Masterpiece Arms: https://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.
- 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
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.