We hope this Smith and Wesson M&P9 Shield EZ review isn’t too gushing, because we adored it.
Smith and Wesson fans will recognize much; the grip angle and texturing is the same as on the 380 EZ and the rest of the M&P line. It has modest but ample beavertail, making a high, tight grip easily acquired. The longer grip fills the hand well, but the trigger reach is modest, making it friendly to those with big and small hands alike.
Ergonomically, it’s excellent.
The frame has a Picatinny-style rail for mounting accessories. The sights are low-profile dovetailed three-dot sights, with a front blade and combat-style rear ramp. The dots are decently large, making them easily visible in good light.
The safety system is a grip safety, firing pin block and optional manual safeties. The grip safety on the Shield EZ series differs from others on the market in that it hinges at the bottom and runs almost the whole length of the grip. Therefore, missing the grip safety is almost impossible.
The manual safety levers are large enough to be usable but low-profile enough to not be overly obtrusive. If you’re going to have them, these are the type to have.
Now let’s get to the party piece: the firing system.
The EZ series swaps the striker system of the Shield for an internal hammer-fired single-action system. (The slide cocks the hammer, ergo single-action.) Why this matters is that striker-fired systems require a stiffer firing pin spring to generate enough wallop to ignite the primer and a stiffer recoil spring to return the slide to battery. Thus, some people have a problem with the slide, especially people with aging, arthritic or otherwise weaker hands.
Since the EZ system doesn’t require as high a spring rate (amount of force required to compress a spring 1mm) the slide is much easier to actuate.
It also means less of a wall at the end of the trigger stroke and – therefore – a smoother, crisper trigger (about 5 lbs) which has long been the most common complaints about the M&P Shield.
The magazine has slots in the side and loading assist tabs, which let you depress the follower to load. It’s an unbelievably smart feature, and made loading the magazines – which, for most subcompact pistols, is an UNBELIEVABLE PAIN – incredibly easy.
What about shooting it?
Shooting the M&P9 Shield EZ was a joy. Everyone here at AGH that shot it, loved it. The recoil impulse is on-par with many compacts, nevermind subcompacts. We found it to be shockingly accurate for a gun of its size. Maybe not target pistol good, but a darn sight better than any other subcompact poly striker pistol on the market.
This the group I shot with this pistol. While not impressive as a feat of accuracy – it was from 7 yards – I shot completely (and I mean it) cold. I didn’t shoot a different gun beforehand, I literally picked up the gun and shot the group in the picture. And I mean cold; it was a balmy 22 degrees. I can’t think of any other gun of this size that was remotely as accurate the first time I fired it. Everyone else from AGH that was at the range said likewise.
It fed on different ammo (including Hornady Critical Defense and American Handgunner, Sig Sauer V-Crown, Federal Hydra Shok and Fiocchi JHP) like a hungry goat. No hiccups, and none seriously deviated from point of impact/point of aim. Your mileage may vary, but it ate everything we threw at it.
In short…we loved it. Not to…whatever…but my wife wants a Shield, and there’s a serious chance I’ll buy two of these as a “His and Hers” set.
A game changer? That might be a stretch, but darned if Smith and Wesson didn’t knock this one completely out of the park.