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I Carry: Smith & Wesson M&P M2.0 Compact in a Dark Star Gear Orion Holster

Welcome to another episode of "I Carry," Shooting Illustrated's weekly video series covering the guns and gear needed to put together a potential everyday-carry kit. Today, we have a Smith & Wesson M&P M2.0 Compact in a Dark Star Gear Orion appendix-carry holster. We also have a SureFire EDCL1-T flashlight, a Galco Gunleather SB3 gun belt, a Benchmade Arcane Flipper knife and a Vedder Holsters MagTuck magazine carrier.

Smith & Wesson M&P M2.0 Compact (MSRP: $569)

Smith & Wesson revamped the M&P line early in 2017 with the M2.0, which made standard features many M&P owners had been upgrading on their own. A new, more-aggressive texture improves purchase on the M2.0, while forward cocking serrations aid in press checks and other slide manipulations. The frame has been strengthened, the beavertail reduced and an additional backstrap sized between Medium and Large joined the fray.

Late last year Smith & Wesson debuted the M2.0 Compact, which brings a 15-round capacity firearm to the mix. The first generation M&P compact was more of a sub-compact offering, with 12 rounds on tap and a stubby grip you really needed a magazine extension for all three fingers. The M2.0 compact shortens the barrel to 4 inches but keeps a grip you can wrap your whole hand around. It’s a great size for a concealed-carry handgun, as it’s small enough to easily conceal while being large enough to shoot competently. Standard capacity, full-size 17-round mags will work just fine in the M2.0 compact, and Smith & Wesson even ships the Compact with two spacers to fill in the grip when using full-size, 17-round magazines.

With only a modest difference in barrel length, the new size M2.0 Compact pistol should fit just about any M&P holster out there. While dedicated holsters to the new size are available (and more coming all the time), the quarter-inch difference in length shouldn’t necessitate a gear change. If you’re planning to upgrade to the M2.0 Compact from a full-size Gen1, the vast majority of your gear will still work just fine with the new pistol.

Dark Star Gear Orion holster (MSRP: $80)

With single-sheet Kydex construction and your choice of either a Kydex clip or two PTD snap loops, the Orion can be configured for inside-the-waistband or appendix carry with the Raven Concealment Systems Vanguard claw to keep it in place. A large choice of color options is available and “standard” options like gray or tan do not incur additional charge. Most of Dark Star Gear’s line centers around Glock handguns, but the line is expanding to Smith & Wesson M&P offerings as well as several small revolvers.

Vedder Holsters MagTuck (MSRP: $29.99)

With literally dozens of finish options available at a slight upcharge, the Vedder Holsters MagTuck features an injection-molded design built for heavy use, and the spring-loaded tension screw allows a wide variety of double-stack magazines (9 mm and .40 S&W) to be used with this carrier. It can be ordered with either 1.5- or 1.75-inch belt clips and for either hand. Tucked into a waistband, the MagTuck compliments appendix carry by placing the spare magazine in the same location in front, opposite the firearm.

Galco SB3 Dress Belt (MSRP: $93)

With fully lined, premium steerhide construction and a feathered edge, Galco’s SB3 dress belt both looks good and will carry your gear with ease. One and a half inches wide, with solid brass or nickel plated buckles, the SB3 is available in brown or black to match your gear or your daily apparel.

Benchmade Arcane Flipper (MSRP: $260)

Slim, lightweight and ambidextrous, the Arcane Flipper utilizes Benchmade’s proprietary AXYS assist mechanism for nearly effortless opening with one hand. Length is 7.7 inches, with a 3.2-inch long blade and a 2.9-ounce weight. The drop-point blade is constructed of CPM-S90V steel, while the handle is 7075-T6 aluminum.

SureFire EDCL1-T (MSRP: $165)

Released late in 2017 as an enhanced version of the excellent EB1 Backup light previously covered on I Carry, SureFire’s EDCL1-T light features low and high operation, a 220-yard throw, 45-hour run time and a maximum output of 500 lumens, all on a single CR123A battery. An all-aluminum body with a crenulated bezel provides a solid surface for excellent purchase with a pocket clip that can be used bezel-up or down.

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