I saw this handgun was on the shelf at South Carolina Gun Company before I knew Smith & Wesson was producing it. That beats the usual long wait for a newly introduced handgun.
Smith & Wesson anticipated the demand and is shipping the new model in great numbers which is a good thing because the M&P9 SHIELD EZ is going to be a very popular pistol.
The easy-racking M&P9 SHIELD EZ semi-automatic — a follow-on to their excellent M&P380 SHIELD EZ — is a far different pistol from their ultra-popular M&P9 SHIELD M2.0 9mm with only a family resemblance.
Read TTAG’s review of the M&P380 SHIELD EZ here.
The M&P9 SHIELD EZ has some M2.0 improvements in the form of excellent sights (dovetailed white-dot front sight and adjustable white-dot rear sights), small forward cocking serrations, and improved stippling on the grips.
What makes the M&P9 SHIELD EZ so easy?
The purpose of the original SHIELD EZ design was to offer a pistol that’s easier to use at every level for those who may have struggled with semi-automatic handguns before. That means easy to load magazines, easy racking of the Armornite-coated stainless steel slide, easy field stripping, and modest recoil. The EZ design is even touted as being easier to clean. The thing is, all of those claims are true.
Smith & Wesson achieved the ease of racking the new 9mm version SHIELD EZ by using an internal hammer design, rather than a striker-fired action. That means a lighter recoil spring that’s much easier to manipulate.
The EZ .380 is a very easy-handling, easily concealed handgun. The only drawback: many of us have serious reservations about the effectiveness of the .380 ACP round. Hence the new 9mm Luger version of the EZ pistol. This pistol offers a baseline for wound potential I am much more comfortable with.
The subcompact 9mm SHIELD EZ is a good size for concealed carry and control in firing. In fact, it’s almost exactly the same size as the earlier .380 model.
But that’s not the only EZ feature. There are serrations front and rear, though the front serrations are so minimal they might as well not be there. But Smith has included rear cocking “ears” machined into the rear of the slide of the type usually found on .22 caliber handguns (think Ruger Mark pistols). This gives the shooter an extra bit of hold on the slide.
Another .22-like feature of the M&P9 SHIELD EZ are the tabs on magazines.
Like many rimfire magazines, the semi-auto 9mm SHIELD EZ’s magazine load assist tabs allow you to easily compress the magazine spring, lowering the follower and making for easy insertion of all eight rounds. That’s something many new shooters (and plenty who aren’t so new) have trouble with.
The M&P9 SHIELD EZ pistol ships with two 8-round magazines.
The slide lock and reversible magazine release are positive in manipulation. The manual thumb safety is frame mounted and easily manipulated, locking in a positive manner.
Like the original .380 SHIELD EZ pistol, the semi-auto M&P9 SHIELD EZ has a grip safety. Unlike the M&P9 SHIELD M2.0, there is no trigger safety.
While a version without a frame mounted safety is available, a lot of people feel more comfortable carrying a pistol that has one. I believe it’s a big plus on this single action hammer fired handgun.
The 9mm SHIELD EZ has an excellent, crisp, light trigger as well. Trigger pull is smooth with modest take up and breaks at a clean 5.0 pounds with a rapid and audible reset.
Recoil is very light. While I don’t consider the 9mm a hard-kicking round there is some momentum when firing this pistol. The M&P9 SHIELD EZ’s action isn’t locked breech, but rather delayed blowback, so the jolt is more than the average compact 9mm. It isn’t severe but this isn’t the pistol for +P ammo (thought it is +P rated).
Shooting the Smith & Wesson M&P9 SHIELD EZ
I’ve fired hundred rounds of ammunition through the gun without a single failure to feed, chamber, fire or eject. Good quality ball ammunition such as the Black Hills Ammunition 115 grain FMJ is the ticket for practice and training. I fired the pistol at 7 to 15 yards in practice and have found the gun very accurate and controllable.
Since we are in the winter months I like a load with greater penetration to cut through heavy material if need be. The Black Hills 124 grain JHP or the Black Hills Honey Badger 100 grain loading work for me.
Although the 100 grain Honey Badger is rated +P recoil is still very controllable. In absolute accuracy the pistol will place five rounds into 2.5 inches and sometimes less at 15 yards, firing from a solid barricade. I have fired the pistol with Fiocchi, Hornady, SIG SAUER Elite, and Winchester ammunition. The pistol has never failed to feed, chamber, fire or eject and exhibited good accuracy with all loads.
I’m a fan of the M&P9 Shield EZ. I liked the earlier .380 ACP pistol a lot (just not the cartridge it shoots). The new 9mm pistol with all the same shooter-friendly features takes care of my caliber concerns.
This isn’t a gun just for women and old guys, either. The 9mm version of this gun would make a worthy carry or home defense gun for virtually anyone.
That said, many of our brothers and sisters have some form of ailment caused by age injury or infirmity. The M&P9 SHIELD EZ offers a handgun they will be able to control well in contrast to an underpowered handgun. I like that a lot.
Specifications: M&P9 SHIELD EZ
Action: Internal Hammer Fired
Capacity: 8+1 Rounds (2 magazine included)
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
MSRP: $479 (about $400 retail)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Style and appearance: * * * *
As polymer frame handguns go- this is a nice looking handgun.
Reliability: * * * * *
It fed every bullet style from subsonic range loads to +P personal defense rounds.
Accuracy: * * * *
Compared to other compact 1911 9mms it’s in the same range for accuracy and handles quickly. While not a target gun, it’s more than accurate enough for personal defense use.
Versatility: * * * *
This is a good all-around choice for both every day concealed carry and home protection.
Overall * * * * 1/2
If you liked the original M&P SHIELD EZ, but had reservations about the effectiveness of .380 ACP, Smith & Wesson’s new model chambered in 9mm parabellum should put your mind at ease. It’s everything the .380 EZ pistol was — easy to load, easy to shoot, easy to disassemble and clean — but chambered in a more effective personal defense round.