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&P9 with a Leupold DeltaPoint red dot in a PHLster Floodlight holster. We also have a SureFire weaponlight and a Dark Star Gear magazine carrier.
Smith & Wesson M&P9 (MSRP: $599 for M2.0 full size)
While we’re running a first-generation Smith & Wesson M&P9 here, the M2.0 would obviously work just as well—this just happens to be my personal M&P, and we’ll get to the reason it’s being used instead of a more-current model later. In any case, there’s plenty of first-generation M&Ps out there, and any gear piece that will work with the M2.0 should work with the first generation as well.
As you can see, this is not a stock M&P9. The most-obvious addition will be covered shortly, but also note the True Precision threaded barrel. Not visible is an Apex Duty trigger upgrade, which makes the first generation M&P significantly easier to shoot. It’s a full-size pistol with a four and a quarter inch barrel, offering a full firing grip and plenty of real estate for the support hand. Magazine capacity is a generous 17 rounds, with extensions available that bring capacity up to 20 rounds and more.
Whether you’ve got a first generation M&P or the M2.0 version, there’s a robust aftermarket for these Smith & Wesson pistols. Whether you want to upgrade the sights, improve the trigger pull or even replace the slide entirely, there’s a wide variety of options. It’s one of the many reasons to choose this popular handgun.
Leupold DeltaPoint Pro Red-Dot Sight (MSRP: $519.99)
And, the obvious reason we’re going with the first generation Smith& Wesson M&P9 has to do with the sighting system. We’ve added Leupold’s excellent DeltaPoint Pro to this pistol using the company’s proprietary rear-sight mount. While this DeltaPoint Pro has the 2.5-MOA dot, a 7.5-MOA variant is also available. Motion-sensing technology turns on the dot when the handgun moves and off when it has gone inactive, and Leupold claims this significantly extends battery life. I’ve had it on the M&P for several months now, with no decrease in brightness. Another smart feature? You can change the battery without having to take the sight off the pistol.
Mounting the DeltaPoint Pro off the rear sight does lead to a significant increase in overall height, so many prefer to have the slide milled to lower the overall height. Even so, I managed to make it through a Modern Samurai Project red-dot course just fine, with the sight holding zero and staying visible over hundreds of rounds fired. If you’re looking to get into a red-dot pistol carry setup, this is a great place to start.
PHLster Floodlight Holster (MSRP: $119)
We’ve covered PHLster’s pistol-specific Spotlight holster previously, and the company has upped the ante with the Floodlight. Designed to work with any handgun that has the SureFire X300U weaponlight attached, the Floodlight is fully adjustable for a wide variety of pistols. Retention is based on the light, so don’t panic if the handgun alone doesn’t fit properly – it shouldn’t. Attach the light and it works really well. The big question you’re probably asking? Yes, it is quite comfortable and you can wear it all day long. If you like having a weapon-mounted light on your handgun, this is an excellent way to carry such a setup.
SureFire X300U Weaponlight (MSRP: $299)
Released in the latter half of 2018, the SureFireX300U packs 1,000 lumens available at the flip of a switch. Dimensions are one and an eighth inches in diameter, 3.6 inches long and four ounces with batteries. If you’ve been thinking of adding a light to your EDC handgun, the SureFire X300U has become one of the “go-to” lights as far as accessories. Since a wide variety of holster fits center on the X300U, adding it to an accessory rail means you can have the ability to fit multiple handguns to the same holster.
Dark Star Gear Koala AIWB Magazine Carrier ($40)
Dark Star Gear’s Koala appendix-inside-the-waistband single magazine carrier is a great choice to compliment this EDC kit. Designed to allow easy changes in ride height and cant, the Koala is also adjustable for depth—how deep the magazine can sit in the carrier. With the magazine riding high, it’s easier to access; set it to ride low for maximum concealment. Available in a wide variety of finishes, the Koala is designed for either plastic or steel double-stack magazines.