Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm EZ

Wildly Popular .380 Gets A Big Brother
0

The 9mm Shield EZ is only slightly larger and 5 oz. heavier than the .380 Shield EZ.

Being on the Cutting Edge is a very good feeling. We have a long list of very powerful sixguns and semi-automatics available to us as well as wrist-wrenching and hand-numbing ammunition to go with them. There is a place for all of this, especially when hunting mean critters who have the ability to bite, claw and stomp us.

However, for the past decade or so the most activity has been found in self-defense sixguns, semi-automatics and ammunition. Many of those who choose to take charge of their own protection are also those who have naturally weaker hands or who simply have grown older with the attendant weakening of muscle tone. This group, of which I am definitely a member, have been discovered by the firearms and ammunition manufacturers and the good feeling I mentioned is the fact we were there first.

S&W was paying attention to the problem and their first answer was the M&P 380 Shield EZ. With the S&W announcement of this new self-defense pistol I found one already in the showcase at my dealer, Buckhorn Gun. The “EZ” stands for the easy-to-rack slide. Anyone who has been around semi-automatic pistols for a while knows some slides can be very difficult to operate manually and as we grow older this becomes even more of a problem. The M&P 380 Shield EZ not only features an easy-to-rack slide but an easy-to-load magazine, solving a second problem often found with semi-automatic pistols.

The S&W 9mm Shield EZ offers ease of operation in an effective self-defense package.

The 380

The 380 Shield EZ has a capacity of 8+1, a barrel length just over 3-1/2" and a very easy packing weight of 18-1/2 oz. The frame is polymer while the slide and barrel are both stainless steel with an Armornite finish. Sights are excellent with a white dot front sight matched up with an adjustable-for-windage white dot rear sight. Available with or without a manual thumb safety, I went with the ambidextrous thumb safety. The addition of an excellent trigger, easily operated grip safety and two magazines gives us a perfect concealed carry personal protection pistol. Almost. Combined with its easy-to-operate slide and easy-to-load magazine, it’s also chambered in the easy shooting .380 ACP. There is no doubt in the past decade or so we have seen the arrival of excellent .380 ACP loads, meaning we are no longer relegated to nothing but full metal jackets. However, no matter how you slice it, a .380 is still a .380 and the argument continues as to just how good a self-defense round it is.

I do not feel at all uncomfortable carrying a .380 with today’s ammunition whether it is the Shield EZ or the Walther PPK. However, there is no doubt the 9mm is not only a better choice, we also have a greater proliferation of excellent self-defense loads with this larger nine. Apparently, there were enough requests to S&W, or maybe they were just planning it all along, as we now have the same basic Shield EZ chambered in 9mm and it’s not much larger than the original. In fact it has the same length barrel and is only slightly longer to accommodate the 9mm cartridge. This also means the action had to be changed to handle the 9mm loads. Neither the frame, nor the barrel, nor the slide are interchangeable on the two S&W Shields.

While it would appear to be striker-fired, the S&W 9mm Shield EZ is actually hammer-fired.

The nine

The M&P9 Shield EZ is part of the M&P M2.0 group of semi-automatic pistols. It comes with two 8-round magazines featuring an assist tab to facilitate loading. It also has a Picatinny-style equipment rail to accommodate lights and lasers. The grip angle of the Shield 9mm, as with all M&P pistols features an 18-degree grip angle to facilitate natural ease of pointing. Realizing grips and grip frames are highly subjective I will say this Shield feels awfully good in my hand — it just feels it was meant to be there. A very easy-to-access safety is part of the grip which is textured for shooting security. It is naturally depressed by the hand as this pistol is gripped for shooting. In the past I have encountered grip safeties that were very difficult for me to depress with my standard grip.

In addition to the grip safety the M&P 9 Shield is available with the ambidextrous thumb safety. I literally grew up with a 1911 and I prefer a grip safety on any pistol that can be had with one. I ordered my M&P 9 Shield and just as with the .380 I went with the ambidextrous thumb safety. Just as with the .380 version the frame is polymer and the barrel and slide are both stainless steel with an Armornite finish. This Shield EZ is less than 5 oz. heavier than the .380 version, weighing in at 23.2 oz. The sights are excellent being of the white dot-style with the rear sight set in a dovetail and drift adjustable for windage. The trigger features a tactile and audible reset and the pull measures 5 lbs. on my Brownells Trigger Gauge. This happens to be the same as on the .380 Shield. Looking at either one of the Shields, one might think they are striker fired. Field-stripping the pistol, which is quite easy, will show instead there is an internal hammer.

The Shield EZ was tested with a variety of 9mm factory ammunition and suffered no
malfunctions, a crucial factor for a self-defense pistol.

Ease Of Operation

Is it as easy to operate the slide on the 9mm Shield EZ as on the .380 Shield EZ? Almost, I find very little difference between the two. Racking the slide is aided by the full-length scallops on both sides of the frame below the rear sight and there are also abbreviated scallops on the front of the slide below the front sight. I find it easy to operate the slide by using either set of scallops or by simply grasping the slide with thumb and forefinger on both sides below the front sight. The front of the slide has been “de-horned” with no sharp or rough edges. The grip frame is finely textured on both sides and the front strap as well as below the grip safety. This makes for a very secure gripping feeling.

The 9mm Shield EZ was fired with a variety of factory ammunition, 12 different loads in all from 115 to 147 grains and also both JHP and FMJ versions. The Shield 9mm performed flawlessly with all varieties of ammunition with no failures to feed fire or eject. The obvious question is how does the felt recoil of the 9mm Shield EZ compare to the .380 Shield EZ? I would say the .380 is very easy to control and the 9mm, even though it is not as light shooting as the .380, is also still quite easy to control. Like most 9mm pistols, except for the compact and ultracompact versions. I was able to fire this latest Shield extensively without discomfort. Plus P loads were somewhat snappy however they did not cause any problems.

John’s test targets fired at 10 yards. This isn’t a target pistol, but at a very-concealable
6.8" OAL, packs 9mm firepower into a small package nearly anyone can operate.

The 9mm version of the shield EZ has a capacity of 8+1 rounds, such as these 100-gr.
HoneyBadger rounds from Black Hills Ammunition.

Accuracy

Normally when I test a sixgun or semi-automatic my goal is to see what size groups I can come up with, and the smaller the better. However, with smaller pistols, especially those designed for concealed carry and self-defense use, I take a more practical direction. This is not a target pistol and coupled with the fact my testing was done in Southwest Idaho in January definitely led to a more practical direction. My targets of choice, since I did not have any steel plates, were 4" orange-colored stick-on targets shot at a self-defense distance of 10 yards. My best results were with Black Hills 124 FMJ at 1,071 fps; Black Hills 147 JHP, 949 fps; Speer 124 Gold Dot HP; American Eagle 115 JHP, 1,137 fps; and the SIG SAUER 115 FMJ clocked out at 1,057 fps. Old habits are hard to break and I could not resist shooting at my standard rectangular targets at 15 yards also. The Black Hills 125-gr. HoneyBadger load features the “Phillips screwdriver” bullet and has proven to be quite effective when tested as a self-defense load. It also results in less felt recoil than other loads in the same weight range. The above-mentioned American Eagle load put five shots in 1-1/2" proving to be the most accurate load for this particular 9mm. The sights as they came were close enough to point of aim it was not necessary to try to adjust for windage.

Even with strength or dexterity problems, cleaning isn’t a problem as the S&W 9mm Shield EZ field strips easily.

Carry

Unless one has very large pockets such as found in a heavy jacket or specially designed tactical vest, the M&P 2.0 Shield EZ 9mm is best carried in a belt holster. I have found a denim vest ordered in the tall size works very well for carrying concealed. There is a front pocket on each side large enough to hold a pistol such as this Shield. The extra-added bonus is when I am sitting the pockets lay on my legs and the pistol, or pistols, are very easy to access.

Now we have both the .380 Shield EZ and the 9mm Shield EZ, can the .45 ACP Shield EZ be far behind? MSRP: $479

www.smith-wesson.com

Subscribe To GUNS Magazine

Purchase A PDF Download Of The GUNS Magazine September 2020 Issue Now!