on somewhat of a whim. Went to the range (& gun shop) one evening to do some shooting, and they were having a sale on the Shield (no manual safety) at a price I could not resist, especially knowing how popular it was/is. Now, I don’t normally purchase a firearm without renting or borrowing the same model and trying it first, but it was late, the range was closing, and the sale ended that day.

    While I don’t often use the slide lock/release lever to release the slide and let it slam home on any of my semis, I do like to make sure this feature works – just in case I need it to do just that. I find the slide lock on the Shield all but impossible to release with 1 thumb. Thinking it was defective, I sent it in to S&W; it was returned with a receipt stating that they replaced the slide lock lever (their words, not mine) and spring. I found no improvement – in fact I think it might actually be even harder to release. I gave up on trying, and when I shoot this gun I know I’ll pull the slide rearward in order to thumb the slide release. I drew my own conclusion that S&W designed this feature as strictly a slide lock and does not intend it to be used as a slide release.

    I realize I’m fast approaching 65 years on this planet, but I own several pistols in 9mm & .45 from Sig, Walther, Springfield, Beretta & Kimber. Not one of them do I have a problem with the slide release. I haven’t considered another S&W; I wonder why. However, I may take a look at the EZ.

    Thank you again Sir, for your service.

  4. This seems like a special-purpose pistol compared to the 3.6″ M&P9c of virtually identical overall dimensions. With a barely thicker grip and a few extra ounces, the additional 7 rounds of standard capacity is enough reason for me to stick with the 9c for a while. If handling the added weight of 3oz pistol + 3oz ammo is problematic, then maybe EZ — I would look for a single-stack 9mm closer to 16oz empty. I don’t know how the EZ compares in felt recoil, but heavier is generally considered in recoil management. If the slightly thinner (but not adjustable) grip is really helpful, then EZ could be one of many alternatives to consider. But, if pulling the standard slide is impractical, then sure — EZ. It’s a different kettle of fish.

  5. It is interesting that this article shows in my feeds as I purchased this firearm yesterday. I have not fired it yet but so far it appears to be what I was looking for. The fit finish and feel are great. It’s easy to operate. I really like the ambidextrous thumb safety and grip safety. My wife is a leftie the thumb safety will benefit her. I am an average size guy with normal hand strength. However, I recently had a hand injury which led to impaired function of the fingers and hand. I purchased this firearm to get me by while rehabilitating the hand.

  6. I own 2 M&P SHIELD 9and a 40cal outstanding gun very easy to conceal, and clean with plenty of stopping power.
    Thank you
    RUDY

  7. I will most likely look at this. I own the S&W EZ 389ACP and it is a joy to run. I was looking for the success of the 380 to nudge S&W to introduce it in 9mm since the cartrige is essentially a “short 9”. Just beefing up the barrel and some springs should do it and the did something! As I get older racking autos gets tougher with family “inherited” arthritis. I can still rack my full sized S&W9 but with some difficulty. Same goes for my Beretta 92 which I love. Probably give this 9 a try.

  8. Where do you get “delayed blowback”? S&W’s listing says nothing of the sort. Photos and videos seem to clearly show the barrel hood LOCKED in the ejection port and the barrel moving rearward and tilting to unlock in modified-Browning recoil operation

  9. We got one of these for my mother who is approaching 70, and who’s arthritis and tendon issues aren’t going away. We were impressed by her ability to use the EZ without any aids or help. I tried it myself, and as a man in my 40s, I don’t yet have the hand limitations she does. I was totally impressed. I was easily able to get sub-2 inch groups at 10 yards, and found recoil gentle. As noted in another comment, the slide lock is stiff, but a mag change or removal then slide cycle makes an easy work around. I’m going to be considering one of these for myself!

  10. This is in reply to Lamar H. Stewart’s post. Lamar you bought the wrong Shield. The Regular M&P9 shield isn’t the same as the new M&P9 Shield EZ. EZ being the important part. Even my grandmother can pull back that slide without any problem. I can do it with my pinky finger. It is that easy. If the 9mm Shield EZ is still too tough to handle try the .380 Shield EZ. It is even easier to manipulate the slide on it. Only it’s not as powerful as the 9mm and more importantly the ammo is a lot more expensive for the .380 than the common 9mm. So sell the regular Shield and buy either the New 9mm Shield EZ or the out for a few years .380 Shield EZ. Again. Ask for the EZ. Huge difference between the Regular Shield and the EZ Shield. Good Luck

  11. I bought a M&P9 Shield some what on an impulse because I respect the Smith & Wesson brand and because I believed that my petite “Asian” wife would be able to use it because of it’s small size. I immediately became doubtful that my decision was a wise one. The slide lock operation is much too difficult to operate – very stiff, and I doubt that my wife will ever be able to manage it. Is there a solution to this problem? Is there a way to loosen the slide lock operation or will it automatically improve with use? Thanks for your response, Best Regards, LaMar H. Stewart, (USMCR)

  12. My 79 year old wife could not chamber a SW 9 mm or a Glock 27 40. She can not pull the hammer back on a 38 revolver or pull the trigger. She loves her SW MP EZ. She can chamber a round and pull the trigger. With her TR28 Armalaser, she never misses. She keeps one in the chamber with the dual safety on (easy to unlock). LOVES IT.

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