The Shadow Systems
Foundation Series

The BMW of Combat Handguns

The Shadow Systems Foundation combat pistols are custom
guns at a working man’s price.

It has been such a treat watching Shadow Systems thrive. They started out as an idea in 2016 and have since blossomed into something truly epic. Their CEO, Trevor Roe, is a West Point graduate/combat veteran who built the company using best practices drawn from Information Age manufacturing. Their Plano, Texas, plant now employs some 100 compulsive shooters and is forever hopping. Shadow Systems pistols have carved out the coolest niche in the American combat handgun market.

Guns fractionate into sundry strata. My first concealed carry handgun was a pathetic little FIE Titan .25ACP pocket pistol. That was all I could afford at the time. It would likely have been a Hi-Point today (an underappreciated, reliable and surprisingly smooth-shooting arm, incidentally). On the far end are the custom-crafted 1911 objets d’art from the likes of Nighthawk and Wilson Combat. Most of us live somewhere in between those two extremes.

Your local gun emporium is dirty with industrial box store heaters with familiar names slathered across their slides. These polymer-framed, striker-fired pistols are, like a typical Ford or Hyundai automobile, both reliable and reasonably priced. However, this isn’t a toothbrush or a jar of mayonnaise. If you ever have to use this thing for real, it’s got to work — every single time.

That is the space Shadow Systems occupies. Everything about their guns is just a little bit nicer than a standard brand without your having to hock a kidney to get there. However, Trevor and his mob woke up one day and realized they could use their existing materials science and mechanical systems, excise a bit of aesthetic fluff, and build a gun with the basic sweet stuff of their most rarefied pistols at a price that rivals the box store brands. The result is the Shadow Systems Foundation Series.

When properly accessorized with a micro red dot sight and Streamlight TLR-8
illuminator, this basic Shadow Systems DR920 gives you everything you could
want in a defensive handgun.

The Shadow Systems Foundation Series, ably represented by this
DR920 full-sized defensive pistol, is a cut above your standard box store fare.

Admittedly Awkward

My mom used to drive a 3-Series BMW. In addition to a literally limitless list of reasons why she is awesome, my mother is also extremely generous. As a result, I got to borrow that nifty little car fairly frequently. With its responsive manual transmission, spunky powerplant and inimitable handling, mom’s Beemer was ever a treat on the road. There’s a reason BMW is considered a premium car maker the world over.

The top-end 7-Series BMW will set you back more than 100 grand. However, the 3-Series is within financial reach of normal people while still remaining a cut above your typical mass-produced Chevy or Buick. The 3-Series pushes the kind of performance, handling and reliability you find in a top-end luxury automobile down into the Real World. That is the same niche the Shadow Systems Foundation guns occupy. These are premium products configured for everyday real-world applications.

When fired off a simple rest at 13 meters, the Shadow Systems
Foundation Series guns shoot plenty straight.


The Foundation Series gives you the good stuff you need without the fluff you don’t. The frames for these new pistols are interchangeable with those of the more expensive Shadow Systems guns. That means the interchangeable backstraps adjust the actual grip-to-frame angle rather than just accommodate various hand sizes. Swapping out backstraps allows you to customize the gun to your natural point of aim.

The drop-safe, flat-faced triggers break monotonously between 4.5 and 5 lbs. and are sharp, crisp and as reliable as corruption in politics. The stippling on the frames strikes the perfect balance between a firm grip that doesn’t grind your skin off and abrading through your underpants while tucked into your belt. There are also cool little parking spaces for your trigger finger on both sides to give you a spot to rest when you’re not actively shooting.

Match-grade barrels are smooth, unthreaded and nitride-treated for long life and wear resistance. Conventional rifling will manage most any 9mm bullets you care to shove down them. Shadow Systems tubes will eat +P ammo all day long and still ask for more. Unlike lesser guns, the recoil spring guide rod is formed from indestructible carbon steel.

Typical Shadow Systems slides sport all manner of cool-guy windows, nifty accoutrements and exotic hues. Those of the Foundation Series feature basic pocket-cut serrations both front and rear, along with the same nitride coatings as the barrels. Steel sights include a serrated rear and white dot front and will not wear away over time, no matter how many draw cycles to which you subject the gun.

Shadow Systems slides also feature their patented multi-footprint optic cut. This nifty rig accommodates a variety of slide-mounted optic designs without the need for expensive adaptors. Theirs are the longest, strongest mounting screws in the industry. Each gun ships with a pair of superlative Magpul polymer magazines.

Shadow Systems guns are made in America by Americans. Unlike some other companies, Shadow Systems makes stuff like barrels, slides, triggers and entrails in-house to retain complete control over quality and execution. When everything else goes wrong, Shadows Systems won’t.

The Shadow Systems Foundation Series is shown on the top alongside
their more traditional custom line (shown at the bottom of the page).
The guns run about the same. It is simply that the fancier versions look
prettier and have a few more bells and whistles.

Whether the mission is concealed carry, home defense, or riding about
in the glove box of your car, the Shadow Systems Foundation Series of
combat handguns offers quite a lot of awesome for the buck.


This is 21st-century America. Of course, there are options. The Shadow Systems Foundation Series pistols fractionate into three broad categories. The MR or Multi-Role gun sports a 15-round magazine and occupies essentially the same footprint as a GLOCK 19. The MR is a seamless fit in all Gen 4 G19 carry rigs.

The DR or Duty-Role gun is the GLOCK 17 analog. This pistol features an extended slide and barrel along with a full-figured grip that packs 17 rounds in the magazine. It also fits Gen 4 G17 holsters.

The XR is the Crossover gun. This weapon melds the stubby MR slide with the full-capacity DR frame. The end result is easier to carry but still offers scads of on-tap firepower. All three variants incorporate the same epic reliability, rarefied engineering and superlative execution we have come to expect from Shadow Systems products.

Each Shadow Systems Foundation Series combat pistol comes with a
universal optic mount, three interchangeable backstraps that change
the physical geometry of the grip and two magazines.

The Shadow Systems Foundation Series is the perfect addition to your
EDC loadout, and it’s compatible with GLOCK Gen 4 holsters.

Trigger Time

Like premium automobiles, Shadow Systems pistols differ from less refined stuff in their particulars. The grips feel just a little bit better, the slides are just a little bit grippier and stuff like the universal optics mount is just a little bit simpler. The aggregate result is indeed a premium pistol at a working man’s price.

Of the three major variants, individual tastes and mission particulars drive that train. All three guns shoot better than do I. The manual of arms is intuitive and stupid proof. The triggers are monotonously predictable and magazine changes are as good as they come. We naturally had no failures during our range time together.

Modern American life is all about choices — blondes or brunettes, paper or plastic, gas or electric. Driven by the almighty engine that is capitalism, the modern American gun market offers literally unprecedented options for the security-minded gun nerd with a little cash to burn. In this case, however, quite a lot rides on these decisions. Within reason, your defensive handgun is not the place to cut corners with the budget.

In the Shadow Systems Foundation Series, we find that elusive sweet spot between box store blandness and race gun ridiculous. With an MSRP starting at $679, these guns still aren’t cheap, but they’re not just stupid expensive, either. You get what you pay for and Shadow Systems is the good stuff.

For more info:

Subscribe To American Handgunner

Purchase A PDF Download Of The American Handgunner May/June 2023 Issue Now!