Firearm: Smith & Wesson M&P9 M2.0 subcompact (MSRP:$ 569)
Smith & Wesson released the M2.0 series of its popular M&P line in 2017, offering upgraded features such as an improved trigger, more aggressive grip texture and a larger steel chassis. The company followed up on this next generation with a Compact model, and shortly thereafter introduced the pistol we have today, the subcompact.
For the first time, well, ever, Smith & Wesson brought the same concept it employed in its revolvers to its semi-automatic line. Until the release of the monstrous X-Frame, Smith had offered, basically, small, medium and large revolvers. Which, coincidentally, is how, well, one of the company’s main competitors sized its pistols, too. With the release of the M2.0 subcompact, Smith & Wesson finally had small, medium and large semi-automatic pistols in its product line.
Advantages of the subcompact size pistol are simple: It’s small. With warmer weather upon us, cover garments have to be thinner and shorter, both out of comfort and necessity - you’re not following the gray man principle walking around with a hoodie on in July. The smaller grip of the subcompact helps minimize printing, while the diminished overall size just makes it easier to conceal in general. Since it has the M&P M2.0 upgrades and lineage, it’s still a pretty great pistol on the range, meaning you’re going to be more likely to practice with it.
Another advantage of the Smith & Wesson M2.0 subcompact is one we’ve long been big fans of here at Shooting Illustrated - commonality. If you normally carry a full-size M&P, having the subcompact for deep concealment or summertime carry means you don’t have to re-learn the operating system. It’s the same feel in the hand, the same trigger mechanism, it’s familiar. You only have to adjust to the smaller size, not a different trigger or new placement of various levers and buttons.
It can also serve in a pinch as a backup if you’re taking a high-round-count training class - having a similar pistol “just in case” is a smart idea. This highlights another advantage of the subcompact: the same magazines and other gear that work for the full-size and compact models will work with the subcompact. If you have a bunch of 17-round magazines for your full-size M&P, they’re fine to serve as spare mags for the compact. Smith & Wesson even includes sleeves to fill in the gap.
Holster: JM Custom Kydek IWB Universal (MSRP: $60, $67 with UltiClip as configured)
Since we’re considering the subcompact for deep concealment/summertime carry, we’ve opted for a holster built for the same considerations. JM Custom Kydex offers a wide variety of fits for its excellent inside-the-waistband holsters, and we’ve chosen the IWB Universal, with the UltiClip attachment method.
The IWB Universal holster comes in a dizzying variety of finishes and is available for a number of different pistols. It comes standard with a spring-steel clip, with the option of the UltiClip. You can opt for no sweat guard, or choose a mid-length or high version depending on your comfort level. Lastly, you can opt for a muzzle pad to help properly position the holster when worn in the appendix position. There’s a reason “Custom” is the company’s middle name.
The UltiClip allows for secure attachment without a belt; this is quite fitting for a carry option for the warmer months. Not only does it mean less hardware that you have to cover up, but it’s faster - grab your holstered pistol, clip the holster to your shorts, and go. For extra-discreet carry, you can clip it under a belt to completely eliminate traces below the waist. As a “grab-and-go” option it’s excellent, and the IWB Universal holster offers a section of hook-and-loop to change cant. It’s a great system.
Knife: Ontario Knife Company Dozier Arrow (MSRP: $62.85)
Since most of us carry some form of pocketknife in our EDC gear, we wanted to include a pocketknife that was as useful and easy to carry as the rest of our kit. The Ontario Knife Company Dozier Arrow fills this role handily, with a 3.6-inch, spear-point, D2 tool steel blade, which is super tough, but can be a challenge to sharpen. G2 scales keep it super light while offering excellent purchase, and a recessed thumbstud allows rapid, one-hand deployment. Best of all, it’s inexpensive - variants are available for less than $40 online.