It’s important to start these handgun comparisons with the caveat that each person will have a different take. The best firearm for you is the one you will train with and carry every day. Comparing two Smith & Wesson 9mm guns, it was difficult to find significant differences. Here’s a look at how the Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield EZ compares to the Smith & Wesson CSX.

About the Smith & Wesson EZ

The M&P9 has been on the market longer. It is chambered for the popular 9mm Luger cartridge. S&W’s EZ Rack has a good service history. This is a polymer-frame pistol, and the stainless steel slide has a modern Armonite coating.

The EZ Rack is single-action, though it’s not obvious due to the fully enclosed hammer. It also features an ambidextrous safety. There is only one ready mode: cocked and locked — hammer to the rear and safety on. The pistol is mechanically similar in this regard to the Colt 1903, a long-lived and durable design.

Sights on the EZ Rack are good for combat use. The trigger action breaks cleanly, and the pistol feeds reliably. Living up to its name, it is easy to rack the slide on this S&W gun, as well as easy to load and unload. And the grip fits most hands well. This handgun is affordable and a good choice for carrying concealed.

About the Smith & Wesson CSX

The CSX is also a single-action pistol. Primary difference in the action is that the hammer is exposed. The pistol is properly carried with hammer to the rear and safety on. However, the CSX offers the option of carrying the pistol hammer down on a loaded chamber. This may be a viable choice for pocket carry. The twin safety levers are positive in operation, and the detent is sharp with a positive lock.

The CSX features an aluminum frame. Unusual in a pistol this size, the CSX features grip inserts for different hand sizes. S&W’s CSX features slightly different sights from the EZ Rack — metal white 2-dot on the CSX vs white dot adjustable for windage on the EZ.

Smith & Wesson 9mm Compact Guns Specs


Magazine Capacity 10/12 8
Length 6.1 inches 7 inches
Weight 19.5 ounces 23.2 ounces
Barrel length 3.1 inches 3.83 inches
Frame material Aluminum Polymer
Metal finish Armonite Armonite


CSX vs. EZ: Pros and Cons

The EZ Rack does not have grip inserts. But the CSX is about .6 inch shorter and 3.7 ounces lighter than the EZ Rack 9mm. While the CSX features larger forward-cocking serrations, the EZ Rack slide requires less force to manipulate. And CSX magazines were much more difficult to load to capacity, requiring a magazine loader for the 12-round magazine.

Each Smith & Wesson 9mm gun also features an additional safety. The EZ rack design includes a grip safety. When the pistol is gripped, the grip safety is depressed to release the trigger. The CSX features a blade-type safety in the trigger face that is pressed flat with the trigger to release the trigger to fire. Both have a well-designed safety that falls under the thumb easily. Each of the secondary safety features are easily de-activated as the pistol is grasped. If the handgun is dropped or the grip relaxed, the safety features prevent accidental discharge.

The CSX has an advantage in magazine capacity without sacrificing handfit. Its standard magazine holds 10 rounds versus eight in the EZ. And the CSX is not quite as tall as the EZ Rack. Though the CSX slide is by no means taxing, the EZ Rack is slightly less difficult to rack and make ready. On the other hand, the slide lock of the CSX is easier to manipulate.

Which S&W 9mm Gun Is Better?

In firing drills using standard pressure ammunition, the EZ Rack is more comfortable to fire. Combat groups were good to very good at 7 yards. The CSX is also a good shooter in fast-paced combat drills. In firing for accuracy from a solid benchrest firing position, the CSX is slightly more accurate. Each will group five shots into 2 to 3 inches at 15 yards. The groups with the CSX may be .5 inch smaller. The shorter barrel of the CSX was about 30 feet per second in velocity slower than the 3.8-inch EZ Rack barrel, varying with the load used. This isn’t significant for defense loads.

In the end, the EZ Rack may be the best choice for most new shooters. The EZ Rack is, simply, a simpler handgun. It is easier to operate by a margin and light enough for concealed carry. Average retail in a quick search online shows the CSX to cost around $100 more retail than the EZ Rack. I would feel well armed with either. And should you choose to own both, they actually fit the same holsters.


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