Gun Review: Smith & Wesson M&P9 SHIELD EZ 9mm Pistol

M&P9 SHIELD EZ

M&P9 SHIELD EZ courtesy Virgil Caldwell

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.

M&P9 SHIELD EZ

The M&P9 SHIELD EZ features the 18 degree M&P grip angle and M2.0 grip texture shooters love. (courtesy Smith & Wesson)

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.

M&P9 SHIELD EZ

The M&P9 SHIELD EZ features rear cocking “ears” for an easy rack slide and a top tactile loaded chamber indicator. (Virgil Caldwell for TTAG)

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.

M&P9 SHIELD EZ

The load assist tabs on the 9mm SHIELD EZ’s 8-round magazines mean much easier loading of all eight rounds. (Courtesy gunmagwarehouse.com)

Another .22-like feature of the M&P9 SHIELD EZ are the tabs on magazines.

M&P9 SHIELD EZ

M&P9 SHIELD EZ eight-round magazines are extremely easy to load thanks to the load assist tabs that help to compress the spring while inserting rounds. (Virgil Caldwell for TTAG)

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.

M&P9 SHIELD EZ

The Smith & Wesson M&P9 SHIELD EZ’s frame safety, grip safety and reversible magazine release are easy to manipulate. (Virgil Caldwell for TTAG)

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.

M&P9 SHIELD EZ

The M&P9 SHIELD EZ has a light, crisp trigger with slight undercut. (courtesy Smith & Wesson)

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).

M&P9 SHIELD EZ

The M&P9 SHIELD EZ has a short Picatinny-style rail for lights and laser attachments. (Virgil Caldwell for TTAG)

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.

M&P9 SHIELD EZ

New shooters appreciate the M&P9 SHIELD EZ’s light trigger pull, grip and manual safety, and soft recoil. (Virgil Caldwell for TTAG)

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

Caliber: 9mm
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.

See also:

Smith & Wesson M&P380 SHIELD EZ review

Smith& Wesson M&P9 SHIELD M2.0 review 

Smith & Wesson M&P9 M2.0 Compact review

 

comments

  1. avatar RedFlagRising says:

    They should offer a Bernie version, in bright Red.

    For 100.00 extra of course, because capitalism costs more without price controls.

    1. avatar Casey says:

      I know that must have made sense to you when you typed it, but to everybody else? Not so much.

      1. avatar RedFlagRising says:

        Rest easy, your time in the gulags wont be all bad.

        Fridays will be Pizza Day (saltines w/gluten free tomato paste on top.)

        1. avatar Clit Commander says:

          You’re such a choad.

        2. avatar Felix says:

          Fine you red moron that WAS funny lmao

    2. avatar Rob says:

      I use and like this site for its reviews and info about firearms and supplies, not to read opinions by moronic, self-obsessed gas bags who think people give a crap about either their bloviating or their narrow-minded views. Think whatever you’d like but dial back on forcing your views on people that didn’t ask. FYI, you’re not 2% as clever as you think you are.

  2. avatar Kevin says:

    Great review, thanks. Looks like an excellent pistol.

    “The EZ design is even touted as being easier to clean.” How so? Is it dishwasher safe?

    1. avatar vCad says:

      Take down is easier because the recoil spring isn’t as stiff as some 9mm handguns, it is an easy gun to field strip.

      1. avatar Kevin says:

        Makes sense, thank you.

  3. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

    pass.
    glad it’s available to the infirm.

    1. avatar bill says:

      You WILL get there…if you don’t die first.

      1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

        genetic evidence says otherwise. enjoy your pablum.

  4. avatar D.T.O.M. says:

    It will be interesting to see a high volume test (50,000 rounds plus) of this pistol. The EZ mechanism likely has a higher slide velocity and will then likely increase wear (especially on the frame). Smith & Wesson maybe betting that these are low-volume shooters, and willing to warranty the few that are not for increased sales.

    1. avatar Josh says:

      You’re probably right on all three points. If a shooter has such reduced hand strength to be in the market for this pistol, it’s going to be awfully difficult to convince him to sign up for a week long, 3000 round class. My mother, on the other hand, is the ideal customer. Elbow injury, significant loss of grip strength. Doesn’t want to upgrade from her SIG P238 to a 9x19mm because the slides are too stiff. Probably would put less than 500 rounds per year through it.

  5. avatar The Rookie says:

    Nice review. I like what S&W is doing here.

    Of course, now I want them to try to come up with a soft-shooting, easy-to-rack 10MM

  6. avatar TommyJay says:

    I like the gun and the review. I don’t know why others don’t implement the small cocking ears on the rear of the slide.

    So is the delayed blowback done like the Walther CCP or one of the many other methods? Extended capacity mags. available?

    1. avatar dph says:

      My VP9 has cocking ears.

      1. avatar TommyJay says:

        Nice. I haven’t tried the H&K’s but I like the paddle release on the Walthers.

  7. avatar don says:

    Bought one. It’s a nice pistol. Easy to rack, lightweight, backstrap safety, and easy to load. BUT the accuracy was poor. Could not get a good grouping at 25 ft. even with a bench rest. All over the pie plate. Good for up in your face defense. Sold it two week later. I expected better from S&W.

    1. avatar Clit Commander says:

      Maybe you’re just a poor shot.

        1. avatar ‘liljoe says:

          Everyone has their niche.

          I can’t for the life of me get a good grouping with my p365, but I can drill a hole through a quarter at ten yards with my g43… not that I’ve been attacked by many quarters.

          It wasn’t for you but it will find a good home, I’ve got one of these and it’s a pretty good shot within self defense distances.

        2. avatar don says:

          Your correct in your opinion. My Ruger SR9c and Springfield EMP has no problem grouping 2-3in. at 25ft. BTW, my friend Tim bought a Sig 365 and he isn’t pleased with it’s poor grouping either.

        3. avatar Accur81 says:

          Not sure if your Sig 365s are out of spec – mine will shoot rounds through the same hole at 8 yards with Federal 124 grain American Eagle. The reviews here have them as a pretty accurate gun as well.

  8. avatar jram01 says:

    I’ve have the S&WM&P.380EZ. Great pistol. I got tired of EDCing a S&W SD9VE9mm Double Stack as well as my RIA1911. These firearms are a little too heavy for EDC for an old guy like me.
    For me, the EZ.380 is more comfortable to carry. I use a Hornady.380 FTX Defensive Round which is comparable to a 9mm.
    However, if the new S&WM&P9 also came out with a ported barrel, a flat performance center trigger and an optional grip safety, I certainly would give it a try without a doubt.

    1. avatar Hugh Glass says:

      Don’t doubt the .380, it’s plenty enough for the job. Real life stories abound. Plenty of dead guys would agree if the could. You sir are GTG.

      1. avatar tdiinva says:

        We keep hearing caliber doesn’t matter which really means bigger bullets than mine don’t matter. Anything smaller sucks. Personally, I like bigger bullets but generally carry a 9. I bought a 380 EZ just to have a light weight pistol for air travel.

        1. avatar RidgeRunner says:

          Totally agree, I carry a 1911 .45 or Glock 19 primarily but stick a Bodyguard .380 in a Wright Bandicoot in my pocket frequently and ain’t sneered.

  9. avatar former water walker says:

    Nice if you need it. But why the eff did they put a grip safety on it?

    1. avatar Eric in Oregon says:

      Seems counterproductive to me as well. My anecdotal evidence has been that the target audience is worried about not being able to engage the grip safety (due to grip strength) when they need to.
      It’s not *actually* a problem but it definitely concerns some people.

      1. avatar dph says:

        Possibly because it’s a single action hammer fired weapon with a light trigger?

        1. avatar Eric in Oregon says:

          Doesn’t make it any safer TBH, just something else that can break.
          Also the real version with no manual safety will probably have a trigger safety so it’ll be even more unnecessary.

        2. avatar tdiinva says:

          Trigger safeties fill the same role as grip safeties except trigger safeties can be triggered by clothing during holstering. See Glock Leg although not limited to Glock.

        3. avatar Eric in Oregon says:

          Glock leg? Yawn.
          The grip safety is actually more likely to be engaged while reholstering anyway.

        4. avatar tdiinva says:

          Not likely if know what you are doing.

          I guess you forgot John Boch’s post of the appendix carry Glock thigh incident. It would not have happened with a grip safety. I bet he’s not yawning about Glock leg.

      2. avatar VC says:

        If you cannot engage the grip safety you probably cant pull the trigger either. It isn’t difficult at all but it keeps a single action pistol from firing unless the grip safety is depressed. Like the Colt 1903. This gun is basically a modernized Colt 1903– not a bad place to be.

    2. avatar John in AK says:

      They didn’t put on a grip safety because AOBC (you know, the conglomerate that now lies craven where S&W once proudly stood) only puts redundant, useless bits–such as cute little on/off key switches–on REVOLVERS.

      You see, a grip safety on a hammer-fired DA-only semi-auto is about as necessary as a clutch pedal on a truck with an automatic transmission.

    3. avatar neiowa says:

      Does it freaking MATTER I they put a grip safety on it?? NO

  10. avatar Firing pin says:

    I like everything about it better than my MP9 shield 2.0 except it’s longer then mine, on the other hand it’s longer because it has a rail which is nice if you want to run a light or laser, then again on my shield I don’t need a rail because I have the Crimson trace Green laser guard pro with a flashlight and laser all in one that fits my shield without a rail which is nice

  11. avatar Dan says:

    That grip safety looks dumb as fuck. Get rid of it.

  12. avatar george burns says:

    It looks stupid. I own 3 M&P’s 2 are PC guns, and the 3.6 compact. They are good looking guns, “as far as Polymer guns go”, but this thing looks like it’s broken. Trying to be an XDS copy with a crappy cheap looking profile. I have seen the PC version with the slide cuts, like Lipstic on a pig.

  13. avatar jimmy james says:

    ” I believe it’s a big plus on this single action hammer fired handgun.” ??? Looks like a striker fired handgun to me.

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