August 29, 2020
The Shield EZ is a shining example of a company investing a lot of thought and effort into creating a semiautomatic that practically anyone can use. Now it’s even easier to shoot well thanks to the addition of an integral Crimson Trace green laser.
The Shield EZ is a hammer-fired .380 Auto, and the fact that it’s hammer-fired and not striker-fired is a contributing factor to how easy the slide is to operate—because in a hammer-fired designed the recoil spring doesn’t have to be as stout as in a striker gun. The slide works so easily I can do it with do it with just my thumb and index finger.
To further enhance the ease of racking the pistol, the rear of the slide—in addition to featuring well-executed serrations—flares slightly. The flare isn’t so big it creates actual wings, but it does create as a definite ledge to assist in drawing the slide to the rear.
The laser is one of Crimson Trace’s Laserguard, and it fits seamlessly in front of the trigger guard. The laser’s housing continues around the trigger guard and continues down the frontstrap a little more than half an inch. This extension houses the activation button and creates what Crimson Trace calls “instinctive activation.” When you have the pistol in a proper firing grip, the laser turns on without you having to reach for buttons on the laser portion of the unit.
And when combined with the Shield EZ’s grip safety, you have the ideal setup: In a proper firing grip, the laser is on and that safety is off. This particular model also has an ambidextrous thumb safety, and it’s a good one if you’re a fan of the thumb safety. Smith & Wesson sells a model without the thumb safety if that’s not your thing.
The pistol has excellent ergonomics and feels right at home in your hands. The stippling on the grip frame is not too subtle, not too aggressive.
The trigger is pretty good. The pull on my sample averaged just a touch over 4.5 pounds. There’s about a quarter-inch of take-up, and it does exhibit some creep, but it’s certainly fine for its intended use as a close-range defensive pistol, and the reset is nice and short.
The magazine release is easy to reach, and magazines drop free without issue. Speaking of magazines, the pistol comes with two eight-rounders with orange followers. As an added bonus, there’s a stud on the sides like you’d find on rimfire magazines. These assist in compressing the spring during loading—another user-friendly feature many people will appreciate.
The slide is coated in Armornite for corrosion resistance, and behind the ejection port you’ll find a loaded-chamber indicator you check by look or feel. Sights are metal three-dot, with the adjustable rear set in a dovetail.
Smith & Wesson M&P 380 Shield EZ
Type: Hammer-fired semiauto
Caliber: .380 Auto
Barrel: 3.675 in.
Overall length: 6.7 in.
Height: 5 in.
Slide width: 1 in.
Weight: 19.1 oz.
Construction: Armonite-coated steel slide, polymer frame
Trigger: 4.5 lb. pull (measured)
Sights: metal 3-dot, Crimson Trace Laserguard
Safeties: manual thumb (as tested), grip
Manufacturer: Smith & Wesson, smith-wesson.com