Just a bit over a month ago I had the opportunity to visit Smith & Wesson headquarters for their release of the M&P9 Sheild EZ 9mm pistol. This is Smith & Wesson’s follow up to the highly successful 380 EZ which is marketed towards those with less hand strength. For the M&P9 Shield EZ review, I’ve had the opportunity to shoot the pistol now for much longer and I’ve put just a hair over 1,000 rounds through the gun. Now that I’ve had a bunch more experience with the handgun, I’ll share my thoughts on the new pistol and hopefully give you a better idea if the pistol is right for your carry needs.
M&P9 Shield EZ Review – Features
The M&P9 Shield EZ has all the benefits from the Smith & Wesson 2.0 series of pistols. It features improved forward and rear slide serrations, a great trigger, phenomenal grip texturing as well as the Smith & Wesson Armornite coating.
A few extra features specific to the M&P9 Shield EZ are the special magazine loading system. The magazine features two ears on either side of the follower that protrude out of the side of the magazine body that allows the loader to preemptively depress the magazine spring to make for easier loading.
Those with a weak grip will find this feature useful during extended range sessions as the constant loading of pistol magazines can wear out your hands and thumbs pretty quickly. This system also eliminates the need for a magazine loading tool to be brought along to the range, further simplifying range sessions for new or inexperienced shooters.
During each of my range sessions with the 9 EZ, I experienced no malfunctions regarding the magazines and I found the magazine loading system to be quite a handy addition to the pistol. The Armornite coating held up to being left outside for several hours in damp conditions, I didn’t bother to put the gun back in its box for transport and simply just tossed it in with my other guns for the range trip. The 9 EZ makes for a durable pistol.
M&P9 Shield EZ Review – Shooting
Shooting the M&P9 Shield EZ is like any other pistol. The recoil can be quite sharp at times due to the angle of the grip. The 18-degree grip angle makes the pistol easy to point but I also think it translates to sharper recoil especially when loaded with hotter defensive loads. There are reduced recoil 9mm defensive ammunitions out there if this ends up being a problem for the shooter. Compared to the 380 EZ the recoil is significantly more but I don’t think it’s a deal-breaker for all but the most recoil sensitive people.
The pistol comes with white 3-dot sights both adjustable for windage. The sights are pleasant enough to shoot with for daily range sessions and I have no complaints about their useability during the daytime. However, it would be nice to have night-sights for use inside the home if it came down to that.
The M&P9 Shield EZ didn’t seem to have any ammunition sensitivities. I ran 5 different types of ammunition through the gun both target and defensive ammunition and experienced no cycling issues.
- Federal HST LE 147gr JHP
- Hornady Critical Duty 135gr FlexLock
- Winchester 115gr FMJ
- Aguila 124gr FMJ
- Sellier & Bellot 115 Grain FMJ
I was able to make consistent and accurate shots for defensive use with all these ammunitions. The testing targets I used were various sizes of steel plates placed at ranges between 10 and 25 yards. Shots at 25 yards were no problem on an 18″ steel plate which is about the size of a person’s chest. I did not text to see any trends that might have cropped up due to the different ammunition types.
Ergonomics and Controls
Like I said above, the trigger is amazing. With the gun being a single action internally hammer-fired gun this is no surprise. The take-up is about a quarter of an inch after which there is about 1/16th to 1/8th of an inch of creep before the trigger breaks. Normally this would be a slight problem but with the trigger pull being just a hair under 5 lbs your trigger finger can easily fight through that tiny bit of creep to make accurate shots.
The external frame-mounted manual safety provided me a few problems here and there. On several occasions, I accidentally engaged the safety on the gun. When the safety is active, you can still pull the trigger and this led to brief moments of confusion for me before I realized I had inadvertently activated the trigger. Eventually, I circumvented this problem by riding my thumb over the top of the safety to make sure it stayed down.
By far my biggest grievance with the M&P9 Shield EZ is the slide-stop/release. To be frank, it is simply next to impossible to release the slide using your thumb. I experienced this problem both at my testing at Smith & Wesson as well as with the review gun they sent to me. For a gun that is marketed towards being easy to use I find this to be a pretty big flaw. If the intention is to train up newer and weaker shooters in proper gun handling, providing them with a difficult to use slide release isn’t going to fare well for teaching them the proper use of that particular control.
Thankfully the slide is so easy to rack that you can do that instead but I’d like to see Smith & Wesson improve this particular feature for the good of its customers who are new to guns and are learning their way around the various controls and features of semi-automatic handguns in particular.
Overall I still think the Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield EZ is a solid handgun. More than worthy for a first-time gun owner or just someone who is new to pistols. Even more so I think the gun hits the nail on the head for the group of people out there who have weaker hand strength and cannot handle standard semi-automatic pistols out there. If it weren’t for the slide problem and the absence of night-sights I’d give the pistol a perfect grade. However, I really do believe that the slide-stop issue needs to be worked out, on the bright side it is a problem that can be worked around and doesn’t stop the gun from functioning or causes the user undue frustration.
I would highly recommend the M&P9 Shield EZ for someone like my mom, who has arthritis and can’t grip things too tightly without experiencing pain. I think the 9 EZ would make for a great concealed carry or nightstand gun with its ease of use.
It’s comfortable to shoot, inexpensive, easy to operate, easy to maintain and comes loaded with the latest advances in Smith & Wesson’s M&P pistol line. It may be the pistol that gives someone you love the confidence to go to the range on their own given how easy it is to use. Again, I’d like to thank Smith & Wesson for being generous enough to send me out a copy of the pistol for testing and evaluation.
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