Ignore the Gun Snobs & Dare to Be EZ
The Smith & Wesson EZ pistol series is arguably one of the most popular sold in America, but you wouldn’t know it from talking to “gun guys.” There are a lot of tacticool types who won’t admit to owning a gun that’s specifically made and marketed to be easy to shoot, like the EZ series is. You can think of the EZ like a moped … lots of fun to run, but you may not want your friends to see you with it.
All that said, Smith & Wesson designed the EZ series for some very specific shooting segments—new shooters and those with hand-strength issues. You might not realize it if you are in your prime, but hand strength challenges can come in a variety of forms. Age-related issues and arthritis are widespread and keep may people from using pistols.
When we have a customer specifically ask about the EZ in the gun store—which happens often, the name recognition is almost unmatched— I first hand them something like a Glock 19. I will ask them to do me a favor and try to rack the slide. Then I ask the to do the same with the EZ. Since the customer just tried to pull the slide back on the Glock 19 almost everyone is amazed at how easily the EZ slide moves back and forth.
The EZ series has options for almost every customer’s budget. To start, the EZ series available in three calibers including .380 ACP, 9mm and 30 Super Carry. The EZ comes with multiple options for sights, like standard white dots, fiber optics, night sights, and even factory-installed laser sights. For those with even more sophisticated tastes, the S&W Performance Center also has options with things like Gold (titanium plating) ported barrels and triggers.
Once we pick our caliber and trim level, the next decision is whether you want the thumb safety or not. Now especially with newer more nervous shooters the thought of more safety is positively looked at. The flip side is that a thumb safety will require more training time to make sure that you learn to flip the safety off every time. Either way, each EZ still comes with a grip safety.
The grip safety on the EZ series means that you cannot shoot the pistol unless you depress the grip safety. The act of properly gripping the pistol automatically turns the safety off and allows you to pull the trigger. Another feature that draws new shooters is the EZ’s long beavertail on the frame, which protects the hand from going up too high on the grip and risking a slide bite.
Moving on to the frame, the EZ has a great texturing that grips onto your hand as you shoot it—without being so aggressive that it wears on your clothing. The EZ has an 18-degree grip angle, which makes for a great natural point of aim.
What’s natural point of aim? EZ! Most people will find that when they make a finger gun and point it like they are going to shoot a target, that angle and the EZ’s point of aim are the same. If you can shoot a finger gun, you can shoot an EZ without any learning curve.
Unlike some of S&W’s other M&P pistols, all EZ series pistols come with a one-piece construction trigger. Since there is no hinge the trigger feels more solid, and the trigger pull feels better with less movement. I find the trigger pulls are reliably in the 5-lb. range. While not a trick competition trigger, it is far from the worst trigger on a pistol.
Another great feature of the EZ trigger is that you don’t have to pull it to take the pistol apart. Once you lock the slide back, you simply turn the takedown lever down, pointing to 6’o clock. Now release the slide and push it forward off the frame. Remove the recoil spring and pull out the barrel and you have field-stripped the pistol for cleaning or maintenance … all without having to put your finger on the trigger, which just makes everyone feel better.
Customers with hand strength issues usually ask for a magazine loader with their guns. It’s not necessary on the EZ; each single-stack magazine features nubs on the follower that make it easy-peasy to load up your magazines. Just push the follower down and the rounds can drop into place with no force.
Once leaded up, the EZ has a tactile loaded chamber indicator. When a round is in the chamber a lever sticks up above the slide, showing you a round is in the chamber. On top of all the safety and usability built into the pistol. The EZ series is manufactured from stainless steel that has an Armornite (Salt Nitride) coating that means the pistol is protected from rust. And while the pistols maintenance needs are low, you should still clean your pistol.
When it comes to faults on the pistol, I have quibbles but find no deal-breakers. Capacity is 8 rounds— how am I supposed to storm the beach of Iwo Jima with only 8 rounds at a time? Well … to tell the truth … the 1911s that GIs used for decades were single stack as well.
Now onto one of my biggest complaints: S&W markets the EZ series as a micro-compact pistol. Even though customers love the EZ-ness of the pistol, most still ask to see the smaller version. The fact is that the EZ is not a micro-compact pistol; it’s a compact. That’s a feature, not a bug. The size of the pistol adds to shootability because the weight and volume of the polymer acts as a shock absorber, devouring felt recoil.
I will make one caveat emptor: The EZ is offered in 30 Super Carry, which is currently expensive and hard to find. It just does not make sense. Maybe one day it will be as cheap and as readily available as 9mm and .380, but until then I will skip.
For me I would have no reservations recommending the EZ pistols. Especially in 2023 these pistols have been out long enough that the accessory market is in full production. For example I can’t think of a single large holster maker that does not make EZ holsters. And why not, since the EZ is such a popular pistol. Combine the reliability with the Smith & Wesson’s lifetime warranty and you have a winner. Maybe that’s the reason for its popularity? After all, if everyone’s too tacticool to carry an EZ, then why do we sell so many? Tell us what you think!
—James “the XDMAN” Nicholas, Mr. UNPewfessional himself
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March 20, 2023 at 2:48 pm
I’ve shot that gun when students have brought it to class. It is suggested to women all the time, but in a critical incident with a stressed body, will they grip the gun properly to be able to shoot it? Maybe they’ll have a death grip on the gun and it will go bang? I’ve seen this to be a problem when training people and introducing a little bit of stress into their training, the wheels start coming off and they make mistakes. And since most people do not seek out additional or defensive shooting training, will they be able to properly defend themselves in an incident, will they grip the gun in order for it to go bang?
March 23, 2023 at 9:11 pm
Sounds like a training issue. Methinks you are over thinking…
March 20, 2023 at 5:10 pm
The thing I’d like on the EZ is a 4 to 4.5 inch barrel. All the calibers it comes in benefit from more velocity, and the extra length would help. Maybe an after market suppressor threaded barrel (extra half inch for the threads) would do it without S&W having to design and build a new model. That said, I may get one anyway. I don’t seem to be getting younger…
March 23, 2023 at 9:14 pm
You DO realize most senior citizens could care less about suppressors, correct? And a longer barrel would require a longer recoil spring, which makes racking the slide more difficult for seniors. Time for a re-think…
March 20, 2023 at 6:30 pm
My wife has the EZ 380; I’ve been very impressed the gun. It shoots well, has a good trigger, decent sights, and racks easier than most 22’s. I particularly like the magazine loading with the side button, similar to most rimfire pistol magazines. It makes loading the magazine so much easier that you wonder why everyone doesn’t do it. The grip safety is a non-issue; it easily compresses and is unobtrusive. The only issue we’ve found is the magazine release is so easy that if you have the gun in a tight-fitting purse compartment or similar, it’s possible to accidentally release the magazine as the gun is drawn (good reason to always use a holster). All in all a great pistol!
Marcus Aurelius Tarkus
March 21, 2023 at 2:12 am
The article leaves out the fact that the EZs are single action only, with an internal hammer. A definite plus. No stiff SA/DA initial trigger pull. With an external safety engaged, the EZ can safely be carried condition one (but with no external hammer at full cock). Couple that feature with the grip safety, and you have two of the best features of a 1911 in much lower weight class.
March 23, 2023 at 9:16 pm
Hate to burst your bubble, but the EZ sans safety can also be safely carried condition one due to the grip safety.
March 21, 2023 at 11:43 am
If leaning toward the 9mm variant, jump over to the new Equalizer. It’s an EZ that is modified to use Shield Plus mags (think 10, 13 or 15 rounds). Since the mags are no longer EZ, a Maglula Uplula is included in the box from the factory.
Still has the grip safety and option for a thumb safety and different sights. Just more capacity.
March 23, 2023 at 9:18 pm
Round capacity is irrelevant to 95% of seniors. EZ trumps non-EZ for old folks.
Roger in NC
March 21, 2023 at 11:48 am
Very well written article. I have been eye-balling the EZ for a while and this helps point out the key decision elements. My old hands have gotten sore and clumsy somehow and I believe this pistol might be what I need. Thanks again.
March 23, 2023 at 2:05 pm
Rodger – I picked one up a while back for the very reason you cited. Seems like someone at S&W was thinking ahead, maybe the person who came up with the EZ concept was already getting old 😉
March 23, 2023 at 9:20 pm
Sore and clumsy hands means you would be much better served with the EZ without the manual safety.
March 24, 2023 at 1:38 pm
We all drive very different vehicles, from Fords, Chevys, Dodges Toyotas and on and on, they listen to their consumer base (sometimes and somewhat) for their next generation of vehicles, however S&W made the EZ by not listening to the majority of their consumer base but build around those they wanted to become part of their consumer base! BRILLIANT, absolutely brilliant, I’ve instructed new shooters on a one on one basis and to say those (testosterone instructors (who don’t know their students)) have turned away many from handling firearms. The EZ said how can we make something that is both SAFE and extremely user friendly! Address the concerns of this group, the novice, the less capable, the slightly timid, Bravo Smith and Wesson on a wonderful success!
May 17, 2023 at 9:23 am
For those wondering, my name is Clark Kent. By day I spend my time trolling message boards and luring kids into vans with no windows using subpar candy purchased in the 80s.
By night my superhero comes out, and I am supersmall man! Spending my time lurking in the seediest areas of my town, engaging other supersmall men at “arcades” and peering with hooded eyes over racks of shoddy pornography.
I am happy to have saved you all!