I remember a couple of years back getting to spend some time shooting the M&P 380 Shield EZ, and being rather impressed. I also remember thinking that it’d be great if Smith & Wesson would build that idea in 9mm. And so they did.
The M&P 9 Shield EZ brings the positive features of its predecessor into a 9mm, internal-hammer-fired pistol that very nearly mirrors the dimensions of the .380 model.
Why Consider the 9 Shield EZ
The M&P 9 Shield EZ is a pistol in a size and configuration that makes it rather easy to carry concealed. While it is larger than its original Shield namesake, it is still rather compact. It is slightly smaller and thinner than a Glock 19, but it’s still enough gun to be easy to grip and control while firing.
You might consider the 9 Shield EZ for the fact that it is deliberately made to be easy to rack the slide—as the spring is far softer than is found on most pistols. It is therefore well suited to people who may have trouble manipulating the slide of other pistols. You might also consider the 9 Shield EZ for the 8-round magazines that are extremely easy to load. Pull tabs on either side of the single-stack magazine allow virtually anyone to easily load the magazine to full capacity. Or you might consider it for the fact that it’s one of the few modern poly-pistols that has a grip safety; a feature that some find very appealing and comforting.
I recently got the chance to try out the 9 Shield EZ and have a few thoughts to share on the experience. Let’s start with the specs:
- Caliber: 9mm Luger
- Action: Internal hammer fired
- External Safety: Grip safety, models with & without thumb safety
- Length: 6.8”
- Height: 4.85”
- Barrel: 3.675” Stainless Steel – Armornite ® Finish
- Slide: Stainless Steel – Armornite ® Finish
- Grip: M2.0 textured polymer, 18-degree angle
- Weight: 23 oz.
- Sights: 3-dot (white), drift-adjustable rear
- Capacity: 8+1 (2 magazines included)
- Trigger: ~4.5 lbs.
- Color: Black
- Price: ~$479
Shooting the 9 Shield EZ
Despite the prominent visual feature of the large grip safety protruding from the backstrap, I’m happy to report that it is a non-factor in running the gun. I never felt it or noted its engagement. And that’s the way it should be. Yes, it looks a bit weird when the gun is not in your hand, but it’s something one should and likely will get over.
The frame is right in what I consider to be the sweet spot for size and configuration. It’s small enough to be somewhat compact, but large enough so that you get a full grip and full control when firing. The grip features M&P’s M2.0 texture, which is pretty nice, but still not rough enough for my taste. But it’s better than you’re apt to find on most poly pistols.
Loading the magazines is as easy as reported and anyone should be able to load them. Similarly, racking the slide to chamber the first round was ridiculously easy. That is one soft spring! I took my first shots for precision and slow fire to get a feel for the gun. Pretty much what I expected; neither too stout nor overly soft-shooting. If feels like a gun its size and weight should feel when shooting 9mm. It was not at all difficult to control the gun in shooting strings. I then picked up the pace.
I later ran some fast shooting strings, with 4 shots in 1 second to a torso target, followed by one round to the face. It was not as easy as doing it with my Glock 19, but this smaller gun was still manageable for keeping rounds where I wanted them. The one thing that did give me a bit of trouble was the front sight.
The 9 Shield EZ’s front sight is a white dot, but not just a white dot. The “dot” is a hole in the front sight post and that hole is filled with white paint (or whatever material). The white is fine, but the fact that it’s a hole means that dirt and dust and gunpowder residue can get in there and render the “white” dot invisible. It was especially hard for me to pick up the front sight and to maintain a good sight picture when shooting faster strings of shots. Were I to own this pistol, I would trade out the stock 3-dot sights for something far more bright and visible.
The trigger on the 9 Shield EZ is pretty darned good. The action is smooth and the trigger breaks at around 4.5 lbs. The reset is very soft; while the spring on some pistols’ triggers push your finger forward in the reset, the EZ’s trigger reset is comparatively weak. I don’t think that’s good or bad, it’s just different from what I’ve found in most triggers. I had no trouble with the trigger and it completed what was, overall, a very easy-to-shoot experience.
Features and Components
The grip safety is large and runs for about 2/3 of the backstrap. This feature prevents the trigger from engaging unless the grip protrusion is fully depressed, ensuring that a full grip on the frame is required for the pistol to fire. This feature allows you the benefit of reholstering while not depressing this backstrap lever, ensuring a far safer operation even if some foreign object catches on and depresses the trigger. It’s a feature found on a number of pistol models and one that many people prefer.
The 9 Shield EZ looks like a striker-fired pistol, but it’s actually an internal-hammer gun. If you’re not familiar with internal-hammer-fired pistols, they’re not at all uncommon and, for operation, you likely won’t notice any difference from what you’re used to. There are differences on the inside, but you run it like any other modern pistol.
It sports white 3-dot sights that are serviceable, but problematic, as detailed earlier. The stainless-steel slide has nice cuts on the rear and those…silly M2.0 machining marks on the lower front of the slide (I can’t help but make fun of that terrible design feature). The slide is remarkably easy to rack and this is an excellent feature that suits the “EZ” brand. The rear of the slide has short “wings” machined from the slide to act as an easy anchor for racking the slide.
The M&P 9 Shield EZ comes either with a thumb safety lever or without. My experience here was with the non-thumb-safety model, so I cannot comment on the adequacy or action of that needless gadget. The slide-stop lever and takedown-lever are located in the traditional positions and neither got in my way when running the gun. The magazine release, which is reversible, I found well positioned and easy to manipulate when it was time to reload. Smith & Wesson know how to design pistols.
The frame sports a picatinny rail for lights or other accessories. The M2.0 grip texture is nicer than can be found on many poly pistols, but I’ll still argue that it must be stippled for proper everyday carry security (rain, and especially sweat and blood are very slick). The grip angle is 18-degrees, which is common to the M&P line—it’s more vertical than is found on a Glock, for instance.
The trigger, as detailed earlier, is quite nice. The shoe is a one-piece component instead of the two-piece hinged design common to the Shield model. Like all M&P pistols, the trigger shoe is clean and does not have a center “safety tab” common to most modern pistols.
- The M&P 9 Shield EZ is of sufficient size to be wieldy, but still small enough for easy concealment.
- The easy-to-load magazines and easy-to-rack slide make this model perfect for many individuals who might otherwise have trouble with those two operations.
- The grip safety is a feature many will enjoy, especially those who may have trepidation when reholstering a loaded pistol.
- The grip texture is better than is found on many other similar models.
- It’s built on a proven design from a proven line of guns from a reputable company.
- The sights—front sight especially—is not optimally design and begs for a replacement model.
- Eight rounds is fairly anemic for a pistol of this size; these days especially.
As you can see, there are few problems with this design and it’s hard to find something really wrong with this pistol. I would not hesitate to recommend the M&P 9 Shield EZ to anyone who wanted an easy-to-load and easy-to-rack slide for their carry gun. If you’re interested in these features, I recommend you rent the pistol and give it a try yourself!
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Good review. Definitely a good firearm for 1st time gun owners. Lots of safety features. Probably should mention the tactile indicator on top that lets you know when a round is chambered. Sure many new owners would appreciate having that.
First time buyer I bought the S& w Shield. Unfortunately did not know about the EZ model. Had to put it on consignment before even firing it. The rack was so difficult and with a rotator cuff problem, nearly impossible. Lost money on that one.
Until recently, my wife alway complained about the difficulty racking the slide on a 380 and my 40cal. She is a small framed/petite woman, so we had been resigned to the fact she would have to carry a revolver for this reason. She rented the EZ9 at Eagle Gun Range and she LOVED it. It was “EZ” to chamber and said it was comfortable in her hand. When we are ready to buy a hand gun for her, the S&W EZ9 will be it.
How was her accuracy with this gun compared to others?
As a first time gun owner and shooter I highly recommend the S&W M&P Shield Ez 9mm. I love it. I tried several at the gun range and this one was by far the easiest for me all around.
I got my wife a S&W 380 EZ. Perfect pistol. My wife loves it. I like it too. Based on these I decided to purchase a 9 mm version M&P 2.0 EZ. The worst firearm I have ever owned. Next day I took it to the Eagle Range Lewisville. It was a nightmare shooting this firearm. It jammed 37 times out of around 69-70 rounds. I sent it back to the factory. 2 months later I got my handgun back. Next day to the range. First 45 rounds were OK. By the time I reached 100 rounds it jammed about 13-15 times. I asked an instructor to try it. Out of 8 rounds it failed to feed 3 times. Now it’s back to the factory. I’ll never purchase a S&W again. Sorry but that’s my experience with this handgun.
Your grip was not high enough or strong enough. This is the perfect reliable gun if you hold it correctly. You stated even the range staff had problems. Perhaps your range staff are not savvy on the proper technique for a grip safety. Your hand needs to be as high as possible (against the small Beavertail). You need to hold any pistol like it’s a snake says Jerry Micelek. Ours 9 EZ has a thousand rounds thru it without a single FTF or any other problem.
My smith wesson EZ shield 9 mm shot ,800 roundsthru no problems I luv it my bedside gun
Did you find the ‘thumb strap’ /grip safety to be cumbersome? Was it a distraction for someone new to handling handguns?
Did much research and rentals before choosing to purchase this gun. I found my accuracy was best with this gun versus other rentals I tried. Also love the ease of loading the magazine. Rental didn’t have the white dots on the front sight and still used the sight well. So if they fill in as article suggests, don’t worry about it.
Good job writing. To the useful facts and impressions without a lot of blather
Just got my Smith and Wesson shield ez 9 back from Smith and Wesson it had a recall they fixed everything in 10 day turn around time . Thanks
Wondering what is recommended for different sights ? My gun shoots low with no way to adjust. .
My 9 Shield EZ shoots way low, too, and you’re right, there is no provision (perhaps short of a factory return) to raise the group. I decided to go with a Trijicon RMRcc red-dot sight, as there is an RMRcc-specific mounting plate (AC32093) custom-made by Trijicon for the pistol, replacing the stock rear dovetail sight.
Unfortunately, when I tried to install the Trijicon mounting plate it failed to lock into the dovetail groove using its two set screws. No matter how much torque I applied to the set screws, the plate’s supposedly expanding wedge wouldn’t expand enough to keep the plate from simply falling off the slide. Back it went to Trijicon to sort out.
What I DID have good luck with, though, on the wife’s nearly-identical M&P 22 Compact was a Crimson Trace green laser sight, model LG-459G. It integrates with the pistol’s rail, trigger guard, and grip perfectly. And it’s fully adjustable in both elevation and windage. And no sight, in my opinion, is more intuitive for a novice shooter like Mrs. GlueckAuf than a bright green laser painting the impact point.
I have had a number of failure to feed issues with my 9 EZ. On one occaision I had 13 FTF’s out of 100 rounds firing American Eagle ammo. I have fired thousands of rounds of this ammo with my H&K with no failures of any kind.
Put your hand tighter and higher on the grip. You are not fully depressing the grip safety.
I am a first time at Eagle range. They were very patient and understanding. I used the SW Ez and very surprised how well I did. I plan to purchase one soon. I need more practice,as they say practice makes perfect.
Theresa Gladys, With that attitude you end up being a very good shooter and having a great time.
I have owned the 9 ez for three months now and have put more than 1200 rounds through it. There have been no failures of any kind. I admit the stock sights leave a lot to be desired, I recommend changing to a tritium sight, huge difference. I would highly recommend this pistol.
Excellent review of this particular gun. I am an NRA Training Counselor who in retirement in Florida no longer teaches large gun classes at my old club. I do remain active teaching private classes here in SWFL. Most of my students are retired people learning how to use and purchase their first gun. I use a 22 revolver and semi automatic for live range firing. Since my carry is a Kimber CDP II 45 ACP, that is not an option for live fire training. In researching this pistol, I bought one and now use it after all the quals for the NRA certificate for CCW with the 22’s. I give them the EZ to get the “feel” for the 9mm. I then send them to my local gun store and advise them to try both the 380 and 9mm EZ models. I have gained many new “older” couples for classes with this gun being their choice of purchase. Thanks for the great review.
I am an experienced shooter and I still selected the 9mm EZ for my carry gun. Why? In my opinion it is the perfect size. For me, the 3.6” barrel is the perfect compromise. I do not want a gun with a 3” barrel. The trigger is nice and does not have the annoying middle of the trigger safety. It also does not have the crappy 2-piece swing trigger on other M&P handguns. I did not have to install an Apex trigger on the EZ.. The grip safety makes the gun very safe and a conventional safety is not necessary. The gun conceals with no printing.
The sights suck so I modified the Rear Wilson Combat Battlesight for a standard M&P and installed their green fiber optic on the front for an Incredible sight picture. For some reason S&W decided to make the EZ rear sight a one-of-kind so the selection of sights is very limited. Gun has never malfunctioned. However, in teaching a woman friend of mine to shoot, her’s has had failures to feed from limp wristing. I also have a 2.0 Compact. The S&W line has so many models. I selected this gun even though I have no issues racking any slide.
Is S&W considering a model with out the grip safety?
Smith wesson has to come up with 10 Rd mag for ez 9 without tabs should have 2 types 1 with and 1 without tabs