Firearm: Smith & Wesson Shield Plus in 30 Super Carry (MSRP: $595)
We’ve covered the Shield Plus previously on “I Carry,” but only in standard 9 mm guise. For 2022, Smith & Wesson has added the Shield Plus in the new 30 Super Carry round from Federal Ammunition to its product offerings. With only the barrel and magazine different, the Shield Plus in 30 Super Carry has the same dimensions as the 9 mm Shield Plus: 3.1-inch barrel, 6.1-inch overall length, 4.6-inch height and 19.3-ounce weight.
It’s the capacity that differentiates the 30 Super Carry from the 9 mm Shield Pluses, obviously. With a flush-fit magazine, 10 rounds of 9 mm fit in the Shield Plus, while 30 Super Carry gets three more rounds for a total of 13. With the extended magazine, the same three-round advantage exists for 30 Super Carry: 16 rounds vs. 13 in 9 mm. Is this significant enough to warrant the switch from 9 mm to 30 Super Carry? That’s a personal decision. While the 30 Super Carry has less felt recoil, it’s currently more expensive to feed. Will that bear out over time? We’ll find out, eventually.
Seventeen rounds of solid defensive ammunition in a pistol the size of a Smith & Wesson Shield is definitely worth a look – that’s capacity that puts it in-between the Glock G19 and G17, in a pistol the size of the G43. Whether that’s worth the extra cost in practice ammunition is a question each individual has to answer themselves, but there’s no denying the appeal of more rounds of good ammo in small guns. It might cost more to shoot, but you can carry more rounds and practice with less fatigue. Is that worth the money? Only you know the answer to that question.
It does bring to mind another plus when it comes to the Shield Plus in 30 Super Carry. Our Handguns editor has long made the point that having a firearm in a, well, less common chambering can pay dividends when ammo gets scarce. While we might not think about “boutique” rounds when ammunition is plentiful, when times get tight and common calibers are hard to find, those boutique rounds might still be on shelves.
Holster: Dark Star Gear Hitchhiker holster (MSRP: $85, $95 as configured)
We have Dark Star Gear’s excellent Hitchhiker holster for the Shield Plus today. While designed for the 9 mm variant, there are no external differences between the two pistols, so the Hitchhiker works for Shield Pluses in either caliber. It’s the same single-sheet Kydex design for which Dark Star Gear is known, with attachment points for both standard and tuckable belt-attachment options.
The Hitchhiker can be ordered in a variety of color options, with or without an optics cut, with or without the Dark Wing attachment and with either pull-the-dot loops or the tuckable steel clip we have here. Sorry, southpaws, left-handed models are not available. Retention is adjustable using the screws that attach the Dark Wing, and the Hitchhiker is intentionally longer than the Shield Plus to help anchor it in place along the belt line.
Accessory: Giantmouse Ace Corta knife (MSRP: $195)
Ordinarily, I prefer pocketknives on the less expensive side, as I tend to either lose or involuntarily give away knives too often to risk something really nice. However, I’m willing to make exceptions for the Giantmouse Ace Corta we have today. With a 3.1-inch, Bohler M30 stainless steel straight-back blade and natural canvas micarta scales, it’s an attractive knife that’s as useful as it is beautiful. Opening with a flipper mechanism and held open with a liner lock, the Ace Corta can be opened and closed with one hand. The pocket clip is reversible for right- or left-pocket carry in the tip-up position.
Looking at something as mundane as the pocket clip on the Ace Corta, you get an indication of why the knife commands more than other pocket knives. It’s skeletonized and very nicely rounded – this is unlikely to damage furniture if you walk too close or your car’s finish if you turn the wrong way. The handles are comfortable while offering excellent purchase, and there is no wobble when opening or closing. This is an instance where you do get what you pay for.