Welcome to another episode of "I Carry," Shooting Illustrated's weekly video series covering the guns and gear needed to put together an ideal everyday-carry kit. Today, we have a Beretta M9 pistol in a Galco Gunleather Fletch OWB holster, paired with the company's Kydex Single Magazine Carrier. Rounding out the gear is a SureFire E2D Defender Ultra EDC flashlight, a Benchmade Griptilian knife, a Mec-Gar 20-round spare magazine and a Galco SB1 dress belt.
Firearm: Beretta M9 ($675)
In use by our Soldiers since Ronald Reagan’s second term, the Beretta M9 has proven itself on the field of battle in excess of three decades. In addition, its civilian counterpart (the 92) become somewhat of a movie star in its own right, starring alongside Bruce Willis as John McClane in “Die Hard” and Mel Gibson as Martin Riggs in “Lethal Weapon.” The all-metal, double-action/single-action system might also seem stuck in the 1980s, but remains a potent choice for self-protection.
This particular model sports two upgrades over the standard Mil-Spec variant. The noticeable upgrade is the addition of VZ Grips, changing the polymer scales to a more refined (and grippy) G10 set. The second upgrade is less-visible, in the form of a LaserMax guide rod laser, which presents a green laser dot when activated. The benefit of the guide rod laser system is simple: the profile of the handgun is completely unaltered—no need to modify holsters or worry about clearance.
Chambered in 9 mm with a 4.9-inch barrel, this full-size pistol has 15+1 round capacity from the factory (flush-fitting magazines with 18-round capacity are available) and is rated for +P ammunition. Not only is the magazine release capable of being swapped for left-handed shooters, but the slide-mounted safety is duplicated on either side for either-hand operation. It features Beretta’s open slide design, toolless takedown and white-dot front sight/white post rear sight arrangement.
Holster: Galco Fletch High Ride Belt Holster ($111.95)
If you prefer carrying outside the waistband—and with a full-size, all-steel handgun like the M9 it’s going to be more comfortable that way—a solid, well-made holster is essential. Galco’s Fletch offers a grip-forward cant for faster presentation, allows a full firing grip to be achieved and offers a reinforced thumb break for security. It’s available for a wide variety of firearms and comes in black or tan leather.
Belt: Galco SB1 Dress Belt ($89.95)
Galco’s SB1 Dress belt is a rigid, polymer-backed belt that’s not bulky or utilitarian-looking. Rolled out earlier this year, the premise behind the SB1 series was that gear belts could look good, too. With a 1.25-inch width and three finish options, the SB1 allows you to carry your gear in style without sacrificing support and rigidity.
Flashlight: SureFire E2D LED Defender Ultra ($265)
SureFire’s Defender series gets an LED version with the E2D LED Defender Ultra. Offering two output settings, a clip set up to carry bezel-up or bezel down and a crenulated strike bezel, the Defender Ultra is a simple, do-it-all light. The grip offers a mildly aggressive texturing to anchor it in the hand, making it easy to hold onto under the worst conditions. 600 lumens are available in the high setting (2.25 hour run time) and 5 lumens on low (67.75 hours), and it is powered by two CR123A batteries.
Knife: Benchmade Griptilian ($120)
The Griptilian family of folding knives is one of Benchmade’s most-popular lines, and it’s easy to see why. With plain or serrated blade edges, multiple scale color options, blade styles and finishes, the user can design the exact knife they prefer, and have the knife delivered in a reasonable time frame. There’s even an option for custom laser engraving. The Griptilian is about as ambidextrous as a knife gets, with a swappable pocket clip (tip-up carry only) and Benchmade’s AXIS locking mechanism, which releases via a sliding button rather than using a liner lock or traditional lockback mechanism.
Magazine carrier: Galco Kydex Single Magazine Carrier ($44.95)
There’s beauty in simplicity. Carrying a spare magazine isn’t all that exciting, and it shouldn’t have to be. Galco’s kydex single mag carrier has two attachment options (belt loop or clip-on style) and is tension-adjustable to fit a wide variety of double-stack magazines. I prefer the clip-on attachment, as it’s just faster at the end of the day.
Spare Magazine: Mec-Gar 20-Round Beretta M9 Magazine ($46.50)
Mec-Gar has been an OEM manufacturer for a number of firearms for more than 50 years. The Beretta 92/M9 magazine, as simple as it may seem, has a dizzying array of options: 10-, 15-, 18- and 20-round variants are offered, along with nickel, blued or anti-friction finish. This particular model is the 20-round variant, which is only offered with the anti-friction finish. A plastic bumper on the floorplate offers some protection for the magazine extending out of the grip.