Shield EZ
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I bought my HK P7 (which now looks like this) for a screaming good price in early 2012. You see, the older gentleman I bought it from was selling all of his semi-auto pistols, as he could no longer operate them due to arthritis in his hands and generally diminished finger/grip strength. This is where Smith & Wesson’s new M&P380 Shield EZ comes in. It’s supposed to be an easy-to-operate pistol that basically anyone can run confidently.

But does it hit the mark?

As I see it, there are four major factors to operating a semi-automatic pistol that are made difficult with limited strength. Whether you’re a petite woman or have arthritis or for any other reason have lesser finger, grip, and/or forearm strength, you may struggle with the following . . .

Manipulating the slide

Loading and unloading a pistol requires you to manually pull the slide to the rear. Often, clearing jams and field stripping necessitates this as well. If it’s a struggle, a semi-auto may not be a good choice.

As you’d hope, racking the slide on the Shield EZ is easy. The recoil spring is soft and the internal hammer provides little additional resistance. The lockup disengages easily. It’s one of the lightest-racking pistol slides I’ve felt.

Likewise, pushing up on the slide stop to lock it to the rear is accomplished particularly easily. Once the slide is locked back, rotate the takedown lever down 90 degrees (as seen two photos up), pull back on the slide to release the lock, and slide it forwards off the frame. No trigger pull is needed to field strip the EZ.

A solid purchase on the slide is also a necessity, and while I think S&W could have done even more here they’ve done very well. At the rear of the rear slide serrations is a markedly raised ledge. This provides a solid backstop for fingers and makes slipping off of the slide much less likely, even with a softer grip.

I would have gone with ledge-front rear sight as well, to add another point of gription for those who wrap their palm over the top of the slide. Or, as the marketing typically suggests, for use as a “claw” to rack the slide off of a belt, pocket, table, or other object.

Ultimately, though, manipulating the slide is probably the most critical aspect of being able to operate a typical pistol, and the Shield EZ really is about as easy as it gets. At least in the world of centerfire calibers.

Loading the magazines

It takes notable grip strength, finger strength, and dexterity to load the magazines of most pistols (UpLULA aside). Much of this is due to the upwards pressure applied on the loaded rounds by the magazine spring. It has to be strong enough to push the next round up into position so it can be picked up on the slide’s return trip forwards. And it has to do this regardless of recoil motion and the weight of a full compliment of lead and brass objects on top of it.

So there’s a definite limit to how light the magazine spring can be while still affording reliable function. Though I can’t speak to how much fudge-factor (“extra” spring weight to overcome dirt, depleted uranium rounds, etc.) S&W built into the M&P380 Shield EZ mags, I can say they’re easy to load.

The single-stack design helps, as these magazines are almost always easier to load than double-stack mags. With less ammo and less ability for the rounds to shift around, the spring just doesn’t have to be as stiff.

But S&W took another step towards easy loading and added finger pegs on the follower. As seen on many .22 LR pistols, this allows the user to pull down on the follower while loading the next round. It’s an easier proposition than trying to depress the top round with one finger while simultaneously depressing it with the being-loaded round while it’s also being crammed back under the feed lips.

Whether you load the Shield EZ magazines by pulling down on the follower and literally dropping the next round in or do a pull from the bottom while pushing from the top hybrid maneuver, the end result is a much easier-to-load magazine than the standard semi-auto.

Capacity, of course, is the only real downside here. The frame of the M&P380 Shield EZ is wide enough to accept a staggered magazine. Possibly not a full-on double-stack, but staggered for sure. It might be capable, for instance, of 11 rounds in the mag instead of eight.

Creating room for the follower’s finger pegs and sticking with a typically-easier-to-load single-stack mag meant not using all of the grip volume afforded to it for ammo capacity. As you can see above, there are ribs molded inside of the grip to center the skinny magazine body and provide clearance for the follower pegs.

Smith’s choice of easy loading over capacity wasn’t made by mistake. However, if there’s a flaw with the Shield EZ it’s magazine-related: it’s particularly difficult to lock a fully-loaded magazine into the grip when the slide is forwards. You either have to push up on the basepad extremely hard, punch it firmly with the heel of your hand, or put a thumb on top of the slide and fingers under the magazine and squeeze like you’re trying to milk a rock.

Basically, the EZ’s target audience is going to struggle to insert a loaded magazine with the slide forwards. Therefore, there will be a lot of owners carrying this pistol one round short of full capacity. That may mean inserting a fully-loaded magazine with the slide locked back, chambering the first round, and carrying it this way with eight rounds on board, or it may mean inserting a down-loaded magazine into the gun with the slide forwards on an empty chamber and carrying it this way with seven rounds on board. In either scenario, this is a flaw in the EZ’s otherwise spot-on design.

Operating the controls

Different pistol models have different controls, and user preference varies. One thing that stays true, though, is that the controls should be usable and well-placed, which unfortunately is not always the case.

With the Shield EZ, we found nothing to complain about. The slide stop is easy to reach without being in the way at all, and it’s easy to operate. Likewise, the magazine release is positive and very easily activated, while still just stiff enough and shielded enough to prevent depressing it accidently.

Users with less finger strength will find the flip-down take-down lever easier to use than the small, pull-down tabs or pull-out pins on many competitors’ products.

Even the trigger strikes a great balance between safety and ease of use with its just over four-pound pull weight. Small hands with short fingers shouldn’t have difficulty reaching it, either.

Hotly contested though they are, if you choose the Shield EZ with manual safety (there’s also a model without the manual safety) you’ll be glad to know that the safety lever, too, is easy to operate and well-placed. The safety snicks on and off smoothly and easily with a clean click on each end.

I’d personally prefer a stronger detent, but for the purposes of the EZ it makes sense to make it, you know, easy. Not unsafe, mind you, but it isn’t as stiff as many manual thumb safeties.

I could also see lowering the ambidextrous levers to make them that much easier to reach for those with short thumbs, though very few are likely to have a problem there. The length of the safety levers and their serrations make them harder to miss and easier to operate, whether flipping them up (safe) or down (fire).

Finally, a grip safety adorns the back of the grip (where else?). This is a passive safety, disengaged automatically when the user acquires a typical shooting grip.

Unique in its bottom-hinged design, I found the EZ’s grip safety entirely unobtrusive. Though it does not depress flush with the back of the grip, which could, in theory, let the user get higher up into the beavertail, it’s hardly noticeable on the palm or in the web of your hand. There’s also no chance of gripping the gun in any sort of semi-normal fashion and not disengaging this lightly-sprung safety.

Controlling recoil

This, of course, isn’t specific to semi-automatic pistols but applies to all firearms. However, in the realm of pistols, poor recoil control can lead to malfunctions. The slide must cycle fully to the rear, and if the frame is also moving rearwards this may not happen properly. A stiff recoil spring and a difficult-to-control gun can exacerbate the issue.

Thanks to the M&P380 Shield EZ’s slim grip with good ergonomics and grippy texture and its nice little beavertail, shooters with most any hand size will have no problem acquiring a high, solid, secure grip.

Thanks to the .380 ACP chambering, which puts out about 56 percent the energy of 9mm, and the tilt-barrel short recoil operation rather than straight blowback operation, the Shield EZ shoots very softly.

It’s also large enough to allow a full grip. Even I found my pinky securely on the frame, not on the magazine baseplate or under it. All too often we see sales guys, friends, and significant others recommend pocket pistols to women — small person, small gun, right? — but that’s a recipe likely to backfire. Harder to grip securely and harder on recoil, those tiny, lightweight guns are difficult and unpleasant to shoot.

Striking a great balance between mouse gun and duty gun, the compact or sub-compact M&P380 Shield EZ provides a healthy sight radius, a full grip, proper control ergonomics, and 18.5 ounces of recoil absorption. It shoots every bit as soft and as flat as you’d hope.

Though the rear sight on my Shield EZ clearly needed to be drifted right to line up point of impact with point of aim, I found the little pistol to be very accurate. Above is a five-round group shot slow, off-hand, with 95 grain Blazer Brass from Freedom Munitions (coupon code TTAG for 5% off everything on their site).

And it sang the same tune with Hornady Critical Defense.

With the great trigger, decent sight radius, and Charmin soft recoil, the M&P380 Shield EZ is an easy gun to shoot accurately.

It’s reliable, too. In 500 rounds of mixed ammo, from Freedom Munitions 100 grain flat nose to Alchemist Ammunition 75 grain frangible to three brands of self-defense hollow points, we didn’t suffer a single hiccup. The EZ ran everything and was a pussycat on recoil even with the self-defense stuff.

Due to its .380 ACP chambering, the M&P380 Shield EZ may not be for everyone. Most self-defense guru types will suggest 9mm if you can shoot it confidently. But the “confidently” part comes first. You have to be able to operate the gun and you must be able to put rounds on target. Shot placement is king.

Everything about the Shield EZ makes pistol operation and shot placement easy. It shoots as flat and as soft as can be. For me, I was able to dump rounds right on target as fast as I could pull the trigger. For the EZ’s target market — those with limited grip strength — it’ll likely get you back in the semi-auto game.

The easy to rack, easy to load, easy to shoot, easy to field strip M&P380 Shield EZ is possibly the best semi-auto, centerfire pistol going for those who find operating pistols difficult. It fills a need, fits a niche, and does it extremely well.

Specifications: Smith & Wesson M&P380 Shield EZ

Caliber: .380 ACP
Capacity: 8+1 rounds
Action: internal hammer fired, single action
Overall Length: 6.7 inches
Barrel Length: 3.675 inches
Height: 4.98 inches
Width: 1.15 inches (1.43 at widest point across the safeties)
Weight: 18.5 ounces
Sights: white 3-dot sights, rear adjustable for windage
Materials: polymer frame, stainless steel slide and barrel with Armornite Finish
External Safeties: grip safety, tactile loaded chamber indicator, optional ambidextrous thumb safety
MSRP: $399 (available now via Brownells)

Ratings (out of five stars):

Reliability * * * * *
Flawless function straight out of the box.

Accuracy * * * *
Point of impact was a bit off as the gun shipped, but the EZ is an accurate shooter that’s easy to shoot accurately.

Ease of Use * * * * *
The M&P380 Shield EZ nails it. It’s easy to operate in every way it can be.

Overall * * * * *
Well-deserving of a full five stars. The EZ delivers on all promises.

Side note: the breech block is pinned into the slide rather than machined in as an integral part. While this could be due to manufacturing limitations, it may also indicate that Smith & Wesson plans to release other calibers in a Shield EZ format. This is pure speculation, but a swappable breech face certainly makes that easier.

Ammo for this review provided by Freedom Munitions. Visit and use coupon code “TTAG” for 5% off site-wide on dozens of brands of ammunition, accessories, parts, optics, and more.

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  1. I’ve had a lot of interest in this little piece for a while now, and seeing what this review has to say, it might be time to start putting some money back.

  2. Definitely some interesting features to make it accommodating. I like that it uses a Browning lock up/tilting barrel for .380 rather than straight blow back. I am not sure why they went with an internal hammer on it though. That seems like a departure from the m&p and shield lines, and confusing.

    Actually the naming is very confusing, you expect a shield to be a shield, a different caliber shouldn’t mean the gun works differently. Adding EZ to the name doesn’t distinguish it enough to me. It is a very different gun from the others in the line up.

    • That internal hammer setup looks a lot like the one they use on the M&P22. Maybe they borrowed that design as a starting place?

    • My only guess as to why they went with the hammer is to go all out with their promise of making the gun easy. Perhaps they could get the gun to most reliably cycle and cock with a hammer as opposed to a striker. Maybe it’s an experiment to see how people prefer a modern, internal hammer fired pistol instead? Maybe it’s cheaper for them to manufacture. If I put any stock into any of those guesses it’d be the foremost one.

      Personally there’s something about a hammer fired gun I like more. It wouldn’t be a deciding factor to me without everything else being otherwise completely equal however. If it were DA/SA with a decocker though that’d be a different story.

      • Personally I don’t care either way. There’s no difference at all for the shooter when it’s an internal hammer like this. You’d never be able to guess from the feel of the trigger pull whether it was hammer or striker in this case.

      • There is a very specific reason to use an internal hammer. With the grip safety, you get a very clean and lighter non-squishy trigger pull. Easy!! This gun is fantastic.

    • Thirty years ago at the age of about 4 years, my son coined the word “gription” for our family when he described to me how fast he could turn corners in his new tennies.
      So gription is gription

      • Me and my buddy Danny called traction ‘gription’ for the same reason but that was in 1974 right before we turned 11 years old!!!

  3. Nice review.

    Seems like a good pistol.

    Joins the LC380, PK380, amd Beretta 85.

    Maybe not the best defensive pistol but may be the best choice for an individual.

    • In my mind it compares on paper very closely to the PK380, but I think the EZ is a better choice in part because it’s much simpler (it’s also a much nicer gun). I don’t think the added complication of a DA/SA external hammer and slide-mounted safety is a benefit here. The EZ has less to fiddle with and think about and the controls are far easier to reach and use.

      The Beretta 85 has always been a great gun but obviously it’s much thicker and a few ounces heavier. It’s also a straight blowback, so while it’s heavier it may well have more felt recoil and probably has a much stiffer recoil spring due to the blowback operation.

      LC380 is a better choice for this particular market than the LCP, that’s for sure. But it’s still much smaller than the Shield EZ so it has mini controls and is more difficult to operate. It’s also harder to field strip.

      SR9c is another gun I tend to suggest for those with smaller hands who want something light on recoil and easy to operate. It hits on all of those categories, but ultimately not as well as the EZ does. Now, if they did an SR9c in .380 with a lighter recoil spring, they might be onto something for the buyers who will consider the EZ here. Then again, the SR series is freaking chunky in width and weight.

      • I bought one of the original shields, but because of my age and some arthritis, I had to give it up. I really prefer DA/SA guns anyway. Bought a Springfield XDE which has the DA/SA and the slide racks a lot easier.

        • I have several .380’s two of which are Taurus TCP 738’s. People can denigrate Taurus but these little guns are indestructible, accurate at their intended use range, and absolutely reliable. This model has also been discontinued and that’s too bad. I recently picked one at a LGS that has “cocking wings” built into the back of the slide (Taurus started doing this on this model in 2016). They are flipped out, you hook your forefinger and bird finger over them, and rack straight back. Easy as pie. They are quite substantial, I do not believe they wil break, and it’s an idea that every pistol maker should consider incorporating.

  4. Wonder if you could test the amount of force required to rack the slide of this pistol versus a G19, 1911, XD, LC9, etc… to get a better idea of exactly how easy it is to rack?

    • Beretta 92FS / M9 has an easy to rack the slide. It takes substantially less force to load than most other semi auto pistols.

      • I’ll see if I can use my trigger pull gauge to measure slide racking force needed on a few different pistols tonight.

        …and the M9 is gigantic… 😉

        • The m9 is large and heavy. This .380 is aimed at people with hand problems. I just wish someone would come up with a makarov sized pistol with a tip up barrel.

  5. I can understand the need for this, quite a niche product but good on ’em! Any feedback as to limp wristing? I can imagine that someone with limited grip strength who may need a pistol like this may be more likely to limp wrist it.
    Does the extra barrel length (approx 1″ longer) over the typical sub-compact .380 measurably improve the ballistic performance?
    My go-to EDC is now the Bodyguard .380, slips (in a sticky holster) right into most pockets, I don’t feel under-gunned with it to be honest and it feels just like a regular (albeit smaller) pistol. It has a poor DA trigger though, and I can see how it may be tricky to rack/hold for someone with (for example) arthritic hands.

    • Agreed. This is a modern Colt 1908 Pocket “Hammerless”. Long overdue and genius.

  6. “Most self-defense guru types will suggest 9mm if you can shoot it confidently. But the “confidently” part comes first. You have to be able to operate the gun and you must be able to put rounds on target. Shot placement is king.”

    I don’t remember if it was Col. Cooper or someone else who said:

    1. Gun
    2. Shot placement
    3. Caliber

    If your frail aunt Sally is too decrepit to carry and operate a 45/40/9, but this .380 makes it possible for her to meet criteria #1 (have a gun), then she is better-off than not having a gun (or one to heavy to operate)

  7. Yes it is possible this will be offered in other calibers, but if it were offered in a heavier caliber, even 9mm, the gun would require a heavier recoil spring, which I would assume would significantly reduce the EZ part.

    • Maybe not; I got a Springfield XDE in 9mm which is also marketed as having an EZ rack slide, and I find it to be true, it is VERY easy to manipulate

  8. I fondled one of these at the GAOS in Harrisburg back in February. Its a nice piece, I’ll probably buy one for my Father, who has wrist and had issues. I have a Taurus PT58, which is a copy of the Beretta 85, which I really like. Maybe I’ll get one of these for my dotage.

  9. Getting one for the wife as soon as I can. She’s having a hard time racking her S&W “Bodyguard” now.

    • Referenced above as a comparison is the PK380.
      I carry an XDs or the Shield but love the PK380 that we bought for my wife.
      The PK has an external hammer so de-cocking requires care.
      She now carries a G42 for size.

    • Ha! Well, it isn’t really my personal cup of tea. I have solid grip and arm strength so, while this gun was really fun to shoot due to how soft and flat shooting it is, I’d never personally carry it given options in 9mm (some that are even smaller with higher capacity). It’s five stars for the market it’s intended for, but I’m not that market.

      • America is a country with an aging population. There are more of us old farts than there are young farts.

        Gun companies that recognize this fact will flourish.

  10. Wish my shields (9 & 40) had the safety of the 380. The micro safety is too easy to miss in the pinch, both have become safe queens.

  11. The gun that this most closely relates to IMO is the Browning 1911-380… the latter having the obvious 1911 manual of arms, an even smaller grip, all metal construction, and a much higher price tag.

  12. I actually like the single stack mag. The main bitch for me with my Shield in 9mm is that the magazine is almost impossible to load to full capacity without a loading tool. This means every time that you have to un-holster and download. You loose a round until you have loading tool handy. The Ruger LC9 was much easier in this regard, it also seems a slight bit thinner overall

    • Crap! You’ve reminded me of something I forgot to put in the review that really needs to go in there and that I meant to put in there (it’s in the video). I’m going to edit tonight when I’m back at my computer to add this, but the short version is: with the slide forwards, locking in a fully loaded magazine is quite difficult. I think many users with actual diminished grip/arm strength are going to end up carrying this gun one round short of full capacity (whether that means inserting a full magazine with the slide back, chambering the first round, and going from there, or inserting a mag loaded to 7 rounds on a closed slide and carrying chamber empty like that).

      • You are describing the exact problem experienced by new AR owners – attempting to load a magazine on a closed bolt. It’s not a flaw of the weapon, it’s an error in handling. The Manual of Arms in the services does not teach slamming a mag up into a closed bolt – especially when both the AR and this pistol have a last round bolt/slide hold open.

        Or, to paraphrase, it’s not a defect, it’s user error. If you are shooting the last round, the chamber is held open, switch mags, drop slide and chamber a round, engage target or safe, move on.

        Of course, this directly leads to carrying with a round chambered, and yeah, that’s what you do, pull up our big boys and deal with it. Modern revolvers carry with a full cylinder, right? No difference. You are not well served with an empty chamber, a firearm is carried ready to be used with no interference or self induced clicks of failure.

        As for carrying at a full capacity, if you want, drop the mag and fill it with one more, the odds of you needing that one extra shot aren’t high. With armed encounters running three shots for the majority, single stacks have always been effective. Hence the growing popularity of revolvers in this market again. Five to six rounds are considered effective. You need more ammo, carry another mag, which is what a lot do now, or a speed loader/strip for revolvers.

        Loading magazines IS a serious issue for oldsters – I just turned 68 – and it’s why I traded in my SIG P938. That chromed mag has a stiff spring for a single stack, to compensate for the high cyclic speed of a tiny light 9mm slide, which is also milled to reduce carry weight even more. And yet, a Kahr .380 I carry is a breeze to load, and makes a range shooting session fun. Goes to power and cyclic speeds, the .380 has time to allow the lighter spring to push up the stack, the 9mm has a very narrow window and the stack has to move right along. Hence, magazine loading effort is extremely high and requires a loader, vs the .380 being a comfortable thumb pusher right thru a box of 50.

        That SIG was punishing in that regard, it got little time at the range and even less carry. Realizing I wasn’t using it, it was collateral for a trade, in this current market which is kinda crazy. I desired something with more capacity, and yet wanted to avoid repeating any faults it had. A Canik TP9SF was the choice, and even loading an 18 shot mag with a loader it’s easier to use than the SIG. Three times the ammo means two less mag changes – which should be done with the action open as experienced shooters know.

        Again, like the AR, you do NOT jam a magazine up against a closed action. Remedy the error instead of declaring it a mechanical flaw. And don’t ride the slide or bolt, either. Drop it and let it chamber full force – it is doing exactly what it would when fired, no problemo.

        • Disagree. I ALWAYS carry my carry gun with a full magazine plus one in the chamber, and so does the vast majority of everyone else. It’s the reason nearly every single semi-auto handgun’s capacity is stated as magazine capacity +1 (e.g. S&W says the capacity of this gun is 8+1). If it isn’t designed to accept a fully-loaded magazine when the slide is forward then the capacity would be 7+1, not 8+1. The owner’s manual for this model (and effectively every defensive use oriented pistol on the market) specifically details how to chamber a round, top off the magazine, and re-insert the magazine in order to carry at full capacity. The fact is that most magazines are designed with enough internal space so the top round can be compressed downward by at least half its diameter. This allows the magazine to be locked into place without issue even with the slide forward. I totally disagree with your premise; the fact that it’s so hard to lock a fully-loaded magazine into this pistol is, indeed, a design flaw.

  13. So close… and yet… why the h isn’t it a double-stack? It’s already 1.15″ wide, that’s as wide as an XD or Glock double-stack.

    .380 sucks, but if you can make up for it in volume it might be a reasonable choice. 16 rounds of .380 that shoots really soft? That’s a really, really interesting pistol, especially for women who can’t rack a big slide or who hate recoil. But 8 rounds of .380? Bah. I mean, it’s okay, just — wasted size that could have been put to better use by doubling the capacity.

    Call me when they offer it in a double-stack in the same size.

    • You didn’t pay attention to the review. It’s single stack to make loading a mag easier. It’s .380 so it can be a soft shooting, soft racking and soft operating gun for those that need it. Popping off with “.380 sucks” means you’re ignoring the fact that it’s an option for those that need it. It can make the difference between carrying a hand gun and not being able to. Which would you rather have?

      • I paid perfect attention to the review, and I know several people that I think a product like this would be ideal for. Except for the single-stack mag. Single stacks are fine for better calibers, my own wife carries a single-stack 9. But a single-stack 380 is barely pathetic. Generally 380’s have been single-stack because they’ve been miniature guns, and thinness is the most important factor. And those 380’s have been miserable to shoot, massive recoil and nowhere to grip the gun.

        This thing solves the recoil, it solves the grip, it is probably an absolute delight to shoot. But it’s grossly underpowered to be considered a reasonable defensive weapon. Double the capacity and then you’ve got something. And the width is already there to provide it.

        And anyone on earth can load even a gigantic magazine if they just use an UpLula.

  14. “It takes notable grip strength, finger strength, and dexterity to load the magazines of most pistols.”

    Is there a person of the gun who does not own an Uplula pistol mag. loader? They are really cheap at Amazon and Walmart.

    • I don’t own one, don’t need one as loading a mag isn’t a problem for me right now.

      • “Need” is a strong word 😉 . The UpLULA is totally worth the cost of entry if you shoot much at all. It makes loading magazines many times faster. And cleaner. And easier. Even if it’s already an easy task for you there’s plenty of room for it to be easier. And way faster. And cleaner. And easier. And more fun. And also faster.

        • Everyone is complaining about how hard it is to load a magazine, and rack a slide, and I have auto loaders that back up their statement, but no one has mentioned how easy it is to load a wheel gun, and no slide to rack!
          Sure theirs a down side, only five or six shots at hand. It’s a bit slower than inserting a new magazine, but speed loaders can double or triple the capacity of the lowly thought of revolver. As far as weight goes, my Ruger SLR in 38+P comes in at 15 oz. How many 9’s can match that?

        • Gunr, one important consideration…a wheel gun generally has a 12+ pound trigger pull. Those with weak hands might struggle with that as well.

  15. I have a Sig P238 as my back-up EDC (my Shield 9mm is primary). This could certainly work its way into rotation with the P238.

  16. Alright, where do I send the dollars. I bet dollars to donuts that it would be blow back.

  17. I wonder what other cartridges they plan on offering it in. The mag doesn’t look long enough to fit 9mm and it seems like going up in power defeats the intended purpose of the thing

  18. Also if you have trouble with autos there’s this new fangled thing called a REVOLVER…..

    • The EZ is easier to shoot than a double action revolver trigger pull. S&W nailed it on this one.

      • TexasShooter:
        They also nailed it on the S&W 642 with enhanced (tuned) double action. I have trouble gripping the slide on my XDs 9 Mod. 2, because my aged fingers want to slip off, no matter how hard I squeeze the slide. But the very same trigger fingers have no problem with the 642 trigger. On the other hand, I do think the XDs slide would be easier rack, if it had grip “wings” behind the serrations on the slide for added purchase.

  19. Internal hammer means you don’t have to pull the trigger ( to release the striker) when field stripping
    Since this gun is meant for people who have problems racking slides, they may be oldsters or newbies and more likely to have a negligent discharge
    So a hammer fired gun makes sense as an added safety measure
    “Glock leg” is a real thing

  20. “a swappable breech face”
    This pistol might be a good platform for a .22LR to replace S&W’s current M&P .22 which undoubtedly involves royalties to Walther.

  21. Some people just can’t get beyond themselves, If you don’t want a 380 EZ don’t buy one..
    And I really don’t care to know why you dont want a 380, and also think nobody else should.

    • My thinking exactly.
      Way too many folks nag & complain about a pistol they have never shot or even held.

  22. This gun looks really interesting for my wife who is disabled. The name is lame, its not very exciting. That is not really the point. Is it better than hitting the perp over the head with her cane? Does it shoot reliably? Is it reasonable cost? Is it comfortable enough for her to practice with?

    She is not gearing up to protect herself from the zombie invasion or the end of the world. If she needs to shoot, its probably 10ft or less. The .380 is a reasonable trade off and if she cannot solve the problem with 7 shots, its not happening.

  23. Everyone has their own preference on anything. Cars, shoes, restaurants, GUNS, etc.etc.
    The .380 is a smaller caliber but a very lethal one too. Ammo manufacturers over the last few years have made better loads and more choices in .380 ammo. Like I have seen over and over again, and it is very true, Shot Placement is everything and you do not need a gazillion round magazine. There again it is personal choice. My point is that a .380 in my opinion is a very good caliber, hell .22 long rifle has killed people. Whatever gun you have at the time you need it is the best gun for you to have, it is better than nothing. I have a 9mm Glock and a SW 4 in .357 6 shot revolver and a Taurus pocket rocket .380. I have the new MP .380 EZ in layaway and can not wait to get it out. If you research it by a trusted source I believe that .380 sells more than any other caliber. That’s again a choice and with more of them being sold than any other caliber there must be something to be said there eh?

  24. Mine will misfire sometimes because the gripe safety is not fully depressed. Bought it because of the EZ slide. If it won’t go bang what good is it. No problems with other autos but working the slide.

  25. Humm, do not see the distance listed for the accuracy part. Could you give me this? Good cluster of placement but at what distance from the target?

  26. I just bought one this morning at Academy for $369. Best money ever spent! I picked up my lady friend and went to the range for a test drive. I used both Remington and Aguila (because they were on sale) 95 grain FMJ. I ran through about 5 eight round clips and my friend about the same. Shooting two silhouettes, I kept all body shots in the ten ring and all in the head at 21 feet (7 yards). More impressive was my friend who managed all good shots minus one flyer. She is relatively new to shooting. I am 69 and she is 74. This gun is so EZ to use, and well, right out of the box! My friend is trading in her SIG for one. My 80 year old aunt wants one! She cannot rack any slide and can’t pull a double action revolver trigger. I gotta have another one for backup. Good-bye hard to load Glock 19, and LCPs. J frames will reside in the closet (although I shot as good with a 642 last week, my hand is still very sore from +Ps). This is perfect for us getting older by the day for self defense. PS-cleaning is, well, so EZ! It shames my Glock 42. Pure FUN!

  27. Tex
    for those of you who feel you have to have a 155 tow(howitzer) for a self defense gun let me share a
    real life experience with you
    1966 Siagon south nam. I was involved in an investigation into a shooting involving a soldier and the
    owner of a off limits bar( did you get the off limits part) there had been several bad things happen at
    this location but for some unknown reason three N.F.G.’s decided this was the place to go
    one of the soldiers got very drunk and when asked to leave proceeded to beat the crap out of the bar tender who in turn went behind the bar pulled out an old Walther .380 and shot the soldier twice first one
    went thru his left hand (defensive wound) and hit him center mass also second shot center mass
    a 200 hundred pound soldier as his Buddy’s described it fell to the floor took a deep breath and died
    during the investigation we found the mag. in the Walther was loaded with 95 grain FMJ not hollow points
    or any of the loads you can get today, my point is I suppose is do not tell me a .380 is not powerful enough
    I have actually seen first hand what it can do HAVE YOU ? yes I suppose there are better rounds for self
    Defense but a .380 will kill believe me, what a waste a young soldier killed for such a stupid reason
    SAD DAY………

  28. Just bought one and i’m having stove pipe issues on last round. Looked online and there are a LOT of people with this problem. I’m thinking the mag spring is way too weak. The springs on my P320 X-carry extend 3 1/2″ from the bottom of the mag. (yeah, I know it’s a double stack). The uncompressed spring on the S&W EZ only extend 3/4″. Hoping someone can steer me in a direction that I can get some more manly mag springs for this thing. Other than that, my wife loves the gun. Very EZ to load/shoot/etc. Thanks

    • Gilbert, I had the same issue with my 380 EZ when I first started shooting it. I think what corrected it for me was making sure I was gripping the gun as tightly as possible. Once I started making sure I was gripping it tightly I’ve not had a single stove pipe type malfunction in well over 300 rounds.

    • You are correct, i am seeing a 10% failure rate but ONLY on the next to the last round. So two rounds in the magazine and 10% of the time, you squeeze the trigger and the fired case is ejected properly and the last round follows it out stovepiping. Occasionaly that last round will be ejected also then the action closes, and the hammer is cocked but there is NOT a round in the chamber. Like i said 10% of the time and only on the next to the last round so 100 rounds is 12.5 mags it fails once in a box of 100. If, on the other hand you are trying to test this load 2 rounds in the magazine. 100 rounds 2 per mag = 50 mags you should have 5 failures in a box of 100. I have 2 of these and bought 4 replacement mags. It happens with both guns and all 8 mags. Sent 1 gun back to s&w, they confirmed the problem, polished and tweaked it, but did not fix it. My next test will be to try to double up the springs.

      • I have a new spring I just need to figure out which magazine is causing problems. Is this your edc. What holster do you use

  29. Well I went to the gun store to look and get the feel of the Gen 2.0 9mm Shield & decided it wasn’t worth trading in my Gen 1 Shield. Before I escaped, the owner showed me the new EZ. Of course I didn’t shoot it but what a nice looking and feeling gun! Feels great in my average size 72 year old hand! It looks & feels like a real gun, has a good sight length & IMHO the new high powered .380 rounds make it a viable option to a 9 and will probably be my next CCW gun. And it won’t pull your pants down!

  30. I fired my new EZ today and it handled great! Tight shots to the left. Rear sight changed later. Looking for the best ammo now. Also fired my M9/92FS. 15 rounds right on target and I could still rack it. Guy shooting with me said “where did you learn to shoot”? Army. Could not rack my full size .45. (had to use edge of range table). Not as easy to control. Would like to see an Ez 9mm from Smith. I compared both the current guns (EZ and 2.0 Shield 9mm) and size wise they are equal in height and length. A 2.0 Shield EZ might have to grow in length a bit. I could take that. Don’t mind the safeties. Everyone loves the 1911 but hates these safeties. Explain that. These days we get a new gun a day in the magazines. They write like we are going into combat. At 71 I hope not.

  31. I’m not sure why the reviewer doesn’t think this gun shoots dead on. It shoots dead on for me. Glad the reviewer indicated that the magazine could be designed to hold more rounds. That would be nice.

  32. I have a Smith and Wesson MP Shield 380 EZ and I love it. I also love .380s ( I have 2) even though a lot of folks don’t like .380. I also have a Glock 17 Gen5 9mm that I love but the 380 EZ is awesome.

  33. I would like to add, the two Smith and Wesson MP Shield 380 EZs I bought (figuring the lawyers might nix the sales of grip safety only models) are my favorite to shoot, as I said above, of many .380s I have owned. I had two Bersa Thunders (one of which I used to qualify for concealed carry – nice guns for the money), a Kal Tec, the LCP and LCP custom, an old Browning, and currently still have two LCP IIs with green laserguard sights for daily carry, a Glock 42 (nice gun), and the two S&W EZs, by far my favorite. So 5 .380s at the moment. I have never been able to rip through a magazine of 8 rounds and stay in the center mass so fast at ranges from 3 to 7 yards with any gun or caliber, including .22 which also has low recoil but is not so controllable in my hands. I also have 3 S&W .38 specials, 2 J frames and one full size. The double action trigger pull (with trigger jobs) can be mastered, but not so “EZ.” I carried .44 magnums in Alaska for 30 years but that was for grizzly bears. Not needed for human threats or even desirable in my opinion.

  34. If that distance question is for me, I nearly always shoot at 5 yards, or 15 feet. Self defense ranges are usually about this. Think house rooms which, if 20 feet have to allow for room for both parties to be standing from the wall. However, if you are accurate at that distance, you will also be at 30 feet or even further. Of course, at long range you better be sure it is self defense or the opposition lawyer will be sure it wasn’t! I watch folks either side of me that are all over the paper at 9ft. (3yds)!!!! They are afraid of their guns, I think, and have too little range time with them. This is in Texas, too. This gun encourages practice. BTW, I also have a Taurus Judge and Smith Governor. Most folks, it seems, have difficulty with these guns, I think because of size and recoil. After thousands of rounds through .44 magnums they are not bad at all. It’s always about practice and how you were trained.

  35. By the way, I gave my 80 year old aunt one for Christmas. She loves that she can perform all operating actions and will feel safe when my uncle is gone deer hunting. He tried to fix up his J-frame for her by installing laser grips but neglected to check if she could pull the double action trigger or handle the recoil on a light .38 special. At her age her hand strength is not as much as his, but the EZ was designed with folks like her in mind. The important thing is that she FEEL safe. The odds of really needing a gun in an upscale neighborhood in very small, but not feeling helpless is worth a lot! I let her try all my guns (many have had trigger jobs) and she also liked the Glock 42, which is a little smaller, but she can’t rack it or load the magazine. The EZ is just easier and was her hands down pick. When I’m her age it may be mine as well. We all get old (if we’re lucky).

  36. I have about 150 rounds through mine. I bought it for others I help train but can’t help but love the way it feels in all the ways discribed above. Mine too came shooting left. Thought I got a lemon. But after adjusting the sights all is well. I can’t help but wonder if will hold up after a few thousand rounds. Anyone seen a 1000+ round review? Like others I think they need to make a 9mm with all the same features, especially the sweet trigger and reset. What’s there not to like?

  37. The TRUTH about the EZ is the slide release is a POS. How can anyone recommend this gun for women, if a former football player can’t manipulate the slide release? I have sanded, filed, smoothed, greased and still the damn thing is just too tiny and will not move vertically without using 2 hands or a ton of thumb pressure. It broke my thumbnail.


    • I’d bet $20 you’re testing that with an unloaded magazine. Works fine with a loaded mag, as any auto typically does.

      • I experienced nothing like this whatsoever and it isn’t typical of the Shield series. There may be something wrong with your particular gun.

        • My slide release is EZ as well. Your particular gun must have and issue. So sorry. Is it common to other Shields? I know the 9mm Shield 2.0 has a super hard slide release, at least in the store. Everyone says it gets easier as it breaks in. So the only thing NOT easy about the EZ is when you try and seat a full mag with the slide closed. I read other reviews that said the same. One either has to 1. Mussel it. 2. Have the slide open, or 3. Start with one less round in the mag. Hope that helps.

        • I have already alerted S&W to the issue. We will see how they respond. I will say that I have never had any issues with their customer service for the half dozen or so revolvers I have owned …

      • I have owned Glocks, Sigs, HK’s, Berettas, Walthers, Rugers, Colts, and NONE; NOT ONE, ever exhibited this behavior.

        • Breaking in is not going to correct this issue, since it seems to have more to do with the release’s 1/8″ of movement perpendicular to the motion required to release the slide. I have already smoothed all edges and corners, which is typically what the “breaking-in” process does. But remember, the slide release sees nothing like the repeated wear of the slide and trigger assemblies, simply because it is only used 1/8th of the time; if that often. there is a significant gap between the catch’s thumbpiece and the framewall, which is allowing the assembly to move towards the bore axis before it can move down. This makes the small catch even smaller, and it may be binding at the pivot point or elsewhere.

        • Smith sent it back unchanged. Very disappointed. So now its off to a real gunsmith to unfuck it.

    • Probably because it’s NOT a slide release… It’s a slide STOP.
      Load a fresh magazine in on an open slide, pull slide back and release.
      Correct way to do it and problem solved.

      I’ve chewed more than one yahoo up one side and down the other for using the slide STOP on my pistols to drop the slide into battery.

      I’ve had to repeat to so many people on my firing line using my equipment, you follow my instructions… DO NOT USE THE SLIDE STOP TO DROP THE SLIDE INTO BATTERY.
      If you want to beat the crap of out of a thin piece of stamped steel dropping a slide like that, do it on your own equipment.

  38. My wife and I just looked at guns today, and loved this one. She is a cna who has had a torn peck from a resident. She has issues racking my 1911 with the hammer down, as well as striker fired pistols. The salesman racked the ez with his index finger. My wife was manipulating the slide so much easier than any of the other pistols. Now we need to save up money

  39. I had EXACTLY the same problem with this pistol shooting to the left of point of aim. I went to the range three times and practiced trigger control to eliminate my pulling the pistol to the left. My groups looked exactly like the groups shown in this article. I was about to get out my brass punch and hammer when I ran into the gunsmith of the store where I bought this pistol. He said the rear sight was held in place by a ball and spring and cannot be drifted to adjust for this off center shooting. BEWARE–Smith and Wesson didn’t get this pistol completely right. I am sorry to say that. I certainly never expected it.

    • Actually that is not true. Open the side and lock it back. Then turn it upside down and look under the rear site. You’ll see a place for an allen wrench. That will loosen the rear sight so it can can be adjusted etc… Be safe!

      • Correct. The allen wrench is included in the box and the manual shows how to do it. I love my MP Shield 380EZ. It’s my EDC.

  40. I absolutely love this pistol. I shot a lot in my youth, both as a civilian and a soldier, but that was long ago. I have started shooting again and chose this gun for both my wife and myself to shoot. I have no physical limitations, and i love this gun. I look at it like buying a self propelled lawn mower, I dont need it but it makes the task at hand a lot easier. It shoots well, flat and on target. The 380 is enough with proper shot placement, which is no problem with this gun. I think saying that its for the weak and elderly does it a disservice, its a great gun for anyone

    • I agree. Advertising that it is for girls and the elderly sells it short. Who doesn’t want a slide that is EZ to rack and a mag that doesn’t need a loader, a 4lb trigger and no muzzle flip? I don’t “need” any of that but why would I choose it if it is offered?

  41. I experienced the stovepiping, or more often ejection of the final, unfired round in both of my mags, with the slide ending up forward in battery, not locked open. Rather than suspecting magazine springs being too weak, I suspected that the last round slides more readily on the slippery surface of the plastic follower than all of the previous rounds sliding on the round below them. As an experiment, I installed some self adhesive grip tape to the top surface of the plastic follower. It solved the problem, at least so far. This occurred with new mags and with a friends new gun as well.

    • Is there any follow-up on this (tape mod) ?

      Is this still working ? This is THE single most intelligent theory that I’ve EVER heard on the problem.

      However, it also doesn’t explain why “some” people are having success (limited, or otherwise?) with putting a “spacer” between the follower and the spring, and the spacer either being a snap-cap, or an empty .38sp/357 casing with the rim cut off.

      Although, I didn’t see any “concrete” data/reports on how reliable that mod actually was (nobody ever seems to circle back on these forums to update statsu)

      • I corrected this problem by adding a small strip of grip tape to the follower. Talon Grip sells a “grip tape” for slippery things like I-phones and such. Don’t use a large piece as it will cause a cartridge to hang. I haven’t had one stovepipe for hundreds of rounds since.

  42. The safety grip is not made for everyone and if it does not fit your hand (it does not fit mine), you lose time in a self defense situation. You have to readjust your grip losing time, and then it is more difficult to aim with the hand not in the most accustomed position. I highly recommend test firing at a shooting range. If it does not fit, do not make the purchase.

    • I had the opportunity to get a used 380 EZ that was basically new at $150 below street price, but I couldn’t make friends with the idea that in a self-defense situation, when moods are elevated and time is short, I would have to make sure that my grip is right. Got a Bersa Thunder 380 instead, which cost about the same with an extra 8-round factory magazine.

      The size is also large for the S&W 380 EZ, with the Bersa not being much larger, but offering more accuracy with the fixed barrel. Of course, I have no problem with racking any of my pistols.

  43. I purchased a S&W EZ380 Shield M2.0 mainly for my wife. She is 4ft.11in. tall, 72 years old and has weak hands and forearms. None of this makes for good handling of a firearm. She had NEVER picked up a firearm in her life. I took her out to purchase a firearm and the only one that she could cycle the slide on was the EZ 380. We took the weapon home and I instructed her on the proper handling and operation of that weapon for about 5 weeks. then I took her to a indoor firing range (MY mistake ) instead of an outside range which would have been a little noisy. Her first shot at about 20 ft. was S THROAT SHOT AND THE OTHER 5 SHOTS WERE IN A GROUP NO BIGGER THAN 3 1/4 INCHES !!! THIS WAS FROM A WEAPON STRAIGHT OUT OF THE BOX. Fantastic gun, really easy to use/clean/operate even with her Really small hands. All the really loud noise, plus Her natural first timers fear has put a damper on Her willingness to pursue further range time. I felt I should let others know what a really good weapon this is. I am 5ft10in with average size hands and i can operate this weapons controls with one hand without moving it removing my hand from the firearm (except racking the slide, which is really easy).I am a Viet Nam veteran and I know a little about weapons and I have a lot of respect for the designers of this firearm. Quality at a REALLY good price. With Todays ammo (Especially the xtreme defense ammo) it is on par with the 9mm handguns in my opinion. signed A happy Vet

  44. I think the reason people are having such problems is the spring on the magazine is weaker so it is easier to load, meaning if the slide is not properly resisted in it”s movement to the rear on the last shot when the spring is at the full travel the shell will not clear the ejection port . My friend had the same problem when he fired my wifes EZ380. He was used to his Glock 40 cal. I fired the weapon after he did and after 2 Magazines hed no hang-ups. Gilbert , Hopes this helps.

  45. After reading Kevan and STEVE J. issues on stove piping on the last shell , Ichecked my magazines and found the plastic followers were NOT really smooth as I had assumed. I had 2 new magazines that I had not used so I went out and test fired several mags and sure enough the shell only came out far enough to keep the slide open , but did not lock the slide back. Seems as though Kevan correctly diagnosed the problem .Maby by lightly sanding the plastic followers top surface to rough it up a little would be a quick way to solve such a problem. Ken M.

  46. I had the opportunity to get a used 380 EZ that was basically new at $150 below street price, but I couldn’t make friends with the idea that in a self-defense situation, when moods are elevated and time is short, I would have to make sure that my grip is right. Got a Bersa Thunder 380 instead, which cost about the same with an extra 8-round factory magazine.

    The size is also large for the S&W 380 EZ, with the Bersa not being much larger, but offering more accuracy with the fixed barrel. Of course, I have no problem with racking any of my pistols.

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