I Carry: Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield Plus Pistol in an Alien Gear Holster

Today in "I Carry" we have a Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield Plus pistol in an Alien Gear holster with a OKC knife.

posted on October 28, 2022

Firearm: Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield Plus (MSRP: $499)

With the upgrade of the M&P9 Shield to the more capacious Shield Plus, Smith & Wesson’s entry in the micro-9mm double-stack world drew on more than a decade of sales for the single-stack model. Aftermarket support for the original Shield was and continues to be robust, and with the smart engineers at Smith & Wesson wisely not changing much other than the grip of the pistol, the Shield Plus can use a good number of holsters designed for the Shield. Great move on the company’s part, no question. Add in the upgraded trigger and enhanced grip texture, it’s clear that Smith & Wesson is paying attention to the market.

In the Plus configuration, for the 9 mm model, on-board capacity is 11 rounds with a flush-fit magazine and 14 rounds with the extended one. That’s starting to get into compact or mid-size pistol capacity, in a handgun that’s only 6.1 inches long, 4.6 inches tall and 17.9 ounces in weight. Since we’re going utilitarian for this kit, we’ve opted for the non-optics-ready, no manual safety option; these versions are out there, though, if you are so inclined. We’re putting together a solid setup you could consider an “EDC starter kit,” and the base Shield Plus works perfect for this.

It’s the “Goldilocks” size of the M&P9 Shield Plus that makes it so suited for this idea. With the extended 13-round magazine, a full, three-finger firing grip with the strong hand can be achieved. This is important when range time rolls around—while the tiniest of the micro-9 mm double-stack pistols are no doubt slightly easier to conceal, that small size and super light weight makes for a more challenging time once you’ve hit the second box of practice ammo. With the Shield Plus, you’ve got a good balance of size and shootability, important for carrying the gun and practicing with it as well.

While there are any number of other micro-9 mm pistols that would function well in this utilitarian kit, few have the aftermarket support, reliability and reasonable price of the M&P9 Shield Plus. It’s not as flashy as some of the other options, nor is it the least expensive—although it is one of the most affordable micro-9 mm double stacks out there. However, it’s a Smith & Wesson M&P, and at the end of the day, that’s a rock-solid choice, utilitarian or not.


Holster: Alien Gear Roswell IWB Holster (MSRP: $39.88)

To carry the M&P9 Shield Plus in our utilitarian kit, we’ve opted for the new Roswell holster from Alien Gear. Yes, Alien Gear, the company best-known for its large, alien-shaped paddles and out-of-the-box designs like the holster with a fan inside, has launched the Roswell. This new model is a traditional, taco-style polymer holster for inside-the-waistband and appendix carry. Single-sheet construction yields a light, minimalist design with screw-adjustable retention.

Form-fitting is quite good with the Roswell, with molded contours matching the intended pistol well. There’s a cutout at the bottom should your pistol have a threaded barrel, a sweat guard for non-optics bearing pistols and a simple polymer belt clip complete with the requisite alien head that’s the hallmark of Alien Gear. Additionally, the Roswell comes with a claw for appendix carry to help tuck the rig into the body, as well as a wedge to help keep the muzzle pointed away from the body. There’s a lot of kit for under $40!


Knife: Ontario Knife Company Besra (MSRP: $68.95)

Since we’re going utilitarian with this kit, we’ve opted for OKC’s Besra pocketknife, which features a very useful Wharncliffe blade profile. This distinctive, straight edge is perfect for the everyday tasks for which our knives are most often employed, such as opening boxes or plastic clamshells. The blade is 2.88 inches long and is constructed of AUS8 steel with a stonewashed PVD finish.

Linen micarta scales grace one side of the Besra, while titanium is on the reverse. This makes for easier retrieval from a pocket while still allowing excellent purchase, and the Besra can be carried either tip-up or tip-down. A frame lock holds the blade in place once open, and a simple flipper projection allows easy one-hand opening. It is an absolutely solid bit of kit, and while useful in everyday applications, brings a bit of style to the utilitarian.


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