March 21, 2018

S&W's New M&P380 Shield EZ Pistol Is Supposedly Easy to Use

Smith & Wesson's new M&P380 Shield EZ pistol is a personal-protection and everyday-carry sidearm which is being marketed as easy to use (EZ), a test consideration that Gun Tests Magazine's concealed-carry readers ask about all the time.

"This is a recent promotional trend in small pistols," said Gun Tests Editor Todd Woodard, commenting on the S&W M&P380 Shield EZ chambered in 380 Auto. "Smith announced the handgun as being easy to use, having an easy-to-load magazine, and offering an easy-to-clean takedown. Those are the prime aspects of a test our readers want to know about as well, so it's interesting that Smith & Wesson is rolling out this pocket pistol pushing those features." 

Jan Mladek, general manager of M&P and S&W Brands, said, “When we set out to design the M&P380 Shield EZ pistol, our goal was to deliver an all-around, easy to use personal protection pistol — from loading and carrying, to shooting and cleaning.

"Throughout the development process, we focused on key areas that customers told us were important — the ease of racking the slide and loading the magazine. With that in mind, we reduced the amount of force required to rack the slide, and developed a magazine that is both easy and efficient to load. We have incorporated both of these new features into the M&P380 Shield EZ pistol. The new M&P380 Shield EZ pistol provides an easy-to-use personal protection option for both first-time shooters and experienced handgunners alike.”

smith & wesson m&p380 ez pistol

Woodard said the new EZ pistol is part of the M&P M2.0 family and features an 8+1 round capacity and a 3.675-inch barrel.

"Gun Tests readers don't like when a gun they've purchased comes with only one magazine," Woodard said, "so we're glad to see the M&P380 Shield EZ pistol ships with two 8-round magazines. Other features our readers generally favor include load-assist buttons on the magazines as well as a Picatinny rail to accommodate accessories. In previous tests of small 380 pistols, we've found rail-mounted lasers vastly improve accuracy results."

The pistol also features an 18-degree grip angle, white-dot front and adjustable white-dot rear sights, and an MSRP of $399

"As a category, these small 380s generally have crappy triggers with long, heavy, indistinct releases, so we'll take a hard look at Smith's claim that the EZ has a 'light, crisp trigger.' We are actively lining up 380s for future tests," Woodard said.

Comments (9)

If you're lining up comparison.380's, could your team consider Grand Power, Bersa, Sig, Kimber, Kahr, Beretta, Ruger, Taurus, Colt, North American Arms, Glock, EAA, Remington, Kel-Tec, and topping off the article with the answer to what ever became of the Rock Island Armory, Baby Rock .380 that you tested long ago when you awarded it an "A", but it never appears in the marketplace (online or brick and mortar retail stores)?

I'd like to see your choices categorized by barrel length since the .380 can differ in overall size from a pocket handgun to that of a scaled down full size handgun.

Posted by: mselvy | March 24, 2018 6:45 PM    Report this comment

I was able to handle one of these at my gun range today. I have to admit I was impressed. It is very easy to rack and the mag loading sliding button, tactile LCI, and visible loaded condition [vertical slot on the magazine] are welcome features. The trigger I estimate at maybe 5 lbs and has the slightest bit of creep, which I like, and then a nice break. I liked everything about it except the caliber. If the ammo guys could convince me,and it shoots well, I would consider it comparable in a lot of ways to my PC 9mm Shield and my .45 Shield. The grip safety does seem and looks strange to me, but as comfortable to activate as a 1911
I look forward to your testing report, particularly on the grip safety and range testing.

Posted by: x211sam | March 22, 2018 10:23 PM    Report this comment

Don't dismiss the Glock 42

Posted by: bmwclay | March 22, 2018 5:25 PM    Report this comment

I think a comparison test of this new M&P380 Shield, the Ruger LC380 (maybe the first recent design to partner the .380 in a slightly larger, more shootable, easier to "rack" package) and the Browning 1911-380 Compact...and throw in a popular micro .380 pistol or two (LCP II or something).

I just picked up 1911-380 Pro Medallion limited production and I'm really impressed so far. I see the rationale behind these "right sized" .380s...I had a 9mm Shield (only slightly smaller in a few dimensions than the Browning) and a PF-9 at the range trip. The super small .380 and 9mm guns are great to conceal but much less controllable. The extra power of a 9mm, or the extra "compactness" of a tiny .380 won't be helpful if you don't want to practice as much, and therefore are less likely to place your shots where they count.

Posted by: ottergt | March 22, 2018 1:23 PM    Report this comment

I note the pistol has a grip safety similar to the older Walther P5(?) and, of course, the 1911. I suspect this design is a recognition that "small and concealable" has been taken about as far as it can go and still produce a useful weapon. I'm reminded of the derringer type pistols that come in .410 shotshell/ .45 Long Colt, etc. I've not fired one of those blasters but it cannot be a comfortable experience. Same for the Taurus Judge. S&W is responding to the needs of an aging demographic (like me, at 77) whose hand strength and dexterity are declining. As well, it's always been the case that any gun that is not comfortable to shoot will stay in its holster/box and not be used to practice as much as is desirable. Taken another step, I like to shoot my Walther P22 because it has a very quick trigger, good sights, a factory laser and eats cheap ammo. Of course, many will leap to say the 22LR is unacceptable as a self defense round. They're probably correct but no one ever volunteers to become a human target of this ubiquitous plinker, either.

We continue to live in a "Golden Age" of gun ownership and shooting. Despite the shouting and excessive media stimulated over reaction to recent tragic shootings, the gun makers are bringing forth interesting new products for all of us "gun nuts" to enjoy. Given thoughtful design and attention to ease of manufacture these weapons are very affordable.

Ease of takedown for cleaning is always a consideration for us geezers. The Walther CCP was an innovative gas delayed blowback design which, sadly, required about four hands to disassemble. Sales of that model are lagging badly. Walther has also dropped the two finger mag release in favor of a traditional button on its M2 version PPC.

Yeah, I like Walther's. I still fondle my original--made in Germany--PPK in .380 ACP purchased way back in the dark ages of 1966 in anticipation of shipping out to Vietnam.

Posted by: GreyFox 73 | March 22, 2018 10:48 AM    Report this comment

Considering it is designed for concealed carry, why is the gun so large?

With an overall length of 6.7 inches it is much larger than many compact 9mm pistols, (Sig P365=5.8", Ruger LC9s=6", S&W M&P 9 Shield=6.1", etc.).

Posted by: Jim Parker | March 22, 2018 10:16 AM    Report this comment

I have a Glock 43 & Kahr P9, recoil was tamed with Hogue grips. I'm 75 and generally wear gloves to rack the slides. Full size pistols are much easier to use, cleaning is easier. Small pistols are "small" and concealable, easy to carry, but not a lot of fun to shoot, triggers are creepy, in a close defensive situation they will work. I have an all steel FEG 380 which is a little larger and heavier but very accurate, recoil not a problem. It comes down to a lot of firepower in a small lightweight concealable package in these small guns, not the quality of a Berreta 92, 1911 or S&W wheel gun. "It is what it is"& "they are what they are" :)

Posted by: CitizenJohn | March 22, 2018 9:17 AM    Report this comment

Ruger LC380 seems to be similar but never caught on like the LCP. A test against the LC380 would be interesting. Also, S&W already makes the bodyguard 380. Is this a pistol that would compete with this?

Posted by: timdennis | March 22, 2018 9:14 AM    Report this comment

Todd,

I am sure you've thought of this but test it against the Ruger LCP II. Ruger makes similiar claims about ease of use. It is better than the original LCP but still not optimal in my opinion.

Posted by: reccpd101 | March 22, 2018 9:04 AM    Report this comment

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