Last updated: December 21, 2023

The S&W Equalizer Reviewed – Balancing Power and Precision is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process here
Last updated: December 21, 2023 is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process here
Ideal for
  • Those with limited grip strength or recoil sensitivity
  • Defensive use
  • Carry enthusiasts
Main features
  • Semiautomatic action
  • 3.67 barrel length
  • 9mm luger
Editor's Rating
? is a ranking system developed by our team of experts. It aggregates all the scores given to a product in various aspects including the individual product’s features evaluation given by each expert independently, its customers’ feedback rank, and sales rank.
out of 10
  • Shootability
  • Reliability
  • Ergonomics
  • Accuracy
  • Value
Users’ Rating
out of 5
54 Users’ Rating
rating rating rating rating rating
rating rating rating rating rating
out of
54 Users’ Rating
  • 5 stars
  • 4 stars
  • 3 stars
  • 2 stars
  • 1 stars
Add your rating:

Handling firearms can be a bit tricky, especially when it comes to loading mags or working the slide. But there’s a gun out there – the S&W Equalizer – designed to make usability a lot easier.

We took the handgun for a spin ourselves before putting together this S&W Equalizer review. We just wanted to see if it could really address the common issues shooters face.

Stick around, and we’ll guide you through its specifications, features, upsides/downsides, and even share some range performance insights. This way, you’ll figure out if this pistol’s your match or not.


Hammer-fired (internal), recoil operated, semiautomatic
10+1 rds., 13+1 rds., or 15+1 rds.
Overall Length
6.75 in.
Barrel Length
3.67 in.
4.5 in.
1 lb., 6.9 oz.
Armornite, black
Grip; thumb safety (opt.)
Three dot, U-notch; drift adj.
5 lbs., 12 oz. (tested)

Getting to Know the Equalizer

You can spot the unmistakable Smith & Wesson touch all over the Equalizer. But this firearm isn’t just another echo of its predecessors.

But if the Equalizer had a spiritual forerunner, it would probably be the M&P Shield EZ. Smith & Wesson took the user-friendly concept of the EZ and cranked it up a notch with the Equalizer. Although the grip angle and appearance resemble the EZ, the slide serrations have undergone a significant upgrade to offer a better grip.

Overall Performance

So, we got our hands on the Equalizer not long ago, and performance-wise, it’s been quite the find.

We’ve had experience with the EZ 9mm before, which we loved because it allowed us to handle the slide easily.

Unfortunately, it didn’t have the red dot sight option we were after. However, while casually browsing at a gun store and local feed while grabbing supplies, we stumbled upon the Equalizer.

After setting it up and getting the sight ready, we eagerly took it out for a shooting round. Putting 50 rounds of Blazer brass bullets through it was smooth sailing – no hiccups whatsoever.

At first glance, we thought, “Well, isn’t this just adorable?” But after actually using it, we’re seriously impressed. The Equalizer shares a lot in common with the M&P line as well as other semi-auto modern pistols, boasting a polymer grip and steel slide.

The grip feels just right, with a comfortable angle and an ovular shape that fits snugly in your palm. The texture strikes a good balance, offering enough grip without being overly abrasive, which is a plus during a quick draw.

One thing worth noting is the slight undercut you find on the trigger’s guard, which allows for a high grip. Then, the beaver tail does its job well, preventing any slide bite.

The different magazine sizes directly impact how comfortable it feels in your hand. With a 15-round magazine, the grip length is spot on, but with the smaller 10-round magazine, your pinky is left hanging in the air. Also, the floor plates on these mags give you the flexibility to choose between carrying more ammo or having a more compact setup.

The slide has serrations that make it easy to handle. They’re cut deep and spaced well, with five at the rear and three at the front. The steel sights, configured in a white, 3-dot system, are sturdy and reliable. The trigger, with its simple curved bow, is comfortable to use. Even though it’s internally hammer-fired, the trigger feels more like a typical striker-fired handgun. There’s a minimal pre-travel, a crisp break, and an average pull weight of 4lbs 5oz when measured with a Lyman Digital Gauge.

However, there are a couple of downsides worth mentioning. The controls aren’t ambidextrous. It caters mostly to right-handed shooters. Also, unlike the EZ line, there’s no finger tab on the magazines, which might be missed by folks with weaker hands or those who struggle with loading mags.

To compensate for this, Smith included a Maglula UpLula speedloader, which does help with loading the mags. But you’ve got to remember to carry it along whenever you’re loading mags. Some of our pals found it a bit trickier to use compared to the magazine tabs.

Overall, despite these minor gripes, the Equalizer has won us over. It’s a solid piece with a lot to offer once you get past its few quirks.

Notable Features

Here are some of the most important features we noticed when making Smith and Wesson equalizer review:

1. Smooth Slide and Handy Rail

The S&W Equalizer Reviewed - Balancing Power and Precision

One thing that really stands out about this gun is how effortlessly you can rack it. Seriously, it’s a breeze! Those grooves on the slide? It is super grippy and makes pulling the slide back a piece of cake.

And here’s the thing – they’ve prepped it for optics too! Right at the top, Smith & Wesson has set it up for any optical attachments you fancy. So, you’re all set for customization right out of the gate.

Now, onto the rail – it’s Picatinny style, which means you’ve got many accessory options at your fingertips. Want a light or a laser? No problem! Although a bayonet might be pushing it a bit too far – but hey, you never know!

And remember the serrations we mentioned earlier? They’re aggressive but not sharp, which is a massive win for us. It’s bold enough to give you a solid grip without feeling like you’re handling a cheese grater!

2. Internal Hammer

If you’re not new to the EZ series, you should appreciate the internal hammer they have here. This little hammer makes sliding it back easy, but that’s not all! It’s also the reason why this beauty has such a smooth trigger.

The internal hammer teams up with a recoil spring at reduced power in the easy-rack slide. What does this combo do? It gives you a trigger pull that feels like a feather, clocking in under 5 pounds.

We’d compare it to the EZ series, maybe even a tad better. The Equalizer’s trigger breaks at around 5 pounds. It’s got a short take-up, just a smidge of movement after the initial resistance, and then, snap, it breaks.

Plus, it won’t budge past a certain point thanks to a built-in stopper. The reset? Well, it’s decently moderate when it comes to distance, sensation, and sound. Overall, it’s not a competition-level trigger, but boy, it’s what your concealed carry weapon should have.

3. Shots Fired

The S&W Equalizer Reviewed - Balancing Power and Precision

Shooting with the Equalizer was a blast! One cool advantage of the easy-rack slide is the reduced kickback – the recoil impulse is lower. Surprisingly, for such a small and lightweight piece, it handles shots really well. Quick follow-up shots? No problem at all.

Smith labels the trigger as a single action, and we have to say, the pulling sensation is distinct from typical striker-fired guns Trusted Source Understanding Hammer-Fired vs. Striker-Fired Pistols Today’s NRA Woman has a choice between hammer-fired semi-automatic pistols and striker-fired semi-automatic pistols. Hammer-fired guns have been around since the 1800s. . If we were to describe the usual striker-fired gun’s trigger pull to feel like a “chunk,” this and other hammer-fired guns’ triggers feel more like a “snap.”

This gun feels like a natural extension of our hands, and we managed pretty decent groupings using the 115-grain FMJ centerfire Remington rounds.

Plus, we’re a huge fan of the 1911-style grip angle at 18 degrees. It just naturally points.

Finally, dismantling the Equalizer is a breeze, thanks to Smith & Wesson simplifying the takedown process. Just a little tip: remember not to keep the grip safety engaged when trying to get it disassembled.

4. The Grip and Controls

Now, the grip is a bit of a mixed bag. It’s got this 18-degree angle that we found kind of nice, and the texturing is a good touch. But then, there’s that grip safety. It feels a bit like an overkill to us, but we get why some folks might appreciate it.

It’s not exactly a hassle, but we wouldn’t mind getting rid of it or at least having the option of getting an Equalizer without one.

As for the controls, you’ve got a mag release that is reversible and your standard lever for stopping the slide. One cool thing—like other Smith & Wesson models, there’s that handy takedown lever, making disassembly a breeze without needing to mess with the trigger.

We love the grip. It’s got potential, but seriously, that safety’s got to go!

5. Trigger

Honestly, we kind of wished the trigger was designed flat, but hey, it still shoots like a dream. We were genuinely surprised by how accurate our shots were with it. The trigger’s a crisp, single-action one. What more? It’s got a very good break and reset. One of us even fired off rounds pretty quickly, and our follow-up shots stayed right on target without any hassle.

Again, it was not exactly that flat trigger we had in mind, but it performed impressively well.

6. Sights

Talking about the sights, they’re pretty much what you’d expect—your typical three-white dot type. Honestly, they do the job fine, but we’ve got our eye on switching to night sights at some point. But we’re in no rush for that. The current setup as it is gets the job done.

7. The Magazines

The S&W Equalizer Reviewed - Balancing Power and Precision

Smith & Wesson throws in a trio of magazines: 10, 13, and 15 rounds, all with the Equalizer. Having that 15-round option in a gun this size is pretty neat, and the different capacities make it super handy if you’re aiming for ultra-concealability.

8. Weights And Measures

So, the Equalizer rocks a 3.675-inch barrel and a grip that comfortably fits four fingers. This is perfect for the average male hipster. It’s smaller than anything on the EZ line, but hey, it’s not as compact as the tiniest Shield out there.

We’re talking about a weight of 22.9 ounces here, right smack between the weights of the two lines.

Pros Cons
  • Smooth slide operation for easy racking
  • Minimal recoil, making it a breeze to handle
  • Compact and tiny, it is perfect for concealed carry
  • Options for magazines with up to 15 rounds – pretty impressive!
  • Ready for optics if you’re into customizing
  • Has forward slide serrations for better grip
  • Controls lack ambidextrous options; only the magazine release is reversible
  • Magazines don’t come with finger tabs, a bit inconvenient for quick reloading


1. What is the difference between S and W equalizer and shield?

First, the S&W Equalizer Trigger sports a curved design without a built-in trigger safety. Meanwhile, the Shield Plus features a flatter trigger with an integrated safety. Notably, the Shield Plus offers a more audible reset, whereas the Equalizer has a slightly shorter reset.

2. Is the S&W Equalizer easy to rack?

Absolutely! Its slide has a technology that ensures ease of racking, catering to various needs. Additionally, the frame boasts a Picatinny rail, allowing you to mount lights or lasers for different defense scenarios.

3. How much does a S&W Equalizer cost?

The Equalizer series currently sells for around $499 to $599, depending on where you look for it. But it can be as much as $100 more expensive at Smith & Wesson compared to Always compare prices.

4. How good is the S&W equalizer 9MM?

The S&W Equalizer 9mm includes the best features of both the EZ 9 and the Shield Plus. What sets it apart for me is the stock trigger, which we believe outshines the rest of the group. Its capacity matches that of the Shield Plus while also offering a slide that is easy to use.

Final Thoughts

You don’t stumble upon a lot of handguns built with such ease in racking. S&W hit the pricing right for today’s market and was thoughtful by throwing in magazines with different capacities.

If you’re on the hunt for a pistol that’s a breeze to rack, simple to load, and offers various customization possibilities, it’s worth giving the Equalizer a test run at least to know if it suits your style.


Understanding Hammer-Fired vs. Striker-Fired Pistols
Today’s NRA Woman has a choice between hammer-fired semi-automatic pistols and striker-fired semi-automatic pistols. Hammer-fired guns have been around since the 1800s.
Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *