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Smith & Wesson M&P Shield: A Great Gun or Not?

Smith debuted their M&P autopistols in 2005 as a follow-up to their Sigma and SW99 designs. They followed up in 2012 with the M&P Shield iteration in 9mm and .40 S&W.

Smith & Wesson M&P Shield EZ
Smith & Wesson M&P Shield EZ. Image: Industry Handout.

Something dawned on me the other day, dear readers. I’ve written my fair share of articles on older Smith & Wesson semi-automatic pistols. My writing here at 19fortyfive has ranged from the First Generation 9mm S&W Model 39, to the Second Generation .45 ACP Model 645, to Third Generation gats like the .45 ACP M4506, 9mm M5906, 10mm M1006, and even Smith’s M1911. But I have yet to do a write-up on any of the iconic gunmaker’s newer autopistol designs.

This is a pretty big miss on my part, as their M&P Shield series of autopistols has become highly popular in just over a decade. It’s time to see what all the fuss is about. 

S&W M&P Shield Series Early History & Specifications

Smith debuted their M&P autopistols in 2005 as a follow-up to their Sigma and SW99 designs. They followed up in 2012 with the M&P Shield iteration in 9mm and .40 S&W.

There are more variants, subvariants, and calibers of the Shield than you could shake a stick at, so for the sake of brevity, this article will focus on the EZ model (partially in honor of the late great rapper Eazy E). According to the manufacturer’s official info page:

“Built for personal and home protection, the new M&P9 Shield EZ pistol is the latest addition to the M&P M2.0™ family and features an 8+1 round capacity and a 3.675” barrel. The M&P9 Shield EZ pistol ships with two 8 round magazines that feature a load assist tab for quick, easy loading, as well as a picatinny-style equipment rail to accommodate accessories. The pistol also features an optimal M&P pistol 18-degree grip angle for a natural point of aim, white-dot front and adjustable white-dot rear sights, and a light, crisp trigger.”

Additional specifications for the Shield EZ include an overall length of 6.8 inches, a width of 1.04 inches, a height of 5.05 inches, and an empty weight of 23.68 ounces. Finish is described by Smith as ” Armornite – Durable, Corrosion Resistant Finish.”

Personal Shooting Impressions: S&W Shield EZ 9mm 

Now on to the fun part: This past Saturday, I journeyed to the superb Silver Eagle Group indoor shooting range in Ashburn, Virginia, to try out one of their rental Shields.

The ergonomics on the gun were top-notch, with all of the controls within easy reach, and the grip feeling quite comfortable in my hand. Trigger pull was light and crisp, with a clean break. Muzzle flip was a good bit more stout than I would have expected for a 9mm pistol, but certainly not unpleasant, and the momentum consistently put me right back on target, in alignment with the excellent sight picture.

For ammo I used 50 rounds of MagTech 115-grain full metal jacket “hardball.” Course of fire was divvied up as follows: Fifteen head shots at 21 feet; 10 torso shots at 50 feet; 15 head shots at 75 feet; and 10 head shots at 150 feet. I fired at the ICE-QT paper target.

At all distances, my shots were consistently printing to the left, except at 50 feet. At 150 feet, they’re not even worth mentioning, but the same can be said for the Springfield Armory Hellcat and Glock 42 I test-fired during the range session. 

All 7-yard head shots connected with the head zone of the target, with the exception of one flier that I complacently dropped into the upper torso. At 50 feet, the results were very pleasing, with 8 hits in the tiebreaking 5x-ring, and the remaining two straying slightly low-left, but still within the overall 5-zone. At 75 feet, the leftward drift of my shots became more pronounced, with only four striking the head zone proper, one giving the bad guy a haircut, and the rest straying into the shoulder. At the maximum distance, like I said, there is not much worth mentioning. I have to shake the rust off of my long-distance shooting, evidently. 

A Shooting Buddy’s Impressions Part I: Shield EZ 9mm

An acquaintance of mine who is a U.S. Coast Guard veteran owns a Shield EZ 9mm, and here’s what she has to say: 

“This is what I have. LOVE IT <thumbs-up emoji>…I found when I used a 147-grain, my accuracy was better. The recoil with a 115-grain messes with my hand grip. I have some nerve issues in my left hand/arm from my time in service so I need that grip control. 

A Shooting Buddy’s Impressions Part Deux: Shield Plus 9mm

Meanwhile, my good friend Ike “Itshak” Sarfati, an Israel Defense Forces combat veteran, owns the Shield Plus and raves about it on a regular basis. Here’s Ike’s take:

“The S&W Shield followed up with its better brother is one of the nicest carrying and shooting guns out there. The Shield with its 8+1 capacity and the Shield Plus with its 13+1 capacity stands equal to many larger, heavier and bulkier guns like the Glock 26, some HK’s, Walthers and many others. The Shield Plus also has a better grip and trigger from the factory than many other guns. I have owned a couple Shields and I currently own two Shield Plus, one with an RDS and an older Shield 45 that I shall never trade or sell.”

Want Your Own? 

EZ Shields in 9mm chambering carry a current MSRP of $521 to $643. Meanwhile, according to True Gun Value, “A SMITH & WESSON SHIELD EZ pistol is currently worth an average price of $450.22 new and $307.54 used . The 12-month average price is $448.58 new and $307.54 used.” 

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Christian D. Orr has 33 years of shooting experience, starting at the tender age of 14. His marksmanship accomplishments include: the Air Force Small Arms Ribbon w/one device (for M16A2 rifle and M9 pistol); Pistol Expert Ratings from U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP), Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) Criminal Investigator Training Program (CITP); multiple medals and trophies via the Glock Sport Shooting Foundation (GSSF) and the Nevada Police & Fires Games (NPAF). Chris has been an NRA Certified Basic Pistol Instructor since 2011.  

Written By

Christian D. Orr is a former Air Force officer, Federal law enforcement officer, and private military contractor (with assignments worked in Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Kosovo, Japan, Germany, and the Pentagon).