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I Carry: S&W M&P380 Shield EZ in a Wright Leather Works 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 featuring a Smith & Wesson M&P380 Shield EZ carried inside a Wright Leather Works holster. We also have a Kershaw knife and an Elzetta flashlight.

Smith & Wesson M&P380 Shield EZ ($399)

While the name is a bit of a mouthful, there’s a lot there that’s worth highlighting. Of course, this pistol is part of the company’s popular M&P lineup, evidenced by a number of the gun’s ergonomic elements. The wavy rear slide serrations, low-profile front serrations, grip texturing and comfortable, 18-degree grip angle are all highlights of the M&P line. However, viewers will note some critical differences that separate the M&P380 Shield from other Shields in the M&P line.

The first major departure from traditional Shield designs comes in the addition of this grip safety. While more experienced shooters might view the addition of the grip safety as unnecessary, the M&P380 is aimed more at potential consumers who find the added mechanical safety to be a comfort. Though this model shown here doesn’t feature a thumb safety, there is an option for one, and Smith & Wesson sells a ton of thumb-safety-equipped variants, and good for them.

Regardless of your feelings on the topic, everyone should be able to find a handgun they can comfortably carry, and if the addition of a couple mechanical safeties makes people more likely to carry their gun, then the better for it. So long as they practice disengaging that safety! The “EZ” part of this gun shines in a few areas, particularly the easy slide-racking, easy recoil, easy field-stripping and easy magazine loading.

Wright Leather Works Cruiser IWB Clip Holster ($105)

Speaking of ways to make carrying easier, we’ve got a great grab-and-go holster from Wright Leather Works. Too often, it seems, all-leather rigs can be cumbersome and time-consuming to mount to a good gun belt, and any inconvenience in strapping on a CCW gun is going to make it less likely that we carry that gun. The Cruiser IWB Clip holster provides an all-leather holster that mounts to the belt with an open-ended belt clip. When you’re headed out the door, just mount the holster into your waistband, push the clip over your belt, and you’re done.

The included standard clip can be had in 1.5- and 1.75-inch heights to accommodate different size belts, and there are three positions available for height adjustment. Right now, we’ve got this holster set to ride at the highest point above the belt. Leather holsters tend to offer a more comfortable all-day carry experience, because there’s a bit more give and cushion compared to Kydex. However, they require care and maintenance to a greater degree than Kydex holsters, because leather will get dirty and wear out. It’ll also take some work to ensure your gun is perfectly fitted, and Wright has a good guide on how to perform final fitting with your holster of choice.

Kershaw Mixtape ($43.99)

For our EDC knife, we’re taking a look at one of the latest offerings from Kershaw: the Mixtape. Kershaw’s been on a roll lately with a number of new releases, one of the coolest being the Parsec featured in a previous “I Carry.” The Mixtape leans less heavily on the pop-culture references and more on utility, as this blade features a mix of must-have features in a good EDC knife. Most of the mods made to this blade are there to keep weight down, so the Mixtape weighs in light at just over two and a half ounces. It’s easy to clean, thanks to the open construction, and the 8Cr13MoV, Tanto-style blade opens easily with the built-in thumb disk.

Elzetta Flashlight ($155)

The last component of our EDC kit comes from Elzetta. Rather than browsing the web or taking what you can find at the store, Elzetta offers consumers a way to actually build the flashlight they want from the ground up. Want a specific bezel? A different tailcap switch? Longer light? Shorter light? All you’ve got to do is order the component piece you want. Everything works together. We added the high-low tailcap switch to this option, as well as the crenelated bezel so it can double as a striking implement in a pinch.

All of this gear represents just one of an incredible number of combinations on the market today, and it’s important for everyone to find the EDC kit that works best for them. Looking for something different than what you see here? Stay tuned to “I Carry” to see more concealed-carry setups.

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