Hey there, Jay Grazio with Shooting Illustrated here, with another entry in our “I Carry” series, bringing you guns and gear for personal defense. Today we’re focusing on a new micro-red-dot version of the Smith & Wesson Shield and some related gear from Camillus Knives, Mission First Tactical and Axil. Let’s take a closer look at this setup.
Smith & Wesson M&P9 M2.0 Shield Performance Center (MSRP $843)
There’s simply no question that pistol-mounted red dot sights are here to stay. Just about every manufacturer offers some sort of optics-ready platform, and Smith & Wesson was one of the first with the C.O.R.E. system, which we reviewed in July of 2014. Smith & Wesson continues to be at the forefront of the optics-ready market with its Performance Center M&P9 Shield M2.0 pistol with mounted 4-MOA red dot.
The pistol itself is notable for not only the M2.0 upgrades, but also Performance Center additions. The M2.0 changes are evident in the upgraded trigger pull, front serrations and more aggressive texturing, while the Performance Center enhancements are most prominent in the longer barrel, fiber-optic sights and tuned action. We’ve touted the M2.0 upgrades on several different models, as the improved trigger and texture really do make a difference in shooting the M2.0 versions. The texture on the Shield isn’t quite as abrasive as that on the M&P, so if you weren’t a fan of the cheese-grater-like feel of the M&P M2.0, the Shield is worth a look.
Otherwise, it’s a Smith & Wesson Shield. It’s the same mix of concealable size and light weight that made Smith & Wesson’s entry in the single-stack, striker-fired, polymer-frame world such a standout when it was introduced in the early 20-teens. All the reliability we’ve come to expect from Smith & Wesson’s M&P series is still there, coupled with the refinements mentioned earlier. This is an excellent step-up if you already own a first-generation Shield, or simply on its own if you’re new to the M&P or Shield in general.
Obviously, the Shield Mini Sight red dot is another distinguisher for this combination. As red dot equipped pistols have gained more popularity, more and more manufacturers are looking beyond double-stack, full-size guns and adding dots to smaller models. We saw Walther do it with the PPS, Springfield Armory with the Hellcat and SIG Sauer offering a variant of the P365. The Shield Mini Sight on the Shield (yeah, I know, lots of different Shields here…) is a 4-MOA dot adjustable for elevation and windage. It’s bright, can be acquired quickly with proper technique and offers 2 to 3 years of battery life.
Naturally, the same caveats we’ve offered for other red-dot-equipped pistols apply – get specialized training if you have any concerns working with the dot, check your holster to make sure the extra real estate occupied by the red dot doesn’t interfere with fit and, as always, practice extensively with a new system to make sure it works for you.
Camillus Reverb (MSRP: $29.98)
Two opening mechanisms, left- or right-hand carry and an easier-to-use liner lock? Sign me up! Camillus Knives’ Reverb offers a three-inch, drop point AUS8 steel blade with carbonitride titanium finish in a 6.75-inch long overall package. The pocket clip is reversible for left- or right hand carry, but only in tip-down position. Glass-filled nylon scales keep the weight light, at only 2.5 ounces, while the knife comes with a lifetime warranty. And for less than $30, too!
Mission First Tactical Minimalist Wallet (MSRP: $24.99)
New for 2019 as an addition to the company’s accessory line are Mission First Tactical’s Minimalist wallets. Two sizes hold 8 or 15 credit cards (or 15 to 25 business cards) and a variety of designs are available. Whether you’re trying to simplify your daily routine or are traveling, having a solid, sturdy place to keep your essentials is critical. With the MFT Minimalist wallet, the same rugged boltaron material that comprises the company’s holsters surrounds your ID and credit cards. Sorry, the Shooting Illustrated version is a one-off only…
Axil Ghost Stryke Bluetooth Headphones (MSRP: $139.99)
At first blush, hearing protection doesn’t seem to be an EDC item, but more of a range item. However, when your ear pro can double as headphones, that flips the script. Axil’s Ghost Stryke bluetooth headphones don’t just block out loud sounds and let you listen to your tunes, though. These unique in-the-ear plugs also offer up to 6X amplification in full surround sound to help you stay completely aware of your surroundings, even while listening to music. To maintain good situational awareness, it’s generally a good idea to avoid headphones that shut out external noises when traversing city streets or country paths. Having the Axil Ghost Stryke headphones, though, allows you to listen to your music, make phone calls and still keep tabs on what’s around you – all while still working to protect your hearing on the range.