The handgun market may be saturated with fantastic plastic pistols, but the Shadow Systems MR920 is special enough to deserve another look.
“Plastic Fantastics,” as I like to call them, are everywhere now. Glocks used to be the only polymer firearms in the late 1980s—and were often derided for it—but now every major manufacturer has one in their lineup. Springfield, HK, Walther and even the OG makers of the Wonder Nines—Beretta and CZ. They’re here to stay. Easier to manufacture, maintain, and modify, if you throw a rock these days, you’ll likely hit a poly-pistol.
So, why is the Shadow Systems MR920 special? A few reasons. Feature-richness. Flat shooting. Interoperable.
The Shadow Systems MR920 took Glock perfection and made it more perfect. I’ve run this gun for about two years, thousands of rounds through it, dropped it, thrown it in my bag, shot USPSA, IDPA, 2-gun and taken classes with it and I haven’t had to re-zero it once. It’s one of the fastest and flattest shooting guns I own, and I shoot CZs in competition rather often. That’s saying something.
Grip Frames And Ergonomics
One of the most alluring things about this pistol is the grip frame. You have the ability to change the grip angle right out of the box via Shadow System’s innovative NPOA (Natural Point Of Aim) system. The medium backstrap feels closest to a Glock 19 Gen 4 or Gen 5, whereas the large backstrap adds some ass to it, and the S gives it more of a 1911-like profile. You can tweak it and see which style points the best for you. You can swap them out with a roll pin (punch included) and you wouldn’t even know that the grip is customizable. It’s so discreet. There is also the ability to add a magazine well to the pistol, which is slightly bigger than Magpul’s. I personally find it a little ostentatious for concealed carry and if I carry this pistol, I take the magwell off, but that’s me.
It comes out of the box with a light stipple that isn’t aggressive enough to chafe, but has enough texture to allow a positive purchase with wet hands. The trigger guard is undercut, textured on the front of the trigger guard, and also has a ledge—which I love—that helps you both index the gun and shoot faster as it helps manage recoil. They even added some material by the slide stop to prevent people from engaging it with a high-shooting grip. These guys are shooters, for sure.
With a high beavertail, you get a deep purchase of the handgun when you press out, which lends itself to flat shooting. It reminds me of a CZ P-01 in this regard, a pistol I venerate as one of the best compact pistols of all time.
It points naturally and shoots even better. I have zero issues tracking the dot under fire and even less issues finding it when I press out. I have a Glock 19 Gen 4 with a milled slide (by Shadow Systems as it were, but they don’t make them anymore) and I had to train pretty hard to find the dot without fishing. With the MR920—given the ledges I can index on and the ergonomics out of the box—my dot is where my eyes are almost every time. I have to try to lose it. I’m not being hyperbolic, either.
The slide is another area where the Shadow Systems MR920 shines. The machining is superb, with lightning cuts and directional serrations on the top, front and rear of the slide. This makes the reciprocating mass lower, and thus mitigates recoil, but also gives the user plenty of options for press checks and, as far as the top of the slide, texture to use to rack off of a table or belt. What’s more, they removed the corners from the front and the rear so those of you with love handles carrying IWB at 3 or 4 o’clock don’t get a slide digging into you. It not only gives the gun great lines, but removes it from the “brick” aesthetic endemic to the Glock line.
The most innovative part of the slide though is the optics mounting system. This patented system uses some of the longest and widest screws on the market, and you can mount virtually any red dot to the slide without the use of plates. Why is that important? Plates are just another failure point. The engineers at Shadow Systems moved some internal components around to bring us this innovation of long, wide, deep screws that lend themselves to extreme abuse. They even tested it with a dead blow hammer to see if it would hold zero, and in many cases, they broke optics before losing zero. Trevor Roe, CEO of Shadow Systems told me this in a phone interview in 2020 when this pistol debuted.
You can mount an RMR, Holosun, Leupold, Swampfox, Burris and even Vortex pistol sight to this, just by using the right shim (if you can, you can opt to go shimless, cowboy) and screw combo. It’s really remarkable.
The slide also comes equipped with blacked out rears and a Tritium front sight that co-witnesses with your optic. Yes, you can get a lower-third co-witness without goofy suppressor height sights with this pistol, right out of the box. I love that feature, as red dots do, and have, died mid-fire on me. It’s good to have a backup.
And like I said, I’ve dropped this gun, thrown it in my range bag, worn it for dynamic courses of fire in multigun where I was running and bumping into barricades, and also in personal security detail classes where we were scrapping. I’ve never had to re-zero it. Not once.
The Shadow Systems MR920 barrel is conventionally rifled, match-grade and capable of more accuracy than I am. Cool enough, they are also capable of firing lead cast bullets—if that’s your thing. The one I have sports a threaded (1/2×28) TiNi barrel that is spiral fluted. It looks cool, but it’s also hella accurate. I make head shots at 35 yards with this thing all day. I do have another Shadow Systems barrel though that isn’t threaded, but is fluted and has a DLC finish. This one is just as accurate, and changes the aesthetic from Gucci to understated.
It’s one of the flattest-shooting 9mm pistols I own, and I run a CZ SP-01 or Shadow Target in USPSA sometimes. It’s right there with them. It’s flat, fast and accurate. Partially due to the ergonomics, but also due to the low reciprocating mass of the slide, I can burn through Bill drills and mag dumps without the dot or muzzle moving much. And this thing is light—21 ounces by my scale with a Holosun 407C V2 mounted on top. It takes Glock magazines and ships with two Magpul Pmags, so you don’t need to worry about running out and buying new magazines. Any double-stack Glock pattern magazine will do the trick if it’s 15+ rounds. It’s light, it’s fast and it’s easy to get on target.
It’s also eerily familiar, given that it’s modeled off of Glock’s tried and true design. The controls are where they need to be, the magazine release is textured and raised just enough to be able to hit fast reloads but not drop accidentally.
Between the high beavertail, low bore axis, comfortable (and customizable) grip angle, texturing in all the right places and low reciprocating mass of the lightning-cut slide, this thing runs like a lethal sewing machine.
I’ve touched on this but it’s far more accurate than you (or I) will ever be. From a rest, it’s easy to create one ragged hole all the way out to 35 yards with an optic. I can clear a plate rack in less than 3 seconds without a miss with this gun. A match grade, conventionally rifled barrel that comes standard, coupled with the flat face aluminum trigger that breaks at around 4.5 pounds by my gauge, how could it not be accurate? The trigger is similar in feel to an Overwatch Precision once you break it in.
I have to try hard to find something to ding this pistol for. I can only find two things to say that are “bad.”
It’s “over-engineered” but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It’s built by shooters, for shooters, and good-to-go right out of the box. You have stainless guide rods, outstanding small parts like extractors, and little nuances like a re-designed slide to make it more comfortable to carry and holster. Unlike a standard Glock that needs new sights and a trigger right out of the box ($80 here, $100 there) plus whatever other bells and whistles you want to add—this gun is ready for battle or competition when you get it.
Well, not so fast. Shadow Systems recommends a break-in period, and I personally would say run about 500 rounds through it. The pistol has tight tolerances, but in the long term that means impeccable accuracy. In the short term though, it means FTEs or other malfunctions, potentially. I had a few of them when the gun was new, but this is clearly stated in their manual. Also, it’s not a good idea to just buy a pistol and carry it without it proving itself to you.
The MR920 is one of the most feature-rich, accurate and flat-shooting guns I’ve even wrapped my hands around. It’s versatile, interoperable with Glock 19 mags and accessories, and damn it shoots fast. If you are considering the Shadow Systems MR920, get off the fence. It’s worth the money and then some.
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