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Train Hard, Train Smart, Train Safely

Category: Safety

S&W EZ Safety Recall

S&W EZ Safety Recall

M&P Shield EZ Safety Recall for Handguns Manufactured March 2020 to October 2020

Potential Slam-Fire Hazard

Smith & Wesson identified a potential slam-fire hazard in their Shield EZ line of pistols manufactured between March and October 2020.

If you have a Smith & Wesson M&P Shield EZ manufactured between March 2020 and October 20 STOP using it immediately!

The Details From the S&W website

Smith & Wesson has identified two M&P Shield EZ Pistols on which the hammers manufactured by our supplier were cracked.  In those firearms, the hammer failed to fully engage the sear, causing the round to fire, cycling the slide, and potentially resulting in multiple discharges without depressing the trigger.  This issue can occur in the following two scenarios:

  1. With a loaded magazine in the firearm and the grip safety depressed, releasing the slide (by pulling it back, or releasing the slide stop), may ignite the round as the slide closes, without engaging the trigger.  The condition may occur, regardless of the manual thumb safety position if equipped.  This may also result in multiple discharges.

  2. With a loaded magazine in the firearm, the grip safety depressed, manual safety in the fire position, slide closed, and a round in the chamber, pulling the trigger will cause the round to fire normally, however as the slide cycles, the next round may be ignited as it is chambered by the hammer failing to fully engage the sear, causing multiple discharges.

In all cases, the firearm will NOT fire unless the grip safety is depressed.  While this condition has been found only in two hammers, and our investigation suggests that these two incidents are very isolated, any unintended discharge of a firearm has the potential to cause injury.  Therefore, we have established this Safety Recall as a precautionary measure to ensure that all M&P Shield EZ Pistols in service meet our design specifications.

Handguns Affected

This notice applies ONLY to M&P® Shield™ EZ pistols (including Performance Center® models) manufactured between March 1, 2020 and October 31, 2020, and only to a small percentage of that population. It does NOT apply to all SHIELD™ pistols.  To determine whether your M&P Shield EZ Pistol is affected, check the label on the box to determine date of manufacture (see image below), and if manufacture date is between March 1, 2020 and October 31, 2020 – your pistol may be affected. In this case (or if you are unsure of your date of manufacture), simply go to MPShieldEZrecall.com and input your serial number, or call 888-871-7114 .

Remedy

If your M&P Shield EZ Pistol is included in this recall, Smith & Wesson will arrange for the return of your firearm to Smith & Wesson for inspection.  After inspection, if the hammer from your firearm is affected, it will be replaced at no cost to you.  We expect that this entire process will take no longer than 10 business days, and your pistol will be returned as quickly and efficiently as possible.  All shipping and replacement costs will be covered by Smith & Wesson.

To Thumb, Or Not To Thumb – That is the Question

To Thumb, Or Not To Thumb – That is the Question

(First posted 15 March 2019)

Is The Thumb Safety an Anachronism?

Thumb safeties–one may deservedly ask if the thumb safety on contemporary pistols is an anachronism. We first do well to define what we mean by anachronism. One definition from Webster says, “A person or a thing that is chronologically out of place, especially one that belongs to a former age and is incongruous if found in the present.” This definition is the crux of this post. To put the question another way, “Does the thumb safety belong to a former generation of pistols, and is it incongruous when found on semi-auto pistols as they are currently designed?”

The Thumb Safety Paradigm

We would probably be safe in saying that virtually every pistol shooter is aware of the 1911 model–and its thumb safety.  Interestingly, a precursor to the 1911, the Colt Automatic Pistol of 1900 had no thumb safety.1 The thumb safety offered a mechanism to prevent an inadvertent trigger pull, which would release a cocked hammer, and make the pistol go “bang.” The mere presence of a thumb safety in the “on” position requires that we adapt our manual of arms to disengage it so the trigger can be pulled, causing the hammer to strike the firing pin. Enter the striker fired semi-automatic. There are some, however, who want the added comfort of a user-operated safety, even on a striker-fired handgun. Quite frankly, the cumulative affect of adding a thumb safety is negligible.

Look Ma! No Thumb Safety

With the advent of striker fired semi-autos, the thumb safety disappeared. There was no hammer to release (or block). Since the firing pin strikes the primer, anyway, why not simply manipulate the firing pin. By adding a cocking protrusion on the firing pin, and modifying the fire control mechanism to place it under spring tension as a function of the gun’s inherent action, no hammer is needed. Mechanical trigger blocks, such as the lever-style or the pivot style, ensure positive trigger engagement is present before a round goes off. Firing pin blocks ensure the firing pin (now called a “striker”) cannot move forward until positive trigger press is present. Various limitations on striker cocking and/or release also require positive trigger press. The combination of these elements obviate the need for a hammer. (Besides, a cocked hammer on a 1911 has to be dangerous because of the way it looks, right?) All of these positive control features also obviate the need for a thumb safety.

The Danger of the Thumb Safety

Many concealed carry licensees periodically rotate their “every day carry” gun (the wisdom of rotation is a discussion for another day). For some, a 1911, in some form or fashion, is among those in rotation. A problem arises when switching from a striker-fired semi-auto, with no thumb safety, to a 1911 with a thumb safety. Suddenly, another step is required in the manual of arms, and one that may easily be skipped during a real confrontation, when our brain is least likely to be thinking–at least about our manual of arms, and releasing the thumb safety. The trigger is pulled, and nothing happens! It could be a bad day in black rock. Two remedies come to mind: For many trainers, the first is never to carry an immediate reaction firearm that has a thumb safety. If you are going to carry a concealed handgun, make certain it is one that does not require, or have, a thumb safety. Another remedy (and one that is probably in the minority among trainers) may be to ensure every semi-auto you own has a thumb safety, whether it’s a 1911 or striker-fired. If every handgun you may carry has a thumb safety, then at least your manual of arms is necessarily consistent. There are many competent trainers who argue that properly and consistently training can minimize, and likely eliminate, the probability of failing to disengage the thumb safety if you are ever in a scenario where an immediate action becomes necessary. If you despise striker-fired handguns that have thumb safeties as options, do not put a 1911 in your rotation. Of course, this discussion over thumb safeties presupposes there is no mechanical failure. Arguably, thumb safeties on 1911-style handguns may have a higher probability of failure than thumb safeties on striker-fired handguns simply due to the design mechanics involved.

Bottom Line

Carrying a concealed carry handgun is carrying an immediate reaction tool. When you need it, you need it now! Rotating between handguns with and without thumb safeties just puts yourself at risk. In the end, the decision to carry a semi-auto with a thumb safety is yours. But if you do, train with it. Is the thumb safety anachronistic? From a mechanical design standpoint, very likely. From a carry standpoint, it is if you do not have a 1911-style handgun in your everyday carry rotation.

1 Jerry Kuhnhausen, The Colt 45 Automatic: A Shop Manual: Volume 1 In The Kuhnhausen M1911 Pistol Series, ed. Noel Kuhnhausen (McCall, ID: Heritage Gun Books, 1990), 7.