I Carry: Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield Plus Pistol in a Mission First Tactical Holster

posted on July 9, 2021

Firearm: Smith & Wesson Shield Plus (MSRP: $553)

Smith & Wesson launched its Shield Plus in 2021, bringing another double-stack, micro-compact 9 mm to a growing field of options. This particular class of pistols has seen explosive growth since the SIG Sauer P365 hit the scene a few years ago, with most major manufacturers offering a version of a smaller-than-subcompact 9 mm handgun with 10 or more round capacity. Rather than launch a new pistol, Smith & Wesson re-engineered its Shield line, expanding only the grip of the pistol slightly to contain a larger magazine.

While it was redesigning the Shield for the wider magazine, Smith & Wesson also changed the trigger. Rather than the expected hinged version that had been a hallmark of the M&P line since the 2000s, the Shield Plus features a bladed-safety version that resembles, well, a well-known aftermarket design many have chosen to upgrade their M&Ps with over the years. While the Shield Plus is not technically an M2.0 design, it does share many of the M2.0 upgrades like the aggressive grip texturing and fish-scale-type scalloping on the front and rear of the slide.

One of the major advantages of the Shield Plus, though, is that the slide and trigger guard area of the pistol are dimensionally identical to the original Shield. The grip is the only area that differs from the Plus to the original, and since that’s outside of the holster, it means the Shield Plus can utilize any holster designed for the original Shield. Given that the Shield has been in production for nearly a decade, that means a lot of options exist.

While, yes, the Shield Plus is on the larger side for a micro-compact, double-stack 9 mm handgun, these pistols are overwhelmingly carried inside the waistband rather than in a pocket. The slight size increase means more purchase when shooting, so there’s greater recoil control. More options for accessories, easier to shoot and up to 13-round capacity, though, mean the Shield Plus is a solid contender. 

Holster: Mission First Tactical Ambidextrous IWB/OWB (MSRP $49.99)

Of the many options for the Shield, we’ve opted for the Mission First Tactical IWB/OWB for today’s kit. This minimalist holster offers an ambidextrous fit as well as an adjustable cant for swapping between inside-the-waistband and appendix-carry positions, and can be worn either inside or outside the pants as desired. Retention is based off the trigger guard, with an audible click when secure. The single, 1.5-inch polymer clip that attaches the Mission First Tactical holster to the belt offers a quick-on, quick-off version that works really well in a “grab-and-go” setup.

While we have the standard black option, several themed versions are also available from Mission First Tactical should you be looking for something just a little different. These do incur a $10 upcharge, but given the holster’s affordability, that’s not adding a lot. All Mission First Tactical holsters are made in the U.S.A. and come with a lifetime warranty. 

Knife: Buck Knives Onset (MSRP: $155)

Rounding out today’s kit is a knife that’s every bit as utilitarian and useful as the Shield Plus and Mission First Tactical holster. The Buck Knives Onset features a 3 3/8-inch, S45VN-steel drop-point blade, G10 scale and a stonewash-finished belt clip. It opens via a flipper projection on the back of the blade and while not assisted, uses Buck’s proprietary ball-bearing technology for reduced friction. The blade is held open via a frame lock.

There’s a lot to be said for a simple, useful knife. The Onset opens easily, stays open securely and its construction offers greater corrosion resistance than in other steel types. It’s slim, light and functional, which is a fantastic combination in an everyday carry knife. While of the “buy-once-cry-once” mindset (meaning it’s a bit on the pricier side), it carries Buck’s forever warranty and, like the Shield and holster, is made in the U.S.A.

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