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I Carry: S&W M&P Shield M2.0 in a StealthGear USA 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're using a Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield M2.0 carried inside a StealthGear USA holster. We also have a Safety Solutions Academy MagFix baseplate, a Kershaw EDC knife and a Magpul wallet.

Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield M2.0 (MSRP: $479)

Smith & Wesson’s incredibly popular Shield is certainly one of the most-widespread concealed-carry offerings currently on the market. The size, weight, capacity and handling are excellent; it’s priced affordably, especially with rebates and special offers, and at the end of the day it’s a Smith & Wesson, backed by a lifetime warranty. While it may not have been the first ultra-compact, single-stack 9 mm pistol on the market, the Shield is certainly responsible for a good part of the popularity of this segment.

With a 3.1-inch barrel, 6.1-inch overall length and 18.3-ounce weight, the Shield finds the sweet spot for size. Loading the extended magazine gives enough real estate for most folks to get a full firing grip for practice, while the flush-fit seven-round magazine makes concealing the Shield a breeze. In the second-generation Shield, like the model we have here today, an upgraded trigger makes putting shots on target easier, while the enhanced grip texture helps anchor the Shield in the hand. There’s a lot to like in this small pistol.

Smith & Wesson’s entire M&P line, including the Shield M2.0, has something that appeals specifically to me, though. I’ve never been a fan of the “bladed safety” for the trigger; it’s purely a tactile thing. Smith & Wesson’s hinged unit performs the same basic function, but maintains a more-traditional trigger feel. It’s a small point, but it can make a difference on the firing line to those who favor it.

Stealth Gear USA Ventcore AIWB (MSRP: $70)

The diminutive size of the Shield lends it perfectly to inside-the-waistband carry, especially appendix-style. Stealth Gear USA offers its Ventcore holster for just this method, with a patented layer system that sandwiches a foam core between two rigid polymer inserts and wraps everything in a mesh outer layer designed to permit airflow for comfort. The handgun rides in a kydex shell specifically molded to the model of pistol, and fits exist for sidearms with lights and/or lasers, too. There’s even a variety of color options, should you want something more than just basic black.

MagFix Extended Baseplate (MSRP: $24.95)

Our next item in today’s EDC kit is the MagFix, a replacement baseplate for the Shield’s eight-round extended magazine. While the MagFix doesn’t add any additional capacity to the magazine, what it does is replace the two-piece Smith & Wesson sleeve with a single, purpose-built plate. It’s an improvement made by shooters for shooters, and it really does make shooting the Shield better. No more pinching your pinky between the bottom of the grip and the loose-fitting sleeve! Sounds pretty good to me. If you shoot your Shield a lot – and it’s a great idea to practice often with these little guns – you’ll appreciate this upgrade immensely.

Kershaw Parsec (MSRP: $64.99)

Okay, I’m not gonna lie here. The styling and name of the Kershaw Parsec jumped out at me from a recent press release. Offered as a new-for-2019 knife, the Parsec offers a flipper opening mechanism for the 3-inch, 8Cr13MoV drop-point blade. Weighing three and a half ounces and held open with a frame lock, the Parsec’s styling and stonewashed brown PVD finish are striking. It doesn’t hurt that the name appeals to the inner geek, either…

Magpul DAKA Bi-fold Wallet (MSRP: $24.95)

We’ve featured a number of tactical and minimalist wallets here in “I Carry,” including offerings from Magpul. The DAKA bi-fold is a more-traditional variant, offering a standard folding design for paper currency separate from the ID sections. Whether you’re trying to simplify your carry gear, need a wallet for the bare necessities when traveling or simply want a nearly indestructible option for outdoor pursuits, Magpul’s DAKA bi-fold is a fantastic option.

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