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What You Should (Probably) Leave To A Gunsmith

What You Should (Probably) Leave To A Gunsmith

There are some gun repairs or modifications that are no big deal, and there are some that you should probably leave to a gunsmith.

It’s kind of like working on your car; there are some things that aren’t a big deal and some things that you should probably leave to a mechanic. Oil change, most minor repairs…go ahead! Rebuilding the engine? You might want to leave that to professionals.

Unless you already are a mechanic, of course.

The reason why is that some parts on some guns or at least some makes and models of guns have to be done absolutely correctly or else the gun will never work correctly.

And what are some of those things?

Anything Involving Milling

Unless you happen to have your own CNC milling equipment, and are a machinist, leave anything involving milling to the professionals.

Actual gunsmiths, who are actually fewer and farther between than you might think, are actually machinists who specialize in firearms parts rather than mechanics for guns, which is how most people tend to use them though not that there’s anything wrong with that per se.

Typically, the reason you’d mill parts require specific clearances and dimensions be achieved in the cuts either for milling receiver parts from stock, sight cuts and other applications. Precision is required, so this is definitely something that should be left to a gunsmith.

Barrel Swaps, With Obvious Exceptions We All Know About

Obviously, some barrels are literally drop-in. You just put the new one in and that’s it. Most modern striker-fired pistols, AR platform rifles and so on. Those can be changed by the lay person without too much issue and with minimal tools needed.

However, not all firearms are like that, and barrel changes beyond simple drop-in changes should probably be left to a gunsmith for best results.

1911 pistols typically require anywhere from a little fitting to a lot of fitting to replace the barrel, depending on the model and the barrel.

Bolt-action rifles can be anywhere from simple to incredibly complicated to rebarrel, depending on the exact make and model. However, in all instances, doing so requires gunsmithing tools (such as an action wrench) that are not cheap to acquire.

Oh, and just like installing spark plugs…you better thread it perfectly or else you can be in for serious problems.

Then you have firearms with press-fit barrels, such as AK, HK91/G3/CETME rifles, FN FALs and so on. The typical design of these guns is to use a hydraulic press to press the barrel into a front trunnion that’s riveted or milled into the receiver.

Granted, sourcing a press isn’t necessarily difficult (typically a 20-ton press is required, and you can get one from Harbor Freight for about $200) and the operation is not complicated. Set barrel, press barrel pin.

But if you screw it up, you can wind up with headspacing issues…and that’s dangerous. Simple to do, but there isn’t much margin for error, so it’s better left to the professionals.

Literally Anything Involving A Remington 740 Or 742

The Remington 740 and 742, a formerly very popular semi-auto rifle from the 50s, is a veritable Rube Goldberg machine. If the people who designed it had half a brain, or for that matter any integrity, it could have been one of the all-time great rifles. Most wind up as wall hangers.

Today’s Remington 740 or 742 owner tends to have inherited it from a relative, such as a father, uncle, grandfather or what have you. The only advice there is as far as working on one is to forget it. Take it to a gunsmith.

The only thing to do with one is clean and lubricate it using evaporating contact cleaner, because you don’t want to try to take the damn thing apart, and hose it down with RemOil or other all-purpose cleaner/lubricant/protectant. Then pray like hell that the bolt lugs don’t eat the receiver rails…which they eventually will, because Remington (in their infinite wisdom) decided 1,000 to 2,000 rounds was about the average life expectancy of a rifle anyway.

Gas Blocks

Any gas-operated rifle (AR, AK, FALs, AR-18s and their modern descendants) uses a gas block to either directly blow the bolt back (DI) or to power a long- or short-stroke piston to operate the bolt.

If there’s any leakage in the gas system…gun don’t work.

This is also why the delayed roller blowback system HK 91/G3/CETME rifle is arguably better than the piston systems (no gas system to screw up!) but that’s a topic for another time.

This is why the most common problems with AR platform rifles is either a gas block installed incorrectly or a malfunctioning gas key on the bolt, often caused by poor staking, both of which are problems related to the gas operation.

And a whole lot of ARs and AKs get brought into gun shops for not running correctly…and it turns out the reason why is because the gas system was Installed By Bubba.

Usually some tacticool adjustable gas block because Bubba thought he’d get him a can…and doesn’t know what buffer weights are.

If there’s a common theme here, it’s that you should leave things to a gunsmith when there’s little or no margin for error.

Husband Thinks He’s Shooting An Intruder But It’s His Pregnant Wife

Husband Thinks He’s Shooting An Intruder But It’s His Pregnant Wife

A Florida man is awakened at about 1:00 AM by a noise that he hears in his house. He thinks that there is an intruder in his home, so he gets his gun.

According to the local Sheriff, “He saw a shape in the hallway and fired one round, and unfortunately, it turned out to be his wife.” She was six months pregnant.

“We received a call here into our 911 communications center where a male caller very franticly said on the phone that he had accidentally shot his wife,” also said the Sheriff as reported by ABC25 WPFB News.

Doctors were able to save the baby but not the wife. A toddler that was also in the home was not hurt.

He further said that all evidence points to this being a tragic accident and that the investigation is ongoing. No charges have been filed.

I almost hate to write this one, but I have to believe that this example will shake up someone enough so that they see to it that this won’t happen to them.

We only have four firearms safety rules, and number four is simply to be sure of your target. If you are not sure what or who your target is, then you don’t shoot. Period!

This sort of thing has also happened when a teenager has been mistaken for an intruder while sneaking back into the house late at night.

The solution to this situation is rather simple. Communication. If this husband had just called out to who he thought was an intruder, he would have heard his wife’s voice in response, and tragedy averted. It has also been taught that family members should call out a code word, even if it’s just their name if challenged in the home.

Having a flashlight staged with your gun can also identify friend or foe in a dark home.

I don’t want to add to this man’s grief by calling him out on anything. I can’t begin to imagine what he’s going through. But let’s hope that this tragic example in some way helps to prevent another like it.

Worried About A Joe Biden Presidency? Why Gun Rights Are Probably Safe…For Now

Worried About A Joe Biden Presidency? Why Gun Rights Are Probably Safe...For Now

As we’re all aware, Joe Biden is now the president-elect or at least is presumptively the president-elect. Naturally, a lot of people are worried about gun rights.

Let us, for the moment, set aside idle fantasy or paranoid musings of “Red Dawn”-like scenarios to one side and instead concentrate on reality. What we know for sure.

And it doesn’t take much to figure this out:

It isn’t likely that any major gun legislation is happening any time soon. In fact, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to surmise that it wouldn’t be passed during his first term.

In other words, exactly what our actual gun rights are right now (meaning what the law and the courts say our gun rights are, not what you or I or anyone think they are or should be) is in all likelihood safe…for the moment.

How come?

Let’s talk about some reasons why.

Joe Biden Is Taking Office Amidst A Pandemic And An Economic Crisis

Sure, a Democrat has been elected to the White House, but does that mean they’re coming for our guns?

Probably not.

Even if they intend to, Biden, Harris and the rest are going to have some bigger fish to fry when they assume office.

For starters, the COVID-19 pandemic is not only not over, it’s getting worse.

According to the COVID Tracking Project, whose data is used by the White House as well as every news service you can name, there are 10.27 million cases of COVID-19 in the United States as of Nov. 11.

The increase is not due to more testing; new tests, if you look at their data, increased at a faster rate than new cases. More people are getting infected. More than 144,000 new cases were reported on Nov. 11, the current single-day record, which will be broken.

In other words, it isn’t getting better, it’s getting worse, and that’s going to be a far bigger priority.

While new unemployment claims have been steadily slowing, long-term unemployment – meaning people who have been out of work for more than 27 weeks – have been steadily increasing since summer.

Some job growth has occurred, despite the pandemic, but it’s almost entirely concentrated in the retail space, which is hardly a good long-term job prospect.

The point here? Joe Biden takes office with a pandemic to curb, and the looming prospect of a potential recession caused by it. Gun control…is not going to immediately be a priority.

The ‘Rona (of the colorful nicknames, “bat soup croup” is probably my favorite) and jobs are the 800-pound gorilla in the room and must be dealt with first.

Nevermind his energy initiatives. Nevermind his proposed healthcare reforms. Nevermind the promised civil rights actions.

In other words, he sure made some campaign promises about guns but there are some other items on the docket that are really big issues. Gun control…is not likely high on his list of priorities.

Congress Is Not His Friend

The houses of Congress are not packed with Democrat allies, willing to pass whatever legislation president-elect Biden wants to see passed and see his vision to full fruition.

As of this moment, 33 of 35 senatorial races have been called as have all races for seats in the House of Representatives.

The house is divided, almost evenly, and not fully to his advantage.

At the moment, Republicans maintain a slight majority in the Senate (50 to 49) which is enough to frustrate any efforts to ram any legislation through, especially since any Democrats from traditionally conservative states who want to hold onto their seats.

The House is slightly more favorable to him, but not by much. At the time of this writing, the Democratic majority has endured this election cycle but has lost ground, with an advantage of fewer than 20 seats.

That’s an advantage of less than 5 percent; a razor-thin margin.

And remember, folks…mid-term elections are 2 years away.

In other words, while he has a bit on his side, it isn’t much and may not last. One-third of the Senate and the entire House of Representatives is up for re-election in 24 months, and a lot of people might be looking for revenge over the loss of their beloved Commander in Cheeto.

Oh, and in case you hadn’t noticed, the Supreme Court is stacked with conservatives. The more conservative justices have a 6 to 3 advantage…but bear in mind that Justices Alito and Thomas are both over 70.

Don’t Panic, But Do Not Become Complacent

The point here is not that a Joe Biden presidency is no big deal, but instead to calm down a bit.

Is it the case that we have nothing to worry about?

DEFINITELY NOT.

Joe Biden has proposed some absolutely terrible “gun reforms,” none of which are related to ameliorating or attenuating gun crime and all of which are devoted to making guns harder for the law-abiding citizen to buy…who commit hardly any of the gun crime.

It is, however, to say that there’s good reason to not panic. He has some much bigger things on his plate upon assuming office and has little advantage to enjoy in Congress, which – of course – is instrumental in passing any legislation needed to further his agenda.

Don’t panic…but don’t become complacent. It’s time to start taking what action we can to fight for our Second Amendment rights.

Photo by Gage Skidmore.

Self-Defense Against Animals: What Are the Rules?

Self-Defense Against Animals: What Are the Rules?

The majority of self-defense training focuses on defeating a threat posed by the most dangerous species that roam the earth; humankind. However, there is no denying that furry creatures also pose threats far more often than many realize. Animals, both domestic and wild, maim and kill quite a few people every year. Defending yourself against a threat of the furry variety proves quite different from a human attacker in many ways, both tactically and legally. What are the rules?

Note: this is not legal advice, and I am not an attorney. Here, I offer some of the relatively universal principles to consider concerning defense against animals.

Understanding the Threat

What animals actually pose a threat worth your consideration? The answer is based primarily on where you spend your time. If you live in a rural woodlands area, you may face danger from large predators like bears and cougars. If you live in an urban or suburban setting, your primary animal concern may be domestic dogs. In either case, such animals can assuredly pose a deadly threat to a human being. Bears and large cats should be obvious in this regard, but many people discount a large and aggressive dog’s actual capability. Large dogs have very powerful jaws and can do excessive damage by biting and tearing.

Also of concern is defending other innocent people. Dog attacks on other people, particularly children, need to be handled with an immediate force response. While a lethal response may be required, less-lethal tools can often work well to dissuade a dog or another animal that is aggressively approaching to attack. OC spray has a fairly good track record in discouraging dogs and other animals. As with humans, however, spray cannot be counted on to be effective, and a particularly aggressive dog may power right through it.

Another significant consideration regarding animal attacks is the nature in which they attack. If you need to shoot a dog attacking a child, for example, making such a shot is fraught with peril as the dog typically ends up on top of the child or attached to the victim in some regard. A contact shot may be the best option or resorting to an edged weapon. While such considerations may not be foremost in the world of self-defense, thinking through these possibilities before you face such a situation is sound.

The Legality of Using Force on Animals

First, the justification for using force against an animal is not necessarily different from that used against a human adversary. There must be a reasonable fear of death or grave bodily harm. One can certainly argue that resorting to force earlier when facing an animal threat as homicide is not the possible outcome. But I would suggest that shooting an animal, particularly a domestic pet that belongs to somebody else, should not be taken lightly. You want to articulate the need to act with force as you can absolutely face charges for killing another person’s dog or other pet. While there will not be a charge of homicide, there are many severe charges that can be brought against the defender.

Killing a domestic animal, if not justified, can result in a charge of animal cruelty. It can also result in charges related to discharging a firearm in city limits or reckless endangerment of some kind. If facing an attacking animal while anywhere close to other people, be sure to avoid taking warning shots. Just as this is a bad idea when facing an attacking human, so it is a bad idea when facing a dangerous animal, unless in a remote area where firing the weapon will have no legal ramifications or pose a danger to others.

Likewise, the use of force against wild animals is hardly without consequence, leading the prudent individual only to use deadly force if warranted. Some predator species, such as Grizzly Bear, are protected in many states, and killing such a protected animal holds severe legal consequences. Obviously, defending oneself or another person from an attacking bear is legitimate self-defense. Still, short of acting in true self-defense, killing such animals should not be taken lightly. Know the laws as they apply to the animals that could pose a danger to you in the environments that you frequent. Common species like coyotes are rarely protected, yet grey wolves are almost always protected as endangered species. The penalty for killing a coyote in most places is essentially non-existent, yet killing a protected Grey Wolf is a significant crime. Know the laws.

Generally, with domestic dogs or other pets, you are legally justified to shoot such animals in rural environments if they are on your land and attacking your livestock. This typically applies to wild predators, though you must know if a particular species is protected and endangered. Common predators like coyotes, nuisance animals such as wild pigs, and domestic dogs alike can typically be killed if they threaten livestock or human life on your property. Once again, I would urge caution even in this regard when it comes to domestic animals or endangered species, and be sure that you act only in justified defense if needed.

The Principle to Abide By

As discussed, using force against animals falls short of a homicide charge but is hardly free of consequences. Therefore, the overriding principle concerning the use of force with animals should be similar to using force against human beings: it is only justified if necessary. Most would agree that animal life is not as sacred as human life, but it is hardly inconsequential. No well-adjusted human being would want to kill a domestic pet for little reason, so using force only if necessary is the rule to abide by. Likewise, know the law as it applies to wild predators in your vicinity, and use force only if necessary for self-defense.

Range Safety Officer Shot, Killed During USPSA Match

Range Safety Officer Shot, Killed During USPSA Match

A Range Safety Officer working a match in New York recently was the victim of a negligent discharge. The 67-year-old was a long term member of the indoor club hosting the competition. He was struck once and died at the scene.

Both the range and the media labeled it an accident and, of course, by that, they meant that it was not intentional, and there is no doubt about that. However, we all know that this was the result of someone negligently handling their firearm. The four universal safety rules are not hard to follow, but this is a good reminder that we can never let ourselves get careless with them.

Even the most experienced shooters must work to maintain their focus and not allow themselves to be distracted. Again, this is not difficult to do. Never allow yourself to get sloppy with them.

And millions of new gun owners also need proper instruction now, both in the safety rules and good shooting technique. So take a new shooter to the range. Teach them how to handle safely and shoot their new gun. Let’s get them off to a good, safe start in the shooting sports, self-defense, or whatever other interest they have.

Like you really need an excuse to go to the range anyway?

These types of “accidents” are extraordinarily rare. Let’s all renew our efforts to keep it that way.

Home Owner Uses Rifle To Defend Roommate And Girlfriend In Midland, TX

Home Owner Uses Rifle To Defend Roommate And Girlfriend In Midland, TX

Back on September 29, 2020, a couple of roommates are playing cards in their trailer home that afternoon. One of their girlfriends was also in the home.

Suddenly they are interrupted by a security alarm on the front door. A home intruder, maybe a possible kidnapper, is at the door.

“He had blue gloves on and a surgical mask, and he pointed at me and said you’re going to come with me. He was very matter-of-fact and very determined–it was stressful, it was scary.” said the homeowner. “You know I yelled to the intruder stay where you are, don’t move, stay where you’re at right now, don’t move, the cops are on their way.” Reported SanAngeloLive.com.

The man ignored the demand and instead ran to his bedroom, retrieved a rifle, and shot the intruder twice. He continued shooting until he could get his roommate and girlfriend to safety. His roommate was shot in the shoulder and he took a round in the shin. Neither injury was life-threatening.

When police arrived, they found the intruder dead on the kitchen floor, and after interviewing the roommates and the girlfriend, they concluded that the homeowner’s actions were justified self-defense.

Seems like a pretty straightforward self-defense case. A man tries to enter your home, tells you that “you’re going to come with me”, and ends up shooting you, and your roommate checks all of the self-defense boxes. The attack was imminent. The suspect clearly showed intent by firing shots. There is no way to retreat out of most mobile homes. They didn’t start the fight and what reasonable person wouldn’t consider the suspect’s actions a deadly force threat?

Having a front door alarm was a good thing. It perhaps gave them more time to respond. The rifle being handy likely saved their lives. Talking to the police immediately after the incident without legal counsel was not the best idea, even if this was a very clear cut case.

Attacks happen when you least expect them. Do you have a home invasion plan?

3 Drills for Training Without a Shot Timer

3 Drills for Training Without a Shot Timer

We are all about shot timers these days. It is what all the Instagram heroes are into. It is what all the performance-driven instructors are into (myself included). Time standards and performance tracking are very important on the path to high-level handgunnery. What if we don’t have one, though?

Shot timers are not cheap. They will run at least $100 for a decent one, and up from there. While $100 isn’t a show stopper, it can be a significant hurdle. Especially when budgets are tight, and ammo cost three times what it did a year ago. Here are some drills that don’t require a shot timer to hold you over until you eat enough Ramen to afford one.


Modified 300

There is a drill out there called the Bullseye 3-Way, or the 300. It is an abbreviated version of “The Humbler,” or 700 point Aggregate. The 300 is three strings of fire of 10 rounds each shot on a B-8 target from 25 yards. One string is shot freestyle, one strong hand only, and one weak hand only. The actual point value is the score, a max of 300. Hence the name. It is a beast of a drill.

Weak hand only from 25 yards on a B-8 is serious business. The modified version is my own adaptation of the drill to make it more accessible to different skill levels. The strings are still the same; just the distance is adjusted. The freestyle string is at 25 yards, the strong hand only string is at 20 yards, and the weak hand only string is at 15 yards. Quite honestly, the standard 300 is hard and can be a bit demoralizing. This modified version still isn’t a cakewalk, but hopefully, more people will find it useful.

Surprise Reloads

Without a shot timer and unable to track our time, our focus shifts a bit to drills that work different skills. Like reloads. Most of the time, when working reloads with a timer, they are reloads that are planned. We know we are going to shoot, however many rounds and then reload. It checks our raw speed. Really though, we probably aren’t going to know when we need to reload. It is just going to happen.

This drill is about having to recognize a reload is needed and then execute a quick reload without notice. To pull this off, we need the gun to run dry without knowing exactly when it will happen. One way to accomplish this is to load our magazines with varying numbers of rounds. Draw and fire 2-4 rounds each rep. Eventually, we will run through what is in the magazine and have to reload. Always fire at least 2 rounds after the reload. This helps keep us honest and makes sure we are getting back on the gun correctly. Keep a high accuracy standard, too, like a 6” circle at 7 yards or so.

Another way to run this drill is to fill the magazines up and then tactical load magazines every 2 or 3 reps. The round counts get mixed up and difficult to track. Eventually, we will run a magazine dry, then reload. Surprise reloads should make us engage the brain a bit more and is a more accurate representation of what we might actually do with a for-real unexpected reload.

Speed Drill

Wait, how do we track speed without a timer? We miss. If we don’t have a timer to use, it limits our reference frame, but that doesn’t mean we cannot work on getting faster. For that, we will use what is called a Progression Drill. The first rep, we will draw and fire 1 round. Second rep, 2 rounds. Third rep, 3 rounds. Rinse and repeat until we get to 5 rounds. Once we hit 5, we start walking it back, 4, 3, 2, & 1. That is a full progression drill. We can repeat the process as long as our life savings will allow before running out of ammo.

If we are trying to build speed, we need to push against our current speed threshold to get faster. We don’t have to actually know specifically how fast we are going to do this. What we need to know is when we are going too fast. We can do this by tracking misses on a reasonably sized target, typically no larger than 8”. The general rule is that when building speed, we want around 10% of our fired shots to miss. This means we are just beyond our capability but not going crazy with it. So for a single pass through a progression drill, that is 2-3 misses. Any more than that, and we are letting it get away from us. No misses, and we aren’t pushing hard enough.

Now, we need to run ourselves on a timer to at least get a benchmark, but that doesn’t have to be today or even this month. Just eventually. Then do more work. Then recheck our time. If you find a buddy with a timer, that would be good enough.

No Excuses

There you have it, three drills for everyone who doesn’t have a shot timer. No more excuses. Get after it. Well, if you have ammo anyway.

Late Night Meetup Ends With Female Armed Robber Dead

Late Night Meetup Ends With Female Armed Robbery Dead

A Georgia man invites a 27-year-old woman into his house one evening. The woman is from Milwaukee, WI. The relationship between the two is not yet known but late into the evening the woman pulled a gun and attempted to rob the man and she shot at him as he attempted to run out of the home.

The woman then left the home but soon returned and tried to gain access again by breaking a window next to the front door. The man retrieved his own gun and shot her as she came through the door. She retreated to her car across the street from the home where police found her dead. The shooting occurred at about 3:00 AM.

The man cooperated with police and it was determined that he acted in self-defense and was not charged. Original story reported by WSB-TV 2.

Be careful who you invite into your home. It seems plausible that these two may not have known each other prior to that night but that’s just speculation. One wouldn’t expect someone you knew well enough to be in your home that late into the night to try to rob you at gunpoint. Still, there are crazies out there.

With the proliferation of dating apps out there it might be good to remember that you really don’t know the person you’ve just met online and that it’s best to arrange your first few meetings in a neutral public place. This advice is usually addressed toward women but clearly, danger can come from either sex.

As far as the self-defense aspect of this one, it seems pretty clear that anyone who has already taken shots at you as you are trying to flee and then attempts re-entry into your home by breaking a window to unlock your door would be an imminent threat.

By the way, do you have a window next to your door that, if broken, would allow easy access to the door’s deadbolt?

Prudence in Acting to Defend Home and Property

Prudence in Acting to Defend Home and Property

Recent events have put the actions of many armed citizens in the spotlight. During this time of politically charged unrest that sees violent mobs ransacking inner cities, and even terrorizing suburban neighborhoods, the people caught in the path often face hard decisions. Do they abandon businesses that have taken a lifetime to establish and leave them to the destruction of the mob? Do homeowners abandon their homes and hope for the best or stay and protect what is theirs? Prudent discretion must be used when making such choices. Unfortunately, the locations plagued by this violence are also governed by those who are sympathetic, even supportive, of the mob activity. Yet, these same leaders are vehemently opposed to the right to self-defense.

Therefore, any actions to defend life must be perfectly within the framework of the law or a self-defender will face the wrath of politically motivated prosecution. When it comes to protecting property, the actions of the defender become even riskier. Generally, as an almost universal legal tenant in the United States, you cannot use lethal force to protect property. The perfect example of this remains if a homeowner interrupts a thief stealing his flat-screen television. The thief, upon seeing the homeowner, runs away and flees out the door with the television in hand. If the homeowner shoots the fleeing thief in the back to protect the television, this is going to be found to be an unjustified homicide since using lethal force to protect property is not legal.

In the mob activity, we have witnessed of late the defense of property certainly becomes more complicated. Is a business owner who stays on-premises during civil unrest simply defending property? Is the defense of a place of business the same as acting to protect property that is stolen from your home? This legal area can become rather ambiguous. In most states, a business owner, or even employee, has no obligation to retreat from their place of work. The place of employment is similar to the home in a sort of castle doctrine. Therefore, legally, it is quite clear that business owners have every right to stay at their place of business no matter what is happening in the town concerning unrest. However, when it comes to acting to defend the location, things get complicated.

Judging Between a Threat to Life or Threat to Property

If a business owner stays in place during a riot to protect the business he or she must prudently judge their actions based on whether they are protecting mere property, or indeed defending life. A force response must be appropriate to the threat. Perhaps a good dose of OC spray to disperse a crowd of people banging on the door and windows of the boarded-up business is appropriate, but gunfire would certainly not be at that point. Likewise, an agitator who smashes a window with a crowbar then runs away, can’t be shot in the back with any justification. In this regard, the lethal force would be entirely unjustified because it would be exercised only in the defense of property.

The reason such activity becomes complicated, however, is that in the chaos of rioting and looting things can take a turn towards deadly very quickly. What if, rather than smashing a window with a wrench and running away, someone approaches the window to throw a Molotov cocktail or other incendiary device through the window? What then? Now, a threat to only property has become a clear threat to life if there are people within the structure. Similarly, if the agitator who smashes a shop window with a crowbar then enters the shop, aggressively approaching the shop owner with the crowbar in hand despite warnings to stay away, the situation has changed dramatically.

It is obvious, based on recent events, that prosecutors in these jurisdictions are going to go after anyone who defends themselves or others, no matter how justified the actions taken are. Therefore, the best advice is to not be there. The problem remains, however, that a business owner who has invested his or her life into their work has every right to be there and protect that location. It is easy for those of us not in that situation to simply say “don’t be there.” This country has a long history of neighborhoods protecting their own; the images of the Korean shop owners in the Los Angeles riots come to mind. However, if making the decision to stay on-premises, one must act prudently and use only force that can be justified.

Defending the Home

We have already witnessed examples of mobs coming into residential areas and aggressively threatening homeowners. It is likely that this activity will escalate. Therefore, what are homeowners to do if facing such a threat? One of the great complications during these riots is that much of the crowd may be acting as only a protest, something they legally have every right to do. Often, demonstrations that start peacefully quickly go bad as agitators infiltrate the crowd and create chaos and destruction. If such a crowd approaches your home, bear this in mind.

If you have advanced warning of such activity, deciding to leave the area may be the best course of action. Realistically, these demonstrations often spring up quickly, and keeping your family hunkered down in the home might be safest. If a crowd approaches your own home, staying inside with doors and windows locked is the best policy. A well-known example of late saw a couple get prosecuted for going outside and pointing guns at the crowd. While their actions were arguably justified, the malicious prosecution is another clear example that the court system is not on the side of self-defenders in these locations.

The reality remains, however, that you do not have the right to point a gun at people who are protesting and posing no threat. You may face a crowd that is predominantly peaceful, yet has some bad actors in the mix. Pointing a firearm at the entire crowd can lead to a charge of aggravated assault. The best way to avoid any such legal complication is to remain in the home. If any members of the crowd actually break into the home, the use of force will be much easier to justify as the act of breaking in clearly defines the crowd as being hostile.

Should you be forced to confront a crowd outside, do not point a gun at people in the crowd unless someone is threatening you with lethal force. If carrying a long gun, have a sling on it, and keep it slung rather than in hand and pointed at anyone. This posture makes it clear that you are not threatening anyone. If wearing your handgun, keep it holstered. It is best to remain inside of your home during any sort of hostile crowd activity, but if you end up outside, or if you are standing outside of a business, keep long guns on slings and do not point them at innocent people. Even if criminal actors have hijacked a protest, the people who are simply marching in a demonstration and not threatening anyone will not appreciate having a gun pointed at them. Absolute prudence and discretion is needed during such events.

We live in interesting and scary times. Prudence in our every action is necessary.

Las Vegas Casino Security Fatally Shoots Armed Man That Fired A Shot In The Air

Las Vegas Casino Security Fatally Shoots Armed Man That Fired A Shot In The Air

Two security guards outside of a Las Vegas casino encountered a man waving a gun around outside of the casino in the valet area. Apparently, he had also been inside the casino before exiting and being confronted by the security guards.

At one point he fired the gun into the air and then refused the guards’ orders to drop the gun. When he pointed it at them they shot him. His wounds proved to be fatal.

Local police praised the officers for their restraint due to the incident taking place in a valet area and there being concerns over who could be beyond the man with a gun – in other words, the background behind the target.

It appears as if these security professionals gave this guy as much of a chance to surrender as they could.

There was no indication of what the suspect’s motivation might have been.

This is just another reminder that there are unstable people in this world and as much as we’d all like to see them get the help they need when they pose a threat to innocence life they don’t leave security and law enforcement many options – especially after repeated commands to drop the gun. This is also a reminder that we need to do the same – that is to not only know our target but also what’s beyond it. That kind of situational awareness only comes with training. Get some!

San Francisco Robbery Victim Takes Gun From Armed Robber; Shoots And Kills Him

San Francisco Robbery Victim Takes Gun From Armed Robber; Shoots And Kills Him

A San Francisco man was the victim of an attempted armed robbery as he left a Neiman Marcus store earlier this month. A group of men approached him as he exited the store, possibly for the Rolex watch he was wearing.

The victim struggled with one of the suspects and managed to take his gun from him, turn it on him and shoot him multiple times. The rest of the group then fled in a getaway car. Officers nearby heard the shots and were able to respond immediately. The suspect was treated at the scene and transported to a hospital but died from his injuries. Police recovered three firearms at the scene.

The deceased attacker was identified as having a long arrest record and had six pending cases before the San Francisco courts.

 

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The aftermath of Asian self-defense. Asian man temporarily handcuffed. 21-year-old attempted robbery suspect, Vermond Jones of San Francisco died after a shooting in San Francisco’s Union Square area on Thursday, October 1, according to FOX2 KTVU. . Sources from The Marina Times San Francisco stated an Asian man wearing a Rolex watch exited Neiman Marcus in the 100 block of Geary Boulevard at Grant Avenue around 5 pm. A group of African-American suspects then tried to rob the Asian man at gunpoint. . A struggle soon ensued between multiple suspects and the Asian man who eventually managed to wrestle a gun away from Jones and shot him point-blank multiple times in the chest. The other individuals in the group jumped into a getaway car and drove off. . Nearby officers heard the gunshots and immediately responded with backup to the area where they found Jones suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. First responders rendered aid and transported Jones to the hospital where he later died from his injuries, according to FOX2 KTVU. . Investigators interviewed an involved party and several other witnesses who stated a physical altercation between the suspects and victim ended in one suspect being shot. Police later stated they recovered three firearms from the scene. . Vermond Jones was also a suspect in a May 5 home invasion robbery in Fremont. According to CBS SF BayArea, Jones also has six other separate cases pending out of the Superior Court in San Francisco, including multiple arrests for robbery, burglary, and stolen vehicle possession, along with grand theft, false imprisonment, and child endangerment. Sources also said the majority of the victims were Asian as well.

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I guess San Francisco needs more gun control laws because the ones they have apparently aren’t working. It’s a sad comment on their effectiveness that the only way a law-abiding citizen in San Francisco can legally get a gun to protect himself out in public is to take one away from whoever is using it to attack you.

I’ve said before that attempting to draw on an already drawn gun is risky. So is trying to disarm someone, but with proper training, it can be done. But, if you can disarm an attacker, are you still facing a deadly force threat that justifies a deadly force response?

In this case, with multiple attackers and three other guns found at the scene, it would certainly appear so.

First Shots: Smith & Wesson Performance Center M&P9 Shield EZ Review

Smith & Wesson Performance Center M&P9 Shield EZ Review

Well, how do you make an already smooth-shooting, popular, and excellent 9mm pistol even better? You let your Performance Center customize it with upgrades like finely-tuned action, flat and crisp trigger, ported barrel, lightning-cuts on the slide, bright green fiber-optic front sight, added silver or gold accents, and other refinements. That is exactly what Smith & Wesson’s Performance Center did with its new M&P9 Shield EZ pistol in 9mm. Performance Center firearms are the best of Smith & Wesson. And they gave the new Shield EZ custom upgrades without a custom price. Models are offered in three color combinations: silver, gold, and black. Here is a summary of a few of the upgrades and features I like in the new Performance Center’s M&P9 Shield EZ 9mm pistol.

Easy Racking Slide with Light Recoil

This new Shield EZ is not a micro-sized pocket pistol, but rather it has a compact-barrel length and long enough grip for a full grip for most hand sizes, along with an easy-racking slide and light recoil. Back in February, 2018 I reviewed the new M&P .380 Shield EZ on this website. It lived up to its design standards of being easy-to-use, easy-to-rack the slide, easy-to-load the magazine, and easy-to-clean. Then in 2019, Smith-Wesson introduced the Shiled EZ in 9mm. Now in late-Summer 2020, they have available the new Performance Center’s M&P 9 Shield EZ in 9mm with upgrades. Both the .380 and 9mm Shield EZ variants are hammer-fired. The original striker-fired version of the M&P 9 Shield in 9mm was introduced in 2012 and was the first M&P Shield to have an improved trigger with positive reset, according to Wikipedia.

Just as with the original M&P 9 Shield EZ, the Performance Center M&P 9 Shield EZ is very easy to rack. “Smooth-as-butter” is a good descriptive term. Those with weak hand strength, arthritic hands, other physical impairments, and medical conditions that inhibit grasping and manipulating the slide will be very pleased with the “EZ” slide racking, loading, and cleaning of this new pistol. The fish-scale cocking serrations at the rear of the slide really help with racking the slide. The slide widens in the rear so shooters can get a firm grasp of the slide to chamber a round. This was not an especially valuable tool for me, but my wife did cartwheels to show her approval of them. The new hammer-fired EZ slide weighs about 10 percent more than the striker-fired one and helps slow the slide’s speed and a lighter recoil spring is used to help racking. 

New Shield EZ Hammer-Fired Single Action Compared to Original Shield EZ Striker-Fired Action

The original M&P 9 Shield EZ is a striker-fired pistol, while the new Performance Center M&P 9 Shield EZ has an internal hammer design. The hammer on the new Shield EZ is located low in the frame so the reciprocating slide with lightening cuts can easily cock the pistol without significant resistance and drag, allowing for a speedier racking of the lightweight slide. The Performance Center M&P9 Shield EZ is a single-action semi-automatic. And you probably recall from my reviews over the years here that I prefer the single-action design and practice with it regularly.

Grip Safety and Firing Pin Block Safety

A grip safety is included on all the .380 and 9mm Shield EZ pistols, so carrying them cocked and unlocked is not a concern. The grip safety prevents the pistol from firing unless the shooter grasps it tightly moving the trigger bar to engage the sear. There is also a firing pin block that is disengaged when the grip safety is pressed. And you have your choice of an additional manual safety or not having one on the new Performance Center Shield EZ.

I requested a Shield EZ without a manual safety to review here. The grip safety is large and when the shooter grasps it, it does not completely contract inside the grip so a small part of it sticks out into the palm of the hand. This is a different feel from the .380 EZ I reviewed earlier, but this Performance Center M&P9 Shield EZ was not uncomfortable in my hands, although it was just a little so for another instructor with small hands. 

Comfortable Grip Angle

Both the new Performance Center Shield EZ and original M&P 9 Shield EZ have my favorite, the comfortable and convenient 18-degree grip angle, like my 1911s. This is compared to the more-raked Glock, H&K, and Steyr grip angles, for example, of about 22 degrees.

Bright Green Fiber Optic Front Sight

If you have read any of my previous reviews over the years, you know my aging colorblind eyes prefer a bright and green front sight which is easy to pick up in daylight, dusk, and at nighttime. The Performance Center Shield EZ 9mm upgraded sights meet my preferences, with Hi-Viz LITEWAVE H3 sights with bright green fiber optic rods and tritium…. green front and rear sights. This LITEWAVE technology really helps this old codger’s eyes pickup the sights easily, in bright light, and in low light.

The Performance Center Shield EZ’s Trigger Press and Reset

The new Shield EZ’s skeletonized trigger is excellent. The Performance Center has tuned the flat trigger and it is very crisp, with a firm and short reset. Its trigger press is less than 5 pounds without much overtravel, as compared to the original Shield EZ’s press of about 5.5 pounds. The new anodized aluminum trigger has a nice tactile and audible click.

Smith & Wesson has improved upon its already top-selling Shield EZ 9mm pistol and I want to explore its features and performance to help you. I wanted to shoot and thoroughly evaluate this hot-off-the-press Shield EZ 9mm to consider it for concealed carry, fun range plinking, and/or home defense. And I especially wanted to see how my wife handled and shot it. You can compare this new Performance Center Shield EZ 9mm review with my handgun analyses, comparisons, and rankings of 21 other concealed carry guns in my book “Concealed Carry & Handgun Essentials.”

Initially, I want to give you a summary of the new Shield EZ 9’s Specifications and Features. Then, I give you my 10 criteria that I use to evaluate all guns. Finally, I present my analysis and how I specifically evaluated the gun against each of my 10 criteria to recommend or not recommend it. As always, set your own criteria and priorities, do your own research and check my data, information, etc. with yours, for your very personal selection process. Just a note to remind you that I do not get paid by Smith & Wesson or any gun manufacturer nor receive any sponsor payments or paid incentives for my reviews and comments. I want to objectively give my opinions, evaluations, and comments.

Smith & Wesson Performance Center M&P9 Shield EZ 9mm Specifications

Spec1Spec2
Model Number#13226
Caliber9mm
ActionInternal Hammer-Fired; Single Action
Barrel Length3.83"
Barrel MaterialStainless Steel; Ported; Polished High Bright Silver; Armornite Finish
SightsFront & Rear: HI-VIZ Litewave H3 Tritium/Litepipe; Green Fiber Optic Front; 3-Dot; Drift Adjustable Green Rear
Slide Material - TypeStainless Steel; Lightning Cuts; Armornite Finish
Frame MaterialPolymer; Matte Black; Silver Accents on Grip Safety, Barrel, and Trigger
Trigger - TypeUpgraded Flat Single-Action; Short Reset; Performance Center Tuned; Skeletonized and Serrated, Silver Anodized Aluminum
Trigger Press4.80 pounds (as measured over 10 trials with my Lyman Electronic Trigger Pull gauge)
Magazines - Capacity8 Rounds; 2 Steel Mags; Load Assist Tab for Easy Loading
Height4.85"
Width1.04"
Overall Length7.00"
Weight23.2 oz, Empty 8-Round Mag
SafetiesNo Thumb Safety as Tested; Optional: Manual Thumb Safety; Silver, Anodized Aluminum, Serrated Grip Safety; Firing Pin Block
GripsAggressively-Textured Black Polymer Grips
OtherLimited Lifetime Warranty for Original Purchaser Only
MSRP$588

Smith & Wesson Performance Center M&P9 Shield EZ 9mm Features

  • Easy-to-Rack Slide
  • Optimal 18-Degree Grip Angle for Natural Point of Aim
  • Crisp, Light, Skeletonized Trigger with Tactile and Audible Short Reset
  • Performance Center Tuned Action and Trigger
  • Tactile Loaded Chamber Indicator
  • Picatinny-Style Accessory Rail
  • Reversible Magazine Release
  • Lightning Cuts in Slide to Reduce Weight
  • Ported Barrel to Reduce Muzzle Flip
  • Performance Center Enhanced Silver Anodized-Aluminum and Serrated Grip Safety
  • Trigger Face is Serrated and Flat for Solid Contact
  • Easy-to-See Steel Front Fiber Optic & Tritium & Rear Tritium Sights
  • Very Nice Overall Ergonomics, with Aggressively-Textured and Comfortable M2.0 Thin Grips
  • Small Front Serrations and Rear Angled Wavy Cocking Serrations
  • Helpful Small but Prominent “Wings” on Rear of Slide to Help with Racking Slide
  • Magazines have Load-Assist Tabs to Help Pull Follower Down
  • Edges Rounded for Comfort, Smoothness, & for Holstering
  • Performance Center Cleaning Kit with a Carry Case Included, with collapsible Rod, Brushes, Jags, etc.

Smith & Wesson Performance Center M&P9 Shield EZ 9mm - Right Side
Smith & Wesson Performance Center M&P9 Shield EZ 9mm – Right Side

Criteria and Considerations

Here are just 10 of my criteria and factors I use for evaluating any handgun, so I will use them for the Performance Center Shield EZ. In addition to my criteria, there are other subjective features that may be appealing for some, like a certain style, mag release location, action, caliber, appearance, number of mags included, type of sights/modifications, bore axis, rail, grip angle, non-porting or porting, included extras like a holster and pouch, customer service, etc. So, I combined these into my last Miscellaneous criterion. I must admit that ALL gun-choice decisions involve tradeoffs, but I really want ALL of my criteria to be met. I assigned a total possible point score of 10 points for each of my 10 criteria for a total possible score of 100 points. You can certainly add your own additional criteria and preferences or subtract any of mine.                              

Recognize that there are several features, characteristics, pros and cons, and personal criteria to include and consider and you make your own tradeoffs according to your priorities, preferences, defined needs, and use.

Performance Center M&P9 Shield EZ 9mm Metal Serrated, Hi-Viz Tritium and Fiber Optic Sights, Adjustable Rear
Performance Center M&P9 Shield EZ 9mm Metal Serrated, Hi-Viz Tritium and Fiber Optic Sights, Adjustable Rear

 

Smith & Wesson Performance Center M&P9 Shield EZ 9mm Range Test

For the Shield EZ range test and evaluation, I headed out to the outdoor Santa Rosa Shooting Center in Pace Florida where we train our students and shoot our test guns. I was anxious to shoot the Shield EZ and see if it truly met or surpassed all ten of my criteria so that I could help you and myself evaluate this pistol for concealed carry and other purposes.

Many thanks to Fiocchi and SinterFIre for providing quality 9mm ammo in various grains and JHP and FMJ types for my testing and evaluation of this EZ. All functioned fine without any malfunctions or failures of any kind. This compact pistol and its fine features were fun to shoot and handle. I appreciate the extra upgrades from the standard EZ, its excellent smooth single-action trigger, its 4.80-pound press, its short reset, fine sights, and its reliability and accuracy. Below are my evaluations for each of my 10 criteria for the Shield EZ. I was considering it for my concealed carry gun rotation and for a home defense gun. I wanted to put the pistol through its paces and check it thoroughly for malfunctions, stoppages, accuracy, reliability, ergonomics, and my other criteria.

General Observations about Field Performance

Here are just some selected impressions of the upgraded Performance Center M&P9 Shield EZ pistol, from my range testing of it.

Reliability and Accuracy

Without any doubt, this gun was reliable, at my range trial. There were no malfunctions or stoppages and overall this pistol performed great. I did not have a single malfunction of any type and it fed all ammo very well.

It digested the different types and grain weights of ammo without any problems, including the Fiocchi 124 grain FMJ (1150 fps) and the Fiocchi 124 grain JHP (1100 fps), the Sig Sauer 124 grain FMJ (1165 fps), and the SinterFire Greenline 100 grain frangible lead-free JHP (1350 fps) rounds. The SinterFire frangible high-velocity ammo performed exceptionally well.

This 3.83″ barreled, 23-ounce pistol and its remarkable crisp trigger were very accurate, had very manageable felt recoil, and slight muzzle rise. The lightning cuts in the slide did help to reduce the weight and helped performance. The ported barrel did help with muzzle flip.

Trigger: Flat-Faced and Single Action

The trigger was a key benefit of this pistol. Its flat serrated characteristic, single action, short reset, and light press combined for exceptional performance and a fun range time. This Performance Center Shield EZ made me look very good and I thoroughly enjoyed shooting it. This hammer-fired gun was accurate and I could easily use it for self-defense and concealed carry. The flat-faced, skeletonized trigger helped me concentrate my finger pressure on the front of the shoe for a straighter press.

Slide Racking, “Wings”, and Hammer-Fired

The “wings” or protruding “ears” on the rear of the slide did help with easily grasping the slide to rack it. Honestly, racking the slide was very easy and did not take much effort. At the range, even a lady shooter with rheumatoid arthritis could rack the slide without problems. The wavy cocking serrations on the rear of the slide helped with racking. The pistol’s internal hammer, as opposed to a striker-fired gun, allows for use of lighter springs which mean less resistance from the slide and less force being required to rack it.

Mags and Load-Assist Tabs

The two, included quality steel mags performed exceptionally well and the single-column mags were easy to load. The mags have Load-Assist Tabs to help pull the Follower down. The mags dropped quickly, freely, and easily from the mag well.

Front and Rear Steel Sights: Tritium and Fiber Optic

The upgraded tritium light-pipe and fiber optic sights are excellent, especially for this aging shooter with colorblind eyes. They really help me pick up the sights more easily no matter whether during the daylight, at dusk, or even evening. My eyes can get a good sight picture whatever the lighting. These Hi-Viz LITEWAVE H3 sights have my favorite green fiber optic rods in a strong steel housing for great daylight help. They have Tritium in front of the fiber optic rods to help at nighttime. In the absence of light, the tritium vial powers the fiber optic glow. The rear sight is drift adjustable to fine-tune the point-of-impact.

Ergonomics and M2.0 Texturing

The overall ergonomics and M2.0 grips were excellent for me and my medium-sized hands and fingers. This gun was very comfortable in my hands and the thin grip and grip texture was just right for me. The M2.0 texturing on the grips is not too heavy nor too light, but just right for me. My hands did not get scraped nor irritated from the texturing. I want to emphasize again that this pistol felt excellent in my hands. Really! The front and rear wavy scalloped serrations helped with racking and, again, the “wings” were magnificent for slide racking.

Smith & Wesson Performance Center M&P9 Shield EZ Flat-Faced, Skeletonized, & Serrated Trigger
Smith & Wesson Performance Center M&P9 Shield EZ Flat-Faced, Skeletonized, & Serrated Trigger

Holsters for the Smith & Wesson Performance Center M&P9 Shield EZ Pistol

The good news is that the Smith & Wesson representative informed me that every holster manufacturer that they work with has said that their standard M&P9 Shield EZ holster will work with the Performance Center model as well. But, I did provide specs for the new Performance Center Shield EZ model to two holster makers.

Kramer Handgun Leather makes a high-quality custom Outside-the-Waistband (OWB) Horsehide Leather holster for the new Performance Center Shield EZ 9mm pistol. This holster uses the classic “pancake” design and carries the gun in a “neutral rake” vertical straight up and down position. The gun rides high on the strong-side hip and the gun’s butt tucks snugly into the side for maximum concealment. It has fine retention and conceals well. The holster’s nice reinforced throat band makes it extremely durable under hard use. This holster can be ordered with a forward FBI cant for easy draw. Although designed for concealment, this holster is well suited for home defense, competition, and general range use. It has very nice workmanship, is very comfortable, is extremely durable, and conceals well. It is available in mahogany horsehide and black cowhide. Kramer Handgun Leather holsters wants to offer my readers a 20% Discount off all purchases for their high-quality leather holsters. When ordering, mention Col Ben and/or use the Discount Code “ColBen-USAC20” with no expiration date. If this gun or your desired gun’s make and model is not listed as an option, just manually input it in “Not Seeing Your Gun Model” section.

Smith & Wesson Performance Center M&P9 Shield EZ 9mm Pistol in Kramer Leather Vertical Scabbard Mahogany Holster
Smith & Wesson Performance Center M&P9 Shield EZ 9mm Pistol in Kramer Leather Vertical Scabbard Mahogany Holster

CrossBreed Holsters’ Outside-the-Waistband (OWB) DropSlide kydex polymer and leather, open-muzzle holster has 1 3/4″ belt loops and is designed to keep your holster tight against your body. The fine leather backer is configured to accommodate a different position of the kydex pocket allowing for a lower-riding holster. The specifically-designed cut of the leather backer allows for a full grip on the firearm when drawing. The holster has a 15-degree forward cant for strongside carry. The extended leather on the bottom side of the holster keeps most long-barreled firearms from rubbing against your clothes and body. The DropSlide is available in these leather options: Black Cowhide, Founder’s Leather, and Natural Tan Horsehide. Kydex options include: Standard Black, FDE, Sniper Grey, OD Green, and Tiffany Blue. There is a Two-Week, Try-It-Free Guarantee and a nice Lifetime Warranty.

Smith & Wesson Performance Center M&P9 Shield EZ 9mm Pistol in CrossBreed OWB DropSlide Holster
Smith & Wesson Performance Center M&P9 Shield EZ 9mm Pistol in CrossBreed OWB DropSlide Holster

Below I will get specific and give my opinions for each of my 10 criteria to support my recommendation for this Performance Center M&P9 Shield EZ, after my hands-on range testing.

Performance Center M&P9 Shield EZ 9mm Target Hits at 7 Yards, Various Ammo, & My Concealed Carry Drill Circle Targets
Performance Center M&P9 Shield EZ 9mm Target Hits at 7 Yards, Various Ammo, & My Concealed Carry Drill Circle Targets

Using my 20-second timed Concealed Carry Drill with 5 circle targets and 15 rounds at 7 yards, accuracy was acceptable and my self-defense goal was met. But, shoot it for yourself to make your own decisions, based on your abilities and proficiency.

Range Test Results for each of my 10 Criteria:

1. Accuracy and Reliability – Score: 9

The accuracy of the new Shield EZ was exceptional for me at 7 yards. All my hits were in the 5 circles of my “Col Ben’s Concealed Carry Drill” and within 20 seconds of my draw. The gun did most of the work and its rifling put a nice spin on the bullet as it left the barrel and allowed the gases to escape evenly around the base of the bullet. Of course, the remarkable 4.80 pound light trigger press of this single-action hammer-fired pistol helped reduce my movement and helped my accuracy. I used my Modified-Isosceles Stance, a two-handed grip, and fast-fired from the draw.

Performance Center M&P9 Shield EZ Slide Lightning Cuts, Scalloped front Serrations, & Accessory Rail
Performance Center M&P9 Shield EZ Slide Lightning Cuts, Scalloped front Serrations, & Accessory Rail

2. Trigger Press – Score: 10

The superb trigger press averaged about 4.80 pounds with 10 readings from my Lyman Electronic Trigger Pull Gauge. This was great and helped reduce movement to aid accuracy. The press was just right, not too heavy and not too light for a carry gun for me. I appreciate this short and light trigger press. I prefer that my carry guns have a maximum of 6.5 pounds press or less, so this press was fabulous. I will buy this gun and use it in my carry rotation and probably some for home defense.

3. Trigger – Score: 10

This Shield EZ has a fine flat-faced trigger with a very identifiable click and short reset. The consistency from shot to shot was there for this hammer-fired pistol. Its flat serrated characteristic, single action, short reset, and light press combined for exceptional performance and a fun range time. I really enjoyed shooting this smooth trigger. This hammer-fired gun was accurate and I could easily use it for self-defense and concealed carry. The flat-faced, skeletonized trigger helped me concentrate my finger pressure on the front of the shoe for a straighter press.

4. Barrel Length – Score: 10

The 3.83-inch sturdy stainless steel, ported barrel combined with its polished feed ramp and single-action performance to deliver fine results for me. The steel barrel is highly polished and looks great. The barrel is just a little longer than the standard M&P9 Shield EZ and its 3.67-inch barrel. This extra length helps with lockup at the muzzle and velocity. The barrel has a nice tight fit with the slide. The Armornite finish is nice.

5. Sights – Score: 10

The sights consist of a single, white-dot all-metal front sight and an all-black, serrated square-notch rear sight. The rear sight dovetails into the slide, is drift adjustable, and the sights are compatible with several aftermarket optional Glock sights and several night sights and fiber optics options. I could easily pick up the steel sights in daylight and the black serrated rear sight did help reduce glare, but the sights were more difficult to identify at dark. Of course, I prefer my front bright-green fiber optic and tritium night sights, but this is a value-priced gun. But, the standard sights are decent. Out of the box, the sights were right on.

6. Proper Gun Weight – Score: 9

The Shield EZ’s overall 23.2 ounces unloaded weight works for me for all-day concealed carry. The gun’s weight, trigger, porting, and lightning cuts all combined for fine performance and helped mitigate felt recoil, muzzle flip, and handling. The gun’s great trigger, porting and lightning cuts probably contributed more to these results, however.

7. Caliber – Score: 10

Overall, it was very easy and comfortable to handle and shoot this 9mm pistol. I could easily manage this 9mm caliber’s felt recoil. However, while my wife is more sensitive to felt recoil, she had no problems at all handling, manipulating, and shooting this exceptional Shield EZ pistol. And she was accurate with it.

8. Capacity – Score: 8

There are two load-assist tabs on the magazines to help easily pull down the follower when loading the mags. Nice touch, but I would like to see the mags hold more rounds than the 8 capacity. I understand that holding more rounds would make the pistol more difficult to load because of the added mag spring tension. And this is marketed as an “EZ” pistol and includes two 8-round high-quality steel magazines. I think it needs to be designed with one more round in the mag, perhaps two. And this may not be feasible from an engineering perspective without some tradeoffs, but other somewhat similar pistols hold more. I feel I need more rounds than in this pistol. But again, I understand the goal of an “EZ” racking and loading pistol.

Performance Center M&P9 Shield EZ "Wings" to Help Slide Racking
Performance Center M&P9 Shield EZ “Wings” to Help Slide Racking

9. Ergonomics – Score: 9

The ergonomics of the Shield EZ 9mm are superb. Form, function, and fit were splendid, especially given the low price point. It sits low in the hand for shooting and it was very comfortable for me to hold in my medium-sized hands. The aggressive grip texturing on all six panels helped me firmly grasp the pistol and control it. The texture was not too gritty and not under texturized. The grip’s body width was nice and thin at only 1.04 inches. This felt great and helped me to acquire a firm and comfortable grip. I was able to easily reach and operate all the controls.

Performance Center M&P9 Shield EZ 9mm Pistol in Cardboard Box with 2 Steel Magazines, Lock, Manual & Cleaning Kit
Performance Center M&P9 Shield EZ 9mm Pistol in Cardboard Box with 2 Steel Magazines, Lock, Manual & Cleaning Kit

10. Miscellaneous – Score: 10

The M&P9 EZ has a helpful visual loaded chamber indicator on top of the slide. The quality cleaning kit which is included is a nice extra. The M2.0 grip features make the pistol feel great in the hands and they are not too aggressively textured, but just right for me.

Not a Problem for Most: Grip Safety Does Not Fully Compress inside the Grip & Slightly Protrudes for Small-Hands Shooters
Not a Problem for Most: Grip Safety Does Not Fully Compress inside the Grip & Slightly Protrudes for Small-Hands Shooters

A female instructor said that the grip safety did not feel comfortable for her small hands. It does not fully compress inside the grip and some of it protrudes from the grip. She said the grip safety did not extend up high enough on the backstrap close to the beavertail to help her get the highest possible grip on the mainspring housing. So she had a slight pinching of the skin between her thumb and shooting finger, from the point where the grip safety ends just below the beavertail. Perhaps, the grip safety needs to extend upward a little more for those with smaller hands… or round and smooth it more. But, I did not notice this concern with my medium-sized hands and do not have any complaints at all about this. The mag release is reversible. The slide nose is beveled to help holstering. The added 6 very small, forward slide serrations are not necessary nor useful for me. As always before shooting any new gun, I disassembled, lubed and cleaned, and re-assembled the Shield EZ before I shot it. Takedown is easy, but be certain to first remove the mag and then check the chamber both visually and tactilely that the gun is unloaded. The trigger does not have to be pressed for field stripping.

SAFETY NOTE #1:  This M&P9 Shield EZ pistol is designed to be able to fire when the magazine is removed. So if there is a loaded round in the chamber, it will fire if the grip safety is depressed and the trigger is pressed.

SAFETY NOTE #2:  Keep your face and hands away from the barrel and slide ports during firing of this Shield EZ pistol, since hot gas and particles will be forced out during use and may cause injury and/or damage.

Total Points = 95

Conclusions

This exceptional M&P9 Shield EZ compact 9mm rated very high with 95 points out of 100 Possible, for my above 10 criteria. This is an outstanding small, lightweight, easy-shooting, soft-recoiling, easy racking, and easy loading pistol for concealed carry, home defense, and fun range plinking. I was surprised at how exceptionally well this fine pistol performed and handled. I certainly RECOMMEND this as an outstanding choice for your consideration for a concealed carry gun and for personal protection. I will buy this pistol and it will be in my carry rotation.

The flat-faced and tuned trigger was a major strength of this pistol. Its flat serrated characteristic, single action, short reset, and light press combined for exceptional performance and a fun range time. This Performance Center Shield EZ made me look very good and I thoroughly enjoyed shooting it. This hammer-fired gun was accurate and I could easily use it for self-defense and concealed carry. The flat-faced, skeletonized trigger helped me concentrate my finger pressure on the front of the shoe for a straighter press.

The “wings” or protruding “ears” on the rear of the slide did help with easily grasping the slide to rack it. Honestly, racking the slide was very easy and did not take much effort. The pistol’s internal hammer, as opposed to a striker-fired gun, allows for use of lighter springs which mean less resistance from the slide and less force being required to rack it. So easy to rack the slide. And very low recoil.

Overall, this is an outstanding compact pistol with several excellent features and upgrades. But, do your own cost-benefit analysis to decide if this pistol is for you. I cannot know what is best for you or for anyone but myself. For me, however, this gun meets and exceeds my criteria and has fine Form, Fit, and Function, but handle and shoot this pistol to decide for yourself.

I hope this review has helped you gain some information you did not previously have. Consider that these are just my opinions with limited live-range fire. You need to determine for yourself its reliability, accuracy, and personal fit by your own shooting and handling of the gun. Like always, I recommend that you shoot any handgun yourself before you purchase it. Decide on your criteria, how you will primarily use the gun, what features are important to you, and are you willing to pay for them ahead of your range time. Then critically evaluate the gun YOURSELF per your criteria and purpose, with standard drills (several given in my book), with various ammo types, over an extended break-in period of at least 500 rounds. Remember, Safety First Always.

Continued success!

Contacts

Smith Wesson
1-800-331-0852
Springfield, MA  01104

Kramer Handgun Leather Holsters
1-253-564-6652
Tacoma, WA 98411

CrossBreed Holsters
1-888-732-5011
Springfield, MO 65802

SinterFire Frangible 9mm 100 Grain Ammo
1-814-885-6672
Kersey, PA 15846

Fiocchi USA Ammo
1-417-725-4118
Ozark, MO 65721

Photos by Author.

* This personal opinion article is meant for general information & educational purposes only and the author strongly recommends that you seek counsel from an attorney for legal advice and your own personal certified weapons trainer for proper guidance about shooting & using YOUR firearms, self-defense, and concealed carry. It should not be relied upon as accurate for all shooters & the author assumes no responsibility for anyone’s use of the information and shall not be liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information or any damages or injuries incurred whatsoever.

© 2020 Col Benjamin Findley. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in whole or in part by mechanical means, photocopying, electronic reproduction, scanning, or any other means without prior written permission. For copyright information, contact Col Ben Findley at [email protected].