I Carry: S&W M&P380 Shield EZ in a DeSantis Inside Heat Holster

posted on September 13, 2019

Welcome to another episode of "I Carry," Shooting Illustrated's weekly video series covering the guns and gear needed to put together a potential everyday-carry kit. Today, we're using the Smith & Wesson M&P380 Shield EZ carried inside a DeSantis holster. We also have a Pachmayr EDC knife and a KeySmart key organizer.

Smith & Wesson M&P380 Shield EZ ($399)

The M&P380 Shield EZ stands out among carry guns, as it’s very nearly a full-size pistol chambered in a cartridge normally reserved for small pocket pistols. There’s a reason for that. The Shield EZ is sized and built right for those who might have difficulty handling other defensive guns on the market.

As its name implies, this gun is easy to shoot. The larger size paired with a fairly anemic cartridge means that recoil is negligible. The gun is also designed with diminished hand strength in mind, having a slide that can be drawn to the rear with little difficulty. The magazine even has a loading lever, so users aren’t fighting against the spring with every round loaded.

Because of these features, we gave the Shield EZ a Golden Bullseye award this year, naming it as the Women’s Innovation Product of 2019. Of course, the gun isn’t exclusively for women–there are many men on the market who, for any number of reasons, just can’t handle a carry-sized gun chambered for a more powerful round.

Everyone should be able to find a tool that allows them to defend themselves and their families adequately, and the Shield EZ fills a gap where there really was no good option before it was introduced. For that, it should be celebrated, and the relatively low MSRP makes it equally as accessible to those on a budget.

DeSantis Holsters Inside Heat ($41.99)

To carry the Shield EZ, we don’t need to go crazy with a holster, and we wanted to keep budget in mind for this CCW kit, which led us to the Inside Heat from DeSantis Holsters. Featuring a compact, minimalist, unobtrusive design, this bare-essentials rig provides users with everything they need and nothing they don't. Bare-bones doesn’t mean cheap, though. The Inside Heat is made using durable, black saddle leather with precision-molded contours. The holster mouth is reinforced to facilitate reholstering, and the entire setup is attached to the belt via a single spring clip.

For a well-built leather holster, the Inside Heat is priced well at just $42, and what’s more, it’s made right here in the USA. You’ll notice a few added touches, too, that make this particularly well-suited, such as the generous cut on the trailing edge of the holster that allows for a full grip on the gun. There’s also a slight relief cut here at the holster mouth that ensures clearance of any aftermarket iron sights and an enlarged sight channel to prevent any snagging on the front sight.

KeySmart Classic ($39.99)

While we’re slimming down with our concealed-carry rig, we’ll also see if we can make other elements of our daily carry gear a bit easier to EDC, and one great accessory that enhances your everyday-carry kit is the KeySmart. Instead of having all of your keys loose on a key ring, where they jangle around loudly and sit uncomfortably in a jumble inside your pocket, the KeySmart organizes them all into a slim unit with individual keys that flip out like the accessories on a pocket knife.

We’ve covered the company’s Pro model in a past “I Carry” video, which includes a built-in LED flashlight and is compatible with the Tile App. These added features are helpful, but if you’re on a budget and just want to streamline your EDC loadout, the Classic works great, too.

Pachmayr Snare ($32.98)

We’re rounding out our carry kit with a new offering from Pachmayr: the Snare EDC knife. The blade, a drop-point design, is made from 8Cr14Mov steel, which offers pretty good properties in a daily carry knife without making the design overly expensive. It sharpens much more easily than high-strength steel, like S30V used in many high-end knives, while also offering pretty solid edge-retention properties.

What I like particularly about this knife is its G10 handles. The machined texture is aggressive enough to remain solid in the hand during use, but it isn’t so aggressive that it’ll tear up your skin or wear away the edge of your pocket while being carried. It’s hard to strike a perfect balance in this area, but I think the Snare does it well. The knife features a liner lock and a flipper stud that allow the knife to be opened easily with a single hand.

All of this gear represents just one of an incredible number of combinations on the market today, and it’s important for everyone to find the EDC kit that works best for them. Looking for something different than what you see here? Stay tuned to “I Carry” to see more concealed-carry setups.

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