Shadow Systems developed a pistol that has impressed what was a rather…..skeptical eye. The Shadow Systems MR918 has been a fun review, a review that reminded me of the challenge of remaining subjective. I took this review and started my research before the pistols arrived. They claim to have taken the popular design, rethought it then rebuilt it with the goal of an out of the box EDC, full of features for under a thousand dollars. My skepticism was driven by the thought of a company just prettying up a pistol and rebranding as new and different. Lipstick on…well you know. After three months and a few thousand rounds, I can assure you Shadow Systems MR918 should not be discounted. It, in fact, should be the first considered.
Here you can check out the Shadow Systems MR918.
If you break down any of the striker-fired polymer-framed guns out nowadays you will see the similarity. That Austrian DNA is there. You can not get away from it. Like it or not, it is now a standard of the industry. It is the standard operating system we all get in these modern pistols. Just as everything is working off of Windows, Android or Apple. It IS the platform everything is being built off of.
Shadow Systems recognized this and wanted their own pistol, based on this “operating system”. They set out to develop their own pistol, a stand-alone that is out of the box ready for every day carry. That means out of the box you are ready to carry. No upgrades to the trigger, springs, or addition of night sights.
Out of the box. My initial impression was “okay”. A nice range bag. Good esthetics, but looks are a very small part of it. Two Magpul Magazines, What? My list of questions for Shadow systems was already growing. Very nice trigger while dry firing. Front pronounced night sight. Very different back straps. Okay, a phone call to Shadow Systems is in order!
When I spoke with Trevor Roe, Shadow Systems general manager he promised a comfortable pistol with a tighter tolerance than their competition. He promised me the MR918 is its own pistol. He was happy to answer all my specific questions. I will include them as I go through the MR918
The M918 frame is the culmination of much science and research. This research looked at multiple polymer frames. They took competing product samples and forensically determined their exact composition. “It was pretty eye-opening to see what some manufacturers are using. Some plastics used in small parts were very low-grade materials” said Trevor Roe.
I found the most unique aspect of the frame is the backstraps. Rather than simply applying more mass, therefore making the grip larger, these backstraps change the angle of the rear grip. Your options are a low, neutral and high backstrap. The high being closest to the standard Glock, and the low being closer to 1911. This change makes the feel of firing the gun remarkably different, as opposed to just the feel of the gun when handling it.
The stippling is impressively done. Shadow Systems went the extra length to get the tooling to pattern stippling around an edge, as seen of the front face of the grip. I was promised the option was expensive in tooling, which they were happy to pay for.
The trigger is machined by the Shadow Systems team in Plano, Texas. The flat-faced aluminum component removes some of the “mush” in a stock trigger but retains the take-up and overtravel in a standard trigger. Shadow’s focus on safety and reliability informed those design decisions as their goal was to produce a “substantially better” EDC-safe trigger. The MR918 incorporates a Taran Tactical Innovations connector in the trigger assembly but otherwise uses standard weight springs for reliability. “I started shooting with Taran as a kid back in the ’90s. Even then he was very reliability focused which matches our way of thinking. We think Taran’s connector is the best connector in the industry,” says Roe.
TFB’s own Tom R. shot it and was impressed by the trigger. (I quote: “(grumble)….(grumble)…that trigger”). It has a little take-up, clean break, and a nice reset. Enough to make it a great EDC.
Shadow Systems put plenty of effort into the slide. First off, the serrations are both front and back. They are depressed in a “pocket” from the rest of the surface. I find they have a high visual appeal but are highly functional. Shadow Systems says they are directional giving maximum contact when racking the slide, but minimum resistance when holstering the weapon.
One element of the MR918 that stood out to me was the barrel. The gold-like coloring grabs your attention, the fluting just adds to the appeal. The fluting is stated to be there to prevent debris from collecting and clearly helps with heat dissipation. Shadow Systems promises tighter tolerances in the hood. With my micrometer, I confirmed this to be exactly right. It is rifled conventionally in a 1-10inch pattern.
Shadow Systems ships all of their pistols with Magpul magazines. An interesting decision I had to reach out for their reasoning to go with Magpul, although a good decision it did pique my curiosity. They said that some of their requirements for the magazine were it needed to be easily disassembled, and have a large floor plate to grasp for emergency removal. Magpul met all their requirements. Mr. Roe added “In testing, we found the Magpul magazine met all our requirements and held up to abuse better than others. They are also easy to disassemble which I think is critical. I remember when we used to disassemble and clean magazines between every stage in the competition. I always clean my magazines after a range session, or when they are full of pocket lint, and I think that should be standard practice for most shooters.”
BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER
After a few months in this review, I put A LOT of rounds through it. Around three thousand rounds easily. It is a great shooting pistol. I shot with all the different backstraps. I found the change in the backstrap pretty amazing how it changed how the pistol feels when firing. Just adding mass in the backstrap really does not change how the recoil feels, this backstrap system clearly does, and surprising well.
Aesthetically the MR918 kicks ass. The stippling is even and well done and allows a more positive hand weld. A great looking gun, but the looks are all functional. The serrations are there for a purpose, and look good! I mentioned the barrel has tighter tolerances, I also found the slide to frame fit is also slightly tighter.
The MR918 comes with a range bag, two magazines, front night sight, and extended magwell if you wish. All for well under a thousand dollars.
Shadow Systems are doing pistol making correctly. Apparently, I am not the only one to think so as they made their 2019 expected sales in 2 months. Not surprising after having the pistol for a few months. I asked a professional firearm instructor to put a box through one. He went out and bought his own. It is my EDC now. I paid for it even after shooting the crap out of it.
I assure you TFB readers, the Shadow Sytems MR918 is its own pistol. It is not a copy with lipstick, it is a bottom-up project.
Aesthetically they are pretty damn appealing. MOST important of all, my wife says it is “purrrty” (That might have been added under duress).
Get your hands on the Shadow Systems MR918, it is happiness for under a grand!
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