Welcome to another episode of "I Carry," Shooting Illustrated's weekly video series covering the guns and gear needed to put together an ideal everyday-carry kit. Today, we have a Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield Performance Center in a Tulster Profile holster. We also have a 5.11 Tactical Casual Belt, a SnagMag Magazine Holster, a CRKT Crossbones knife and a Streamlight ProTac 1L-AA flashlight.
Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9 mm Performance Center (MSRP: $519)
Smith & Wesson introduced the M&P Shield in 9 mm and .40 Smith & Wesson in 2012, and followed up with Performance Center variants in 2015. These upgraded models feature ported barrels (to reduce recoil), fiber-optic sights (for faster target acquisition) and upgraded triggers.
The Shield’s immense popularity can be attributed to many factors: The success of the M&P line of handguns; Smith & Wesson’s aggressive market strategy with attractive retail pricing; or, perhaps most simply, it’s a small handgun that doesn’t *feel* small. It has real sights, you can get most of a firing grip on it (especially with the extended magazine) and offers greater capacity than micro-380s. In fact, even with the flush magazine, the Shield offers the same capacity as the 1911, but at half the weight.
For an eminently concealable firearm that won’t break the bank, the M&P Shield is a fine choice. The Performance Center upgrades will add to the price, of course, but offer a significant boost in how the little pistol handles.
Tulster Profile Holster (MSRP: $59.99)
Tulster’s Profile holster, for inside the waistband or appendix carry, offers a tough, molded-Kydex carrier for your Shield. Available in a wide variety of colors and adjustable for cant and retention, this minimalist holster contains a full sweat shield and rounded and buffed edges.
SnagMag Magazine Holster (MSRP: $34.95)
Speaking of minimalist, SnagMag’s magazine holster retains your spare magazine in a unique way. Rather than simply tossing a backup mag in a pocket, the Snag Mag carries it clipped to your pocket (like a pocket knife) and presents a low-profile design that’s easily concealed yet immediately accessible.
5.11 Tactical Casual Belt (MSRP: $39.99)
Holding this gear together is 5.11 Tactical’s Casual leather belt. This all-purpose belt is constructed of full-grain leather, reinforced with the company’s PermaStiff insert, and features a finished-brass buckle. This is a casual belt equally suited for the office or for casual use on the weekend, and is barely more expensive than a standard dress belt.
Streamlight ProTac 1L-AA Flashlight (MSRP: $68)
In keeping with our downsized theme, the flashlight included in this kit is a Streamlight ProTac 1L-1AA. This intriguing design answers the question often heard about lights that take exotic batteries: Not only does it run on a single CR123A battery, but it can also run on a single AA battery. With the CR123A, it puts out 350 lumens on high setting (for 1.3 hours) or 40 lumens on low (14 hours). On the AA, output is reduced to 150 lumens (1.2 hours) and 40 lumens (7.5 hours). Available settings are high, low and strobe, with Streamlight’s TEN-TAP programming allowing the user to choose from three different pre-programmed settings.
CRKT Crossbones Knife (MSRP: $99.99)
Rounding out this gear is a Columbia River Knife and Tool Crossbones folding knife. Thin and light, with a “flipper” opening mechanism, the Crossbones weighs a mere 2.4 ounces and offers a two-tone, brushed aluminum handle. Overall length is slightly over 8 inches (open), with a three and a half inch blade.