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November 14 : 2017  
Carry Gear for the "Retail Shield"
Over the past few months, the "Retail Shield" has taken a lot of shooting. A carry gun needs carry rigs.
If you remember the "Retail Shield" story in an edition of last week's Shooting Wire, I got a sample of the S&W M&P9 Shield through retail channels to see if the quality was holding up through the boom sales of early summer. I did some shooting with it, found it capable though a little slick to hang onto. I applied the Talon Grips adhesive grip enhancement material with the "rubber" texture to get some grip friction without it hanging up on clothing material.

I've carried the gun into the BLACKHAWK! leather inside the waist holster, the one with the metal belt clip to keep the holster where it belongs. The same company's Sportster Standard CQC Holster is a great range rig and good for casual concealment. It features a pressure adjustable detent retention system that secures on the trigger guard. Surprisingly fast, it's a good general-use holster.

I'd also used a new Safariland Model 571 GLS "Slim" Pro-Fit holster during a qualification run with the new gun.

For use on driving trips, for wear after a visit to the doc or for winter wear when in a snap-closure jacket, I selected the Galco Classic Lite shoulder system.

From my first exposure to these things at trade shows and in stores, I was unimpressed with the seemingly floppy leather used. After some time with the rig, I found that it was the best of all worlds with a light, thin autoloader and would likely work as well with a light weight wheel-gun. It fits close but comfortable, the straps wide enough not to cut into the body while thin enough to be as light as a tee-shirt.

Aside from Talon Grips on the gun, the testing includes holsters from BLACKHAWK!, Safariland, Galco and Crossbreed Holsters.
Using the 'clover shape Flexalon' swivel back plate centered in the user's back, the holster hangs under the non-gun arm, horizontally. There's a tension screw backing up the thumb break strap for gun security. The magazine pouch, a single as befits a light rig like this, hangs under the arm of the shooting hand.

It's easy to properly fit using the videos from Galco. Wear it higher than you think you should; it's properly set deep under the arm. Optional accessories and components – tie-downs or a cuff case for example, may be purchased separately.

It's comfortable, good for light concealment and quick to don – gun and spare ammo at the same time. The price is right too.

The videos from Galco also show the proper employment of the holster: how to place the gun into the rig and get it out without covering parts of yourself with the muzzle.

The folks from Crossbreed Holsters likewise helped us arrange some carry rigs. The MiniTuck is a down-sized SuperTuck holster: a kydex shell for the gun fitted to a premium leather back which is "combat cut" to allow a firing grip on the pistol.

I wear such holsters at the 3:00 to 5:00 position on the belt. It's tuckable though I don't tend to use such holsters that way. It's possible to hide a small gun, like any the MiniTuck is available for, under a shirt in this rig.

Some trainers aren't fond of hybrid holsters of this type. The top of the 'sweat shield' flap can be forced down over the open top of the holster with the gun out of it. Like the re-holster process on the Galco Carry Lite, it takes some analysis. Bringing the gun behind the holster mouth and nosing it into the kydex shell from the rear prevents the leather back from covering the pouch as the gun is holstered.

Wear-testing the Galco Carry Lite shoulder system was no chore. It kept gun and spare magazine secure and close. This photo was taken before the readjustment to put the gun higher under the arm.
As always, reluctantly place the gun back into the holster; do that deliberately, not forcefully.

The MiniTuck is just the right size for this small gun. I also wanted to try the Freedom-Carry. Another hybrid by Crossbreed, the Freedom-Carry accommodates full size firearms as well as small guns. It's adaptable to carry cross-draw, strong side or in front, in the so-called 'appendix' carry.

The kydex pocket of the holster is vertical, though the clip can be adjusted to cant the rig. As it only has one belt clip, it tends to move – something that can be handy when wearing it up front to adjust the gun for standing or for sitting for long periods.

The Crossbreed Holsters Freedom-Carry is available in black or tan cowhide and, at times, natural tan horsehide.

Small guns give us freedom to conceal them in many ways and to stay close always. These are just a few of the rigs available to assist with that task.

- - Rich Grassi

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