Smith & Wesson’s M&P 380 Shield EZ is a compact polymer, hammer fire, semi-auto pistol chambered in .380 ACP (.380 Auto) which has garnered a lot of attention since it’s recent introduction in February 2018.
Some people questioned why Smith & Wesson would add a new pistol to their line up chambered in .380 ACP, when they also have smaller and similar sized pistols such as the M&P Shield, M&P Compact 9/40C and M&P M2.0 3.6″ chambered in more powerful self-defense rounds such as 9mm and .40 S&W.
Apparently Smith & Wesson recognized the need for a relatively compact and light semi-auto with less recoil and one that had a slide which could more easily manipulated for those who lacked wrist strength (i.e. the elderly, smaller women, etc.).
Well, I just got my hands on one and now, having spent some time on the range with it, here are my thoughts.
While the trigger is fairly light and crisp, the reset is not nearly as tactile as the trigger reset on their M&P 2.0 line.
- Grip Texture. Grip texture is not particularly aggressive, unlike that of their M&P 2.0 line. I find the grip on the 380 Shield EZ to be comfortable and have no problem getting a secure grasp.
- Grip Safety. This is a first for the M&P line. The grip safety on the 380 Shield EZ must be engaged properly with the palm of your hand pressed firmly against it in order for this gun to shoot. While I’m not a fan of grip safeties, I suspect many other people will like this additional safety feature.
- Thumb Safety. The 380 Shield EZ offers an optional, manual ambidextrous thumb safety for those looking for one more feature to prevent an accidental discharge.
- Trigger. While the trigger is fairly light and crisp, the reset is not nearly as tactile as the trigger reset on their M&P 2.0 line. In fact, I was a somewhat disappointed to find that the trigger reset required some time getting used to because I often could not feel it while shooting. I think this is something that Smith & Wesson should improve, but perhaps due to the lower price point of this pistol, they won’t be able to justify putting the extra resources into making its trigger reset as good as what can be found on their M&P 2.0 line.
- Barrel. The 380 Shield EZ’s stainless steel barrel is 3.675” in length.
- Slide. The 380 Shield EZ’s stainless steel slide is surprisingly very easy to rack, very similar to that of the M&P 22.
- Finish. The 380 Shield EZ has the same Armornite® durable corrosion resistant finish found on Smith & Wesson’s M&P 2.0 line.
- Loaded Chamber Indicator. The 380 Shield EZ has a loaded chamber indicator which can be seen and felt to indicate whether there is a round in the chamber.
- Sights. The 380 Shield EZ comes with steel white dot sights.
- Comfort. The 380 Shield EZ uses the same optimum 18-degree grip angle as all other M&Ps making point of aim comfortable and natural.
- Reliability. As with the rest of the M&P line, the 380 Shield EZ proved to be very reliable with no failures or malfunctions of any kind after shooting 200 rounds of Magtech, 95 grain FMJ.
- Recoil. As you might expect, recoil from the 380 Shield EZ was quite modest…akin to shooting a .22LR pistol.
- Accuracy. I find the 380 Shield EZ to be very accurate.
- Capacity. The 380 Shield EZ comes standard with two 8 round, single stack steel magazines. These magazines have a little nub sitting on the left side enabling you to press down on it to assist in more easily loading each round, similar to what you might find on the magazine for the M&P 22. For a home self-defense gun (and even a CCW), I’d prefer to have a greater capacity than 8 + 1.
- Price. MSRP is $399, but you should be able to buy it for less than that.
Capacity: Standard magazine capacity of 8 rounds in .380 ACP
Weight: 18.5 oz
Final Thoughts about the Smith & Wesson M&P 380 Shield EZ
If you are looking for an affordable, soft-shooting, reliable, quality-made, semi-auto pistol with an easy-to-rack slide and easy-to-load magazine, chambered in .380 ACP, the Smith & Wesson M&P 380 Shield EZ might just the gun for you. My only complaints are that I don’t like the less pronounced tactile trigger reset and limited 8+1 capacity, from this otherwise stellar and relatively compact self-defense pistol.
Some may balk at using a .380 ACP as a self defense round, but I’d bet there isn’t a criminal out there who would volunteer to be shot with one (especially in JHP).
Perhaps more importantly, the 380 Shield EZ was designed to address the needs of folks with arthritis or limited wrist/hand/finger strength (such as the elderly, smaller women, etc.) or those who might be recoil shy and in that respect, it looks like Smith & Wesson has hit another home run.