I had recently purchased a Vanguard 2 holster for the M&P pistol.
A minimalist holster, is superior over both the original Vanguard, and the MIC holster that I have for the Glock, by both fitting the M&P and having a belt loop and mount to allow it to be more firmly fixed to the belt than just by use of the cord alone.
The Vanguard arrived super-quickly and was nicely packaged:
Having used the MIC with the cord and liking it quite a lot, I was eager to see how the strut/loop system worked on the belt. Also MIC doesn't make holsters for the M&P just the Glock and it was time for a minimalist holster for my new M&P40c.
Here's a close-up - from back to front - holster, strut, belt loop - the holster goes inside and the belt loop on the outside):
On the belt:
As seen from the inside of the belt (if you were standing upside down):
The triggger guard goes into the sytem without the loud snapping sound of the MIC but seems to stay put very nicely. The hole is on the bottom of the holster when worn, tucked into your pants along with the rest of the holster and gun and the strut connects it to the lkoop on the belt, allowing for you to adjust the position of the holster yet it remains rather fixed in place unlike using just cord alone.
The pistol inside the trigger is then placed inside the waistband and only the outside loop is seen on the belt. As a minimalist holster, only the trigger guard is covered and it adds no appreciable width to the pistol, making concealment and comfortable carry a breeze.
The acid test was shooting from it.
Interestingly enough, a FAST drill with the M&P40c, from the Vanguard 2 was actually quicker than that done with the NTAC "normal" OWB holster, at 8.76 seconds vs 9.26 seconds. Of course, this was likely due more to gaining familiarity with the M&P40c and not boggling the reload, but the Vanguard 2 didn't slow me down.
The draw from the Vanguard 2 does feel different than from a typical OWB or IWB holster. The gun doesn't pull straight out of the holster, instead the Vanguard "rides" with the pistol as you draw, with the pistol breaking free slightly above where you'd expect. it's a "feeling" issue and doesn't hamper a smooth draw, but it does take a bit of getting used to.
Re-holstering a pistol with the Vanguard 2 or any similar minimalist holster is, in my opinion, a two-handed job if you're going to do it safely. No point rushing as, after all, you're re-holstering a loaded gun into a pretty narrow holster that you need to flip out of the pants, place on the trigger guard and then "flip" the gun and holster back into your pants. Slow as they say is smooth, and it prevents extraneous and undesired holes from appearing in your body. Why rush?
In short, the Vanguard 2 is a definite quality buy if you're looking for a minimalist holster for the M&P or indeed the Glock to assist in maximum concealment and decent comfort. The loop/strut combo is an enhancement over the string in terms of fixing the location of the pistol.
I'll have no worries carrying my new M&P40c or my full-size M&P9 in it and can recommend it.