Smith & Wesson M&P Shield EZ 9mm, First Rounds – Review

Smith and Wesson Shield 9 EZ
Smith & Wesson Shield 9 EZ

U.S.A.-(Ammoland.com)- Back in December, I was treated to trip out to the East coast to meet up with the team at Smith and Wesson, and to tour their factory.  I was also able to shoot some (as of then) unreleased guns to get an early look.  Among them was Smith and Wesson's latest model to the EZ line, the Smith and Wesson Shield 9 EZ.  Chambered in 9mm, it took many of the features that made the Shield EZ 380 a success and brought them to bear on the slightly bigger (and vastly more popular) 9mm round.  While range time was limited to a couple of hundred rounds with a well-worn test unit, I still came away with a generally positive impression.  Reliability was good, accuracy was acceptable (if uninspiring) and the ergonomic choices that lend to the EZ line worked as they were supposed to.  Now I have my own T&E model, with more time to see what I can wring out of it.

Smith & Wesson M&P Shield EZ 9mm

Let's quickly cover what the EZ is supposed to mean here.  The EZ line differentiates from the standard M&P Shield lineup by being easy to rack, easy to load the mags, and easy to shoot.  The idea is that not everyone has the hand strength to rack a standard slide, nor the desire to load their own mags if it's a pain in the ass.  How many new shooters have you seen be handed a gun that's ready to fire (safely of course)?  That's how many learn, and the EZ series is meant to bridge the gap from someone who will shoot, to someone who will own, operate and bear these arms.

Smith and Wesson Shield 9 EZ
Smith & Wesson Shield 9 EZ

The EZ goals are achieved in a couple of ways.  The slide is not only serrated but has flared edges at the rear of the slide that reduces the grip strength needed to squeeze the slide.  This works and works well.  The firing mechanism is an internal hammer, which resists the cocking motion less than a striker-fired assembly does.  It is not hard to rack this slide, I can do it with my thumb and ring finger alone.  Finally, the magazine has a feature many will recognize from their favorite .22 LR handguns, thumbstuds on the side of the magazine that allow you to control the follower.  You can easily depress the follower allowing for easy insertion of the next round while using the strength of your whole hand instead of passing all that force through one thumb.  That's a feature I can see a lot of older/more petite shooters appreciating.

Smith and Wesson Shield 9 EZ
Thumbstuds make loading the magazine EZ.

Now a quick look at the spec sheet before we retroactively hit the range.

  • Caliber:  9mm
  • Capacity:  8+1
  • Barrel length:  3.675″
  • Overall length:  6.8″
  • Frame:  Polymer
  • Weight: 23 ounces
  • Barrel:  Stainless steel with Armornite finish
  • Slide:  Stainless steel with Armornite finish
  • Thumb safety:  Factory option
  • Action:  Internal hammer
  • Grip angle:  18°

So off to the range we go.  I brought along two types of ammo, Federal's American Eagle 115gr FMJ's and Norma's 108gr Monolithic Hollow Point (MHP).

Smith and Wesson Shield 9 EZ
Federal's American Eagle 115gr FMJ's and Norma's 108gr Monolithic Hollow Point (MHP)

The American Eagle is a good budget option, and the Norma MHP has really good (consistent, broad) expansion in ballistic gelatin.  Shooting took place at 7 yards.  I started with the American Eagle, which functioned perfectly through the first 200 rounds.  A good start.  The best 8-round group looked like this:

Smith and Wesson Shield 9 EZ
Best 8-round group, with American Eagle
But most of the groups with American Eagle through the Smith and Wesson Shield 9 EZ looked more like this:
Smith and Wesson Shield 9 EZ
An average group with American Eagle

The vertical stringing got worse until I finally let up on the firing schedule and let the barrel cool.  I switched over to the Norma MHP round and got one group out before running into a problem.

Smith and Wesson Shield 9 EZ
Jam sandwich

Houston, we have a problem.  The MHP round is ever so slightly longer than the FMJ, causing it to bind up in the mag.  This wasn't a minor, easy to fix jam up, this was a total fight-stopper.  Norma's MHP has fed through every other 9mm gun I have tried (three Glock's, an MP5k, a QC10 PCC, and a 1965 vintage Browning Hi-power) so it's hard to fault the ammo.  Perhaps the mags I received are on the tight end of the tolerance scale.  Either way, it's information for potential buyers to evaluate and decide upon themselves.

Let's chat a little about the ergonomics of the gun.  I really like the aggressive texture on the frame.  After the first hundred rounds, my skin cells started accumulating on the frame in a fine white powder.  The texture is aggressive enough to help maintain grip, but not so much as to cause discomfort.  A good balance.  What I didn't like was the grip safety.  It doesn't recess all the way into the grip, so when the gun is recoiling it really focuses the backward force into the base of my palm.  The recoil is managed well by the recoil spring, but there's still excessive pressure focused on one spot on my hand.  I'd like to hear from a few others to see if they have a similar experience with the Smith and Wesson Shield 9 EZ.

This wraps up my “first rounds” article, which will be followed down the road by a more extensive look.  I'd like to try 2-3 more types of ammo to see if the magazines bind up with them as well.  Accuracy was better with this brand new sample than with the factory high-mileage test model (no surprise).  Given the current run on ammo, it may be some time before I get to source more “work” ammo for testing.  But when I do, I'll be back with more testing and results.  In the meantime, the Smith and Wesson Shield 9 EZ has an MSRP of $479, with a street price closer to $375.  Check it out!



About Rex Nanorum

Jens Hammer

Rex Nanorum is an Alaskan Expatriate living in Oregon with his wife and kids. Growing up on commercial fishing vessels, he found his next adventure with the 2nd Bn, 75th Ranger Regt. After 5 tours to Afghanistan and Iraq, he adventured about the west coast becoming a commercial fisheries and salvage SCUBA diver, rated helicopter pilot instructor (CFII) and personal trainer, before becoming a gear reviewer and writer.”

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Ej harbet
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Ej harbet

The grip safety bugs me hope they fix it. If your assisting someone in selection id advise 2 mags thru the 380 then 2 thru the 9mm. The more enthusiastic they are about burning 50rds a week the better id feel.
Ive not handed the 9mm yet but the 380 would be my goto for arming folks who cant handle my beloved glocks. There are many people young and old who need to be able to resist attackers.smith deserves the medal of freedom for designing the eze pistols in my opinion

HankB
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HankB

The article shows how important it is to check your firearm with the actual ammo you’ll be carrying in it.

One question I haven’t seen addressed is how do the EZ-series S&W pistols react if held loosely? Do they suffer from “limp wrist” syndrome? This is a concern because the target market is people with weak, elderly, or arthritic hands, and these are EXACTLY the people who may not be able to achieve the firm grip some pistols need to function reliably.

Guido
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Guido

I purchased the 9mm EZ-TC a couple of months ago- traded my Shield 1.0 9mm towards it. I fell in love with it the minute I put my hand around the grip. My only issue was the magazine release. While much easier to activate than the release on my 1.0 Shield (just look at the release and it activates), I prefer to conceal carry in a Sneaky Pete holster (I don’t like buying larger size clothing or wearing a long shirt to cover my sidearm, or offering myself as the first target) and the pressure of the gun against the… Read more »