There are two schools of thought regarding self-defense handguns: revolver or semi-auto. The topics of capacity and reliability are beaten to death. However, there’s always one point that the revolver crowd makes that shuts the semi-auto guys right down—racking the slide. This is where the Shield EZ from Smith & Wesson comes in.
The Smith & Wesson Shield EZ
Shooters with dexterity issues often struggle with the essential operation of racking the slide. And if they cannot perform it under stress, it will be to their detriment. With these gun owners as its inspiration, Smith & Wesson created its Shield EZ, an easy-to-rack semi-auto that sacrifices nothing.
For 2022, the Massachusetts-based manufacturer hung an exclamation point on the end of the “semi’s have higher capacity” point. Specifically by releasing a new chambering of this hit pistol in 30 Super Carry.
Splitting the Difference
For those that aren’t aware, 30 Super Carry is Federal’s newest self-defense cartridge. It offers .380 ACP-like recoil with 9mm Luger-esque terminal performance. Moreover, its slimmer case and projectile allow for greater magazine capacity without increasing any of the Shield EZ’s exterior dimensions.
In the case of the Shield EZ, the 30 Super Carry mag holds 10 rounds. However, the 9mm and .380 both carry eight rounds. So, suppose you currently own a 9mm EZ. In that case, this is your answer to carrying more rounds without adding bulk.
If you own a .380 EZ, this swap will keep you with that manageable recoil that you love while increasing both your round count and ability to stop a threat in fewer shots.
The Shield EZ Lives up to its Easy Rack Name
This was the first Shield EZ that I ever had to write a review on. So, I was excited to see what the commotion was all about. Additionally, it would also be my first experience with 30 Super Carry. And nothing gets me out of bed faster than a new cartridge.
That being said, when the gun came in, the very first thing I did was open the action and inspect the magazine and chamber. Although I do this any time I pick up a firearm, my intentions expanded beyond a simple status check. I also took note of the ease with which I was able to do so.
During this first manipulation, I rocketed the slide back so hard I felt as if I was going to rip it off of the frame. So, the easy-to-rack claim was verified. At this time, I also noticed the deeply cut scalloped serrations towards the rear of the slide. This not only allows for but encourages two-finger operation.
On the same note, Smith & Wesson also included mild tabs towards the absolute rear. This was a big part of why my hand didn’t slip off when I so forcefully racked it open.
With the gun cleared, it was time to see what made it tick and why it was so effortless to cock. Disassembly was rather intuitive and did not involve pressing the trigger, something that I am growing increasingly fond of. In this world of new gun owners, designs like this make it easier to teach the concept that “we only touch the trigger when we want to fire a shot.”
As I looked for fulcrums and other mechanisms that reduce effort, I was faced with seemingly normal-looking pistol mechanics. However, once I put my eyes on the rear of the frame I found my answer—an internal hammer.
Swapping from a striker to a hammer requires far less hand strength to pull the slide back. Specifically, because your typical striker spring requires a lot of oomph to compress.
Furthermore, a lightweight, clean-breaking trigger is pretty much guaranteed with this classic system. Overall, I was impressed with what I was looking at. It was beautifully simplistic and solved a significant problem without reinventing the wheel.
I knew that I wanted to evaluate not only how this gun would shoot but how well it carried, too. So, I arrived at the gun store with a Crossbreed Reckoning holster already clipped to my waistband.
Typically, I don’t carry a pistol until I’ve given it a thorough field test. However, the Shield EZ line puts three layers of protection between it and an accidental discharge. These included a grip safety, ambidextrous thumb safety, and, of course, a drop safety should your holster hit the ground.
After putting the gun back together, I stuffed the magazine with Federal’s 100-grain HST defensive ammunition, slipped it into the holster, and headed straight to the range. Greeted by overcast conditions and a gentle spring breeze, I set up a 7-yard shooting position and settled in for some group therapy.
Along with the HST ammo, I had Federal’s American Eagle practice round and Speer’s new Gold Dot loading to round out testing and fuel the fun. I started off by firing five-shot groups off of a sandbag. This gave me a feel for the gun’s accuracy and point of impact.
The 30 EZ impressed me again. It produced some dynamite groups that were within half an inch of my point of aim—straight from the factory. The best groups of the day hovered around an inch. Likewise, it hardly broke the 2-inch mark with anything that I threw downrange.
Aside from being true and accurate, the recoil was negligible. This was a key factor in keeping me on the range longer than anticipated that day.
Draw and Fire Drills with the Shield EZ
Switching to an outside-the-waistband setup, I threaded on a Pegasus Veiled Partner and opened up my shirt in preparation for testing a few defensive shooting scenarios. Starting with a simple, single-shot routine, I drew and fired solemn shots at a full-sized cardboard IPSC target. Using a shot timer, I found that I could swat the cover garment out of the way and get a round into the A-zone in as little as 1.21 seconds.
With every presentation, the gun came straight to my eye and pointed instinctually at whatever I was aiming at. Inside of 7 yards, I didn’t even need to use the sights to place effective rounds on a man-sized threat.
EZ Double Taps
After getting comfortable with the holster and placing single shots on the corrugated criminal, I moved into multiple-shot drills, namely the double-tap. I was interested in finding out how fast I could get my split times down.
The 30 Super Carry produces less felt recoil than the 9mm Luger. For this reason, I was able to put two shots together just .13 seconds apart from each other. And I do mean together, as typically, they weren’t spread much further than just a few inches from each other.
That’s a big deal for a carry pistol. Even a novice shooter can put a bit of confidence in their ability to place two rounds into a threat without injuring a bystander.
The other side of the speed equation was the 30 EZ’s trigger. It broke at just 4 pounds, 14 ounces and only needed to travel about halfway forward to reset. As I filled magazine after magazine, I found the other reason this gun is dubbed the EZ.
Unlike most centerfire pistols, these magazines feature an assist tab. This alleviates the struggle of compressing a follower and spring with a cylindrical cartridge.
My time with Smith & Wesson’s newest pistol ended when my ammunition was out. And I was a bit bummed for sure. I don’t know if I’m getting older or have just outgrown that “recoil is exciting” stage of my firearms career. But guns like this quickly become my favorite to shoot.
There is something about shooting fast that never gets old. And knowing that the rounds that you are delivering are practical and effective only completes the package. Sending the 30 Super Carry downrange is a good feeling.
Smith chambering a Shield EZ for 30 Super Carry might be their best idea yet.
For more information, please visit Smith-Wesson.com.
Smith & Wesson SHIELD EZ Thumb Safety 30 Super Carry Specs
Caliber: 30 Super Carry
Barrel: 3.68 inches
Overall Length: 6.8 inches
Weight: 21.6 ounces (empty)
Sights: Front metal white dot, rear metal white two-dot, drift adjustable
Action: Semi-automatic, Internal Hammer Fired
|Federal American Eagle 100 FMJ||1,209||1.04|
|Federal HST 100 JHP||1,157||1.25|
|Speer 115 GDHP||1,078||1.21|
Bullet weight measured in grains, velocity in feet per second (fps) by chronograph and accuracy in inches for best five-shot groups at 7 yards.
This article was originally published in the Personal Defense World August/September 2022 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions at OutdoorGroupStore.com. Or call 1-800-284-5668, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.