Slide does not always lock back after firing last round

I am a first time gun owner. Used my gun at the range for the first time and 3 out of 4 times it did not lock back after firing the last round. I have a new Smith and Wesson M&P 380 Shield EZ. I assume I must be doing something wrong at the range. Any suggestions? Thanks for any help.


@Deborah13 I know you said you were new so if what I say here doesn’t make sense, please let me know and I’ll go a bit deeper in the explanation.

There’s a good chance that it’s just that the positioning of one of your hands is contacting (and holding) the slide lock/release lever (see the attached pic) which keeps the slide from locking back. Obtain your normal shooting grip and then, without changing your grip, take a peak on that side of the firearm and see if you are close to the lever. Depending on your hands and how they fit the firearm, you will likely be able to make a small adjustment in positioning to fix it. You can always have a trainer or a helpful RSO at a range take a look at your grip as well and see if they can assist.


Here’s a video that demonstrates what I’m talking about and one way you may be able to fix it. I’m not saying this is “the way” or what you have to do, but it demonstrates your likely issue and a fix for it…


Easy fix as you are “first time” shooter.
@JustinK - perfect instructing :clap: :handshake: :ok_hand:


Yeah, the 380 is a small frame, so your thumb is likely riding the slide release. Just be conscious of the issue and it’ll stop.


Could not of put it any better JustinK.


Thanks everyone for the feedback!


There are certain guns where you see this a lot. One thing I tell people to help “prove it” it to shoot with the other hand and see if it happens.

That said, overall, not a huge deal. You can train around it, and probably should do that anyway. It is just a failure drill and can become automatic. I have the same problem with a couple of my carry pistols due to how I hold my thumbs.


Welcome to the family and you are blessed to be here.


Welcome, @Deborah13! We’re glad to have you here!

I’m excited to see what you find out. I’m thrilled to see you realized that wasn’t supposed to happen as a lot of new gun owners don’t realize that!

Congratulations on your progress in your self-defense journey!


As dr Kildare,i think was his name…once said “I concur” with all the above!


Willing to bet it is thumb placement…I am primary left hand shot. When I shoot left handed with my Shield, no issue. Right handed, no issue. BUT with my XDS when I shoot left handed no problem, right handed OCCASIONALLY my slide doesn’t lock back after last round. If I place my thumb in line with my off hand thumb (against the frame/slide) I think I occasionally apply to much pressure with the thumb right at the slide lock preventing it from engaging. I have to wrap my primary thumb over the back of my off hand thumb base to keep from accidentally doing this. At first I thought it was a gun malfunction, because it only happens with my XDS and not my M&P. But my wife shoots that gun right handed all the time without it happening. If I am conscious of my thumb being in the right spot it doesn’t happen either.

Edit: I have also noticed that my regular M&P Shield (not EZ) has a very stiff slide lock, especially with no mag or an empty mag. While my XDS has a very soft slide lock even with no mag or an empty one. Seeing as you have an EZ model, it probably has the same “soft” slide lock to make it “ez” to release. Which means it only takes a bit of pressure to prevent it from engaging.

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The one time that it happened to me (Ruger SR9) it turned out that my grip was too loose. I tightened up my grip (just training) and no issue since…

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I agree with above:

#1) Check your grip. You can do this at home. Just close your eyes, grip your gun as you were at the range, open your eyes and look at your thumb and hands in relation to the slide stop/release. If it is touching or in the general area, that might be it.

#2) There is a phenomena called “limp wristing” in that if your grip is not firm enough, movement of the gun can sap enough energy out of the recoil impulse to cause a malfunction. If #1 doesnt work, on your next range trip, try holding firmer against the recoil and see if that helps.

#3) This is more of a question. What ammo are you useing? Sometimes lower-powered training ammo might not have the neccessary energy to bring the slide far enough back to engage the slide stop/release. This might also coincide with #4.

#4) This might be a new gun-related issue. Not that the gun is broken, but as a new gun, it will be a little tight and after a few more boxes of ammo, it might smooth out enough to engage the slide stop/release. This really shouldnt be an issue with most guns, but it is also dependent on the second half of #4. Did you field strip your new gun, clean all the manufacturing and storage oils and grease off it then re-lube it up properly prior to shooting? The oils and grease new guns come coated in is really a preservative, not a lube. As such, it can actually get sticky when using the firearm. So try giving it a good cleaning and putting it back together with a good lube and see if that helps.

Sorry that was a lot. Hope it makes sense.

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