When it comes to putting a red-dot sight on your handgun, there’s a number of ways to accomplish it. You can have the existing slide custom-milled for a specific sight, you can buy an aftermarket slide with a certain footprint already milled in or you can buy an optics-ready pistol straight from the factory. We’ve opted for that last option today, with this Smith & Wesson M&P9 M2.0 4” Compact Optics ready pistol. This option gives the most latitude in what sight can be added, allowing for upgrades down the road should they be desired.
We’re fans of the Smith & Wesson M&P series, especially the M2.0 upgraded version with better trigger, more aggressive grip and beefier frame. This line of pistols shoots well, carries well and is customizable for different hand sizes with four grip inserts. The Compact’s size places it in the sweet spot as far as being able to shoot it well while still being concealable, and it’s a sturdy, stable platform upon which one can begin their red-dot journey.
The Optics Ready portion of the M&P9 is a multi-fit plan, with two sets of screw holes milled into the optics cut for different mounting profiles. There are seven different plastic adaptor plates to fit the overwhelming majority of pistol-slide-mounted optics currently on the market. All the major footprints like the RMR/Burris /DeltaPoint/etc. are included, which means it is quite probable you will be able to mount any optic you find onto the M&P.
Since this is a “starter” setup, the multi-optic capability of the M&P Optics Ready pistol really shines. Should you decide that you really like having a red dot, and want to pursue a different optic down the road for any reason, adding it to the M&P is a painless procedure. I’d recommend investing in a torque wrench like the Fix-It Sticks Mini All-in-One Torque driver for securing the optic, as properly torqueing the optic in place allows for easier removal than using Loctite. It’s also more convenient if the optic you choose happens to have the battery located under the optic, meaning you have to take the optic off the pistol to change batteries.
Optic: Sightmark Mini Shot M Spec (MSRP: $239.99)
If price-point is your major hindrance to getting into the pistol-mounted red-dot game, there are options out there that won’t break the bank, like the Sightmark Mini Shot M Spec. With an MSRP of $240 and an “off the shelf” price just under $200, it’s a rugged sight that isn’t going to put a major strain on your wallet. Even if you conclude that pistol dots aren’t your thing, the Mini Shot M Spec comes with a high and a low Picatinny mount so you can put it on a carbine or shotgun. That’s a lot of versatility for a couple hundred bucks.
With a 3-MOA dot and 10 brightness levels, adjusting the Mini Shot M Spec to indoor or outdoor shooting is simple. A tough 6061 T6 aluminum housing keeps everything together, and a steel shield over the top provides even greater protection. The Mini Shot M Spec is dust-, water- and shock-resistant, and a single CR1632 battery powers it for 300 to 30,000 hours, obviously depending on brightness setting. It does feature a 12-hour shut off to save battery life, with ambidextrous controls to quickly turn the unit back on at the start of the day.
Holster: JM Custom Kydex AIWB holster (MSRP: $70)
One area where cost really shouldn’t be a consideration is in the holster one choses to carry an EDC pistol. Sure, it’s tempting to go for a no-name, knock-off holster to save a few bucks, but that’s not where you want to pinch pennies. Opt for a solid holster from a manufacturer with a good reputation, like the AIWB from JM Custom Kydex. We’ve covered several JM Custom Kydex offerings here on “I Carry,” and the company’s holsters have all featured superlative fits with excellent retention.
The AIWB we have today comes with pull-the-dot loops to attach to a belt and, of course, an optics cut. The red kydex on this particular model is a slight upcharge, as is the optics cut, but even with this $10 increase the holster is still eminently affordable. Different mounting options like DCC monoblocks, steel clips, plastic clips and belt loops are available – there’s a lot of ways you can make a holster your own. You know, since “Custom” is literally the company’s middle name.