A True Masterpiece? The Masterpiece Arms 30DMG

Masterpiece Arms: http://masterpiecearms.com/shop/mpa30dmg-9mm-pistol/

Buy one on GunsAmerica: /masterpiece arms

There are few surprises here at the review desk. Even fewer really positive surprises. GLOCK released a 9mm single-stack, and it runs like every other GLOCK I’ve shot. While that is excellent, it isn’t a surprise. The Can-Cannon was a genuine surprise. That is the most fun I’ve had in a long time–a fact I made repeatedly during its review. But I had another surprise recently. Way back in October, I ran into the crew from Masterpiece Arms and we talked about this 9mm Defender. I’d almost forgotten about it when my FFL called to tell me it was in.

And it is a surprising gun. Let’s break it down.

The MPA30DMG 9mm. For the purposes of this review, I'll call it the Defender.

The MPA30DMG 9mm. For the purposes of this review, I’ll call it the Defender.

Features:

  • Cal: 9mm
  • Barrel Length: 5.5″
  • Threads- 3/4-10
  • Side Cocker
  • Scope Mount
  • Adjustable Front and Rear Sights
  • QD Plate for Single Point Sling System
  • Accepts Standard Glock Style High Capacity Magazines (1 Mag Included)
  • Cerakote: Flat Dark Earth
  • Decal Grip Grip Panels
  • Lower Picatinny Rail for Flashlight or Laser Systems
  • Hammer with Disconnect plus original Hammer
  • MPA Polymer Case
  • Please allow 1-2 weeks for Shipment
  • Other Cerakote Colors Available – Black, Tungsten, Burnt Bronze
Side-cocking, non reciprocating. Very handy.

Side-cocking, non reciprocating. Very handy.

The Defender owes its existence to the old MAC 10. The MAC 10 has a dubious reputation. The originals were open-bolt automatics that would dump a mag with a surprisingly high cyclic rate. They were easy to make, as almost all of the gun was built from stamped steel, and not known for their accuracy. They put lead down range in groups the size of a school bus. But that was what they were designed for. I’d always thought of the MAC 10 as the gun I’d use right before I had to stage a strategic retreat.

But even though there were some legitimate uses of the old MACs, the guns were more commonly associated with the drug wars of the 1980s. They were easy to conceal, and ideal for those lacking shooting skills and morality.

We’re well past that now, I think. And this Masterpiece is really something to behold. While the original MAC 10 build felt almost disposable, this gun doesn’t. It operates off of a closed bolt. This bolt wraps around the fixed barrel, pushing the weight slightly to the front. This version came equipped with a faux suppressor. The black can looking thing on the end of the threaded barrel is actually just a milled piece of aluminum. It is thick walled, slow to heat up, and provides a bit more protection for your hand. But it doesn’t do much to dampen the sound.

The front sight post.

The front sight post.

The sights on this are also solid. While the post and notch structure doesn’t lend itself to long range accuracy, it is sufficient for close work. And there’s a large section of rail on top. This is a gun that begs for a red-dot. And the sights are protected well by bent steel wings. In all, the sight system seems to be genuinely robust.

The gun has a section of rail below, too, for lights or lasers.

The grip is also substantial and is cut from aluminum. It has more shape than a typical GLOCK grip, but accepts GLOCK 17 mags (not 19 mags, though–don’t make that mistake). The magazine it came with is a knock-off GLOCK mag, but it worked perfectly.

Other notable changes include a rear block for mounting a sling or a stock and a side-cocking lever instead of a top-cocking mechanism.

The grip. Despite the intentional design, it still feels rather squared off--much like a GLOCK.

The grip. Despite the intentional design, it still feels rather squared off–much like a GLOCK.

How does it all come together?

I’ll start with the obvious. This is a big pistol. While the original MAC 10 was a small machine-gun, this is just a big pistol. The gun isn’t easily holstered, though it is incredibly easy to conceal–especially when it is on a single-point sling. Because it is a single action, the gun will be fired more like a handgun. Shooting from the hip (which is the only way I’ve ever seen anyone shoot a  MAC 10) isn’t as effective. So you have to find a place to put that second hand if you really want to stabilize it well.

While finding that perfect grip can be a challenge, it isn’t impossible. The traditional two-handed grip works, though the boxy shape of the grip makes it feel awkward at first. The second hand can go forward on the frame, or as far out as the big tube, if you choose.

The sides have grip-tape panels for grip.

The sides have grip-tape panels for grip.

As for that boxy grip…. The shape looks more ergonomic than it is. I attribute this to a basic rectangular shape. The finger grooves are deep, and the sides have all been radiused to remove sharp edges, but gun grips are moving more toward elliptical cross-sections, and this one has four distinct sides with more abrupt transitions.

The result is a good solid grip that still requires a bit of hand movement for the operation of controls. I have to shift my grip to drop the magazine. But that’s the way it is for me on a lot of large framed guns, so I’m not going to judge the design too critically. The weight of the full grip combines well with the rest of the gun and is visually ideal. I’m less fond of the grip-tape decals that are stuck to the sides for grip, but they do work exceptionally well.

Shooting

Here’s where the surprise really set in. I expected this to be a fun gun, but I had no expectations for accuracy. In fact, I’d bought this big torso target with the expectation that I might need that much paper to see shot placement. I couldn’t have been any more wrong.

This is from 25 yards. Not too shabby for a gun that has a steep learning curve.

This is the first 5 rounds I fired from 25 yards. Not too shabby for a gun that has a steep learning curve.

As I got more comfortable with the gun, the groups tightened. This is from 25, standing, with both hands in a traditional hand-over-hand grip.

As I got more comfortable with the gun, the groups tightened. This is from 25, standing, with both hands in a traditional hand-over-hand grip. If I’d been braced, I feel certain I could have put all 5 in the same hole.

The weight of this makes it an effective design. Follow up shots are easy as there is low recoil. With the Defender extended at the end of a single=point sling, the platform tightens up even more. The rest of the predictable accuracy comes from the fixed barrel.

Will it out shoot a GLOCK? We'll have the answer just as soon as I'm half as comfortable with the Defender as I am with this 19.

Will it out shoot a GLOCK? We’ll have the answer just as soon as I’m half as comfortable with the Defender as I am with this 19.

And now the big question

If you’ve stuck with the review this long, I bet you can guess what I’m about to say. What’s the appeal? A niche gun like this can sometimes be a hard sell. So who needs one? What is it good for? It runs off of a GLOCK 17 magazine–does it do anything the 17 doesn’t?

That is actually several questions. And the answers aren’t easy. The Defender will appeal to those who want a fully functional, highly nostalgic range toy. That’s easy. And it is so reliable and so accurate that those fans will be exceptionally pleased.

But the accuracy and reliability make this more than a range toy. While it doesn’t have the spray-and-pray potential of the original MAC 10, it would make a good defensive firearm. If this were my gun, I’d lose the big aluminum tube and replace it with a short shroud. With that kind of set-up, this could be an ideal truck-gun. If you follow through with the SBR paperwork, this would be an incredible rifle. With a pistol grip and a stock and a real suppressor?

As is, this is going to be a gun that impresses a lot of people. It shoots flat and fast. Would it out shoot a GLOCK 17? I plan on putting that to the test. The MSRP is $679.99. At that price, this should be a no-brainer. They should sell themselves.

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Attach a QD sling, or a stock for an SBR.

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Plenty of top rail to position an optic.

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You can see the detail of the stamped steel frame.

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The trigger came with a thick rubber tube around it, but I prefer the feel of steel.

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A big-ass chunk of aluminum. Not a silencer.

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The ejection happens flawlessly. Note the safety on the right side. It can be flipped with the index finger, though it takes practice.

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The mag release is recessed in just enough to require a shift of my hand.

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Without the front tube, you can see that the muzzle is awfully close to the charging handle.

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Detail of the safety. It is a simple block, and very effective.

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The bolt bounces on this pad at the rear of the frame.

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The gun comes apart easily and is easy to clean and maintain.

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This mated pin set is all you need to remove to field strip the gun.

The extractor is substantial.

The extractor is substantial.

If you had to find evidence that this was a relative of the MAC 10, you can. But most of the build feels more substantial.

If you had to find evidence that this was a relative of the MAC 10, you can. But most of the build feels more substantial.

Trigger pull came in at

Trigger pull came in at 4.25 pounds.

Look closely and you'll see the date of manufacture etched in on the bolt.

Look closely and you’ll see the date of manufacture etched in on the bolt.

This rail would need to stay clean and well oiled, as it supports the charging handle.

This rail would need to stay clean and well oiled, as it supports the charging handle.

The fixed barrel can be changed out for other calibers.

The fixed barrel can be changed out for other calibers. Right now, a bolt and barrel will get you 9mm, or .357 Sig, or .40. With a grip change, you can do 5.7×28, or .45 ACP. 5.7×28? There’s the winner. With any decent capacity, that would be a devastating pistol.

 

 

 

{ 28 comments… add one }
  • Kcoruol June 30, 2015, 10:10 pm

    I just bought one of these today and took it out for a spin. Very accurate, never jammed, kicked out brass with no damage to the brass which is huge for reloaders. It’s big, it’s bulky, it’s heavy, and you won’t be carrying this around in the seat of your pants or on your ankle. If you don’t own a glock, a 1911, an H&K, or Walther PPK this pistol probably won’t be your first choice of handguns at the gun store. If you do already have an inventory of handguns and are looking for something different this might be for you. Sure it’s not an out of production high dollar H&K or UZI, but for a reasonable price, made in the USA, with easily obtainable Glock 17 magazines this might be a handgun to consider. It’s built sturdy and can most likely take a pounding, you can add several options like a longer barrel, a stock, you can even change the caliber which makes this a versatile handgun. Range toy? Maybe, but if you’re looking for a quality pistol that is accurate, affordable and made in the USA this might be the pistol for you, for me I’m happy with this gun.

  • M1A-Hole June 7, 2015, 6:48 pm

    Everyone is going back and forth…goodgun/badgun, when what we really should be discussing is that awsome video! The production work was outta this world. Thanks for keepin it real boys!
    Yee Haw

  • Danny May 28, 2015, 12:57 pm

    Ohhhh My God I am an Indian and trying to be pass as a British lord…but its Okay (wobbling my head from side to side) at least I can try to make fool of the white folks…now about the MAC10 it is an osssuummmme gun…ohh my god what a piece of machinery.

  • Do May 27, 2015, 4:50 pm

    i have the mini 9 they make I use a mk9 suppressors on it.pay 375 .not bad.
    Might sbr the dam little toy is very accurate..surprised me

    Had real full auto in the pass ..just to dam pricey now.

    Wouldn’t pay more then 400 for this range toy seen 650 way to much in my book…

  • SteveS. May 27, 2015, 9:19 am

    I’m seeing a lot of negative comments straight from the peanut gallery. Why don’t you guys stop posturing and take the article for what it is: a great review. I personally own the Mac 10 clone from Masterpiece Arms and Love it. It is one solid and reliable gun. Some of things not mentioned in this article is that there are 16″ barrel uppers available from MPA and if you want some nice buttstocks you can find them all over the place online. It is a Mac10 clone after all. I recently changed out the buttstock for a Sig “Arm Brace” and placed the 6″ upper back on and now have a wonderful home defender (Hence the name it was given, BTW) without the $200 SBR price tag and black fingertips. MPA’s line a handguns and rifles ARE extremely accurate and with a 33 round magazine (for both Glock and the regular Mac10 mag) you don’t have to worry about mag changes in the middle of a fire fight (the fastest reload…). The triggers on the Standard MPA’s are incredibly smooth with no buildup at the end or sudden jerking as the hammer finally breaks free which increases the accuracy and making it an absolute joy to shoot. With this new addition to the MPA family people who might want an SBR carbine that uses the same mags as their pistol will be able to do so. I am looking forward to getting one myself to go along with my carry Glock.

    I fully expect to be attacked by all the CCW aficionados’ who hear “Pistol” and cannot get their head around the thought that if it doesn’t fit in a holster in their waistband then it is a useless piece of “Turd”. Perhaps they might understand someday that not all defensive guns need to be concealed. For home defense I want something that is accurate, shoots reliably and carries a lot of bullets. This is one of those guns. Plus it really is a lot of fun blowing up milk jugs with this baby out in a gravel pit. So for those who are offended: attack away. I’m proud to own my MPA.

    • Kcoruol June 30, 2015, 10:20 pm

      Concur Steve S. Knowing what this handgun is and what it isn’t will go a long way in helping one determine if this is the right pistol for their arsenal. Not sure what the deal is with all of the negative reviews here. I’m an owner of this handgun so am not speaking of it based on a review I read or video I saw on Youtube. It’s a high quality, well built, accurate, sturdy handgun, yet is large, heavy, and not really a conceal carry handgun which tend to be small and light.

  • Randy May 26, 2015, 10:45 pm

    This might make a good PCC (pistol caliber carbine), with a 16″ barrel, adjustable stock, and a good handguard. I can’t afford an SBR with a suppressor ($400 I think), so a reliable, affordable, PCC that accepts Glock mags sounds pretty good to me. Add to that, that the magazine is in the grip and you should have a nice, short package.

  • Mike May 26, 2015, 8:17 pm

    As useless as the day is long…

  • Richard E. Engler Jr. May 26, 2015, 5:40 pm

    From $250 to $650,not much of a bargain. 😛

  • Pro2Aguy May 26, 2015, 4:48 pm

    I too can’t see anything of interest that doesn’t include conversion over to SBR…Then you are into some serious cash and entering the territory of competing models which can be had for same price arguably with more to offer.

  • Gunslinger275 May 26, 2015, 11:36 am

    Bunch of haters.

    Thank you, I really enjoyed this review.

    A fun gun that has potential.

  • gym May 26, 2015, 11:10 am

    Maybe at $300.00, if you look on “Buds”, these have been around for 3 or 4 years.. They come in every caliber from 9 to 5.7. And they are discounted heavily, because you can’t hid them, and unless you suppress one and it is full auto, what sense does it make when the mag fits in a concealable reliable handgun that costs less.

  • Greg May 26, 2015, 11:06 am

    Think about it, why not just go straight to a Glock and get a proven, more compact pistol.

  • Ralph May 26, 2015, 9:51 am

    I could see someone sticking a forward grip, red dot, stock and a suppressor and have one hell of an SBR. Or find an extended barrel and it could be even better. Good SHTF gun with that accuracy… and the ability to use your sidearm’s mags… not into the faux can though…

    • Nicks87 May 26, 2015, 10:08 pm

      I agree 100%. I’m not sure why these little cry-babies are trashing this gun. Like I’m going to take the advice of some internet mouth breather when it comes to buying weapons anyway.

  • SSgt_Mas May 26, 2015, 9:24 am

    I beginning to wonder if the author’s mother had any children who lived. Yet another stupid range toy, being marketed as some accurate competition to the Glock series. Want to know why he only alluded to the gun “maybe” out-shooting a Glock?

    So do I, because that would make him a dishonest reviewer. Is it really worth your personal integrity to be able to test fire all these mall ninja toys? Why don’t you just call a turd a turd and be done with it?

    Notice how the author never mentions what he would choose between a G17 and this turd, in the event of a SHTF or self-defense situation??

    • Nicks87 May 26, 2015, 9:58 pm

      You are a turd… Sorry but you told me to do it.

  • MGW May 26, 2015, 9:01 am

    Ok,
    This ranks right up with Zombie loads and other stupidies, all of which combine to render gun enthusiasts targets for liberal morons .

    P.S.
    Either your high school English Teacher should be shot, or you should . Apparently neither of you was paying attention in class.

    • Mick Dodge May 26, 2015, 9:21 am

      Eat less cabbage and beans and you won’t be repeating yourself so much.

  • MGW May 26, 2015, 8:57 am

    Ok,
    This ranks right up with Zombie loads and other stupidies, all of which combine to render gun enthusiasts targets for liberal morons .

    P.S.
    Either your high school English Teacher should be shot, or you should . Apparently neither of you was paying attention in class.

  • MGW May 26, 2015, 8:57 am

    Ok,
    This ranks right up with Zombie loads and other stupidies, all of which combine to render gun enthusiasts targets for liberal morons .

    P.S.
    Either your high school English Teacher should be shot, or you should . Apparently neither of you was paying attention in class.

    • Dean May 26, 2015, 11:22 am

      Did you mean “stupidities”?
      P.S. Who the hell was your English teacher? Moron.

    • Dave Emery May 26, 2015, 2:55 pm

      Humm, since this is English 101: Was is incorrect. Instead it should have been: “Apparently neither of you were paying attention in class.” Misspellings are the #1 reason liberal morons hate gun owners. Jus say’n.

  • D Hicks May 26, 2015, 8:36 am

    I always liked the MAC 10’s They’re mostly for blasting used milk jugs full of water and wasting ammo.Fun shooting ! I kinda like this.

  • Nick May 26, 2015, 7:38 am

    I’ll preface my comment buying saying that I despise anything with a fake can. This falls into the class of guns that are purchased by people who have no practical need for what they are buying. There is no point to carrying around this hulking single shot replica. I had an automatic Mac-10 squirt gun when I was a kid that I would bet is more fun to shoot than this. This whole bit about the accuracy is laughable. Any gun with that much weight on it, shooting 9mm rounds at close range never the less, will have significantly less muzzle flip. That doesn’t mean that it’s accurate. The only way to truly measure the gun’s accuracy would be to secure it in a fixed position and shoot it at different distances.

  • Jack May 26, 2015, 7:01 am

    You obviously havent spent any time around the Mac10 family of firearms. The pistol you reviewed is a slightly modified side cock upper. The bolt looks stock and it appears the only mod to the lower was the mag welL/grip. So basically you dogged the pedigree of the pistol you reviewed.

  • Chief May 26, 2015, 6:19 am

    I just don’t see it/The glock 17 is more concealable .Perhaps if you’ve bought everything on your list and are just trying to find something new.

  • Joe May 26, 2015, 6:17 am

    Easy to conceal…as long as you are wearing a trench coat.

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