Adopting a New Concealed Carry Pistol…

Long time readers of this blog know of my affinity for and dedication to the Glock pistol, specifically the Glock 19. Indeed, this year marks a decade of experience carrying and training with Glocks, and I have acquired nearly a half-dozen of them over the years. My reasons for doing so are simple, and Robert wrote eloquently about the subject in this post. In short, the Glock is ubiquitous and boringly reliable in stock configuration. For those that aren’t happy with OEM parts, there is nearly unparalleled aftermarket support up to and including the ability to build a serviceable clone with no OEM parts at all! No matter what holster, sights, or other accessories you may be looking for, you can rest assured that it is probably available for the Glock pistol.

Having said that, long time readers are also aware of my struggles with the Glock, specifically because it is simply too big for my hands. For me, trigger reach is a real problem that I have tried to address in a number of ways. I first tried a Gen 4 gun when they came out. The slightly reduced dimensions were an improvement, but not enough. Unable to complete a class without drawing blood or developing blisters, I sent that pistol to Alex Diaz at Gun Grip Customs to have some stippling done. He also removed the finger grooves and undercut the trigger guard. The Glock was finally comfortable in my hands, but still too big. I next sent my first Gen 3 gun to Boresight Solutions, and had them modify my frame with their Duty Series of enhancements, including removal of the finger grooves, undercutting the trigger guard, and performing a Level 2 (maximum) grip reduction. I shot this gun for well over a year, and was generally happy with it, although I still struggled with grip and trigger reach.

As I wrote about in this AAR, at the last Rangemaster Tactical Conference, Ashton Ray of 360 Performance Shooting was watching me shoot my Boresight G19 in class, and made the observation that I didn’t have a shooting problem; rather, I had a gun fit problem. This came as no real surprise, but represented a tipping point for me. I was done fooling around with aftermarket triggers and grip reductions. I wanted a pistol that fit my hand. The nail in the coffin was Karl Rehn talking about guns fitting students’ hands in a seminar that I attended a little later at the conference. Specifically, he referenced this article by Tom Givens, along with his own experience as an instructor. My mind was made up.

Based on more than one recommendation, I sought out a S&W M&P®9 M2.0™ Compact that was compliant with my state laws. I had been aware of the pistol for some time, but only recently have I been able to find it available with 10 round magazines. I’ve had mine long enough now to establish a baseline of reliability, acquire some new kydex, and change out the three dot sights. With the small palm swell grip insert installed, I can easily reach the trigger (the trigger reach measures a full two tenths of an inch shorter than on my Glock), and the gun fits my hand like the proverbial glove. I still need to put in the work, but there is no question in my mind that I shoot better with it. This is not mere conjecture on my part, as I have consistently shot as well or better than I have on the same drills and tests that I’ve shot with my Glock. Fundamentally, I no longer feel as though I’m fighting the gun.


Looking at the gun as a whole, I have found it largely comparable and perhaps even better than the Glock it’s replacing. The OEM trigger is fine, the OEM sights are steel with the rear sight contoured to facilitate one handed manipulations, and the gun comes stock with an ambidextrous slide stop. I must confess that I don’t have a lot of use for this last feature. I’ve now owned a couple of pistols with ambidextrous slide stops, and I’ve never found it particularly easy to release with my left hand thumb. Quite frankly, I find it nearly impossible. Nonetheless, it’s a feature. The grip texture is sufficiently “grippy” that so far I see no need to seek out aftermarket stippling. I have been averaging around 150 rounds per range session, and I am rapidly developing calluses from the aggressive grip texture… this is not a bad thing. I also appreciate that a frame tool analogous to the Glock tool is stored in the pistol’s grip. It is easily removed by twisting 90° and pulling it out. This is also the method by which the palm swell is changed.

I’m not generally a fan of three dot sights, and I quickly took a Sharpie marker to the rear sight dots after my first few range sessions. Those original sights quickly yielded to a new set from 10-8 Performance. I elected to go with a tritium front post. While I am quite comfortable swapping sights on my Glocks, I let a trusted gunsmith do the work on my M&P. (Thank you JOJO’s Gun Works!) I’m sure I could probably handle it, but the rear sight on the M&P secures some internal slide components, and I just didn’t want to mess with the fitting required. I’m not really a fan of a U notch rear, but the 10-8’s otherwise had the features and dimensions that I was looking for, so I’m going to try them out for a while. So far, so good.

Now well on my way to a “1000 round trigger job,” I have started to carry the gun full time and I have experienced no malfunctions whatsoever with a variety of factory loaded ammunition. I selected the excellent JM Custom Kydex “George” AIWB holster and an OWB magazine pouch, a general carry configuration that I have become quite comfortable with over the past several years. The JM Custom Kydex holster is perhaps the most comfortable and concealable holster I’ve ever used, having first bought the same model for a different pistol that I own. Holster choice is an incredibly subjective decision, but JM Custom offers a lot of options and is a solid choice for those that may be looking for some new kydex.


Limited capacity spare magazines are not nearly as widely available and are more expensive than they are for the Glock platform, but I’m slowly accumulating enough to suit my purposes. I have come to the conclusion that five is the ideal minimum number of magazines that the serious concealed carry practitioner needs to have. More of course is always better, but five is the minimum. This breaks down to two magazines dedicated to everyday carry (one in the gun and a reload) and another three dedicated to training purposes. If, like me, you are relegated to 10 round magazines, then seven total with five dedicated to training is probably better.

My only real nitpick on the magazines is that the design of the spring, follower, and base pad make for a very tight fit for the last round. It’s easy enough to load the last round in by hand, but I can’t load the magazines to capacity with my maglula UpLULA loader. This also means that seating a fully loaded mag with the slide forward requires a lot of force, so I have adopted Frank Proctor’s “Deliberate Load”  procedure on the range. This is far from a deal breaker, but still an annoyance. Because of this, I MIGHT change one minor aspect of my carry configuration. I typically load plus one for maximum capacity in the gun and carry a full spare magazine. However, I’m considering loading the pistol plus one for carry with a tactical reload as I typically do, but then leaving my spare magazine downloaded. If I ever had to perform a tactical reload (or speed reload) for real under stress, it would no doubt be enormously easier and more robust with my spare magazine downloaded by one round.

I want to mention one last point regarding the magazines that is specific to my unique situation and the legalities that I live with… I have repeatedly heard of failures with the OEM 10 round Glock magazines. For example, Dr. Gary Roberts has written about this extensively, as he lives and works in another state with draconian firearms laws on the books. Conversely, I have yet to hear of any widespread failures with the limited capacity magazines from any other manufacturer. This is yet another small point that helped to sway me away from the G19 and towards the S&W M&P.

Finally, given my experience with Glocks, some people might suggest that the G48 would have been a more logical choice. But that gun would also have required new mags, new holsters, new sights, etc. In essence, it would have also been a complete change requiring completely different support gear. And I still think there is some validity to concealed carry of a “duty sized” pistol. Especially if I ever wind up living somewhere that I can possess and carry the standard capacity magazines. As well, for all the same reasons that a G48 might have made more sense, I will probably look for a Shield 2.0 in the near future. I sold the first Shield I had because I didn’t like the thumb safety, but I think the 2.0 series of pistols are truly new animals worthy of study.

In the next few days, I’ll be attending a training class with my new pistol, so this will be the true test of it for me. Of course, I’ll report back in the upcoming AAR. As the class will probably push me north of 1200 rounds, I’m contemplating doing a “2000 Round Challenge” on the gun. I have yet to clean it or even lube it since taking it out of the box, so I might as well!

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13 thoughts on “Adopting a New Concealed Carry Pistol…

  1. I’ve always been tempted by the M&P. I very much appreciate it’s grip over the Glock’s. I always kind of felt it was redundant in my collection since I already had an FNS. But since support for that pistol is drying up. I chose a CZ P07 for my carry gun last year (I’m a fan of DA/SA), but I’m kind of in the market for a new striker pistol.

    This one, as well as the P320, are on my “to test” list.


    1. I would take a hard look at the M&P… I say this as someone who has previously owned both an FN509 and a Sig P320C. Both are no longer in my collection…


  2. I’m glad to see you liking the M&P! I’ll freely admit that I’m an M&P fan and avid Glock hater. It’s not that Glocks are bad guns, it’s that so many people start with Glock and never look anywhere else, even when they have valid, legitimate reasons to do so. The idea of you spending a (probably) considerable amount of money to recontour the frame to match your hand better absolutely floors me.

    I’m glad that you got the final nudge necessary to look elsewhere, and I’m very glad you found it. I wonder how many other people out there are spending similar amounts of money to upgrade their ‘perfection’ when a better solution is sitting in their local gun shop?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed… that is one of the reasons that I share my experiences here on the blog. So that others can learn from my experience and expense. To be fair, I do think that the new 2.0 series of pistols are sufficiently different than the original M&P that they represent a different option than what was available when I bought my first and subsequent Glocks.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve been carrying S&W and Sig TDA guns for years both in LE and as a retired gentleman. Glocks do not set up for me and, like you, I have to fight them onto the target. All about the grip angle and how my hands and arms are built. A couple of years ago I bought an M&P Pro Series as a competition gun after testing several other makes and the results, even with an unmodified Gen 1 trigger, promptly got me on the M&P bandwagon. I liked the Gen 1 M&Pc, but the grip is too short for my big hands and the 12 +1 capacity was no gain over the S&W 6906 I carry most often.

    Enter the Compact 2.0. 15+1 with the ergos I have come to appreciate, the ability to take sleeved 17 round mags, which I have a ton of, and the same barrel length as my current S&W and Sig carries. This article is more positive feedback on a growing list I have read, and I thank you for posting it. And yeah, I am buying one and going to begin the transition as soon as I can.


  4. I also started out with a Glock but within a few months I realized trigger reach was a problem for my short fingers. The M&P 2.0 is definitely a good option, but after trying pretty much every duty size 9mm on the market I settled on the Beretta APX. With the small backstrap insert I believe the trigger reach is even shorter than the M&P, and the trigger is better than the M&P 2.0. Ergos are great and reliability is 100%, plus they also have 10rd mags. Just throwing it out there as another great option for fellow small-handed/short-fingered shooters!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hey John,

    Love the 2.0 Compact for all the reasons you mentioned. I’m finding it easy to handle but kind of bulky and heavy to carry. It conceals OK with a big cover garment or jacket. With summer coming I’m thinking of picking up a Shield 2.0 No Manual Safety, but I’m kind of concerned with the higher level of perceived recoil and muzzle flip. Other than that it looks like a good choice. Did you ever end up getting a Shield and if so, how do you like it and how accurate have you trained to be with it? Or if you stuck with the Compact, how do you like to conceal it?
    Glock users can probably understand this dillemna as similar to a G19 vs. G43.

    Thanks again, looking forward!


    1. Mike,

      So far, I haven’t pulled the trigger on a Shield 2.0… having said that, my experience with the Shield that I owned earlier was good. In terms of concealment, it disappeared AIWB under a t-shirt. I literally carried it without worry in NPE’s that had serious consequences. Regarding my Compact, I carry it AIWB in a JM Custom Kydex George holster. All of this is going to be very dependent on your own body type and holster choice. Short version, I don’t think you NEED to go out and buy a new smaller gun. But if you do, the Shield 2.0 is a fine choice that is very similar to the gun you already carry. Smaller guns always require compromise and are generally a bit harder to shoot as well as their full size brethren. But I don’t think the Shield gives up much in that regard. The biggest change will be in terms of capacity, and that’s an individual decision that you’ll have to weigh. Thanks for the comment!


  6. John,
    I found the M&P 9c to be much more comfortable than any Glock as it fits my small palms much better. My grip is much better, leading to better accuracy and faster follow up shots despite the small grip and relatively short barrel. I’ve not felt the need to upgrade to the 2.0 as I have 2 that have slides cut for RMRs and both have aftermarket triggers.

    I still have my G19s as well as bunch of others if only to remind myself how the others feel in hand.


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