It’s hard to make an impression with a new striker-fired pistol in 9mm. Just trying to tally the number of guns in that category makes my right eye twitch. But the S&W M&P 2.0 Compact has struck a chord with me, and with a sizable number of other shooters as well.
The appeal is easy to see. A 15+1 magazine capacity in a pistol that is easily concealed and enjoyable to shoot is a winning combo.
I’ve been carrying the 4-inch version of the M&P 2.0 Compact for more than a year now (Smith recently added a 3.6-inch barrel length as an option) and have put about 1,000 rounds through it during that time.
The pistol sits low in the hand and has an excellent grip that can be altered for different hand sizes. The trigger is a bit rough for my taste, but it isn’t an impediment to competent marksmanship. It lists for $569, but real-world prices are lower. I think it is a great value.
There are a ton of defensive 9mm loads to choose from, but these are some of my favorites. From left: Hornady Critical Defense 115-grain, Remington HTP 115-grain, Winchester PDX-1 124-grain, and Sig Sauer Elite 124-grain.
This ultra-compact light runs on a single AAA battery. The XC1 puts out 300 lumens and weighs just 1.6 ounces. The pressure switch is easy to reach with the trigger finger or the support-hand thumb. ($299; Surefire)
The Founder Series IWB holster makes all-day carry nearly effortless. The leather backing distributes the weight of the gun over a large area, and the Kydex hardware keeps everything secured in place. ($90; Crossbreed Holsters)
Woolrich is taking one of the more popular items in its clothing line and adapting it for concealed carry use. The Elite Discreet Carry Twill Jacket is an updated version of the Dorrington that has a number of new features for concealing firearms and other accessories.
Here's what Woolrich has to say about it:
_Large, reinforced inner pockets feature integrated holster loops to accommodate concealed carry handguns with up to a 6″ barrel. A unique double angle on the inner pocket provides ready access to gear, but prevents the pocket from flaring open and exposing the contents.
The rear locker loop conceals the entrance to a hidden accessory tunnel, which allows for convenient yet discreet carry of plastic restraints as well as providing routing for electronic wires.
Front hand warmer pockets contain internal accessory loops, perfect for carrying spare magazines, flashlights, batons or chemical sprays. These elastic loops are set at a 45-degree angle for optimized access and keep the items secure and in a consistent orientation for rapid deployment._
The suggested price is $130 and they will be available at some point in June. I'm going to get one to evaluate and will report back on it later.
It's funny how so much "covert" gear isn't that stealthy at all. Many of the clothes, bags and accessories hawked by companies catering to the personal protection crowd scream "gun," which is a bit of a problem when you actually want to carry in a discreet fashion.
One answer to staying below the radar when carrying concealed is to look to companies outside the gun industry. There are plenty of times when I prefer not to carry a gun in a holster on my hip, and in those instances I'll most likely have it in a bag.
This bag from Merrell––called the Westerville Tablet––is a good option that works for personal protection. Nothing about the bag gives any hint to its contents, and it is built in such a way that access to a pistol is relatively quick and easy. The top closes with two zippers and the main compartment has an interior pocket that is perfectly sized for my Kimber Solo. The smooth contours of the Solo don't snag on anything. It takes about three seconds to unzip the bag, draw the gun and get a shot on target.
The bag can also handle larger pistols as well. Even a full-sized 1911 rides comfortably in it.
A series of smaller pockets can handle single-stack magazines for the Solo or for a 1911, though they are too cramped for hi-cap double stack magazines. So when I carry my Glock 23, a spare mag just sits on the bottom of the main compartment.
Yes, the bag has a bit of an urban/hipster vibe and you can make fun of my "murse" if you like--but as a covert carry platform, it does the job perfectly.