Rifleman Review: Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield EZ

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posted on December 22, 2021

While the majority of the firearms industry was largely focused on increased magazine capacity for micro-compact defensive handguns, Smith & Wesson began to take a different approach in recent years. At the beginning of 2018 the company unveiled the M&P380 Shield EZ, which incorporates several features into the design that make it easier to use and manipulate. This handy .380 ACP model spurred requests from customers for a 9 mm version of the design, which Smith & Wesson released at the end of 2019 as the M&P9 Shield EZ.

The Smith & Wesson M&P380 Shield EZ.

Like its smaller .380 ACP predecessor, the M&P9 Shield EZ has the designation "EZ" at the end of the model name to signify "easy to use." Instead of using a striker-fired design like many polymer-framed handguns found on the market today, including the standard Smith & Wesson M&P pistol lines, the Shield EZ models use an internal hammer design. This allowed Smith & Wesson to tune the weight needed to cock the hammer, and thus reduce the strength needed for the recoil spring. As a result, both the .380 ACP and 9 mm versions of the Shield EZ have slides that are noticeably easier to rack than other micro-compact, semi-automatic handguns.

The Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield EZ.

This feature makes the M&P9 Shield EZ a more friendly choice for those who have difficulty manipulating other compact handgun designs. To aid in manipulation, the slide has aggressive serrations coaching into the from and rear of the sides, with raised ledges on both sides at the back of the slide for added retention. The slide itself is made of stainless steel and wears a Armornite finish. On top of the slide, the M&P9 Shield EZ comes with white-dot front and rear iron sight set, though other packages are also offered by Smith & Wesson with Truglo tritium night sights pre-installed. The square-notch rear sight can also be drift adjusted for windage. There is also a tactical loaded chamber indicator that raises on top of the slide. 

A closer look at the controls on the left side of the M&P9 Shield EZ.

At 6.8" long and with a height of 5.05", the M&P9 Shield EZ is slightly larger than its .380 ACP predecessor, though it also uses a 3.675" barrel length like the former. The barrel features six-groove rifling with a 1:10" right-hand twist. This 9 mm version of the Shield EZ also has slightly more mass, with an unloaded weight of 23.2 ozs. Yet despite the larger size and greater weight, the M&P9 Shield EZ has an identical style of control layout to the M&P380 Shield EZ. This includes a reversible magazine release, takedown lever and grip safety along with an ambidextrous slide catch and thumb safety, though other models are offered without the latter.

Firing the M&P9 Shield EZ on the range.

The takedown lever in particular is much easier to use than other polymer-framed pistols, requiring less force to rotate into the disassembly position. As an added bonus to the disassembly of the M&P9 Shield EZ, the trigger does not need to be pulled to release the slide as is the case with other handguns. The trigger itself is single action, with a 5-lbs., 13-ozs. pull weight. The grip angle of the polymer frame is set at an 18-degree angle, which allows for a more natural point-of-aim. On the grip is a similar style of aggressive texturing found on Smith & Wesson's M&P M2.0 line of handguns, which provides solid purchase. A Picatinny rail segment is also molded into the dust cover of the frame as well for use with light or laser modules.

Loading one of the M&P9 Shield EZ's eight-round magazines using the magazine follower tabs on the side to depress the spring.

The M&P9 Shield EZ feeds from eight-round, single-stack detachable box magazines, with two included with each pistol. While these eight-round magazines do not have the capacity of the magazines found on some other compact handguns in the same category, they are designed with ease of use in mind. The magazine follower has two tabs exposed on each side of the magazine body, which allows the follower to be manually pulled down to depress the spring. This makes loading much easier for those who might have trouble fighting against the spring’s pressure.

To find out more about the M&P9 Shield EZ and other models of the line now offered by Smith & Wesson, visit smith-wesson.com.   

To watch complete segments of past episodes of American Rifleman TV, go to americanrifleman.org/artv. For all-new episodes of ARTV, tune in Wednesday nights to Outdoor Channel 8:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. EST.      

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