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Initial Grandma’s Gun Range Report: M&P380 Shield EZ

We first laid hands on the new M&P380 Shield EZ by Smith and Wesson in late December of 2017. Everything about this gun was designed to live up to the name, from the lightweight caliber, to the slide specifically designed to be easily grasped, to the load assists on the magazines.
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Something that initially struck us as odd was the actual size of it; larger than a 9mm M&P Shield or Glock 43, and almost exactly that of the old Bersa Thunder 380.
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Instead of basing the Shield EZ on the current crop of the popular striker-fired Shields, by all appearances it's a hammer-fired M&P22 Compact that's been converted to .380 and had some extra safeties added. If you want to get into all of the specifications of this gun, see this piece here.

If you look through the reviews and writings thus far about this new .380 offering from Smith and Wesson, a common mantra has been, “this gun isn't for us.” What they mean to say is that this is a pistol for someone unwilling or unable to use something like a Glock 43. This could be due to inexperience, lack of interest, the muscle degradation that comes with age, or perhaps a disorder such as fibromyalgia.

We also suspect this is the reason for the N+1 safety features on the firearm–while we doubt anyone at S&W would ever advocate just throwing a gun into a purse sans holster, they probably knew that's what would happen with a heap of these pistols. Even odds there won't be a round chambered either. This is Grandma's Gun.
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We firmly believe that everyone has a right to self-defense, and the people this pistol was designed for also, unfortunately, fall into the ‘easy target' category for many criminals. The development of the M&P380 Shield EZ is a noble pursuit in that manner.

But there is a problem with the oft-repeated “not for us” incantation. Nearly all of these first looks and reviews were recorded or written by generally younger men who are [presumably] capable and experienced with handguns. And we're sad to say that this initial range report is no different.

ON THE RANGE

Just as the first time we put some rounds through the M&P380 Shield EZ at the end of last year, the EZ lives up to the name. The slide can be racked with one finger, and it was soft shooting. Accuracy was fairly decent, that is until a demon showed up somewhere in the second or third magazine. Inexplicably, the groups shifted left.
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Further examination showed that the front sight shifted under recoil and it could be wiggled a bit by hand. Someone probably forgot the torque wrench with this one.

The grip safety on the M&P380 completely disengages the fire control; this means that if the safety isn't depressed, it will just feel like a dead trigger. When trying to see if we could induce this failure-to-fire with production pistols (we couldn't), we did come across something else when using such a limp grip:
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LOOSE ROUNDS

It would be extremely premature to draw any hard conclusions about the M&P380 Shield EZ just from the few short days that we've had it in hand. Though we could repeat the failure with different kinds of ammunition, it could still be an ammunition-related issue–we weren't exactly using Speer Gold Dot. Additionally, we are always reminded that this is only a sample of one. Perhaps what we would consider ‘limp wristing' doesn't have a real-world analog among the target demographic for this handgun. All of this is to say: we'll be continuing to test the gun. And we're going to have some actual grandmothers shoot it.

If stovepipes and other malfunctions don't occur with defensive ammo and an actual old lady behind the trigger, the M&P380 may get the ‘viable grandma gun' green checkmark just yet. Stay tuned.

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