With less slide resistance, the M&P380 Shield EZ should prove to be one easy operator.
The details on Smith & Wesson’s M&P380 Shield EZ:
- The pistol’s slide requires less force to rack.
- In turn, it is ideal for shooters with weaker hands.
- The Shield EZ’s magazines have built-in load assist.
- Its slide mass has been optimized to handle most .380 ACP ammunition.
- The Shield EZ also boasts a grip safety, unique in the M&P line.
The semi-automatic pistol has dominated for some time now, whether for casual target shooting or dead-serious self-defense. And there are plenty of reasons why this style of handgun — be it hammer fired, single-action, DAO or striker-fired — has risen to the top. It just plain performs.
Their capacity, rate of fire, accuracy and what have you all tend to get top marks from every class of shooter. But for a select segment of the greater shooting public, the pistols aren’t always what they’re cracked up to be. For those who have difficulty operating the slide, the benefits of a semi-auto can seem out of reach or not worth the effort.
Smith & Wesson has set its sights squarely on these shooters with the newest edition of its popular semi-automatic pistol line. While the M&P380 Shield EZ definitely isn’t every handgunner’s cup of tea, for those who struggle to rack a semi-auto’s slide, it has the potential of being a godsend.
Smith & Wesson has given precious few details as to how it’s engineered a slide that requires less force to operate. However, the fact that the Shield EZ is a hammer-fired gun in a traditionally striker-fired line could have something to do with it. Lighter springs — both recoil and hammer — or where the hammer is situated could be how the company created a slide with less resistance.
Smith & Wesson has also given shooters plenty to get a hold of to manipulate the slide. In addition to the aggressive fore and aft cocking serrations common to the M&P line, the Shield EZ also has a flared section of the slide at the very rear. Reminiscent of some aftermarket upgrades, the protrusions are no wider than the frame; however, they give more to hold onto when working the slide.
The Shield EZ’s slide, aside from being easily manipulated, is also optimized in mass to reliably feed a wide spectrum of today’s .380 ACP ammunition and has a tactile load indicator.
Furthermore, the company hasn’t turned a blind eye to another facet of semi-autos that can be a bear — the magazine. The eight-round single-stack magazine (the pistol comes with two) has a side assist to depress the follower, thus making it easier to load. This should turn out to be a nice touch, particularly for getting those last few pesky rounds in when the spring is highly compressed.
Blatantly obvious when the Shield EZ is viewed in profile is its grip safety. A break in the usual M&P design, this passive safety pivots at the bottom to disengage an internal hammer block, thus making the pistol fully operable. The gun is also available with or without an ambidextrous manual thumb safety.
From there, the new Shield offers features fairly common to the line. It has standard three-dot sights, recoil operation, aggressive grip texturing and a Picatinny rail. Finally, the Shield EZ has a one-piece trigger that breaks at 5 pounds. The M&P380 Shield is presently on store shelves and has an MSRP of $399.
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