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I Carry: Smith & Wesson M&P Shield M2.0 in a Blackhawk 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 Shield M2.0 in a Blackhawk Kydex holster. We also have a High Noon Holsters magazine carrier, Crimson Trace flashlight and a CAT tourniquet.

Smith & Wesson M&P Shield M2.0 ($479)

The ubiquitous format of most of today’s concealed-carry guns can be described as a polymer-frame, single-stack, subcompact, 9 mm handgun. One of the reasons why this concept became such a dominating force in the CCW market is due to the development of several hugely popular designs, not the least of which is the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield. This compact carry gun dominated the market in its original format, and Smith & Wesson enhanced this already-popular design in late 2017 with an M2.0 upgrade.

Changes you’ll notice to the M2.0 model of the M&P Shield include enhanced texturing on the frame, as well as an improved trigger pull and an enlarged trigger stop to limit overall trigger travel. This particular model is equipped with a thumb safety, and you’ll see different options across the Shield lineup, including fiber-optic and tritium-illuminated sights, as well as integrated Crimson Trace lasers. I’m not a particular fan of manual safeties on defensive handguns, but there are people who consider them essential, and that’s okay. One important thing to keep in mind is to always train to disengage the safety and to keep that training consistent across all platforms.

Blackhawk IWB Kydex Holster ($49.95)

In finding a holster to pair with this M&P Shield M2.0, we turned to Blackhawk. The company’s been developing several new lines of holsters in recent years, in an effort to supply improved designs that today’s armed citizens demand. We’ve taken a look at the company’s Italian-leather holster lineup previously on “I Carry,” and today, we’re taking a look at Blackhawk’s form-fitted, all-Kydex holster options. The molded Kydex shell does exactly what it needs to do in providing firm friction retention while still allowing for a full firing grip while the gun is still in the holster.

While the belt chip on this Kydex rig does offer a range of height and cant adjustment, putting it on is a bit cumbersome. First, you put the whole rig inside your waist. Then, the center tab in the clip slips over the waistband of your pants and under your belt. It takes a little getting used to, but the benefit of this design is that there isn’t a big C-clip displayed prominently on the outside of your belt.

High Noon Holsters Tie Breaker Magazine Carrier ($44.95)

One product we are mounting on the outside of our belt is the High Noon Holsters Tie Breaker mag carrier. This simple magazine carrier is made from a single piece of cowhide reinforced by dual tension screws and a one-way snap for added security. The Tie Breaker is a universal design that keeps any single- or double-stack magazine secured into place on the belt. Custom retention can be tuned to specific magazines by adjusting either tension screw.

Crimson Trace CWL-300 ($69.99)

In our pocket, we’re carrying one of Crimson Trace’s latest releases: the CWL-300 handheld light. This compact illumination tool measures just over 3 and a half inches long and weighs under two ounces with a battery installed. Even in that small of a package, you’ll still get 200 lumens for plenty of illumination, as well as a lower 50-lumen output  for close-up work. Powered by a single CR123A battery, the CWL-300 will run up to eight hours continuously.

CAT Combat Application Tourniquet

As a final accessory, consider adding a compact Combat Application Tourniquet. As medical science continues to highlight the benefits of immediate tourniquet application, more and more prepared individuals are adding this to a pack or pocket that can be easily accessed, if needed. Let’s face it, if you’re carrying a gun, you’re already in the mindset of being prepared for worst-case scenarios. Guess what? You getting shot is a worst-case scenario. Have the tool you need on-hand to deal with that emergency. Just like a concealed-carry gun, you should only consider carrying one if you’re willing to learn its proper use and train in how to apply it.

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