New Gun Review: Masterpiece Arms 930DMG, the Perfect Home Defense Gun?

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MPA 930DMG (12)

The author heavily customized his MPA Defender 930DMG 9mm pistol. With the side-folding Sig brace and other accessories installed, he has a compact, maneuverable, and accurate home defense gun.

The MasterPiece Arms MPA Defender 930DMG is an Ingram-style firearm with a machined alloy grip contoured to accept easy-to-find Glock magazines. Chambered for 9mm Luger, the 930DMG is sold in a handgun configuration and it can be reconfigured as a short-barreled rifle but it is still handy in pistol form.

I wasn’t familiar with MasterPiece Arms until I read David Higginbotham’s review of the MPA 30DMG. At the time, I was looking for a dedicated home defense gun and it struck a chord — compact, customizable, rugged, dependable and surprisingly accurate. While David reviewed the 5.5-inch barrel version, I picked up the 3.5-inch MPA 930DMG, proceeded to add the accessories I wanted and ended up with a dynamite home defense system.

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the MPA 930DMG packs a lot of 9mm power into a compact package, and the shown angled foregrip on the handguard gives you enhanced control over the firearm.

The Gun

Selecting the right gun can be an exercise in compromise. For concealed carry, you sacrifice firepower and accuracy for compact size and light weight. For a hunting firearm, you sacrifice light weight and compact size for power and accuracy. The purpose determines the compromises you make to reach your final choice.

The MPA 930DMG is obviously not a good candidate for concealed carry or the best option for hunting. Fortunately, guns are affordable enough today that we don’t have to settle. The guns I’d been considering for dedicated home defense were in the $1,000 range before accessories, which is one of the reasons I was still on the lookout. My budget had to include optics and other extras, so when I learned after reading David’s article that the MSRP on the 930DMG was $679 I was ready to buy.

Considering this is going to be a home defense gun, the bigger size and weight of the MPA Defender aren’t negatives here. The larger frame allows me to accessorize it for ease of use, accuracy, and comfort. What does comfort have to do with it? If you’ve ever shot a short-barreled 9mm indoors in the dark, you’ll know what I mean. It’s loud. The muzzle flash also makes short work of your night vision. The 930DMG, even with a suppressor attached, is still quite compact. Moving around indoors where there are walls, doors, lamps, and other obstructions, a compact weapon can be an advantage.

The 930DMG is both rugged and accurate. It’s a simple blowback design with a substantial receiver to handle the recoiling mass of the bolt and heavy spring required to hold the bolt closed under pressure. The weight of the firearm helps with felt recoil and the blowback action means it has a fixed barrel that contributes to accuracy.

What sets this series apart from MPA’s earlier guns is the angled and contoured grip that accepts standard Glock 17 mags. The lower receiver is machined aluminum instead of stamped steel. This makes it lighter, more ergonomic and in my opinion better-looking. MasterPiece also includes adjustable front and rear iron sights in addition to the flattop Picatinny rail for optics. These guns are available with Cerakote finishes in several colors. This one is in go-with-any-wardrobe black, although I also like the Tungsten Gray. Very cool. So let’s get into the details of how I accessorized this pistol for my needs.

MPA 930DMG

The un-accessorized MasterPiece Arms 930DMG.

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These holes are for the installation of the handguard.

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The large hole is for installation of a sling swivel. The three smaller holes are tapped to accept the screws for the optional folding buffer tube assembly.

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Installation of the handguard is much easier with the help of a long ball-end hex wrench. The barrel extension mounts to the barrel to protect your hand from hot gasses.

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There is plenty of rail space to attach accessories, including the grip panels, laser pointer and red dot sight with the extended forearm installed. However, be sure not to put any sort of vertical foregrip on there as it will make it an “AOW”.

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A Lasermax laser adorns the 12 o’clock spot on the handguard. A Burris FastFire III is on the flattop rail. The two side rail covers are from Damage Industries.

Specs

  • Caliber: 9mm Luger
  • Barrel : 3.5 inches, 1/2-28 threads
  • Sling mount: Quick-detach single-point unit
  • Magazine: Glock pattern, one 17-round mag included
  • Height: 6.25 inches
  • Width: 2.75 inches including bolt handle
  • Receiver width: 1.375 inches
  • Length: 8.5 inches
  • Weight: 47 ounces/2.9 pounds unloaded

Complete Build

  • MPA 930DMG: MSRP $679 ($630 street)
  • Handguard with angled foregrip and barrel extension: $80
  • Damage Industries rail covers: $10
  • MPA folding buffer tube assembly: $90
  • SIG SB15 arm brace: $140
  • LaserMax laser sight: $129
  • Burris FastFire III red dot sight: $226
  • Total Cost: $1,305

For an in-depth look at the MPA system check out our earlier review. Here I’d like to focus on how to accessorize the 930DMG into the ultimate home-defense gun, and I don’t mean pumps and a scarf to match. My plan is to attach a suppressor make the gun safer and easier to shoot indoors.

While I wait for the suppressor paperwork to clear, I have installed the MPA barrel extension and short handguard adapter. These parts are available directly from the MPA website and ship fast.

The handguard attaches directly to the drilled and tapped receiver. I’d recommend a long, ball-end hex wrench to install the rail as the screws are a little off to the side.

There are four rails on the handguard and I put all of them to work. The bottom rail bears a Strike Industries Angled Foregrip which is included with the handguard assembly. Angled foregrips are not specially regulated and may be installed on a pistol without any tax stamps.

The interior diameter of the handguard is 1.375 inches across, wide enough to accommodate many 9mm suppressors. If it won’t clear the can I’ll find some way to make it work.

For comfort, I installed Damage Industries short grip panels on the sides along with a Streamlight weapon light on the right side.

The top rail sports a LaserMax laser pointer and Burris FastFire III red dot optic on the receiver. Remember, the purpose is for home defense and when you’re indoors, lasers really shine (pun intended) and I’m a belt and suspenders kind of guy.

Should the laser fail, or should I not want to announce my exact location with the laser, the FastFire gives me an excellent secondary way to get on target fast. Installing the laser on the left side rail is another option which would allow you to use the iron sights if not a red dot scope or other optic.

To accommodate the flattop rail, the upper uses a side-mounted charging handle. The charger is non-reciprocating so you don’t have to worry about the knob interfering with your grip or stance.

MasterPiece Arms sells a folding AR-style pistol buffer tube which can be mounted to the back of the receiver for use with a stabilizing brace — or in the case of an NFA-regulated short-barreled rifle, a rifle buffer tube and stock, but that’s even more paperwork. There’s also a hole in the back of the receiver for a single point sling mount, but I prefer the folding arm brace approach.

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A selection of ammo used in testing. All fed without a problem except for the SIG Sauer load. SIG’s hollow point has an unusually wide opening in the tip and the gun didn’t like it.

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This is a typical 5-shot group from 7 yards shooting offhand, just a hair over an inch.

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A 17-round mag dump using only the laser sight. The group is to the left because I hadn’t sighted it in completely.

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10 rounds from 7 yards firing without the SIG brace, with just the buffer tube held against my side.

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A 3-shot group using only Burris FastFire III offhand from 7 yards. This was without using the buffer assembly or brace.

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Canting the 930DMG inward lines up your eye with the FastFire III red dot. This is a stable position for one-handed shooting.

At the Range

I tested the pistol with several types of ammunition including Hornady 115-grain Critical Defense FTX, 124-grain XTP and 135-grain Critical Duty self-defense loads, SIG 124-grain jacked hollow point rounds, Magtech 124-grain lead round-nose rounds and PMC 115-grain full metal jacket ammo. This covers a broad spectrum of bullet shapes and styles to test ammo feeding reliability with a wide range of ammo types.

The three Hornady loads are all hollow points, though Critical Defense and Critical Duty loads use a plastic flex tip which fills the hollow point to aid feeding and expansion. The SIG ammo has an extra wide hollow point, which can hang up on some feed ramps and chamber cuts, while the full metal jacket and lead round nose of the PMC and Magtech ammo are smooth.

The 930DMG handled everything but the SIG ammo. The edge of the wide hollow point got hung up on the feed ramp and caused failures to feed after the first round, every round. That’s a shame because I like the consistency and accuracy of Sig’s Elite Performance loads However, it’s not unusual for a gun to prefer certain ammo. The fact that everything else performed well means you have good options for a dependable gun right out of the box.

Impressions

This is a very easy gun to shoot accurately, especially with the MPA accessories, laser, and red dot sight. Tom McHale, another of our editors, recently wrote the 5 Best Guns for Bad Shooters recognizing that we don’t all get the opportunity to practice as often as we should. The MPA 930DMG, outfitted as this project gun is, would certainly meet most of his criteria.

The SIG brace and ergonomic pistol grip make one-handed shooting as easy as putting the dot on target and pressing the trigger. The trigger has a short take-up then breaks cleanly at an average of just about 4.25 pounds. I found the steadiest one-handed position with the SIG brace was to hold the gun pressed against my body with my elbow bent 90 degrees, using just the laser sight to get on target.

If you’re reacting to an emergency where you don’t have time to strap into the Sig brace, or where you just have a bare buffer tube, the same position works well with the brace/buffer tube trapped between your elbow and side. Provided your weak side hand is free, gripping the angled brace with your thumb wrapped around the top of the handguard makes it even steadier.

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You can see the safety just above and in front of the trigger. I have average size hands and didn’t have a problem operating it with my trigger finger. It just requires a little training.

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With a tactical light mounted on the right rail, you can easily operate the light with the middle finger of your support hand while operating the laser with your thumb.

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You can operate the bolt and trigger with the buffer tube assembly folded, but it takes a little effort.

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The buffer tube folds to the left only. It has a solid lockup when open.

Conclusion

I liked shooting from the hip using the laser sight since that didn’t obstruct my vision in any way and was very stable. However, the SIG brace helped steady one-handed shooting using the red dot for sighting at eye level. Shooting the gun two-handed was also easy thanks to the angled foregrip.

Shooting without accessories, the recoil is modest with some muzzle rise. A word of caution, this is an easy gun to bump fire. Bump-firing uses the motion of the pistol cycling to pull the trigger with every close of the bolt for rapid strings of semi-automatic fire.

Due to a combination of a light trigger weight, high cyclic rate and short trigger reset, I found if I didn’t press the trigger all the way to the rear on each shot or maintain a loose grip on the pistol grip, I could quickly fire three or four rounds before I could say “What!?” Combined with a rising muzzle, this could create a dangerous situation. This isn’t going to stop me from using the pistol for self-defense. With the right grip and solid control over the gun, it’s not a problem.

You can probably think of other situations where the MPA 930DMG would work well for you, like in your truck or boat. As for my premise of building the ideal home defense gun, I’m satisfied that, with the addition of a suppressor, I’ll have achieved my goal. You may have different objectives in mind that you could meet with a different configuration.

It’s a really a fun gun to shoot so I know I’ll get lots of practice, and loaded with the right self-defense ammunition, it’s a capable firearm for protection in- or outside the home.

For more information, visit http://masterpiecearms.com/.

To buy a MasterPiece Arms 9mm on GunsAmerica.com, click this link: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=masterpiece%20arms%209mm.

{ 25 comments… add one }
  • Richar Vendor September 26, 2016, 8:54 pm

    A F/A M10-45 is a much better gun for home defense. 32 rds in just under 2 seconds! Suppressed!

    Will everyone in the house be shot-up, including your pooch, fish tank and kids? Sure! But you’re gonna show that f@$!ing intruder who’s boss!!!!!

  • ejharb June 21, 2016, 5:18 pm

    $1300
    Glock with threaded barrel pick your caliber
    $400-$700
    Thompson nachine hearing safe 45 or 9 suppressor $400 +$200 stamp
    We’re up to $1300 with the same mags and a bit less weight and reliability and best of all. You can hear after you stop a home invader scumbag with half a mag. YAYYY

  • tom June 16, 2016, 2:47 pm

    I think the cheap little Highpoint 9mm will do the job much cheaper and it’s just reliable!

  • Chris June 14, 2016, 3:05 pm

    Pass, I’ll take a m92 pap over this any day. I like the 9mm I have several guns chambered for it, but for me it comes down to power accuracy, capacity, and lastly looks. The m92 is more accurate, has longer range, far more power, not much bigger (sure it weighs a lot more) and has larger capacity. This gun is fugly as well. For a home defense gun I just wouldn’t pick it.

    • ejharb June 21, 2016, 5:10 pm

      Put a hearing safe can on the muzzle and I’ll buy one too! 7.62×39 from a 10″ barrel needs some suppressing.

      Better yet get a sbr stamp lose the rear trunnion and mount a amd65 trunnion/stock on it as well as a rail and Kgrip and you got something that makes you wonder what pistols are for

  • Dave June 14, 2016, 8:25 am

    99% of home intruders are going to run like hell when they hear the first shot, unless they are after YOU, instead of your STUFF. So basically ANY gun that goes BANG is adequate. I have a MPA 930, which uses 30 round 9mm STEN mags and which as the article mentions is SIMPLE to bump fire. So a home intruder once inside stands little chance of getting back out under his own power. I added a short strip of rail to the fake supressor that came with the gun and attached a angled forgrip and laser, for fast target aquesition. The brace shown here seems totally unncessary to me and would defeat the purpose of using this weapon as a CLOSE QUARTERS home defense piece. Just my two cents.

    • Ryan June 14, 2016, 9:35 am

      Come on, everyone knows that most people buy arm stabilizing devices to use as a stock or a nice cheek rest and skirt around the legal short barreled rifle garbage. So yes, this would be a great, inexpensive, home defense option if used as a short barreled rifle.

  • Ray June 13, 2016, 7:25 pm

    I own 2 glocks 5 ar,,s and 6 other handguns, spent 20= years on a tactical team. My 8.5 ” ar pistol with a sig brace is hands down my favorite CQB gun. 1″ shorter than an mp5 with 30 rnds of 5.56 it’s handling characteristics and mobility inside a building in my humble opinion make it the perfect CQB. That being said the MPA having a much shorter overall length with the great selection of defense ammo would be awesome. These naysayers are typical internet fodder commenting without experienced the advantages of this type of firearm. The displayed groups alone show the potential of this weapon. Thanks for the article, I have been considering this option as opposed to an AR9mm pistol because of the compatability with my Glock. and the associated cost of a Glock AR lower, Thanks again.

  • Pseudo June 13, 2016, 6:53 pm

    I have a few other guns I would choose over this for “home defense.” Maybe FNH FNX 45, Springfield Armory XDm, hell even my CZ Bren 801 pistol, shoots 5.56 x 45, no buffer tube, 30 round magazine and you do not have to cant to shoot. Of course it takes two hands to shoot, not from recoil, but size and weight. Actually has little recoil, even less with .223. Then again most shooting I see being done requires two hands. I am not referring to one hand shooting here.

    I tried a SIG with brace and it is awkward, you have to stand sideways to sight with it due to the brace. Try one but the brace on and then go for a two hand grip and stance. You cannot see the sights unless you extend you arm out. Think of it like this, lets say you are right handed, now stick you right arm straight out from your right side. This is what you have to do to see the sights using the brace.

  • calvin Grimalkiln June 13, 2016, 2:30 pm

    OK, I’m seeing a lot of push back against this “gun”. While it’s advantages as a “home defense” weapon seem lacking, it appears to be a “must have” for any serious mall ninja. 😉

    Seriously, this arrangement screams, “WHY” ? ? ? ?

    For an inside the house situation the wrist brace arrangement would restrict a lot of movement and flexibility. The length and weight would loose serious usefulness to a pump shotgun with an 18 inch barrel. Outside, it would lose points to a shotgun or carbine.

  • Kalashnikov Dude June 13, 2016, 2:16 pm

    I cannot take an article seriously when it displays photos of the author using sideways gangsta style hand gun presentation with an obviously straight face. The fact that it’s about a $1300 dollar blowback operated, nearly 3 pound pistol with a plastic lower receiver does not help matters at all. GA, you’re losing my interest.

    • Allen July 1, 2016, 2:23 pm

      The lower receiver is 6061 aluminum.

  • Duane Bessette June 13, 2016, 1:37 pm

    Walter Mitty factor is high here, but alas, not very practical.

  • Deadmeat99 June 13, 2016, 1:02 pm

    Or you could, you know, buy a Glock which accepts Glock magazines and skip this abortion of a firearm.

    • Duane Bessette June 13, 2016, 1:35 pm

      Way too obvious.

  • Me June 13, 2016, 12:02 pm

    This is just another example of how the anti gunners will use this to start banning semi auto pistols…oh hey! Let’s just call them “Assault Pistols”! This was(is) a stupid idea…😯

  • Ricky Price June 13, 2016, 10:04 am

    How in the world could a person say that this is a good home defense gun. A old shot gun would be a lot better then this.

  • morris jaskula June 13, 2016, 4:02 am

    Because the company SAYS ITS A HOME DEFENCE GUN–You are annoying by ragging on Will Drider–he makes a perfect point. That gun is a sorry excuse for a home defense gun.
    Why would anyone even want to go through the grief with the ATF to get a stamp for a short barreled rifle–did you not see the buffer tube. LOOK-and READ so you can make intelligent decisions.
    Il buy 2 Glocks or 2 M&Ps and a double shoulder holster right–more fire power for what this thing costs

  • Bill June 8, 2016, 5:20 am

    Once I own a HK SP89, 9mm, accurate and solid German quality but in the end it was just a very heavy handgun. It made an impression with people but if an ugly confrontation should happen I always would want my Glock 30 in one hand and the other hand free. Sold the HK89 to someone who was hot for a MP5 and tripled what I originally paid for it. No regrets either.

  • Will Drider June 7, 2016, 8:29 pm

    Just what type of home defensive situation give you the time to put on a Sigbrace? In a home defense situation do you really want it strapped to your arm? Maybe this is just a eye wink that BATFE will not be in your house if it happens to be shouldered during the encounter.

    Please tell me what this setup does better then a G17 or for the price add another G17 with an optic and laser? I guess it would be a bigger club.

    • dildozer June 8, 2016, 4:55 pm

      why are you even comparing it to a G17? why MUST it be a home defense gun? why cant you just buy it, enjoy it for fun shooting purposes, and use something else for home defense? People like you are annoying.

      • Matt June 13, 2016, 4:26 am

        The whole article is about it being set up as a home defense gun. That might have something to do with the op’s comment.

      • lucky43113 June 13, 2016, 5:00 am

        because the author said it was for home defense did you read the article

      • Blasted Cap June 13, 2016, 5:28 am

        Even more annoying is the fact that you fail to realize that the author of the story is using it strictly as a home defense weapon not Will. He’s just pointing out that there is a different way of doing things.

      • JD MAK June 13, 2016, 5:41 am

        “why MUST it be a home defense gun?”
        It looks like that’s what Will Drider seems to be wondering. Will isn’t the one who made the claim that this is a viable home defense system, the author of this article is. The phrase “home defense” is used exactly 8 times if you include the title. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and Will (for some reason) wasn’t buying any of it. Ironically, it appears that you and Will are in the “range toy” camp on this one and the author and I are of the opinion that this system potentially makes for a viable home defense set-up.
        P.S. Awesome handle there…dildozer. Laughed my butt off when first reading it.

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