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Recently, I got some range time with Smith & Wesson’s new M&P9 Shield EZ, a 9mm semi-automatic made specifically so that the slide is much easier to rack back than other semi-auto concealed carry pistols. The Shield EZ has special magazines that are easier to load, too.

Anyone, of course, can use the EZ.  Yet, those who might really appreciate it as people with weaker hands and those who have trouble manipulating traditional slides and magazines.

I shot the M&P9 Shield EZ during several range sessions and concealed carried it or a week using a new holster from Alien Gear, their Cloak Tuck 3.5 IWB.

The M&P9 Shield EZ and the Cloak Tuck 3.5 IWB turned out to be a great pairing.  The Cloak Tuck concealed the pistol nicely and made it readily available for drawing, while the EZ9 itself was accurate and dependable, and yes, was much easier to manipulate than other carry pistols I have used.

The Pistol

In 2018, Smith & Wesson introduced the M&P380 Shield EZ that featured the “EZ” easy-to-rack slide and easy-to-load magazine slide. I reviewed the M&P380 Shield EZ. As Smith & Wesson claimed, the pistol was very easy to rack. The magazines were very easy to load, too, thanks to a load-assist tab on the side that allows you to push down the magazine spring.

Smith & Wesson M&P 9 Shield EZ 9mm Semi-Automatic Handgun Review
Easy to rack, easy to load: Smith & Wesson’s new M&P9 Shield EZ.

It was also quite an accurate pistol.

The only hitch, for me, anyway, was the .380 AUTO chambering.  Yes, .380 AUTO can be an effective bad guy deterrent, but is also relatively underpowered compared to other common carry handgun calibers.

Problem solved with the M&P9 Shield EZ and its 9mm chambering.

Built for personal and home protection, the new M&P9 Shield EZ pistol sports a polymer frame and features an 8+1 round capacity and a 3.675-inch barrel. The M&P9 Shield EZ pistol ships with two 8-round magazines, complete with the above-mentioned load assist tabs for quick, easy loading, as well as a picatinny-style equipment rail under the barrel to accommodate lights, lasers and similar accessories.

The pistol also features a white-dot front sight and an adjustable white-dot rear sight.  My Lyman Electronic Trigger Pull Gauge measured the single-action trigger at a crisp 2 pounds, 11 ounces average.

My M&P9 Shield EZ had a manual thumb safety on the left side of slide. But the pistol  can also be had without the safety. In either case, both models have a grip safety that must be depressed before the M&P9 Shield EZ will fire.


Smith & Wesson M&P 9 Shield EZ 9mm Semi-Automatic Handgun Review
Accurate and able to use a wide selection of ammunition, the M&P9 Shield EZ is a solid choice for self defense. Photo by Joe Schuh.

For me, a pistol that is finicky with ammunition is a real problem. As in, it shoots Brands A and B just fine, but it’s glitchy with Brands  C and D. Especially for a carry pistol you may have to bet your life on, literally, I want to know the pistol can use darn near any type of ammunition.

Past handgun reviews have left me with a cardboard box of various 9mm ammunition brands. Full metal jackets, self-defense rounds, a few target offerings, and several frangible loads.  In all, over a dozen 9mm ammunition makers have made it into the box.   

So, when I got to my outdoor range with the M&P9 Shield EZ, I grabbed a handful of 9mm out of said cardboard box and loaded the magazines, making sure I had a mix of ammunition brands and types.

I began my function testing with this mixture of 9mm ammunition, and in over 100 rounds had zero malfunctions. I even mag dumped several such mixed magazines without a problem.


Smith & Wesson M&P 9 Shield EZ 9mm Semi-Automatic Handgun Review
The five shots of the Sig Sauer V crown self-defense ammunition scored a 1.10-inch group, while  Shot #6 pulled a bit to one side—though still a zombie dropper!

I shot the M&P9 Shield EZ offhand at five- and seven-yards for accuracy testing. In both cases, I had no problems pegging 1.25- to 1.5-inch, five-shot groups shooting offhand with two brands of range ammunition: Remington UMC with a 115-grain full metal jacket bullet; and Interceptor RNP firing a 65-grain copper-polymer frangible bullet.

Of course, I pulled some shots and had several larger groups, too. But that wasn’t the pistol’s fault.

I also ran fifty rounds of self-defense ammunition through the EZ, in this case, Sig Sauer’s Elite Performance V-Crown 9mm in both the 115- and 124-grain loads.

I did a couple of standard targets with the Sig and then moved to the zombies and headshots. The accuracy was very impressive. My best five-shot group on the zombies was 1.10 inches, while the sixth shot expanded the group to 1.85 inches. My best four shots came in at just .93-inches.

Smith & Wesson M&P 9 Shield EZ 9mm Semi-Automatic Handgun Review
The only good zombie…is a head-shot zombie! Photo by Joe Schuh.

The fine accuracy of the M&P9 Shield EZ is due in part to the tactile checkering on the grip, providing a very stable platform for the hand.

The Holster

Alien Gear came out with the very first holster for the Shield EZ9 that I found, the above-mentioned Cloak Tuck 3.5 IWB (inside the waistband).

Smith & Wesson M&P 9 Shield EZ 9mm Semi-Automatic Handgun Review
Alien Gear’s Cloak Tuck 3.5 IWB holster is user-adjustable for cant, ride height and retention—without special tools!

The Cloak Tuck 3.5 has a breathable neoprene backing that rests against the body and a harder holster shell covered with Boltaron, a hard thermoplastic, over a steel core.

Daily Carry

Out of the box, the cant and ride height of the Cloak Tuck 3.5 were both good, but the retention was a little too tight. The later was easily remedied by just barely loosening the screws holding the holster to the backing.  

By the way, Alien Gear holsters come with directions for adjusting and accessorizing—understandable directions with photos that actually help you understand the things you need to do. Now, other holster makers also provide clear instructions, while a whole lot of them do not.

And the Cloak Tuck 3.5 is very adjustable. Cant, ride height and retention can all be made to accommodate the carrier, by the carrier, without any special tools.

Smith & Wesson M&P 9 Shield EZ 9mm Semi-Automatic Handgun Review
McCombie carried the M&P9 EZ for a week with the Cloak Tuck 3.5  IWB, from Alien Gear, and found the holster comfortable and very functional. Photo by Joe Schuh.

I carried the M&P9 Shield EZ in the Cloak Tuck 3.5 for seven days and found it comfortable. The holster was stiff enough that the pistol could be easily removed and was kept at the proper ride height, but not so stiff as to dig into my hip. With a suggested retail of just $49.00, the Cloak Tuck 3.5 represents a great deal and a very functional choice for carrying their M&P9 Shield EZ.

Specifications: Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield EZ 9mm Semi-Automatic Handgun

Caliber: 9mm
Capacity: 8+1
Barrel Length: 3.675″
Overall Length: 6.8″
Front Sight: White Dot
Rear Sight: White Dot Adjustable for Windage
Action: Internal Hammer Fired
Grip: Polymer
Weight: 23.2 oz.
Barrel Material: Stainless Steel, Armornite® Finish
Slide Material: Stainless Steel, Armornite® Finish
Frame Material: Polymer
Suggested Retail: $479.00

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