Smith & Wesson M&P 380 Shield EZ | Where It Fits in Today

Smith & Wesson M&P 380 Shield EZ
Smith & Wesson M&P 380 Shield EZ

U.S.A.-( Unless you have been living under a rock, it is unlikely that you have not seen the new compact pistol chambered in 380 ACP that Smith & Wesson is offering. The new M&P 380 Shield EZ has all but stormed social media and reviewers desks for the past month, AmmoLand writer Patrick Roberts has already run one review so far, here.

In my mind, the 380 ACP caliber really does not entice a very large portion of the typical shooting communities in the United States. You know the firearms groups: Elmer Fudd, tactical Tim, EDC Eric, and competition Carl’s, all typically avoid 380ACP like a sort of plague.

Nevertheless, S&W went ahead and built this ultra-safetied, easy racking, easy loading 380.

So who is this pistol for exactly?

For starters, I want this pistol myself for two reasons. First, I believe this to be a better platform for new shooters to learn on than a .22 pistol or rifle. There may be some caveats here, for instance, .22 remains the cheapest and easiest caliber to teach gun safety and basic firearm manipulation, especially to young children. But what Smith & Wesson has provided with the M&P 380 Shield EZ is similar to the M&P 22 in the way that this pistol provides familiar controls, grip angle, and size as its larger caliber cousins.

Smith & Wesson M&P 380 Shield EZ
Smith & Wesson M&P 380 Shield EZ features similar ergonomics and mechanics as other Shield pistols but in a much more controllable and easy to manipulate package when chambered in 380 ACP.

The gained advantage with the 380 EZ over its .22 counterparts, is taking someone who is uncomfortable with 9mm and training them with this pistol. When/if they decide to move up to 9mm the difference will not be nearly as severe as the transition from a .22 pistol. Not only will their transition be more comfortable, but the 380 still serves as a proper defensive round. Although it may lack the penetration of a 9mm, the light recoil of the round combined with the smooth action of the M&P 380 Shield make it ideal for repeatable follow-up shots during defensive use. Regardless if that individual shoots once a week or only the one time they need to protect themselves, 380 ACP will more than likely see them through, and any recoil will be easy enough for anyone to handle.

Features on the 380 Shield also build good gun handling techniques. Regardless if you go with a thumb safety model or one without, the real gem and surprise is the grip safety.  During use, the grip safety is totally unnoticeable and the firearm feels very much like other Shield models with a similar grip angle and texture. More importantly, you do not need to grip the gun for dear life to engage the grip safety, you need to grip the gun normally, that's it. From the perspective of building a new shooters skill, the grip safety helps create the necessity for a good grip and creates a way of building muscle memory.

Easy to rack, easy to load, easy to shoot. Even the magazines have tabs to assist in loading easily.
Easy to rack, easy to load, easy to shoot. The magazines have tabs to assist in loading easily. My one complaint: two magazines is one mag short, especially for an eight-round gun.

The second reason the 380 Shield is a keeper, and this may not be as flashy as your other reviewers, but here is my big takeaway, and do with it what you will. I enjoyed every round I shot with this pistol, of which I have an accurate count of 500 rounds without a single failure. Of those 500 rounds, 400 were shot in one day, using various types of ball ammunition. The 380 Shield EZ was a fun little gun to shoot, even if I was constantly reloading with only two 8-round magazines. This pistol ran all different types of typical 90-grain ball ammunition and even 50 rounds of 90 grain Federal Hydra-Shok .380 ACP. All ran flawlessly.

That may not be the most ground shaking reason, but I consider fun to be among the main reasons I shoot guns. If you aren't enjoying yourself at the shooting range then there is something wrong with you. You'll notice I can't shut my mouth in the video, that is my dumb shooting smile.

So here is where I think this pistol shines: non-typical shooters.

It’s a little presumptuous to say things like this gun is great for women or old guys with arthritis that can’t button their shirt but want to defend themselves. Some old guys carry a .45 because they always have and they still have that “tupperware” mentality about polymer pistols. It also goes without saying there are more than a few women who can easily outshoot me with all sorts of calibers. I think a more apt placement is as a firearm designed for self-defense that is concealable, still easy to manipulate, and easy to control recoil.

Pretty much everyone can use a firearm that falls into those categories: concealable, easy to manipulate, controllable recoil, and a decent-ish caliber for defensive situations. That is why Smith & Wesson's M&P Shield 380 EZ is a great pistol to arrive during a period when people are increasingly interested in concealed carry. I'm just saying there may even be a few school teachers looking for a pistol for the first time, after all we all have the right to defend ourselves.

Way to often do people equate what works for them as being the sole answer for the rest of the shooting community.

Especially when it comes to people new to firearms, recoil and muzzle blast are usually deterrents in their selection, while at the same time small usually desirable. Unlike other 380 pistols in the compact size, the S&W 380 Shield EZ has hardly any muzzle flip and is not snappy, instead it is very smooth and easy to control.

Part of being easy to control and shoot repeatably is a good trigger. The S&W may have a slightly longer reset but it also breaks (on average of 5 pulls) right around 4 lbs 1.5 oz.
Part of being easy to control and shoot repeatably is a good trigger. While the S&W 380 Shield EZ may have a slightly longer trigger reset, it also breaks (on average of 5 pulls) right around 4 lbs 1.5 oz.

I said before it was presumptuous to say this gun was good for one group or another. Well, I admit I had a presumption that my girlfriend would be a fan of the EZ. Sure enough, when I put it in her hands she was in love with it. I gave her a 9mm pistol right after she shot 50 rounds through the EZ, she took one shot and said, “I like the other one better.” The 380 Shield EZ has the right size, recoil, and manipulation that she needs to operate the gun on her own and feel confident while doing it. I'd say that is more important than the caliber size, especially when we are talking about someone who is not wholly indoctrinated into the firearms community like the rest of us.

Rather than go with the usual flow of designing guns for typical gun owners, Smith & Wesson targeted a unique entry-level shooter as well as anyone looking for an easy to shoot, concealable pistol with the M&P 380 Shield EZ.


  • Easy to rack slide.
  • Crisp, light trigger with tactile and audible trigger reset.
  • Includes (2) Easy to Load 8-Round M&P380 Shield magazines.
  • Grip safety – grip pistol to fire.
  • Windage adjustable, white dot rear sight (tool included).
  • Can disassemble without pulling trigger.
  • Grip texture optimized to size and recoil.
  • Tactile loaded chamber indicator (TLCI) – can see and feel if there is a round in the chamber.
  • Available with or without ambidextrous, manual thumb safety.
  • Picatinny-style equipment rail for lights or lasers.
  • Perfect size for nightstand or carry, or a day at the range.
  • Reversible magazine release.
  • Thin and lightweight – can be comfortably carried all day.
  • Optimal 18-degree grip angle for natural point of aim.
  • Armornite durable corrosion resistant finish.


  • Model: M&P 380 SHIELD EZ
  • Caliber: .380 Auto
  • Capacity: 8+1
  • Barrel Length: 3.675″ / 9.3 cm
  • Overall Length: 6.7″
  • Front Sight: White Dot
  • Rear Sight: Adjustable White Dot
  • Action: Internal Hammer Fired
  • Grip: Polymer
  • Weight: 18.5 oz / 524.5g
  • Barrel Material: Stainless Steel – Armornite® Finish
  • Slide Material: Stainless Steel – Armornite® Finish
  • Frame Material: Polymer
  • Purpose: Concealed Carry, Home Protection, Personal Protection

About Duncan Johnson:Duncan Johnson

Duncan is a firm believer in the Second Amendment and that “shall not be infringed”, means exactly that.  A life-long firearms enthusiast and a graduate of George Mason University, now competing regularly in 3 gun competitions, Duncan is always looking to improve his shooting skills. Duncan is a regular contributor to AmmoLand and assists in the everyday gun-news publishing as an assistant editor.


  • 26 thoughts on “Smith & Wesson M&P 380 Shield EZ | Where It Fits in Today

    1. I tend to view everything with a critical eye. I examine that which is shown and, perhaps just as important, that which is not shown. I noticed that the height and width of the gun are not listed. I found this puzzling and have to wonder why. I know that some like the grip safety found on most 1911 style guns and on some current designs; but, I never saw the need for it. And, neither did John Browning. All that said, another seemingly quality firearm for the people is never a bad thing.

    2. I like all of the comments, but I collect guns and I have two used military guns that I have had for years, a P-64 and a Russian Makarov, both very reliable and both take the 9/18 rounds that are readily available for purchase. they take solid or hollow point ammo and no problem devolving either or. Slightly larger than a 380 round but just as capable and both are very concealable. If these were used by Russian Military and Polish Military, I don’t think they should be over looked as a carry pistol.

    3. I am looking for a laser to fit my S&W M&P 380 Shield rd pistol. Would like some feed back from anyone who has add a laser to their pistol. Thank you!

    4. Don’t get me wrong. I love mine. It’s the perfect carry size, maybe a few ounces heavy but that makes it more pleasant to shoot. But no number of additional mags will help if they can’t be carried as spares. The poorly designed magazine is a terrific example of how to design everything incorrectly. I’ve never really gotten along with the “buttonized” follower in .22’s but I could live with it if the concept didn’t render the pistol impossible to carry. To incorporate the use of the buttons the normal retaining cutouts in the metal could not be used. Instead, two ridiculous “wings” were pressed outward in the metal to retain the magazine in the gun. And the sharp edges point downward, of course, which is “up” in any magazine pouch. These catch on any kind of soft pouch one can imagine (I’m using DeSantis pocket holders for my CW380 and CW9), making emergency reloading a dubious concept, at best.

      I’d love to carry this little guy but if I can’t carry at least one spare magazine that can be reliably deployed the pistol stays a safe queen, used only as an intermediate step to move new shooters from .22LR to 9mm. Can some enterprising company help us out here, please, and alleviate S&W’s lazy design more useful, please?

    5. I bought my 12 year old daughter a Ruger SR22 as her first pistol. She loved it and mastered it in no time at all. After shooting the .22 for almost a year I tried stepping her up to my 9mm. She was a decent shot with the 9mm but it would hurt her hand after a while and the kick was too much for her to handle coming from a .22LR. On one occasion she got brave and wanted to shoot my 45. Watching her shoot the 45 was a comical. She would prepare herself for the kick but it was just too overwhelming for her little hands and it would push her back. It literally looked as though she was fining a hand cannon. For her 13 bday I wanted to surprise her with something in between the .22 and 9mm. I came across this article took the authors advice and bought this exact 380. The author was spot on in recommending this for something to bridge the gap between the .22 and 9mm. On our first outing she shot 350 rounds through this gun with not a single jam. She also nails the bulls eye every 7 out of 8 times. Thank you Duncan Johnson, we love this little gun and does indeed bridge the gap between the .22 and 9mm. Only caveat is that 380 ammo is expensive so be ready to buy it in bulk and stock up during the holiday sales.

    6. I am a 54 y/o female with carpal tunnel, both hands. 1.5 years post-surgical on the rt., but still have pain issues. Due to carpal-related muscle atrophy, I have difficulty racking most SA pistols, and my right hand buzzes painfully and persistently when trying to fire anything with much recoil, which doesn’t exactly encourage practice. My accuracy also rapidly declines because of this, which also discourages practice. Revolvers do not seem to bother me nearly as much, but the revolvers that fit my rather large hands comfortably (retired law enforcement service revolvers) were not exactly great CC candidates. A very patient gun shop employee suggested I try handling the S&W Shield EZ after trying at least a dozen other sidearms. I bought one in May, and am very happy with mine. I have yet to experience a jam, thankfully.

    7. Having arthritis in both hands. I bought this gun recently after reading all the reviews and shot 500 rounds through it at the range. Ball ammo was PMC Bronze 90gr., Field & Stream 95gr., Monarch 94gr., Sig Sauer 100gr. Also shot 50 rounds each of Hornady FTX 90gr., Hornady XTP 90gr. I experienced 3 malfunctions, the same Glen had, all with the same magazine, so I think one of my 4 mags is the problem and will test it further. I also tried feeding Sig V-crown 90gr. and it would not feed. I’ll save my Sig ammo for my Sig P238 which feeds everything perfectly. I will continue to use this at the range with other various ammo as i find the gun very easy to load, rack, use and clean and it is extremely accurate, especially when using a Truglo laser on the rail. 2-3 inch groups at 15 yards are easily done.

    8. Just bought this for my wife. She has no trouble racking the slide like on my Sig. Only one weird malfunction out of 50 rounds she had three jams on the last round. It would come out and stick straight up instead of going into the chamber. I watch Hicok 45 on youtube and he had a similar thing. I’m guess maybe try different brand of ammo or maybe just shoot it some more to see if it comes out of it. Maybe it’s still too new. I just today marked the mags so I can tell if it’s the same one doing it. Any thoughts?

      1. I had that problem with my 22 Victory when it was new, after the first cleaning found out it was very dry, and since that cleaning I haven’t had a problem with it jamming. I’ve shot 1000 rounds and I’m going to clean it for the 2nd time. I shoot at a range once a week.

    9. Suffering with the beginnings of arthritis and reluctantly creeping into my elderly years, the smaller 9mm’s beat me up. I have the Ruger LCP, S&W M&P Bodyguard 380 and now this 380 Shield EZ. After I cleaned the new pistol I immediately headed to the range with it and 2 boxes of ammo. Love this gun!! Easy handling, easy pointing, more accurate than me, One hundred rounds later, I wished that I had brought more targets and ammo. The downer came after I again cleaned the pistol and did a look-see down the bore, discovering 2 or 3 small “nicks” in one of the lands. Well, problems can happen with anything so I gave S&W a call. Despite my begging that they just send me another barrel, I had to send the gun in. Hopefully all will be worked out and I’ll get my newest gem-of-a-gun back – because I wouldn’t trade it for anything other .380 acp. Strangely enough, one larger bore pistol I shoot best (despite my health issues) is my 1911. Must be the grip angle?

    10. Cindy R
      When you buy a new semi-automatic [self-loading] pistol you will find several issues that you may not be aware [ the sales clerk might have known either].
      New guns must be cleaned and properly lubricated and then shot enough times to break-in the rough spots.
      The 380 Auto for self-defense should use jacketed hollow point ammunition of modern design and manufacture. For practice you can used full jacketed ammo to break-in the gun and for you to learn how to properly hold the pistol. But you must shoot a box of JHP ammo using all the magazines. [ You should have at least two magazines so you have a spare reload].
      Self-loading pistols use the recoil energy to cycle the slide and reload the gun by pushing teh new round from the magazine into the chamber.. In order for the slide to cycle fully the the gun MUST he held firmly with a strong arm and all your fingers out of the way of the slide. If you use a weak grip [ often called limp wristing ] the slide and frame will recoil as a unit and may not eject te fired case or move far enough to the rear to strip the fresh round out of the magazine.
      Bad magazines are the most common point of failure. Suggest you go see a good carry instructor who can help you get your carry license and give personal advice about your gun.
      380 ammo is also called 9mm Short and several other possible names. 9mm Luger or 9×19 uses a bullet of the same diameter but heavier than the 380. Stick with new 380 ammo from a U.S. maker such as Remington, Winchester or Hornady. Join the NRA

      1. I agree a spare mag must be carried with any single stack. Again, Jim, the question is how to carry a spare 380 EZ magazine? T-shirt pocket? These mags are not conducive to any sort of mag pouch and I won’t carry it until I can find a way to carry that spare mag. Check the photo of the mag above.

    11. Just bought this 380 shield what amo is recommend for it? The 1st amo i shot wouldn’t eject. Got any suggestions?

      1. I have two Smith and Wesson handguns and neither one of them is picky about ammo. They shoot anything I put in them. Sometimes the problem might be the shooter. If you don’t have a good stance and shoot with a strong wrist it will cause limp wristing. This problem keeps the gun from ejecting because of the recoil not beeping sent back to the gun. Instead it is transferred to the shooters arm and causes it to jump upward. Before you buy more ammo try getting somebody else that shoots a lot to try this gun with the same ammo. If they have the same problem then it might be the ammo. I have a bodyguard .380 and I haven’t had any problems with it. I have used three or four different types of ammo in it. Sometimes hollow point ammo will cause guns to hang but Smith’s usually aren’t fussy about it. If you are having trouble with it another person also has the same problem with your gun shooting this ammo then try something like a solid point full metal jacket. The FMJ ammo is not recommended for defense purposes. That is what the hollow points are for.

        1. I haven’t seen any ballistic testing with this new Shield 380 but FMJ might be required to get satisfactory penetration. I wouldn’t want to get shot with a 380 but it is not great round for defensive purposes. I wouldn’t use anything less than 9mm or 38 special.

          1. Underwood ammo’s unique architecture allows for deep penetration and a wound cavity twice that of hollow points. Absolutely lethal ammo

      2. Cindy,

        I ran 500 rounds through this pistol. Had no issues with Remington 90 gr., Winchester 90gr, PMC Bronze 90gr. It also ran 50 rounds of 90gr Federal Hydra Shock jacketed hollow points without issue.

        Not sure what you were using but maybe one of these will help you out!


      1. I had to search 4 reputable, large gun stores to find one. It was the last one in the store. They are ‘flying off the shelves ‘ according to all the salesmen. I’m glad I was able to get mine. I guess the jury is still out on them, though.

    12. I tried this gun at the range yesterday. I liked it better than my 9mm. It was very accurate with little recoil.
      The main reason I tested it, was to find a gun that my wife would be comfortable with.
      I am not an expert, but I would recommend this gun for females and beginners.

    13. I can’t believe someone doesn’t build a high cap 380acp other than Bersa. I’m talking about a 15 to 17 round gun.

      1. I agree with you about a high capacity .380. It would definitely be a keeper. A lot of folks that have some concern about the .380 round would feel better with a few more rounds. I carry a bodyguard .380 with a factory laser for a backup gun and just love the concealability of it. It is also ideal for low light conditions. As for the strength of the rounds, I use it on possums that steal my cats feed at night and it has dispatched a lot of them without any of them laughing about it. Smith and Wesson makes guns that will cycle about any round you put in them. Can’t beat the price and the value.

      2. Beretta 84F/FS is a 13+1 .380
        If you shop around, you can find any number of them in pretty good condition for around $400. New ones are admittedly quite pricey, but it’s a very comfortable all-metal pistol that does hold a respectable number of rounds. The S&W reviewed here does look quite good though. I’ve spent some time with M&P9’s and M&P22’s and both of those were excellent. I’d definitely keep it in mind if and when I go shopping for a single stack 380.

        1. I love to carry my little .380 m and p bodyguard. I just drop it in my pocket and go. The laser is very good at night. If I put it on anything, I know it will hit spot on. I went to a gun show and was shopping around for something for my wife to carry. A police officer that was working a booth showed me his and when I held it in my hand I knew it was what I wanted. He had just sold the last one he had so I came back home and found one on the internet for $229 after the rebate that was being given at that time. It was the best money I have spent in a while. I got another magazine to go with the two that came with it so I have enough ammo in them to equal a high capacity magazine. You can also purchase a longer one that holds more rounds but it would take away from the being able to hide it as easily. I now have two of the ones that have the finger extension at the bottom and that gives me a little better grip control with my large hands. Folks that don’t like the .380 round are missing out because they are so sold on large caliber guns. I use mine as a backup and it has my complete confidence in it.

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