The Heretical Alternative
A lot of my fellow gun writers / applied violence nerds went pie-eyed over the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 380 EZ (Geez, guys could you have made that name a little longer? I digress…). On paper, it has all the things you want in a gun for senior citizens or someone who has difficulty manipulating and shooting a compact 9mm handgun. The 380 EZ shooting the lower-powered (but still quite effective) 380ACP cartridge. It’s a true hammer-fired single-action gun, which means that the recoil spring only has to cock the hammer when you load it. The spring can then be lighter, which in turn means that it’s easier to rack and get into battery. The trigger is good, and there’s an optional frame-mounted thumb safety as well as a blade safety in the trigger and a grip safety in the rear.
It’s that grip safety, though, that’s an issue for many people who bought a Shield EZ in 380 (or its larger, 9mm cousin) as the answer to the self-defense prayers. However, when it came time to shoot the darn thing, they had issues holding the gun tight enough to activate the grip safety, and the gun wouldn’t go bang.
This is a problem.
Allow me to recommend another gun that might fill the same niche, the Ruger Security 9. It’s a single-action only gun, just like the Shield EZ, which means it’s ridiculously easy to operate. It has a great trigger. It holds 15 rounds, almost twice as much as the 9mm Shield EZ does. It uses Glock sights. It has a rail up front, just like the Shield EZ. Best of all, there is no grip safety, and the cherry on top of all of this is the MSRP of the Security 9, which is $100+ less than the ShieldEZ.
Downsides to the Ruger? Well, the thumb-operated safety ain’t the biggest to flick on and off, but you can buy the “Pro” model for about the same price as the Shield EZ. However, given the fact that the trigger is rather light, I’d rather go with the thumb safety model, just to be sure.
Is the Shield EZ a bad gun? Oh heck no, I have friends who carry it every day, and they love it. Are there other options out there is you’re looking for a defensive pistol that is friendly to people with reduced hand strength? Yes, and Security 9 is one of the best options out there.