Pistol: Shadow Systems CR920 (MSRP: $869)
When it comes to subcompact 9 mm handguns, there have never been more options. The CR920 family from Shadow Systems offers an eminently concealable, yet surprisingly shootable small pistol. Sized similarly to the Glock G43X pistol, the CR920 offers a superbly textured frame that really anchors it in the hand and both a flush-fit 10-round and a slightly extended 13-round magazine. The slight increase in height with the 13-round magazine inserted gives enough real estate to get a full firing grip on the pistol, which really does make a difference.
But, that’s not all the CR920 has to offer. For a small pistol, it is quite customizable. First, two variations are available: the Elite model has an optics cut and comes with lightening cuts in the slide; the Combat model has no lightening cuts and can be ordered with or without the optics cut. Second, the barrel can be ordered either in a black nitride or bronze titanium carbo-nitride (TiCN) finish. Other components of note are the Night Fision night sights, a stainless steel guide rod and a flat-face trigger.
A word about the Shadow Systems optics cut: on the CR920 it’s not quite as pronounced as on the larger MR920 and DR920 models, but it’s equally ingenious. Rather than use a series of plates to allow different optic footprints, Shadow Systems employs spacers to bracket the optic in the cut. On the larger pistol, three spacers allow a wide variety of optics; on the smaller CR920 there are two spacers, one for the Shield RMS footprint and one for the Holosun 507K footprint. Shadow Systems also provides two sets of screws to attach whichever optic you choose.
Shooting the CR920, it’s very clear this is a small, light handgun. There’s no getting around the snappiness of 9 mm out of a 17.8-ounce handgun, but the excellent frame texture and the extended magazine floorplate on the 13-round magazine really do help quite a bit. It’s a different experience than a full-size, all-steel pistol, that’s for certain; however, the tradeoff is that the CR920 is supremely concealable, meaning you are more likely to have it with you when you need it. As with much in life, there are compromises to be made—but the quality of your carry pistol shouldn’t be one of them. The CR920 absolutely does not compromise there.
Holster: Mission First Tactical Leather Hybrid AIWB/IWB holster (MSRP: $69.99)
Since the CR920 is so concealable, we’ve opted for a minimalist holster for appendix carry. To match the small, yet upgraded theme of the CR920, we’ve opted for the Mission First Tactical Leather Hybrid AIWB/IWB holster in this kit. Blending a Boltaron inner layer precisely molded to the pistol frame and a leather outer layer for, well, good looks, the Leather Hybrid holster actually does give the best of both worlds: retention from the Boltaron material and the comfort of leather against the skin.
To quote an old television commercial, but wait! There’s more! Not only does the Leather Hybrid holster offer great retention and comfort, but it’s also ambidextrous. The hardware can easily be swapped to either side for righties or lefties. Cant is adjustable from 0 to 15 degrees, retention can be increased or decreased via a single screw and the holster is cut both for attached optics and also suppressor height sights. That’s a lot of utility in a small package—kinda like the Shadow Systems CR920.
Knife: CRKT Butte knife (MSRP: $125)
Rounding out our kit is the Columbia River Knife and Tool (CRKT) Butte assisted-opening pocketknife. With a 3.36-inch, D2 steel blade and G10 scales, the Butte uses a thumbstud or a flipper mechanism to open, with CRKT’s proprietary IKBS ball-bearing pivot and assisted opening mechanism. A nicely rounded pocket clip rides low in the pocket, and there’s even a lanyard loop for the times you need extra retention.
It’s when the blade needs to be closed that’s new, though: CRKT’s new Deadbolt system unlocks the blade with the push of a button—no liner or frame lock that require you to put your fingers in the blade’s path. I recommended the Butte to a friend of mine who was looking for this exact setup: assisted opening, but no liner or frame lock. He, like myself, doesn’t care for putting his digits in the way of the blade as it’s actively being closed. If you’re in the same boat, well, here’s the Butte.