Smith & Wesson has completely re-thought their M&P series with the new polymer-framed, hammer-fired M&P .380 Shield EZ. Their latest pistol is a low-friction, low-recoil pistol chambered for .380 ACP with personal protection in mind.
Small pistols pose problems for many shooters. Either the recoil is so sharp that users back away or the guns function so tightly that only a handful of people can use them. At a certain point with small guns there’s no end to both problems.
Smith & Wesson is leading into these issues head-on with the new Shield EZ, a mid-size single-stack pistol built for concealed-carry and self-defense. Since the M&P EZ isn’t a smaller handgun, it shouldn’t be snappy like other .380s can be and is impressively easy to load and rack.
It’s so easy to handle people are likening the M&P EZ to rimfire pistols as far as loading and slide manipulating goes. The magazines even have an external slider to make loading that much easier.
“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,” said Jan Mladek, Smith & Wesson general manager.
“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, said Mladek. “We have incorporated both of these new features into the M&P380 Shield EZ pistol, allowing consumers of all statures and strengths the opportunity to own, comfortably practice with, and effectively utilize this exciting new pistol.”
One way Smith & Wesson makes the EZ a cinch to rack is that the new pistol uses an internal hammer-fired action. Another feature is the slide’s deep serrations at the rear of the slide. The last set of serrations are oversized and act like a racking tool.
The M&P EZ has a solid 8+1-round capacity and an above-average 3.6-inch barrel for improved ballistics. Its overall size and weight put it in the same class as many single-stack 9mm pistols with a full-length grip and unloaded weight of 18.5 ounces.
The M&P EZ incorporates a very large backstrap-length grip safety in place of a more common passive trigger safety. Smith & Wesson also offers the EZ with and without an ambidextrous manual safety.
For some shooters these features can make the gun safer to carry outside of a molded waistband holster. It also means that the design can use a solid, single-piece trigger that will fire even without perfect trigger finger placement.
Otherwise the EZ is a Shield pistol to its core. It has the same stainless steel slide and barrel assembly with Smith & Wesson’s Armornite nitride finish. It has most of the M&P 2.0 features including ergonomic grip and grippy but unaggressive frame. And it comes with real 3-dot sights.
While it’s true that a gun with this set of features is going to be a niche pistol, it’s a niche that few manufacturers are building for.
A lot of people will argue that slide manipulation is a matter of technique, but for some shooters no amount of technique can reliably overcome a full-power slide. And for others even with loading tools magazines can be difficult. The M&P Shield 2.0 EZ was literally designed to cater to a select crowd, expanding what is for some, a very limited market. MSRP is $399.