When it comes to Smith and Wesson’s M&P Shield EZ models, all I can say is that the company has some exceptional market researchers.
People love this gun, especially new shooters, and especially new female shooters. No less than 20 of my students in the last 6 months alone have tried the EZ 9mm or EZ .380 and decided to make it their first carry gun.
This polymer-framed, hammer-fired handgun comes in .380 or 9mm, has a standard grip safety and optional thumb safety, weighs 23 ounces, has an overall length of 6.8 inches, a 4.5-pound trigger pull, and holds 8 in the magazine.
Moreover, the light slide rack and pull tabs on the magazine make this gun easy to load and easy to chamber – probably the easiest semi-auto on the market right now.
In fact, the whole concept of the “EZ” is the butter-smooth slide rack. The pull tabs on the magazine make it a breeze to load as well. To my knowledge, in the past, only 22 pistols ever had pull tabs.
These features are especially great for new shooters. As an instructor, I can attest that the two things new shooters struggle with the most are racking the slide and loading the magazine.
To me and other life-long shooters, both racking the slide and loading the magazine are part of muscle memory. However, if you’re new to guns and haven’t had the time or experience to master these maneuvers, then both can become frustrating very quickly.
Smith & Wesson obviously took notice of this fact and decided to find a solution for these potential new customers.
The Shield EZ models can also be great for those who’ve been shooting for years but are now experiencing some arthritis or other issues in their hands that make gripping the slide and chambering a round more difficult.
Disassembly, cleaning, and reassembly are fairly “EZ” with these M&Ps as well, though a few quick specifics should be noted.
First, don’t engage the grip safety during disassembly or reassembly. Engaging it will cause the firing pin plunger lever to pop up and get in the way.
Second, make sure the hammer remains in the cocked position – not upwards or you’ll never get it back together.
Last, the recoil spring (which is very lightweight and is the real secret to the easy slide rack) must be seated back into the barrel lug a certain way – with the flat sides sitting vertically.
If you’re considering buying one, I also recommend that you first go to the store and hold it to make sure the thumb safety doesn’t get in the way of achieving a proper grip, as is always the risk with a thumb safety. You also want to ensure that your particular grip is strong enough to COMFORTABLY engage the grip safety.
Beyond those considerations, I think Smith & Wesson’s Shield EZ models are great for shooters of all ages and levels of experience but especially well-suited for those new to shooting and those with less strength in their hands. I’ve recommended these guns to dozens of students and will continue to do so. Nicely done Smith & Wesson.