I Carry: Smith & Wesson M&P9 M2.0 4" Compact Optics-Ready Pistol with Bushnell RXS-250 Red Dot

posted on March 12, 2021

Firearm: Smith & Wesson M&P M2.0 Compact 4” Optics-Ready (MSRP: $634)

When it comes to optics-capable, concealed-carry firearms, there’s a “sweet spot” for size. Barrel length isn’t as critical for sight-radius concerns when a red-dot sight is used, as long as ammunition choices reflect shorter barrels, of course. What is important, though, is the ability to get all three fingers of the firing hand on the grip. A common question with the red dot is being able to acquire it quickly, and one method for achieving this is a full grip that allows the strong-hand pinkie finger to apply full pressure. This brings the gun level and helps bring the dot into view faster.

Smith & Wesson’s M&P M2.0 Compact 4” Optics-Ready pistol hits this sweet spot with its 4-inch barrel and 15-round magazine. Small enough to conceal easily, while large enough to shoot proficiently, the M&P M2.0 Compact has been a favorite since its introduction a few years ago. Adding in the optics-ready version brings the ability to mount a wide variety of red-dot sights, with seven different plates coming with the pistol. Smith & Wesson’s optic system includes plastic spacer plates with appropriate lugs and multiple attachment points to handle the most popular optic configurations.

On its own, the M&P M2.0 Compact is a great choice, with the M2.0 upgrades like the improved trigger, more aggressive grip texture and serrations on the front of the slide as well as the rear. The trigger and grip texture are certainly the most noticeable changes, and really improve the overall shooting experience for the M&P line. It’s accurate, reliable and comfortable, and that’s a great set of characteristics for a concealed-carry option.

It took the M2.0 changes to the M&P line to divide into three frame sizes, rather than full-size and subcompact in the first generation. With more and more manufacturers offering a model roughly the size of the Compact, it’s no surprise this is rapidly becoming one of the most sought-after versions. The ability to add a dizzying array of red-dot options is the icing on an already quite attractive cake. 

Optic: Bushnell RXS-250 (MSRP: $249)

Bushnell recently released the RXS-250 red-dot sight, and it’s quickly becoming a favorite. With a generous 4-MOA red dot, long battery life and standard footprint, the RXS-250 would be a great choice without even bringing its price into the equation. However, adding that sub-$250 MSRP into the mix changes the game – this is a sight that should be available for slightly more than two bills out-the-door.

Let’s expand on the battery life for a second. Bushnell claims 50,000 hours on setting 5 –that’s out of a total of 10, so consider it medium power. There’s auto-off after 12 hours, meaning that if no buttons have been pressed for 12 hours, it shuts off. This feature can be disabled, and if you were to choose that and forget to turn it off, the standard CR2032 battery is top-mounted and can be replaced without taking the unit off your pistol.

On the footprint, the RXS-250 uses the same footprint as the Leupold DeltaPoint/SIG Sauer Romeo1 series of red-dot sights, so a growing number of options are available. Add in dust- and water-resistance, and the affordable RXS-250 becomes even more attractive. 

Holster: Henry Holsters Flint AIWB (MSRP: $75)

When it comes to holsters, the M&P line is fortunate in that a large number of quality holsters are available, like the Henry Holsters Flint AIWB we’ve chosen today. Foldover construction, sometimes called “taco style,” means that a single sheet of Kydex envelopes the pistol, resulting in fewer screws to loosen than a double-sheet model. It’s rugged, simple and carries well—everything you want in a good holster.

The Flint is only available for right-handed shooters, and comes with a wide variety of attachment options from griphook to DCC monoblock as well as the dual pull-the-dot loops on the holster we have today. Fits exist for a growing number of popular concealed-carry pistol options, and much like Henry Ford’s Model A, you can have any color you want as long as it’s black. One last awesome side note on Henry Holsters: The company smartly stamps the firearm model on the holster itself, so that should it fall into the ubiquitous box-of-holsters, you can easily identify which handgun it fits. Brilliant!


Beretta APX A1 Carry
Beretta APX A1 Carry

Beretta APX A1 Carry

Comfort is a big part of daily carry, and it should be. If packing your favorite handgun feels like you are smuggling a shoebox (or an angry hedgehog), then you will squirm, shift and give away the fact that you are carrying. Hot weather makes it even worse, as light clothing offers less in the way of concealment. When EDC becomes too much of a hassle, some just leave it at home. 

High-Tech Handloading

I now keep all my ammunition-creation data on a computer. Sure, I’ll make notes when working up a new load or tweaking an existing one, but ultimately my data is stored digitally. Since my loading room is only steps from my computer, the transition from written to digital data has been easy for me. Now that I’m using the handloading app from RCBS, it’s even easier, and it also makes recreating my favorite loads when I’m at the loading bench more convenient.

First Look: 1791 Gunleather Holsters for S&W CSX Pistols

New holsters for the nifty little pistol from Smith & Wesson.

First Look: XS Night Sights for SA XD OSP and Tisas PX-9

Two new front and rear sight sets featuring some of XS Sights most popular designs.

Concealed-Carry Contemplations

You took a concealed-carry class from a well-known instructor who visited your local range recently. You learned a lot—especially that there was a lot yet to learn—over the two days of the course.

What We Plan For

Sheriff Jim reminds us that wishing and hopeful thinking should not be part of your self-defense plan.


Get the best of Shooting Illustrated delivered to your inbox.