A tale of three guns.
I feel like “Goldilocks” when it comes to my pistols. This gun is too big, this gun is too hard, but this gun is just right! I wanted to review my latest pistol, the Smith & Wesson M&P 380 Shield EZ, but it was not as simple as I had hoped. You need to how I got to this gun.
Ruger Security Six
Years ago, Arizona had different carry laws than they do today. Today Arizona is a permit-less carry or Constitutional Carry state. No permit is required to carry a concealed firearm if a person is 21 years of age or over. To open carry a person must be at least 18 years old. But when I wanted to carry you had to get a permit and do an 8 hour carry
The gun I had available at the time was a Ruger Security Six. I felt more comfortable with a revolver over an automatic. The revolver felt safer, and I felt I had less chance of an accidental discharge. The double-action-pull on the trigger is heavy and feels like a really long distance, making it very difficult to pop off a round without meaning to. Reloading was easy, even if it was slow and I did not need to carry magazines. The Ruger is a big heavy gun. It weighs in at 2 pounds 9.4oz loaded. And it is big, there is no sticking this pistol in your pants.
During the shooting portion of our carry course you could hear my big gun over the other participants. Boom, boom, boom, I was shooting reloads from an unknown source, and they were heavy, maybe a tad over powdered and every sixth one would not go off. It was a memorable day and it set me up for pistol number two.
Smith & Wesson Airweight
Looking in the glass counters at the local gun store, I was immediately attracted to the Smith & Wesson Airweight. Here was a tiny gun. Being that I am a smallish girl, I thought I needed a smallish gun to carry. Everything looked great, it was a revolver, it packed a big bullet with lots of stopping power and it was hammerless. The Air part is that this pistol weighs in at a tiny bit over 1 pound loaded. Even though it was tiny, I decided to carry in a gun purse. The weight on the shoulder strap would be comforting but not a pain in the neck.
I was not brand new to shooting, I had shot handguns, long guns, 22 plinking guns, and shotguns, but I had never tried to daily carry a pistol before. I needed to train, first just with my new Airweight, then in my carry purse. So, we headed out to the range to test this newly acquired 5 shot .38 pistola.
The Recoil of the Airweight
Ouch. Ouch. And more ouch! Every shot kicked back hard, I thought it was my grip at first, but even after readjusting and holding as tight as I could, it seemed to kick even harder. After the first 5 shots my hand hurt bad. I did not even want to shoot 5 more. My husband has big hands, and even though he smothered the pistol, it still was a kick for him.
I did carry the pistol a few times. I thought, who cares if it kicks, I will probably not be thinking about that if it came to a shooting situation. But as a responsible gun owner, I felt I needed to train with the gun. I wanted to at least get a shot on a big target 10 feet away. And be able to draw from my bag without getting hung up on anything. I went to train again as the memory of the re-coil had lessened over time. Nope, it still hurt to shoot, and I was definitely a better shot with the Ruger than with the Airweight. Flinching could have a lot to do with it. This brings us to gun number three.
Smith & Wesson M&P 380 Shield EZ
Mostly I had stayed away from automatics. I thought that automatics were complicated. That they were too easy to fire, and difficult to clear if they jammed up. Cleaning looked a lot harder than a revolver too! But just like Goldilocks, this gun was just right. Not too big, not too heavy, and way, way, way, less recoil.
The M&P weighs in at 1lb 5.5oz with 8 in the magazine plus one in the chamber giving it 4 more bullets than the Airweight chambered at 5. It has normal safety features and an added safety feature. The normal safeties are an ambidextrous thumb safety and there is a backstrap grip safety. The added safety feature is on top of the gun. When you have a round chambered a small piece on top of the gun lifts up. This is great, you can see and feel that you have one in the chamber. No need to peek in like the movies or rack a live round out of your gun. It’s a feature I like.
The bullet is still a .38 caliber, but you can see by comparing the rounds, it has a lot less powder and a lighter projectile. This goes a long way to lessening the recoil. Checking the 357 Mag next to the 38 for the air weight you would think the 357 Mag Ruger would have as much kick as the Airweight. But the big frame of the Ruger takes up the recoil and though it is more than the M&P 380 EZ it is a totally acceptable amount of recoil.
Smith & Wesson’s EZ Girl Gun
Smith and Wesson have marketed this gun to women. S&W has machined wiggly grip marks on the slide and this makes the M&P 380 Sheild EZ quick to recognize. The EZ part of the name refers to the slide. This means it is easy to pull the slide back. Yes, it is easier than some other automatics I have racked, and I think even smaller handed women than me would have no problem with the slide. How you rack the gun is part of
Talking about the grip, it is part of the gun and not replaceable. The grip is plastic and incorporated into the whole lower of the pistol. It is a mild grip texture and I do not feel a need to modify it. Time will tell how well it wears.
I’m right-handed and my magazine release is on the correct side for me. If you are left-handed make sure that this release is on the other side if you order a gun. You could swap it over later but it looks like a big job. One part that would not swap over it the slide lock, it is easy to use with my right-hand thumb. But as a lefty, you would have to reach over to lock the slide when you don’t have a magazine in the gun.
Conclusion on the M&P 380 Shield EZ
Overall, I am very happy with my choice of pistol. It took a few guns to get here, but now I feel ready to train with my gun. I am
If I had to do it over, I would have found a range to borrow a few small pistols to try before I buy. The EZ only came out in 2018 so it would not have been on my list when I was looking. But if I had fired it first, I could have saved getting the Airweight.
A girlfriend of mine just picked up the M&P 380 EZ as her first gun ever (without consulting me!) and we can now train together. All I had to do was put a nail polish dot on my magazines because it is super easy to get them mixed up.
This gun may be marketed to women, but you may have to ask for your pistol back next time you are at the range after lending it to a guy!