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.
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.
- 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
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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