Shadow Systems

Would You Buy A Cut-Rate Pacemaker?
; .

There’s never been a better time in American history to be a gun nerd. It would have been undeniably cool to stroll out of a hardware store in 1933 with a Thompson submachine gun, cash and carry. However, in 1933 we were four years into the Great Depression, Adolph Hitler was just getting tooled up over on his side of the pond and McDonald’s was just some old guy’s farm. Dropping by McDonald’s for a hamburger would have therefore been both messy and time-consuming. It’s way better today.

Today’s daily news feed is liberally populated with urban chaos, and the nation’s gun emporia are awash in advanced, affordable defensive guns as a result. Ours is the most refined consumer market in human history and capitalism drives a truly unprecedented selection. Shadow Systems is a cut above this crowd.
Shadow Systems is indeed a compulsive mob. Helmed by an inveterate shooter/combat veteran/West Point graduate with a diagnosable preoccupation with perfection, Shadow Systems makes some of the finest production striker-fired handguns extant. Cool-guy stuff normally costing extra elsewhere comes standard with Shadow Systems iron. You can find cheaper defensive handgun solutions, but is this really where you want to be cutting corners?


Ballistic Philosophy

Imagine if you will, you’ve been feeling a little weird so you report to your friendly neighborhood sawbones for a look see. Before you know it, you are sporting one of those humiliating open-backed hospital gowns and rolling into some enormous terrifying medical machine. You think to yourself, if you’re lucky, you’ll end up sterile. If you’re unlucky this thing will steal your soul.

Some doctor who looks like she’s about 12 will then engage you in a somber chat. You need an operation. As you’re silently wondering when they started letting sixth graders do surgery, you catch something about an implantable medical device.

This procedure won’t be cheap. Now you’re regretting the cut-rate health insurance plan which includes a deductible equal to the GDP of a small West African nation-state. However, a little judicious Googling turns up Crazy Clyde’s Pre-Owned Pacemakers.

Crazy Clyde’s offers everything from used implantable defibrillators to low-mileage hip prostheses. Everything they sell has been inside somebody else already, but it is both fairly clean and almost as good as the same thing brand-new. Now you’re tempted. Crazy Clyde’s could indeed save you a few bucks.

Don’t be an idiot. No, you’re not tempted. If you need a machine to ultimately keep you alive, you aren’t going to shop around for the lowest bidder. You might skimp a bit on generic mayonnaise or opt for Burger King over Olive Garden when money is tight but if this thing is what stands between you and that really bright light, you are going to want it done right. Shouldn’t that same axiom apply to our defensive guns?

Why do we lug these things around all the time anyway? I’ve packed heat for 30 years. The sex appeal was gone after the first 30 minutes. Carrying a gun is both uncomfortable and a hassle. However, if you ever need the rascal for real, it will be worth more than your house, your car, your dog and your 401k all put together. Just like a pacemaker — if it’s the piece of kit spelling the difference between going home to momma and going home in a box, you want it to be the best you can afford. Behold, the Shadow Systems family of combat pistols.


The Shadow Systems pistols come standard with a green outline
self-luminous tritium dot front sight to mate with a beefy serrated
rear sight — if you’re not using an optic!


Shadow Systems handguns come in two broad categories, three different models and two different strata. Multi-Role pistols feature a 15-round magazine and mid-sized grip. These guns will ride in GLOCK 19 holsters and are designed for home defense, concealed carry, or duty applications. The Multi-Role guns are available in either standard-length or long-slide configurations.

Duty-Role guns are the full-figured sort, sporting a full-sized grip and a 17-round magazine. These guns boast an extended slide and barrel assembly for a longer sight radius, higher velocities and improved accuracy. The Duty-Role weapons will ride in a standard GLOCK 17 holster and are designed for service applications.

Each Shadow Systems pistol is available in either Combat or Elite configurations. Think of this as awesome and extra-awesome. The Combat versions feature directional slide serrations both front and rear. The Elite versions have these same grooves but are also serrated on the top of the slide and include lightening windows in the side.

All this is what sets the various Shadow Systems guns apart from each other. It is actually in the common stuff where the design really shines. That story begins with a mindset.


Ballistic Philosophy

Shadow Systems is a different sort of gun company. From top to bottom they are comprised of compulsive gun folk. Law Enforcement Officers, combat veterans and competitive shooters design and build these weapons. The quality of execution and superlative design shine through clearly. As a result, the company is growing.

Shadow Systems currently employs about 100 people. They also recently moved into a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility. Their success is driven by their mantra.

These guns are designed first and foremost to be reliable. Some custom striker-fired pistols feature a light, airy, diaphanous, angel’s-breath trigger pull. To quote Shadow’s CEO Trevor Roe, a 4-lb. “Bang!” beats a 3-lb. light primer strike every single time. Every millimeter of these guns is optimized for pure unfiltered function. The fact they also look cool is simply gravy.

Shadow Systems is driven by several simple principles. They tighten tolerances in the spaces that improve accuracy, but never at the expense of reliability. Everything needing to be made out of metal is made out of metal. Their guns also all include the expected multi-tier mechanical safety systems.

The Shadow guys are obsessive about their product. They feast on feedback. The end result is a simply magnificent combat tool.


The slide features side and top directional serrations for positive grip under stress.
It wraps around the conventionally-rifled spiral-fluted barrel for serious control with great looks.

Common Core

Shadow Systems manufactures their own slides, frames, barrels, triggers and entrails in-house at their facility in Plano, Texas. Spiral fluted match barrels are rifled one-in-ten and safe with cast lead bullets. Slides are cut from 17-4 stainless. Aluminum triggers feature a comfortable flat face and a built-in blade safety. They break crisply and monotonously between 4 and 4.5 lbs.

The front sight includes a luminous tritium insert. The rear sight is basic serrated black. Just put the glowing dot on something you dislike and squeeze.

Most all modern high-speed combat pistols are cut to accept a micro red dot sight. However, most tactical handguns also require some kind of adaptor to interface the optic with the slide. In many cases these adaptor plates can cost a c-note or more. Additionally, if you find yourself with a new optic you then typically have to start over and dump another pile of cash on a fresh adaptor plate. I’ve been there myself and didn’t much care for that.

The good folks at Shadow Systems figured all that out for us. The slide is drilled and threaded to accept a wide variety of popular optics. These include sights from Holosun, Trijicon, Swampfox, SIG, Vortex, TruGlo, Leupold and Shield. The gun comes with screws of three different lengths as well as a series of polymer buffers to create a perfect fit with each of these sights without some expensive extraneous mounting contraption. I do this for a living, and these days, such unvarnished compassion for the consumer can be a rare thing indeed.

The frame is simply inspired. The stippling is perfect, and there are sweet parking pads for your trigger finger for those times you’re not actively unleashing chaos. This same pad on the other side lets you really lock your support thumb in place for optimal recoil control. There is a little shelf underneath the slide stop to make sure it never rides up unintentionally. The coolest bit, however, is the backstrap system.

Lots of guns include interchangeable backstraps to accommodate various hand sizes. Those on the Shadow Systems guns actually adjust the lay of the pistol. High, neutral and low grip inserts let you tweak the orientation of the gun in your hand to suit your personal proclivities. With lesser pistols you choose a grip-to-frame angle based upon a certain manufacturer or model. With the Shadow Systems pistols you can fit the gun to your own unique hand/eye axis.


At 15 meters off of a simple rest, Will found the Shadow Systems
guns shoot plenty straight with a variety of ammo.

Trigger Time

Of course it was reliable with everything we fed it. If it says “9mm Para” on the headstamp, the Shadow Systems guns will eat it reliably and well. These guns also shoot unnaturally straight. Keeping my rounds in a tennis ball at 15 meters wasn’t a challenge.

Something about these Shadow Systems pistols just feels good. There is a natural spot for each of my fingers and the grip inserts let me configure the chassis to suit my big monkey mitts. It is obvious when you heft these things some really smart people put a lot of effort into making everything perfect.

I topped my MR920L pistol with a Holosun HE509T-GR enclosed reflex optical sight. The built-in solar cell automatically adjusts the user-selectable reticle for ambient light and ensures truly insane run times. The Shake Awake function cranks the sight up whenever you touch it. The titanium housing is indestructible. No kidding, I love these things.


A pistol manufacturer has finally realized most shooters own and use
several different brands of optics, so Shadow Systems pistols feature a
patented multi-footprint optic cut.


I have myself never owned a $250,000 automobile. I have however, sat in a couple. When compared to your more pedestrian Honda, Toyota, Chevy, or Ford, there’s just something that feels different about such a rarefied hand-built supercar. So it is with these Shadow Systems pistols.

The niche here, however, is the Shadow Systems mob built this superlative combat implement without letting costs get out of control. Their guns are indeed more expensive than your stock box-store fare but not by a tremendous margin. If you might have to rely on a defensive handgun to save the life of those you love you don’t do it halfway. Shadow Systems is top-tier iron that isn’t crazy expensive. This is the good stuff. You know it when you feel it.

MSRP: Starting at $799

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