A High-End Carry/Defense/Competition Pistol From Shadow Systems


The MR920 is their mid-sized concealed carry piece;
it rides comfortably in GLOCK 19 holsters.

The Shadow Systems MR920L is a lot of handgun for the money. This variant
combines their compact frame with an extended barrel and slide.

Shadow Systems is a different sort of handgun manufacturer. Their superlative line of defensive pistols comes standard with all the bells and whistles you’d pay extra for elsewhere. Shadow Systems handguns are the tools for the gun nerd of distinction. However, given their exceptionally rarefied feature set they’re not ludicrously expensive.

Shadow Systems pistols are available with either compact or full-sized frames along with standard or longslide uppers. Additionally, each gun can be had in either the Combat or Elite configuration. Think of the Combat model as extraordinary and the Elite version all the more so.
Selecting a primary defensive handgun is a really big deal. Lives could turn on the reliability and effectiveness of this curious little machine. It therefore behooves us to approach such stuff soberly.

The Shadow Systems line of combat handguns is for the gun nerd of distinction.
These pistols just ooze quality without breaking the bank.

At 15 meters from a simple rest, this Shadow Systems DR920 shot plenty straight.

Enter The Shadow

Is it just me or has the entire freaking planet lost its collective mind? [Editor: It’s not just you, doc …] Politicians and the media tell us cops are unnecessary. They also claim Old Glory, the internationally recognized symbol of freedom that liberated the world during World War II, is now actually emblematic of oppression and hate. Mix in Antifa and a global pandemic and you have the chemical formula for chaos. This chaos pushes the American firearms industry to some unprecedented places.

There are around 442 million guns in America. Let’s put this number in perspective. If those 442 million guns were all M1911 pistols stacked muzzle to butt, they would circle the earth twice and still have another 9,462 miles’ worth of guns left over. We corn-fed Americans are indeed exceptionally well-armed. When it comes to selecting a defensive pistol, we have ample options.

With that many options on the table, the particulars of your ideal defensive handgun can seem overwhelming. The sacred tome you seem currently to be clutching stands in evidence to the many-splendored details shaping the selection of a proper defensive pistol.

Defensive handguns stratify into several layers. I own a Hi-Point 9mm pistol. That thing is about as graceful as a pubescent rhinoceros and comparably bulky. However, it shoots quite straight, has a surprisingly nice trigger, and, so long as it is not abused, remains as reliable as the tides. For the young man with two jobs struggling to cover rent, baby formula and diapers, the Hi-Point is a thoroughly serviceable heater. However, many of us covet something more.

A Hi-Point can be had for a c-note or so used from a pawn shop. The SCCY DVG-1 or Canik TP-9 are simply magnificent guns for the money. They will set you back maybe $300 to $400 retail.

A proper name-brand plastic pistol from Springfield Armory, GLOCK, SIG, or Smith and Wesson will typically run $550 to $600 retail. These are fantastic, proven designs with ample combat cred. However, they are mashed out cookie cutter fashion on assembly lines some place. At the top end, a custom tuned 1911 pistol can cost four grand or more.

Shadow Systems pistols found a sweet spot. Custom features come standard along with literally unrivalled design and build quality. MSRP is between $799 and $999. Everything about these guns is perfect, from the top-tier materials science to the peerless ergonomics and capacity for customization. Additionally, while the purchase price is hardly front pocket change, it is within reach of the typical American shooter with a decent job.

Shadow Systems pistols offer custom shop features at a production price.
This tricked-out MR920L Elite is the optimized combat tool.

Origin Story

The chief bottle washer at Shadow Systems is a gentleman named Trevor Roe. At age 15 Trevor was the youngest Master Class shooter in the USPSA. He has trained extensively with Taran Butler (the guy who transformed Keanu Reeves into John Wick), attended West Point, and knocked out two combat tours downrange as an Infantry officer. For more than four years, he has helmed Shadow Systems.

Shadow Systems reimagined what it meant to build a handgun. They design and produce their firearms using tools and manufacturing philosophy spawned from the Information Age. Applying best practices and cutting-edge technology, they enhanced what was important and binned what wasn’t. Throughout the process, the focus remained firmly locked on the needs of the end user. Aesthetics and ancillary stuff came second.

Employing around 100 workers in their new state-of-the-art Plano, Texas, facility, Shadow Systems is populated top to bottom with compulsive shooters. From the designers to the folks who stuff guns into boxes, these are former cops, combat veterans and competitive trigger pullers. The attention to detail is obvious the moment you heft one of their extraordinary heaters.

A modest curtain underneath the slide stop helps prevent inadvertent activation.

The flat-faced aluminum trigger is made in-house.

Lightening windows in the slide and gripping grooves all around define the Elite model.


It is the grip that drives concealability of a concealed carry handgun, not the slide. As such, both mid-size and full-size guns are available with extended slides and barrels. The Combat versions feature serrations on the side of the slide both front and rear. The Elite sort adds serrations up top as well as lightening cuts for faster lock times.

All Shadow Systems pistols feature their unique patent-pending optics cut on the slide. Unlike most optics-ready pistols that require you to purchase a separate expensive adaptor plate to mount up a micro red dot sight, the Shadow Systems guys created what amounts to a universal mount built into the slide. This system includes a variety of threaded screw holes to accommodate a variety of sight geometries along with the niftiest polymer spacers that keep everything snug. They designed the entrails of the firing pin system such that the optic mounting screws can extend the entire depth of the slide for maximum strength. The Shadow Systems optics mount is both easy-to-use and effective.

The frames should hang in the Louvre. Beautifully stippled with the perfect beavertail, these guns include splendid little parking pads for your trigger finger as well as a raised curtain underneath the slide release. This generous bilateral parking spot lets you really lock the support thumb in place to mitigate muzzle flip and recoil as well. There’s also a removable magwell funnel.

Their interchangeable backstraps actually change the geometry between flesh and gun. These backstraps are easily exchanged and come in high, neutral, and low versions. By swapping out these grip adaptors, you can push the muzzle up or down based upon your unique anatomy. Cool-guy stuff like an aluminum flat-faced trigger with a 4- to 4.5-lb. break comes standard.

The front sight sports a tritium insert. The rear is serrated black steel. In Trevor’s words, “You just push the green light to the bad thing and squeeze.”

Multi-Role pistols occupy the GLOCK 19 footprint and sport 15-round magazines. Duty-Role guns carry 17+1 and mimic the GLOCK 17 geometry. Edges are chamfered for easy holstering and the guns use standard GLOCK holsters and magazines.

The DR920 Elite features a full-sized frame and slide along with a 17-round magazine.
The Elite variant also includes lightening cuts in the slide and cocking grooves up top.


Shadow Systems offers custom guns at production prices. They feast on feedback and will stop the world day or night to fix something that’s wrong. It is simply that not much goes wrong with these spectacular weapons.

Shadow Systems iron is for the sorts of folks who want a custom tricked-out combat tool but don’t want to get just stupid about it. These guys build guns like your life depends upon them. In fact, it really just might.

For more info: ShadowSystemsCorp.com

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