Smith & Wesson Equalizer Review: Is it a Bodyguard, Shield EZ, or Both?

Smith & Wesson released the M&P Shield EZ back in 2018, which aimed to give people of all ages (legal ages of course!), skill level and strength, an easy (hence EZ) to shoot and manipulate handgun. The slide is easier to rack, the EZ magazines are easy to load and it has multiple safeties for those who are hesitant to carry without them.

However, one of the main complaints of the Shield EZ has been the capacity. For example, if you run the 9mm version, you will only have an 8+1 capacity. We can now consider capacity a concern of the past when it comes to the “EZ” line…enter the Equalizer.

The 15-round magazine helps to extend the grip for those with larger hands.

The 15-round magazine helps to extend the grip for those with larger hands.

EQUALIZER SPECS AND FEATURES

There is a lot to like about the Equalizer, but it’s not all peaches and cream. Let’s start with the positives. I’ll call them the three “C’s”…capacity, customizability and consistency.

The Equalizer boasts a 15+1 capacity, which for a gun of this size is great. It also comes with a 10-round and 13-round magazine, giving you a total of three mags straight out of the box. Keep in mind, if you have a Shield Plus, you can share magazines between it and the Equalizer. That is a huge benefit for someone like myself who owns a Shield Plus.

shield plus 13 round magazine
Smith & Wesson M&P Shield Plus 9mm 13 Round Magazine
$34.99
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Smith & wesson equalizer magazine
Smith & Wesson M&P Shield Plus, Equalizer 9mm 15 Round Magazine
$36.99
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shield plus 10 round magazine
Smith & Wesson M&P Shield Plus, Equalizer 9mm 10 Round Magazine
$34.99
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The Equalizer comes with an UpLULA mag loader to make reloading even easier.

The Equalizer comes with an UpLULA mag loader to make reloading even easier.

Thanks to the optics-ready slide and accessory rail, you’ll be able to host a ton of optics, lights, or lasers. I’ve been testing different lights on mine and have found that an INFORCE WILD1 seems to fit almost perfect.

I haven’t stumbled across many guns, if any, that I wouldn’t change a single thing on though. With that being said, the Equalizer is no different.

I’m sure you’ve noticed from the photos, the big old goofy grip safety. Yeah, I’ve never been a fan of them. However, it doesn’t really get in the way and you can tape it down if you wanted to.  

The grip safety also takes away from the aesthetic in my opinion.

The grip safety also takes away from the aesthetic in my opinion.

I’ve also been wondering why S&W didn’t throw a flat face trigger on the Equalizer. I’ve been spoiled by and become accustomed to the M&P M2.0 flat triggers and I really wish they would have continued that trend with the Equalizer. The trigger is still smooth though, and has a relatively quick reset. The break could be a bit more defined, but I wouldn’t even say it’s a “con”. 

I’m surprised they didn’t make the slide stop lever larger, as it’s hard to manipulate in a hurry.

I’m surprised they didn’t make the slide stop lever larger, as it’s hard to manipulate in a hurry.

Looking at the gun holistically though, the positive features definitely outweigh the negative ones.

The Specs

Caliber: 9mm

Capacity: 15+1

Overall Length: 6.75 Inches

Barrel Length: 3.68 Inches

Width: 1.04 Inches

Weight: 22.9 Ounces

Sights: White Dot

Slide & Barrel Material: Stainless Steel with Armornite Finish

MSRP: $599.00

RANGE TIME WITH THE EQUALIZER

No gun review is complete without some hands-on testing, so I’ve been bringing the Equalizer with me on most of my range trips. I’ve put 520 rounds through it so far and haven’t experienced a single malfunction. I’ve seen similar results from many of my other S&Ws, so I’m not surprised.

I made sure to send a variety of ammo through it, consisting of:

  • 115-grain Magtech FMJs
  • 115-grain Blazer Brass FMJs
  • 115-grain Freedom Muntions FMJs
  • 124-grain Federal Punch JHPs
  • 124-grain Sig Sauer Elite V-Crown JHPs

All cycled fine without any hiccups, but I will note, I found the Blazer Brass to be the most accurate through the Equalizer, out of the FMJ ammo.

Magtech isn’t my favorite, but when you’re simply testing firearms, it’s nice to try a large variety of ammo to help judge reliability.

Magtech isn’t my favorite, but when you’re simply testing firearms, it’s nice to try a large variety of ammo to help judge reliability.

Speaking of accuracy, the Equalizer somewhat took me by surprise. With a different trigger and grip than I’m used to with my other M&Ps, I assumed that there would be more of a “learning curve” than there actually was. Within the first few magazines, I was able to maintain fist-size groupings or tighter out to 15 yards. By the end of several more magazines, I was able to extend similar groupings out to 25 yards. The majority of that shooting was without any optic I may add.

I didn’t have the greatest lighting at the range this day, so I apologize for the less-than-ideal photo quality. These were some of my first shots at 10 yards (right) and 12 yards (left).

I didn’t have the greatest lighting at the range this day, so I apologize for the less-than-ideal photo quality. These were some of my first shots at 10 yards (right) and 12 yards (left).

 IS THE EQUALIZER FOR YOU?

Of course, only you can ultimately answer that question. With the Equalizer being somewhat of a niche gun, it’s not going to be for everyone.

As someone who doesn’t need extra assistance with racking the slide or loading magazines, the Equalizer would not be at the top of my list, but that’s not because of any concerns, just personal preferences.

I love the look of the deep serrations, but have no clue why S&W chose to make the EQUALIZER so large.

I love the look of the deep serrations, but have no clue why S&W chose to make the EQUALIZER so large.

S&W played it safe with this one, making it easy for beginners to use, while adding features that even an experienced shooter can appreciate. It’s also competitive from a price perspective in today’s market, especially given the fact it comes with the three different capacity magazines.

Whether you need a gun for yourself that is easier to rack and load than the average, or you plan to be teaching some new shooters, the Equalizer could help fill your need. I’d suggest you go shoot the Equalizer to see if it’s the right gun for you. At the end of the day, if you decide to pick one up, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.