Spring ahead — but the spring is too stiff!

Smith & Wesson’s M&P Shield EZ is designed for shooters with lower muscle strength, while not compromising on accuracy or firepower


Anyone who remembers their earliest days with a pistol knows how hard it was to develop the skill to lock the slide back. Not only do you need to hold the slide lock up with your thumb, but the muscles of your other hand and arm need to fight the recoil spring tension.

I teach a lot of beginners who don’t have the arm or grip strength to rack most pistol slides, much less remember to hold the slide stop up while they are doing it.

Figure 1: Hammer, smaller spring and solid trigger of the standard Shield (top) and slightly larger EZ.
Figure 1: Hammer, smaller spring and solid trigger of the standard Shield (top) and slightly larger EZ. (Ron LaPedis)

Smith & Wesson engineers decided to address the problem of shooters with weaker muscles with the M&P Shield EZ family.

The pistol is available in .380 or 9mm and has a prominent grip safety. Some models are equipped with night sights, a laser or a thumb safety. The Performance Center version comes tricked out with a longer slide, externally ported barrel and a choice of silver or gold accents.

The key to the EZ family is the use of a low-mounted internal hammer and much lighter recoil spring that allows the 9mm version to be racked with only 13 lbs of pull versus the 23 lbs required for a standard 9mm M&P Shield.

Figure 1 shows the hammer, smaller spring and solid trigger in the slightly larger EZ (bottom) and the standard Shield, which has been on the market for several years (top).

Figure 2 shows the slide cutout, which makes room for the hammer.

Since there is no striker in the EZ, there is no need to overcome a striker safety that is present in the standard Shield.

Figure 2: The Performance Center version comes plain or with gold or silver highlights and a barrel port forward of the slide.
Figure 2: The Performance Center version comes plain or with gold or silver highlights and a barrel port forward of the slide. (Ron LaPedis)

The EZ also has much less spring tension on the slide lock/release and the takedown lever. Taken together, the operation is easier for those without a lot of hand strength or manual dexterity to operate other pistols.

Figure 3: The base of the spring assembly rests against the barrel lug with the rounded portions of the spring rod at top and bottom and “flats” on each side.
Figure 3: The base of the spring assembly rests against the barrel lug with the rounded portions of the spring rod at top and bottom and “flats” on each side.

Takedown is different

When trying to reassemble the EZ after a day at the range, I found out that the recoil spring assembly needs to be oriented in a specific manner.

Figure 3 shows how the base of the spring assembly rests against the barrel lug with the rounded portions of the spring rod at top and bottom and “flats” on each side.

To install the slide assembly onto the frame, the hammer needs to be cocked and your hand needs to stay clear of the grip safety as that causes the firing pin plunger lever to interfere with the slide as it is installed. Get either of these wrong and the slide won’t go back onto the frame.

I used the EZ to teach a dozen students how to consistently lock the slide back before letting them loose with the Shield EZ and a Glock 19 at the range. To a one, every beginner wanted to buy an EZ because they found it lighter, easier to manipulate and great fun to shoot. If you have a beginner in your family this might be a great firearm to get them started in the sport.

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