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Smith and Wesson M&P Shield EZ 9mm & EZ .380 Review: Easiest Racking Handguns?

Looking for the easiest to rack handgun that also conceals well? We hands-on review the Smith & Wesson Shield EZ 9mm and .380 versions.
We review products independently. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a commission to help support our testing. Learn more.
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    We got a hold of the Smith and Wesson EZ 9mm and EZ 380, courtesy of Gunprime, and took them to the range. Check out the video review above for a look, or keep reading for the full review below!

    If you dig that kind of content, subscribe to the Pew Pew Tactical YouTube Channel!


    With so many polymer pistols out there, it’s hard to stand out these days. But Smith & Wesson has done it with their line of EZ pistols.

    The M&P EZ line’s claim to fame is their easy-to-rack slide, perfect for those of us with compromised grips. 

    Shield EZ 9mm Vs EZ380 on chains

    Does it actually live up to the claim? How does it really feel? We got it out to the range to really put it to the test!

    Table of Contents

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    Review at a Glance

    Pros

    • Easy to rack slide
    • Decent carry gun
    • Great for beginners or those with difficulty manipulating a slide

    Cons

    • Only 8+1 capacity
    • Not a lot of customization
    • Small Pic rail up front doesn’t leave a lot of room for accessories

    The Bottom Line

    Smith & Wesson’s Shield EZ series is a great gun for those that struggle with moving that slide. It’s easy to use and offers a smooth shooting experience.

    $473
    at Kygunco

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons
    $399
    at Palmetto State Armory

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    Specs & Features

    Both the 9mm and .380 ACP versions of the S&W EZ Shield are very close in specs, but the .380 is smaller… slightly. It’s also much easier to rack and softer shooting, but we’ll get to that.

    Here are the quick specs:

    M&P Shield EZ 9mm (9mm)M&P Shield EZ 9mm (.380 ACP)
    Caliber:9mm.380 ACP
    Capacity:8+18+1
    Barrel Length:3.675 in.3.675 in.
    Overall Length:6.8 in.6.7 in.
    Height:5 in.5 in.
    Weight:23.2 oz18.5 oz
    MSRP:$521$454
    Source: Smith-Wesson

    As you can tell, there isn’t a lot of physical difference between the two. But the EZ380 is lighter and just a hair smaller.

    Features

    • Easy to rack slide
    • Easy-to-load mags – built-in tabs in magazines to help with loading
    • Grip serrations
    • 3-dot sights – adjustable rear sight
    • Models available with and without ambidextrous, thumb safety
    • Visual and physical tactile loaded chamber indicator (TLCI)

    Source: Smith & Wesson

    Background

    The EZ series builds upon Smith & Wesson’s notorious M&P Shield line-up — a popular option for compact concealed carry.

    Shield EZ 9mm Vs EZ380 and tomatos
    Shield EZ 9mm Vs EZ380 plus some nice tomatoes

    Noticing that some people struggle to rack their slides, Smith & Wesson set to work to ultimately create a system that works for everyone.

    Using an internal hammer fire system, the company was able to reduce felt slide tension by half. In addition to making the slide easy, the company also took time to tweak its magazines, adding load assist tabs.

    Who Is It For?

    Really the heart and soul of the EZ line are for people with weaker grip strength.

    Maybe you just naturally don’t have strong hands or you have a medical condition that compromises your grip or maybe you’re just getting a bit long in the tooth.

    Shield EZ 9mm Vs EZ380 and a snake
    This snake needs a name, sound off in the comments!

    The Smith & Wesson M&P EZ 9mm and EZ380 are perfect for you. Everything about the design really makes it easier and more reliable for you to use.

    It also comes in several flavors, models are available with and without a thumb safety and with or without a laser sight.

    That isn’t to say you need weaker hands to love these guns. Everyone can benefit from a soft shooting, grippy, well-made gun. Johnny liked it, and he’s got ape hands!

    S&W M&P Shield EZ shooting

    Fit & Feel

    The controls are fairly basic, but they work well. We wouldn’t be writing home to brag about the trigger, but it’s not bad, either. 

    Our magazine release was a little… lazy. But the magazines themselves are amazing! Featuring built-in tabs to help with loading, they work outstandingly well and totally negate the need for a speed loader of any kind.

    S&W M&P Shield EZ magazine
    <3 these mags!

    While the grip serrations give the gun a kind of funky look, they do work great. The entire gun is grippy and helps root the pistol in your hands. 

    Three-dot sights are standard, but the rear is at least adjustable for windage on both models — so that’s nice.

    How Does the Shield EZ Shoot?

    Short version — it was perfect. Both in 9mm and .380 ACP, both guns ran and ran. Zero malfunctions or problems of any kind.

    9mm Vs. .380 ACP
    9mm Vs. .380 ACP

    Something that took us by surprise was that the grip safety is actually really well-designed. It’s kind of weird seeing a grip safety, but here we are. 

    Thankfully, it worked exactly like it should and simply melted into the background. Even with a soft grip, it still worked perfectly.

    Something that really stood out is how smooth and flat shooting both models are, but the EZ380 is especially flat. 

    Shield EZ 9mm Vs EZ380 on the farm

    Between how easy it is to rack the slide and how soft and not-snappy the EZ380 feels in your hands, it really delivers for people with compromised grips.

    It’s also a great option for everyone, though. A flat and soft shooting gun is always good to have because it means getting back on target and putting follow-up shots down range faster and more accurately.

    What Sets It Apart?

    The EZ series is different from most pistols in that its slide is super easy to use…like ridiculously easy. Add on the load assist magazines, and you have a very user-friendly gun.

    Shield EZ 9mm Vs EZ380 next to each other

    By The Numbers

    Reliability: 5/5

    We couldn’t make either of these so much as a hiccup. They run.  

    Ergonomics: 4/5

    Grip angle is good. Slide serrations are great. Slide lock release? Meh.

    Accuracy: 4/5

    A sniper rifle it is not. Because it’s a pistol. But it’ll put rounds in center mass no prob. 

    Customization: 2/5

    LOL. Have fun with that little rail up front. 

    Value: 4.5/5

    You get a reliable CCW at an affordable price. Solid value. 

    Overall: 4/5

    While S&W has had some hits and misses over the years with their autoloaders, the EZ line is solid. We came away with little to complain about and a lot to like.

    Thumbs up from us…especially for a first-time gun owner. 

    $473
    at Kygunco

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons
    $399
    at Palmetto State Armory

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    Shield EZ Upgrades

    No new gun is ready for the range without some extras, so don’t forget to grab some magazines and a holster!

    Factory magazines are widely available and reasonably priced. And considering you will never need a loading tool with these mags, that helps knock down your total price of ownership also.

    $29
    at Gunmag Warehouse

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    Lots of great holsters on the market for the EZ line since this has quickly become a popular option for people.

    Our favorites come from CrossBreed and Hidden Hybrid!

    $89
    at Hidden Hybrid Holsters

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    Smith & Wesson Shield EZ Gun Deals

    Brownells Save $120
    Available Coupons
    Palmetto State Armory Save $100
    $399.99
    $499.99
    Classic Firearms
    Kygunco
    Firearms Depot
    Grab A Gun
    Sportsmans Guide
    Sportsmans Warehouse
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    OpticsPlanet
    Available Coupons
    Daniel Defense
    AR15 Discounts
    Rainier Arms
    Berelli
    Aero Precision
    Primary Arms
    Ammunition Depot
    Available Coupons

    Don’t forget the ammo either!

    .380 ACP Ammo in Stock

    Deal
    Grain
    Cost Per Round
    Notes
    95gr
    $0.45
    Free Ship $149+
    100gr
    $0.53
    95gr
    $0.53
    5% off code 5JULY24, Free Ship $149+
    90gr HP
    $0.55
    Free Ship $149+
    100gr
    $0.53
    90gr JHP
    $1.23
    Free Ship $149+

    Final Verdict

    If you want the softest shooting, easiest-to-rack handgun on the market, look no further than the Smith & Wesson Shield EZ line.

    The .380 version shoots the easiest, although both the 9mm and .380 allow much easier slide-racking compared to regular concealed carry guns. Reliability is top-notch, along with high marks for ergonomics, accuracy, and value.

    S&W M&P Shield EZ .380
    S&W M&P Shield EZ .380

    The marketing wasn’t kidding when they named this the EZ line. It actually delivers in each respect, and you can tell the designers went out of their way to make sure that it did.

    So for us, a big thumbs up.

    What is your take on the S&W M&P EZ line? Thumb safety, no thumb safety, laser, or no laser? Let us know in the comments! For more CCW options action, take a look at the Best CCW By Caliber!

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    50 Leave a Reply

    • Commenter Avatar
      Sara Russo

      While I agree that the EZ is a good gun for those who can't rack a "normal" slide. As some of us who are not as capable or strong as we were when we were younger its a wonderful that someone finally got it! Not all people are made the same way.
      However, if S&W really wanted to make a gun for those of us who no longer have the grip strength that we used to have by age, illness, a catastrophic medical problem (stroke, etc. ) or car accident, etc. they shouldn't have put a grip safety on the backstrap. Those who no longer have a "strong" grip might not have enough grip strength to completely depress the grip safety. And if they want a safety on their gun, they can just buy one with a safety.

      October 24, 2022 2:06 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      SM

      Own Both Ez's .. 9 mm w/o thumb safety and the 380 with thumb safety .. The 380 is for my wife because like mentioned she can not rack the 9mm easily and the 380 allows her to rack so nicely with out difficulty. She also prefers the thumb safety over none.

      October 22, 2022 1:26 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Bryan Elsner

      Snake name = Recoil
      The reaction to a snake is usually to recoil.

      October 22, 2022 4:04 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      JT

      Snake name=Plissken
      I have big hands and love my 9mm EZ. I use it as my carry gun now. I agree that the trigger isn't great but it works.

      October 21, 2022 8:51 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Mikey D.

      Snake Name. "Trigger!" Since he has no arms I think he is looking for an easy slide!

      October 21, 2022 9:03 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Dave from San Antonio

      Bought a EZ9mm for the wife. She loves it. One thing, tip the magazine slightly to the rear when loading...it helps to seat the round in the magazine, especially if you pull the loading tabs all the way down and just start dropping the cartridges in.
      How about calling the snake 'Slim'.

      October 21, 2022 8:32 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Jim

      Bought one for my girlfriend, because it racks easily. Though the Walther CCP is even nicer. I don’t believe it was released yet when I bought the EZ.

      October 20, 2022 7:09 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Budman

      Both EZ’s are great shooting weapons. But what is the easiest racking compact weapon? My wife can handle the EZ9 but finds it to big for concealed carry. I wish more gun manufacturers would start looking into an easier racking system. Myself, I carry a Hellcat and at 73 years old, I am finding it harder to rack.

      October 20, 2022 5:51 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Robert Osborne

      Name the snake "Gunny"

      October 20, 2022 5:07 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      David Warren Armstrong

      Ralph. That is a decent Snake Name. Really. I'd be proud ...

      October 20, 2022 4:55 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Douglas ( Doug )

      Not much is said about the trigger... Usually when a discusssion is 'omitted' it's because they don't want to have 'that' discussion...

      My question is this: Is this a 'DAO' pistol ? Do I get a 1911 trigger feel, or a Matt Dillon style cowboy trigger ???

      A good slide isn't the only thing that a 'weak griped' old man needs in a pistol...

      October 20, 2022 3:07 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Dd

      That snake is a "dead ringer" or its "trigger happy" no?

      March 16, 2021 7:40 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Bob G

      S&W has issued a recall on this series of pistols: https://www.smith-wesson.com/safety/recalls

      March 8, 2021 7:31 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Jacob

      Any recommendations on a trigger upgrade on 9mm EZ?

      December 23, 2020 4:54 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        John W McCarty

        Just smooth it a bit and a drop of oil does it

        May 26, 2022 5:17 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      LindaM

      I have the 380 version and I love it. I have arthritis in my hands so being able to each the by was my prior concern. ✔
      My next concern was having to flip the safety. I use my gun occasionally and didn't want to be in a situation where I fiddled with a safety and bang, I'm dead. As long as you're gripping it right just shoot.

      November 3, 2020 6:51 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Andrew

        So you like the thumb safety or no?

        November 12, 2020 11:02 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Stephen

      Band-it

      September 30, 2020 1:02 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Grant Oquist

      Snake name. EZekiel (Zeke)

      September 19, 2020 9:04 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Cher

      Snake: Pewny.

      September 12, 2020 1:28 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Don

      Snake Name = Ez slider

      September 12, 2020 1:00 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      WRV

      Snake = Bob

      September 8, 2020 6:23 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Dr. Mike

      Bought the .380 EZ Performance model for my daughter after the Hellcat’s recoil bit way more than expected. It is true, easy to load, easy to rack the slide, recoil like a .22 but highly inaccurate. Rear site has terrible course adjustment and gun kept shooting low and left...... ( no, not the shooter folks, I’m an NRA certified pistol instructor and competitive shooter, also confirmed by an equally competent marksman) sent it back to S&W who replaced the barrel, didn’t touch rear sight and intimated all was well which it was not. ( No target was provided to document accuracy or repair).Totally disappointed with S&W, especially with this higher end model.

      September 7, 2020 12:28 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        range rat

        wow.. I am surprised to hear that. My wife has the exact same model and I liked it so much I bought one for myself (also an NRA certified instructor). I found both units to be quite accurate and smooth shooting. Although I did not need to adjust either out of the box I would have preferred the ability to adjust the rear site rather than getting the cleaning kit.

        October 20, 2022 7:08 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      olsarge

      I had to give up my beloved 1911 .45 after a broken back and neck left me with nerve damage in my arms. I bought a .380 EZ and after a few hundred rounds have decided I really like this pistol. Mine is accurate and soft shooting. The only problem I have had so far is the magazine release- to make it easy(EZ) to use, it seems to protrude farther than any of my other pistols and doesn't take much force to depress it. I have had the magazine eject twice while carrying concealed (it kind of ruins the 'concealed carry' effect if a magazine shoots out from under your shirt while standing in line). I would suggest finding a holster that covers the right side of the magazine release.

      September 6, 2020 7:32 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Lynn

      No mention of the tactile loaded chamber indicator? As a new shooter, brand new, with OCD I appreciate another thing to double check. I wanted the 9 but couldn't find one so after a couple of weeks I got one of the available 380s. As mentioned it's great because with my arthritis and poor grip strength I couldn't even rack some of the others I looked at.

      September 5, 2020 6:46 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Daim

      Hartman drill instructor from full metal jacket = snake name

      September 5, 2020 4:08 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      DrPain

      Sir Snakes Alot....

      September 4, 2020 6:34 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        David, PPT Editor

        lmao!

        September 4, 2020 6:59 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      kaschman

      slim jim for the snake

      September 4, 2020 6:30 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        David, PPT Editor

        lol, I like this one!

        September 4, 2020 6:59 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      MRK

      The term, "windage adjustment", refers to moving the sight to adjust POI, even if what you are really adjusting for is not wind. Might be a misaligned front sight, for example.

      September 4, 2020 2:29 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Bob

      How about a few words describing the ammo used during the writeup? FMJ only? HP? Mfgr and Grains size? Thanks.

      September 4, 2020 11:07 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Rickster

      Snake = Trigger

      September 4, 2020 8:12 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Jim Streicher

      I'm very happy with our 380EZ. I say "our" because I bought it in June 2019 with my wife in mind: she has severe arthritis in her hands, yet is able to rack the pistol with ease and really appreciates the soft shoot. For us, this is a self-defense gun, so ease of use (especially for her) is the most important consideration, and our drills at the range find us grouping center mass every time. Another big plus for me is the ease with which it can be concealed; I EDC at my right kidney where my Glock 17 leaves a distinct profile through a tee shirt (so I've taken to aloha shirts which aren't as comfy).

      September 4, 2020 4:43 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Michael

      I have both the regular 9mm EZ and the performance Center 9mm EZ. Love them both, although since getting the performance center EZ, I haven't shot the regular one much. I keep the regular one as my carry and my PC 9mm EZ at home on my night stand for now. Does Johnny want to loan my Performance Center EZ for a review?

      September 3, 2020 8:39 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Dr. Mike

      Beg to differ with you ..... first bought a new Hellcat for my daughter but recoil bit a little too much so kept it for myself and got her a .380 EZ Performance model.
      I found magazines to feel “tinny” and unbalanced in loading rounds. It is indeed soft shooting however mine was highly and disappointingly inaccurate. The rear sight has a Micky Mouse very course adjusment, frustratingly difficult to dial in. Despite doing so, gun kept shooting low and no, it wasn’t the operator. I am an NRA certified pistol instructor and competitive shooter and for the sake of fairness, had another shooter with similar skills get the same results. I returned the pistol to S&W and they replaced the barrel. I have yet to retry it but for a performance model from their custom shop I was very disappointed. Gun feels like a cheap stamped out version and I caution those that might be interested not to be seduced by these exaggerated accolades. There are better choices out there.

      September 3, 2020 8:12 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Mo

        I beg to differ. My wife has the Performance Center .380 and it is everything and more. Nothing exaggerated in this article. Great gun all around.

        September 5, 2020 8:19 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Deborah Pennington

      Snakey Pew

      September 3, 2020 7:25 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Javier Antonio Quinones Ortiz

      Snake=Triggy

      September 3, 2020 7:22 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Wes D

      I bought my wife the .380 before everythingwent to shit. She has arthritis in her hands and she is a small woman and didn't like the recoil of a 9mm. A lot of people bitched about it but I reasoned to them that if she doesn't want or is afraid to shoot it then she WON'T shoot it. With her gun she can drive tacks with it. Great guns!

      September 3, 2020 7:09 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Tim

      Snakes name should be “Trigger.”

      September 3, 2020 5:56 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Phili Webb

      Are these legal in Commifornia?

      September 3, 2020 5:30 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        David, PPT Editor

        They are not on roster :(

        September 3, 2020 6:10 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Shepherd of Fire

        Only if you have parents out of state (it can be gifted to you, direct line lineage) and it would be an FFL transfer to your local dealer so you can pick it up after 10 days.....or if you have a law enforcement friend and they don't exceed their department policy for number of firearms transfers or whatnot....or you are willing to pay 1600$ for a used 300$ polymer framed gun on consignment or PPT.
        You can legally have off roster guns, but dealer

        Basically, if you are a noble and not a peasant. So, if you are like me, then no.

        September 4, 2020 11:05 am