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Old 03-05-2018, 01:15 AM
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Default Shield 380 EZ range report

I mentioned in another post that I recently acquired a Shield 380 EZ. I finally got a chance to get the it to the range today for about an hour or so. Here is my attempt at an abbrieviated range report.

I am a member at my nearby outdoor range, so that is where my wife and I went for a brief shooting session. Weather conditions were cloudy, windy, and cold. I took a total of 3 guns to the range. They were:
-Smith & Wesson Shield 380 EZ (380ACP, 8+1 capacity)
-Sig Sauer P238 (380ACP, 7+1 capacity)
-Taurus PT638 (380ACP, 15+1 capacity)

The 380 EZ was field stripped, cleaned and lubed before ever being fired. I will say the slide and trigger felt a bit rough, even after the clean and lube.

The Sig typically resides in the nightstand drawer. It is well broken in, and is kept clean and lubed at all times.

The PT638 is a new-to me gun, and has been out of production for a few years. I performed a field strip, clean and lube to this gun prior to shooting today as well.

The Sig is a known entity to both my wife and I, but the PT and EZ are a whole new ballgame. I was really curious to see how they stacked up to one another!

The Sig has been perfect since the day my wife brought it home, and it is a tack driver. It ought to be. P238s ain’t cheap! The 3 dot night sights are a bit large for my liking, but they work fairly well, and, well, they ARE tritium sights! Ergos are pretty good on this gun, despite it being full of edges, and straight lines.

I purchased the PT638 "used" off GunBroker. It has a few minor scuffs, but is in really nice condition, overall. The gun is a beast compared to the other two. It is a double-stack design, and as such, is significantly thicker in the grip area. Compared to the other 2 guns here, it’s no light weight either (sorry, I do not have a scale). The sights are of the 3 dot variety, and do a decent job.

This brings me to the EZ. I was surprised to see that the Smith is the lightest gun of the three, but size-wise, it basically falls right in the middle. The EZ, being a single stack fits my medium sized hand (and my wife’s hand too) very nicely, as does the Sig. Ergos are good, and the grip has just the right amount of “traction”. I have high hopes for this gun……..Smith and Wesson uses all of the right buzz words when describing it……light weight, easy to rack slide, easy to load magazine, very low perceived recoil, etc., and those words fit my wife’s self defense needs perfectly.

So let's get to the meat and potatoes of the report, shall we? I am going to break this up into three sections. Shootability, reliability and accuracy.
I brought the other 2 guns to level set and have SOMETHING to compare the EZ to. No other reason, and I won't get into the details of shooting the Sig, because, for us, it simply has been the caddy of 380's in terms of recoil absorbtion and accuracy. The gun just works, and has been 100% reliable and accurate since bullet one.

I won't get TOO much into the shooting details of the PT638 either. After all, this is all about the 380 EZ, right?

SHOOTABILITY:

Regarding the PT638, my wife could load 10 rounds in the mags ok, but could not rack the slide at all. She struggled with getting a good purchase on the thicker grip, and did not care for the trigger, and said it was too “heavy”. She really just did not care for the gun at all, and eagerly handed it back to me.

The P238 is the wife’s gun. She has had it for a couple of years. She can rack the slide with a small bit of effort, and loads the magazines without too much struggle, the trigger isn’t horribly stiff, and is crisp, and breaks consistently. She shoots the Sig very accurately, and has had no complaints other than her finger gets “tired” after shooting a few mags. I’ll note that my wife has minimal grip strength.

On to the EZ………my and my wife’s opinions are very consistent on the gun, so I will leave my opinions and thoughts out as much as possible, and just provide hers. In a nutshell, the gun is everything Smith & Wesson says it is. My wife was amazed at how easy the slide was to rack. She didn’t really make use of the “ears” on the rear of the slide, but commented those were nice to have if her grip strength worsened over time. She easily loaded the magazines, and with the assist buttons, commented that the task was as easy as loading a 22. The recoil was clearly less than her steel/alloy P238, and I noticed that she came back on target faster than with her P238. She also commented that she appreciated the light weight of the pistol, and for some reason, she found the sights were easier to align than any gun she had ever shot. Personally, I didn’t notice anything special about the sights myself, but hey, whatever works! I will comment that my wife was easily hitting bulls-eyes on her targets, so I was happy. I am not particularly a fan of grip safeties, but my wife actually is, having experience with a GSG 1911 pistol I previously owned. Initially, she was struggling with this one until she moved her grip slightly higher on the gun. No issues after that.

RELIABILITY:
For the P238 and the PT638, both guns were already broken in, and no reliability faults were observed.

The EZ, however, didn’t start out so strong. The gun produced two FTEs, and two Failures to Feed within the first 150 rounds. Oddly, these malfunctions only occurred with my wife (an experienced shooter) at the helm. I experienced zero malfunctions through the remainder of the 270 total rounds. The ammo used was a mixture of PPU, Perfecta, and WB Winchester FMJ brass cased ammo. I really don’t think we’ll have any issues going forward.


ACCURACY:

I only posted one pic of a target for this range report. I felt that since this post really is about the 380 EZ, target pics for the PT638 and P238 would be silly, so I’ll just briefly talk through that part.

I struggled with the PT638 in terms of accuracy. I found that I REALLY had to focus in order to have decent groups. Anything less than 110% focus, and my groups would really open up. I’m not sure why. If focused, I could get 2.5” groups @ 7 yards. The gun has the traditional 3 dot sights, and it was functioning perfectly, so who knows. My wife did not like shooting this gun, so, she didn’t.

Regarding the P238….these little pistols are widely known to be excellent, reliable, and accurate little firearms. This is well documented, regardless of what site you visit, or review you read. As such, my wife shoots this gun VERY accurately (as do I). She was easily able to duplicate this same accuracy with the 380 EZ. For whatever reason, I could not do quite the same. The P238 is king of accuracy for me.

I set the accuracy target (at the bottom of this post) up 7 yards away, and asked my wife to try her best for a total of 5 rounds with the EZ. I reused this target, but placed a new round orange sticky at the center. Out of the 5 rounds my wife shot, 4 fell within the orange target sticky. The overall group size was right about 1.0”.

SUMMARY:
The 380 EZ appears to be everything that S&W says it is. Maybe this pistol is for you, or maybe it isn’t. That’s your call. I will say that the functionality of this pistol opens up the option of self defense to many folks that may not have had that option before. For me, I’m damn glad we have one, and my wife is thrilled that she has a pistol that is so easy to use. That is a WIN in my book.
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Old 03-05-2018, 01:53 AM
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Default If the wife is happy...

If the wife is happy, it is definitely a WIN.

Coupla things. Mags are easy to load with an Uplula or similar, so stiff mags are hardly an issue in my book.

You are both experienced shooters, but with the lightweight S&W, could limp wristing have been a factor, being an unfamiliar gun, and new at that?

I'm glad ya'll are so happy with it. IF you get the failures ironed I'd like to hear back. An awful lot of people have complained about the S&W, so I'm really glad that you are having good luck, especially if you can iron out the bugs.
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Old 03-05-2018, 09:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rwsmith View Post
If the wife is happy, it is definitely a WIN.

Coupla things. Mags are easy to load with an Uplula or similar, so stiff mags are hardly an issue in my book.

You are both experienced shooters, but with the lightweight S&W, could limp wristing have been a factor, being an unfamiliar gun, and new at that?

I'm glad ya'll are so happy with it. IF you get the failures ironed I'd like to hear back. An awful lot of people have complained about the S&W, so I'm really glad that you are having good luck, especially if you can iron out the bugs.
No doubt, limp wristing COULD have been a factor while she was shooting. I was a bit surprised, as when I shot the gun, it rocked 100%. Those malfs also all occurred within the first 150 rounds, and I will add that after we got home and I did another thorough clean and lube, the gun's action feels much smoother than prior to the shooting session. So, maybe an initial break in period was necessary. I'll definitely report back after the next trip.
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Old 03-05-2018, 11:08 AM
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I imagine the Smith will smooth up with use. The trigger on my 9mm M&P was horrible at first, but it's not so bad now. Still a bit on the heavy side, but smooth and easy to shoot accurately. I've never had any failures with it, but those few early ones you had can probably be chalked up to break in issues.

The Taurus accuracy issue is due to the bizarre trigger. The trigger is relatively light on mine, but there is lots of takeup, and it breaks way back - WAY back. This makes accurate shooting difficult without a great deal of practice getting used to the odd trigger.

I don't have a 638, but I have its twin in 9mm the 609. They are identical in every way other than caliber. On the plus side - the 609 has been totally reliable through more than 12,000 rounds. Never a misfeed, failure to fire or extract. Seriously - never. Of course your mileage may vary in that regard.

One thing you should be aware of - the 638 is part of the Taurus court settlement, and it may not be drop safe. As such it is covered by the "enhanced" lifetime warranty. The only difference I can see is that if you send in a covered gun you probably won't be getting it back. They generally have been replacing them with newer models at no cost to you. Unfortunately, Taurus no longer has an equivalent model to the 638. Their current 380s are much smaller. They would probably send you a new Millenium 2 9mm to replace it if you ever sent it in.

My Sig is the 938, the slightly larger 9mm cousin of the 238. It's terrific, but it did fail when relatively new. I sent it in and Sig replaced some parts. It has functioned 100% since. I regard the trigger as too heavy for a single action only gun, but it is easy to shoot accurately with it and recoil is a non issue.
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Old 03-05-2018, 08:05 PM
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Got my hands on an EZ today and can't wait for the weather to clear to try it out. I got it for my wife, but she doesn't like the bigger size. Oh well, she can have my 432.
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Old 03-05-2018, 08:18 PM
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Thanks for the thorough review - this might just be the gun we will go with for the wife ! - Now just need to find one at the LGS to see the fit and feel for her.

Quick question - I may have missed it, but did you get the thumb safety version or not? Asking, because I am not sure if its obtrusive or not ?

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Old 03-05-2018, 09:42 PM
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Thanx. Seem I'm one step behind everyone in Maine trying to get my hand on one.
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Old 03-05-2018, 10:01 PM
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Grabagun has them back in stock. Midwayusa has the magazines in stock for 24.99 as well.
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Old 03-05-2018, 11:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 86lxjunker View Post
Thanks for the thorough review - this might just be the gun we will go with for the wife ! - Now just need to find one at the LGS to see the fit and feel for her.

Quick question - I may have missed it, but did you get the thumb safety version or not? Asking, because I am not sure if its obtrusive or not ?
Yes, I got the thumb safety model. The lever is not at all obtrusive.
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Old 03-06-2018, 01:12 AM
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I'm intrigued that the Taurus 638 was so hard to rack. Seems odd. Is it also a locked breech design? I thought it was. On that basis it should be easy to rack.
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Old 03-06-2018, 09:16 AM
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Quote:
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I'm intrigued that the Taurus 638 was so hard to rack. Seems odd. Is it also a locked breech design? I thought it was. On that basis it should be easy to rack.
Yep, the PT638 is indeed a locked breech design. And I, myself have no trouble racking the slide, but my wife's hand strength is very limited. The EZ is in another league in that regard.
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Old 03-06-2018, 10:18 AM
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Great report. Thanks.
I need to take the wife to the LGS to try one out.
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Old 03-06-2018, 06:00 PM
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Hi OP, quick question as it seems you are quite familiar with the .380 (I am not at all). As I've been thinking of the EZ, adding it to my asst SW 9's for those days the hands are sore, maybe for the wife, etc.
I've seen some ballistic testing on 380's, showing hp ammo actually scored worse in gel vs standard ball ammo. You mentioned using fmj ammo in your testing; do you switch to hp rounds for any self defense needs?

Just curious.

thx!
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Old 03-06-2018, 07:46 PM
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Well, got my Shield 380 out today and it ran very smooth through all 90 rounds I shot. I had 50 rds of Remington 95 gr that had little or no recoil. I then shot 20 Federal 90gr HST and again, no problems, but the recoil is a little more pronounced with this ammo. Finally, 20 rds of Hornady 70gr PowR Ball and there is very little felt recoil. I noticed the accuracy of the Federal and Hornady was superior to the range Remington for obvious reasons. I shot the gun rapid fire, slow fire, off hand, two handed, and gotten say, the gun performs terrific. The trigger is a real joy especially when compared to striker fired pistols in this size I have shot. The hammer fired does make a big difference. I was hoping to get the wife interested as she is extremely recoil sensitive. She is complaining about the size, so I guess I will have to try to get her shooting the thing along with her Smith 432 she is currently carrying and a Smith 380 Bodyguard. Perhaps comparing the three in the same shooting session will help her make a decision as to what she could carry. If the gun is too big, I would rather she carry a gun that she will actually carry.

Should have mentioned that I stripped the gun and cleaned it thoroughly before going to range. I also shined the feed ramp and chamber.

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Old 03-12-2018, 10:14 PM
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She REALLY needs to give it a try. It is on point and very easy to rack the slide!
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Old 03-13-2018, 09:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ranger17 View Post
Hi OP, quick question as it seems you are quite familiar with the .380 (I am not at all). As I've been thinking of the EZ, adding it to my asst SW 9's for those days the hands are sore, maybe for the wife, etc.
I've seen some ballistic testing on 380's, showing hp ammo actually scored worse in gel vs standard ball ammo. You mentioned using fmj ammo in your testing; do you switch to hp rounds for any self defense needs?

Just curious.

thx!
Hi. Just saw this. Currently, I am only running FMJ in all of our 380s. I'll likely switch out to a proper defense load when I have time to do a bit more research on the ballistics of the main manufacturers' ammo. Then once I have figured out what we'll run, I'll need to do some reliability testing.
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Old 03-17-2018, 01:53 AM
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Default There Is Some SD Ammo in 380

Quote:
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Hi. Just saw this. Currently, I am only running FMJ in all of our 380s. I'll likely switch out to a proper defense load when I have time to do a bit more research on the ballistics of the main manufacturers' ammo. Then once I have figured out what we'll run, I'll need to do some reliability testing.
You likey won't find this at a gun shop. But, if you're packing a 380 for self defense I recommend you try Underwood's 380 +P Xtreme Defense ammo. I now carry the same ammo however, in
9mm. I'm planning on buying one of the 380 EZ pistols for the wife. She originally selected the Ruger LC9S Pro__couldn't rack it.
Had to go to a 38 spl snubby. I think the 380 EZ with the Underwood ammo will be best.
You'll have to buy it on line. Google Underwood Ammo. When there choose 380 and in that selection check out my suggestion.
Stay safe.
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Old 03-17-2018, 02:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Horn View Post
You likey won't find this at a gun shop. But, if you're packing a 380 for self defense I recommend you try Underwood's 380 +P Xtreme Defense ammo. I now carry the same ammo however, in
9mm. I'm planning on buying one of the 380 EZ pistols for the wife. She originally selected the Ruger LC9S Pro__couldn't rack it.
Had to go to a 38 spl snubby. I think the 380 EZ with the Underwood ammo will be best.
You'll have to buy it on line. Google Underwood Ammo. When there choose 380 and in that selection check out my suggestion.
Stay safe.
Poli Viejo
Underwood Xtreme Defender, Lehigh Xtreme Defense, and Polycase ARX are a different approach to 380 defensive ammo. Light, high velocity, non-expanding bullets give adequate penetration, while the bullet shape yields an expanded wound channel without the uncertainty of whether a 380 hollow point would expand.
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Old 06-16-2018, 11:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Horn View Post
You likey won't find this at a gun shop. But, if you're packing a 380 for self defense I recommend you try Underwood's 380 +P Xtreme Defense ammo. I now carry the same ammo however, in
9mm. I'm planning on buying one of the 380 EZ pistols for the wife. She originally selected the Ruger LC9S Pro__couldn't rack it.
Had to go to a 38 spl snubby. I think the 380 EZ with the Underwood ammo will be best.
You'll have to buy it on line. Google Underwood Ammo. When there choose 380 and in that selection check out my suggestion.
Stay safe.
Poli Viejo
Just out of curiosity, as I haven't found this anywhere, but is the 380EZ even RATED to be able to fire +P safely? I am personally normally carrying the Hornady or Sig .380 95 gr. HP rounds myself currently, and I am really curious about this.
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Old 06-17-2018, 06:37 AM
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I own an EZ (love it) and no, it isn’t rated for +P rounds. Says so in the instruction book. FYI, as a female and beginner to shooting, this is a perfect gun. Everything about it is EZ including field stripping for cleaning, oiling.
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Old 06-17-2018, 10:30 AM
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I have read that rhe 380EZ is having some issues with missfeeding the last round from the mag. The speculation is that in an sfdort to make the mags EZ to load, the spring is a bit too light and doesn’t have enough umph to properly feed that last round.

Is there any truth to this? At least wide spread problems. Or possibly just a few isolated incidents??
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Old 06-17-2018, 11:53 AM
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Great range report. Thanks.
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Old 06-17-2018, 04:29 PM
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Working with the Smith EZ, the Springfield 911, and the Taurus Spectrum.

The Smith functioned perfectly through five different bullet weights & three different bullet types, including the X-tipped Black Hills Honeybadger that doesn't always feed in other guns.

Accuracy between the Smith & the Springfield was roughly comparable off a rest at 10 yards.
The Springfield had several glitches, the Taurus none, and despite its 5-mile trigger & tiny nub sights, outshot the other two markedly.
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Old 06-17-2018, 09:11 PM
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Interesting read.

I picked up my Shield 380 EZ the other day along with a Beretta 84 - DOB late 1970s in pristine, unfired condition. But back to the EZ . . .

I'm an older guy - a revolver guy - but I do own a 9mm Shield and like it very much and I often use it for a carry piece. I have to kind of chuckle when I see all the videos and hype about the 380 EZ being for "women" or "older" people. I'm sure that Smith probably planned it for that niche . . . but I have to say that I am really impressed with mine. Seems to have a good trigger and the grip safety doesn't bother me at all.

I was looking for a .380 for plinking and carrying in the woods, etc. - a "fun gun". I reload and only shoot cast and that's all my EZ will see. Some folks don't think the .380 is powerful enough for "carry" . . . and to each their own. Personally, I have no qualms with a .380 but that's me. I got the model with the thumb safety . . . doesn't bother me as it's not hard for a person to learn to thumb sweep a safety . . . or, if carrying, leave it off. y trigger seems smooth as silk.

As far as accuracy, I haven't had the time to get out and shoot mine yet. However, I won't pass judgement based on a few hundred rounds of different brands. As I said, mine will only see reloads and cast . . . but it's like any other handgun . . . you need to work up a load and see what it likes best - then stick with that load. It also takes time to "learn" the pistol. In this day and age, when so many of us have a number of different handguns, do we really concentrate on "one gun" enough to really learn it. Maybe, if you are using one handgun to shoot competition . . . but I doubt it if just going to the range once in while and putting a hundred or so rounds though it with days in between. Just my thoughts . . might or might not agree.

In the long run . . . I think Smith has a real winner with the 380 EZ. It's reasonably priced, has gotten great reviews as far as function and reliability and if a person wants a .380, whether it be for a plinking gun, HD or CCW . . . it will certainly do the job for those that like the 380 cartridge. Yep . . it fits the market for women shooters, beginners and "old people", like me . . . but I have to think that there will be a lot of manly men getting this pistol for fun . . . they just might not admit it due to testosterone levels. :-)
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Old 06-17-2018, 09:38 PM
Dpris Dpris is online now
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When I asked for a test sample, I had no intention of keeping it.
After working with it, I think Smith & Wesson can live without this one.
Denis
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Old 06-17-2018, 09:56 PM
trikerdon trikerdon is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flyingfool View Post
I have read that rhe 380EZ is having some issues with missfeeding the last round from the mag. The speculation is that in an sfdort to make the mags EZ to load, the spring is a bit too light and doesn’t have enough umph to properly feed that last round.

Is there any truth to this? At least wide spread problems. Or possibly just a few isolated incidents??
I took my new EZ to the range the other day and fired about 125 rounds. Never had any problems with it at all. 100 rds was PMC Bronze ball ammo and 25 rounds of Underwood Xtreme Defender. Purchased some Precision One 90 gr HP/XTP and will be going back to the range and give it a try. This will be my carry loads.

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Old 06-17-2018, 11:55 PM
cnj cnj is offline
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Originally Posted by Bob Thorton View Post
Were you able to run any defense loads through it and if so were there any malfunctions ?
The 4 you mention in 150 rounds is unacceptable especially if they were all ball ammo loads.

Rule of thumb is no more than 1 failure per 3000 rounds. (in the military it's 1 in 10,000)
Now grant it it's a new gun, so perhaps exceptions can be made.
But if you did not test it with defensive loads I would not carry it yet until you do.

Just my 1 1/2 cents worth's.

I must say I'm very intrigued by this new S&W offering.
I'm a fan of the .380 cartridge, it can get the job done, it is after all a 9mm short.

If they come out with a snubby chambered in it I'll be all over it.
I have not tried any defense rounds through the gun to date. In all honesty, we have been busy with projects around the house, and simply haven't had time to go shooting much lately.

Regarding the initial failures......these all happened with my wife at the helm. I noticed her grip was just a bit low on the gun, so I had her adjust slightly, and she had no further issues. When I shot the gun, I had no issues whatsoever.

The gun has since been back to S&W for the manual safety retrofit, and has been flawless since that was done.....just a point worth mentioning. I will reiterate that the initial failures all occurred within the first 150 rounds. There have been no failures since.
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Old 06-18-2018, 12:57 AM
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Four of the five test loads I used were defensive.
Denis
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Old 06-21-2018, 09:41 PM
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webfarmer webfarmer is offline
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Picked up my manual safety EZ a couple weeks ago and fired just 48 rounds this past weekend (all functions were so easy!). Benched at 15 yards, I achieved a 1 3/4" 5 shot group with Hornady American Gunner (90 grain XTP @ 955 FPS) & 2 1/4" 5 shot group with WWB (95 grain FMJFP @ 891 FPS). I know I can very much improve those groups as time goes on. Bullets hit POA versus a little left and low for me with other new pistols. What a joy to shoot! Not ready to turn my 9mm Shield into a safe queen but for this 65 year old, the EZ is a swing and a hit!
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Old 06-24-2018, 02:51 PM
sdb321 sdb321 is offline
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Thanks to all you guy's & doll's for the great info on the EZ. All this good info has convinced me to take a look at one!!!!
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Old 10-08-2018, 02:26 PM
windhampensacola windhampensacola is offline
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Just somewhat off the wall thought's. First the 380 guns have been around for many, many years and used in wars and by police. There has been vast improvement in the 380 ammo in recent years. At say 7 yards is there that much diff between a modern 380 defense round and a modern 9mm defense round assuming the hit is in the kill zone or major body damage areas? What about the ability of follow up shot/s due to the in my words the kick of the round?

These are the thoughts on my mind with my old body. Yes I own 22/380/9mm/38sp/45 along with rifles.
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Old 10-12-2018, 05:43 PM
windhampensacola windhampensacola is offline
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Made my first trip to the range with my new M&P Shield 380EZ. Yes it shot to the left and slightly down. The only problem I had was that the first ammo I tried to use was the Winchester Train & Defend FMJ which failed several times after it fired and would not shot the second round until you cleared and shot again which again had to clear. So at least my 380EZ does not like this ammo. I when through about 200 rounds including Critical Defense, Remington UMC (2 boxes), PPG, and Winchester Kinetic HE without any problems.

I will say compared to the Springfield line XDs, XD9 4 in, & XD9 M2 Compact I by far like the Springfield Grip Safety better. I believe the reason for that is the thickness of the pistol grip makes it easier for me to depress the Grip Safety on the Springfield pistol easier and more comfortable. Both range officers at the range felt the same, but then again both were carrying Springfield's.
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