It’s interesting to see the path the Smith & Wesson M&P has taken. Introduced in the mid-2000s, the M&P made waves with the name alone. The vaunted “Military & Police” moniker had previously been relegated to storied revolvers with decades of law enforcement and military use. Obviously, Smith & Wesson was looking to imprint that history on its new striker-fired, polymer-frame handgun in hopes of tying this new pistol to the successes of its namesake. We watched the M&P evolve into what it is today, with M2.0 upgrades and a multi-tier frame and slide size.
Ed Brown has been making exotic 1911s for decades, and recently turned its attention on the M&P M2.0, realizing that Smith & Wesson’s striker pistol was ripe for fine-tuning. Building on the M2.0 frame, Ed Brown’s take provides a beefy front rail block to improve accuracy, a custom trigger from Apex Tactical and specially machined pins to hold the block in place. When reloading the Fueled M&P, the flared magwell helps guide new magazines in place, and custom aluminum baseplates on magazines give extra purchase and offer increased capacity.
Custom touches abound on the completely redesigned slide, with lightening cuts and dehorning for greater ease in holstering and drawing all adding to the utility of the custom-machined slide. In addition, custom Ed Brown sights, extractor and aluminum backplate add to the utility and aesthetics of the Fueled M&P, while an Ed Brown threaded barrel completes the upgrades. This custom slide is milled for the Trijicon RMR optics cut, and the RMR or the SRO can be ordered direct from Ed Brown for a complete, red-dot-equipped pistol.
While the starting price of nearly $2,000 is significantly more than that of a stock M&P M2.0, again it’s important to realize the extent of the upgrades being offered in this package. A custom RMR-cut slide can run anywhere from $300 - $500, a custom barrel can run $200 - $300, and sights add another $150 or so - and that doesn’t even take into account the small parts needed to finish the slide. Add in the custom touches and upgrades to the frame, including the Apex Trigger, and the price difference isn’t quite as dramatic. Remember, to be fair, compare an M&P M2.0 with the appropriate upgrades rather than a stock variant.
Three different versions of Fueled M&Ps are available - the all-black F1 we have here today, the F2 with “Spectrum” multi-colored barrel and FDE trigger and finally the F3 with a two-tone, stainless slide on black frame. All three variants share the same pricing structure.
Holster: Mission First Tactical Appendix IWB Ambi (MSRP: $49.99)
Since the Ed Brown Fueled M&P is designed to be a working pistol, we’ve opted for a similar holster. Mission First Tactical’s Appendix IWB Ambi holster offers quick attachment and removal, form-fitted retention in addition to screw tension and the ability to use as either a left- or right-handed holster. All in a package that sells for less than $50. The Appendix IWB Ambi holster uses a single sheet of Boltaron in its construction for a bare minimum of parts. The one edge is burnished and buffed by hand to yield a simple holster, designed for years of use, that comes with a lifetime warranty.
Knife: CRKT Tighe Tac Two Tanto (MSRP: $79.99)
For the last component in today’s EDC kit, we’ve chosen the CRKT Tighe Tac Two Tanto not because of the alliterative name, but because it’s a useful yet attractive option like the rest of our kit. Featuring a 3.3-inch, 8Cr13MoV steel blade with a tanto profile, the Tighe Tac Two Tanto opens via a thumbstud or flipper mechanism. Rather than employ a liner lock, the Tighe has a simple push button, which makes closing with one hand significantly easier. Scales are glass-reinforced nylon with functional contours, and texturing that helps anchor the knife in the hand. It’s a useful, attractive knife that won’t put too big a strain on the budget.