Month: July 2018

EZ – The S&W M&P 380 Shield EZ

EZ – The S&W M&P 380 Shield EZ

Our focus is training, not gear reviews. However, every once in a while someone introduces a piece of hardware that is unique enough to require one–Smith and Wesson’s introduction of the M&P® 380 Shield EZ meets that qualification.

The Struggle with Slides

Women students are among those we introduce to the basics of pistol shooting, as well as concealed carry classes. Often, they struggle with manipulating the slide of a semi-automatic, and in doing so frequently sweep the muzzle in wide arcs. Generally, not a desirable outcome. And, the size of the handgun seems to matter little. Pocket pistols are as much of a struggle as compacts, and full-sized semi-autos. Revolvers seem to be the go-to handgun, but then we have to deal with the long, and relatively heavy trigger press of double action, or cocking the hammer, which is sometimes a struggle for those with smaller hands, for a shorter, lighter trigger press. Those whose strong hand is the left hand seem to have even greater struggles with handling the slide (not least because most instructors are right-handed shooters, and teach from a right-handed perspective). There is a light on the horizon.

Enter the S&W M&P® 380 Shield EZ

Smith and Wesson recently introduced their M&P® 380 Shield EZ. This is a semi-auto that is designed for people who struggle with slides due to limited hand strength (it may do well with first time shooters who have no experience with handguns as well, although we have not experienced that, yet). Roughly the size of their standard Shield line, the EZ is a single-stack, .380 semi-auto. The ease with which the slide can be pulled to the rear is the first feature noticed by those who handle this handgun. Generally, the first response we have heard so far is, “Wow!” The typical response from the women we have shown this pistol to has been, “I like it,” rapidly followed by “What is this, again,” and “How much is it?”

Another benefit that we have seen is in shooting. The relatively larger size (compared to a pocket pistol), more aggressive grip stippling, and slightly heavier weight, coupled with a .380’s reduced recoil, all seem to produce better control, and more accurate fire.

External Safeties

Unlike their other entries in the M&P® line, the 380 Shield EZ has a grip safety. It is available with an optional thumb safety, as well.  This pistol is hammer-fired, that is, it has an internal hammer that strikes a firing pin, which reduces the pressure required for trigger press compared to a double-action handgun. The grip safety accomplishes two purposes: The first is that unless the grip is securely pressed (which really is a function of getting a proper grip, anyway), the hammer cannot strike the firing pin. The second is that the grip safety releases a firing pin block. The optional thumb safety is typical in its operation; when engaged, the trigger cannot release the hammer.

Takedown

The M&P® 380 Shield EZ breaks down like others in the M&P® line. Lock the slide to the rear, rotate the slide takedown lever to the down position, then pull the slide slightly to the rear to release the lock, and the assembly slides off the frame. Unlike other pistols in the line, however, no trigger pull or sear release is necessary–the slide simply slides off the frame. The recoil spring and barrel separate from the slide in the same fashion as other pistols in the M&P® line.

Reassembly

Reassembly has one wrinkle other M&P® pistols do not; the head of the polymer guide-rod is oval, not round, and has to be properly aligned with the guide-rod hole in the slide. Reassembly is the same as other pistols in the line, just ensure you do NOT press the grip safety while putting the slide assembly back on the frame, otherwise you engage the firing pin block lever, and the slide will not move fully to the rear. Lock the slide back, rotate the slide takedown lever to its horizontal position, and release the slide-voila!

Specifications

Full specifications can be found on Smith and Wesson’s website.

Bottom Line

Smith and Wesson’s M&P® 380 Shield EZ is a hit out of the park for shooters who struggle with hand strength. It is an affordable alternative to the pocket pistols that frequently have heavy triggers and stiff slides. While larger than most .380 pocket pistols, the ease with which it can be manipulated overcomes its size.