Gun Review: IWI MASADA 9mm Pistol

IWI MASADA 9mm Pistol review

IWI Masada (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

Israel has a history and a culture of innovation. After all, they didn’t make the AK-47, but with the Galil, they made it better. They didn’t invent the bullpup, but their Tavor is one of, if not the best versions of that platform. They didn’t invent the CZ-75, but with the inclusion of a safety/decocker, the IWI Jericho might very well be a better version of even that hallowed sidearm.

Israeli Weapons Industries (IWI) didn’t invent the serialized chassis, either. They certainly didn’t invent the striker-fired, polymer framed gun. But with the MASADA, they might just have created the best striker-fired, polymer framed serialized chassis pistol on the market today.

IWI MASADA 9mm Pistol review

IWI MASADA (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

Stylistically, the semi-automatic MASADA is a deceptive mix. Aggressive cuts in the fore and aft ends of the slide make manipulation easy, but also serve to tie in an aesthetic that continues to the rails on the frame. That gives the gun a cut-up, industrial look. But take a closer look, and you’ll see that the rest of the gun is rounded throughout.

A good example of this is the blended and smoothed angles on top of the slide that lead to those cuts on the sides, and down past the nose, into the frame rail. It’s a smooth look that ends up sharpening at the slide cuts and rail.

IWI MASADA 9mm Pistol review

The IWI MASADA features easy disassembly. (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

Chassis pistols are a neat concept. When the concept is fully employed, you can swap between some calibers, as well as a wide array of frames, barrels, and slides. With a wide menu to support the serialized chassis, a truly modular firearm is possible.

Right now, IWI ain’t there and I can find no information that says it’s going to get there. IWI doesn’t seem to offer even a threaded barrel, much less different frames or slides.

That’s a big disappointment, as I’d choose the MASADA over the other chassis guns — any of them — on the market in a minute. But that’s only if IWI steps up and offers a full array of options. It’s still early in the handgun‘s release, so I’m hoping those other frames, barrels, and slides are forthcoming. Fingers crossed.

IWI MASADA 9mm Pistol review

The IWI MASADA’s internal chassis. (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

Oddly enough, the included instruction manual provides no clue on how to remove the chassis from the frame. But if you’ve ever pulled one out of a SIG SAUER P320, it’s pretty obvious. If you haven’t, read the SIG P320 manual or watch a video online and you’ll get how to remove the chassis from the MASADA . The entire process requires no tools, and took me about 30 seconds to accomplish. It doesn’t require the user to pull the trigger, either.

Even with this base duty model, the MASADA gives the shooter options with sights, optics, controls, and backstraps.

IWI MASADA 9mm Pistol review

IWI MASADA (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

The sights on this particular pistol are the standard white 3-dot version. They are completely functional for daylight shooting, but a much better version is the available tritium 3-dot option.

Both the front and rear sights are drift-adjustable. Unfortunately, the rear sight is ramped in the front, but with a small textured ledge. This makes one-handed emergency slide manipulation in the case of a malfunction hit-or-miss.

IWI MASADA 9mm Pistol review

The optics ready IWI MASADA. (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

I am waiting for IWI to send me their own pistol red dot for testing, but the MASADA ships with interchangeable mounting plates for red dot sights like the Vortex Venom, SIG Romeo, Leupold DeltaPoint, and Trijicon RMR.

IWI ships the MASADA with three different sized backstraps. All three sizes have the same width and texture. Like most interchangeable backstraps, the primary benefit to most shooters will be that this allows a correct length of pull and allow for shooters with different sized hands to get their trigger finger in the optimal position for fast, accurate shooting.

IWI MASADA 9mm Pistol review

IWI MASADA has excellent ergonomics (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

The MASADA includes wrap-around textures on the large grip surfaces. The side texture is mostly ornamental, with relatively little grippiness. The front and rear, however, have a different, and much more aggressive texture, helping to lock the gun tightly into the shooter’s hand.

The slide lock/release, as well as the magazine release are ambidextrous, not just switchable from one side to the other. The MASADA also has one of the better laid out magazine releases I’ve seen on a polymer striker-fired pistol.

IWI MASADA 9mm Pistol review

The IWI MASADA 9mm had fully ambidextrous controls and a blade trigger safety. (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

The magazine release isn’t quite square, but polygonal, with the larger area to the bottom of the gun. The texturing on the release is also in a bit of a pyramid shape.

Small details like this can have big results, and in this case, a very positive one. For my size-large hands, it means that my thumb simply has to sweep down to hit the button. There’s no awkward changing of my grip, and I never failed to hit the magazine even once, whether I used my right or my left hand, with or without a glove. Empty or full, the magazines never failed to eject quickly and completely.

The large ambidextrous slide stop/release was a bit more of a challenge. Not that it was hard to hit, but that it was easy to hit. Those size-large hands come with size-large thumbs, and I found it difficult to keep my firing hand thumb from hitting the slide stop, resulting in a lot of failures to lock back on an empty magazine. This is a common problem I have with guns that have pronounced slide stop/releases, and it goes away entirely when I drop my thumb for single hand firing.

IWI MASADA 9mm Pistol review

IWI MASADA 9mm imported by IWI US. Note the relatively low barrel axis. (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

This model didn’t come with a safety, but according to the IWI website, a model with an ambidextrous safety is being offered by special order.

The front of the frame includes a 4-slot standard Picatinny rail for mounting any number of lights and accoutrements. A quick Duck Duck Go search provided several examples of holsters for the MASADA ready to ship.

IWI MASADA 9mm Pistol review

IWI firearms MASADA (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

Each pistol ships with two 17-round magazines, made in Italy. Again, little things matter. Each of the magazine base plates have cut out ledges on each side. I never had a stuck magazine while shooting the MASADA, but if I had, these relief cuts would allow ample purchase to pull or pry the magazine from the pistol. Additional magazines are available from the IWI website for about $30.

Like most striker-fired polymer framed guns, the trigger on the MASADA is a solid “meh”. There is definitely some squishiness to the trigger, and some mush at the back of the break. However, it’s not too heavy, measuring right at 6 lbs on my Lyman scale. It’s also a surprisingly short pull with a solid reset. Unlike many other pistols in this category, I had no issues keeping the sights on target through the trigger pull.

IWI MASADA 9mm Pistol review

The MASADA’s large trigger guard will easily accommodate gloves when shooting in harsh environmental conditions. (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

As any duty-oriented firearm should, the MASADA operated with perfect, wonderfully boring reliability. I shot a little over 500 rounds through the gun over a few weeks time, and a couple of other people put another hundred rounds or so through it.

I mostly shot the Armscor 115gr FMJ, but I also shot IWI’s 115gr and 147gr Die Cut HP round, as well as 100gr frangibles, and 124gr HPs from a couple of different manufacturers. I lubed the gun with plain old Rem Oil prior to shooting it, and never again during the entire review. I didn’t experience a malfunction of any kind.

IWI MASADA 9mm Pistol review

IWI MASADA (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

The external extractor may, at least theoretically, help with reliable extraction. It’s marked in red on the top edge, providing a subtle but recognizable loaded chamber indicator.

IWI MASADA 9mm Pistol review

IWI MASADA (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

On the bench, the IWI MASADA was a solid, but not spectacular performer. Regardless of manufacturer or type, the heavier grains were universally more precise from the pistol‘s 4.1″ barrel. No 115gr round shot better than any 147gr round.

Oddly enough, it was bullets from Armscor that bracketed the potential precision of the pistol. Shooting five-round groups from a bench at 25 yards and averaged over 4-shot strings, the worst performing round was the Armscor 115gr FMJ. That round printed an average of 2 1/4″. The best performer was, again, Armscor, but this time the 147gr hollow point, printing an average of 1 1/4″ groups under the same conditions. Every other round I tested fell somewhere between those two extremes.

IWI MASADA 9mm Pistol review

The average MASADA trigger didn’t prevent some accurate results. (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

I was impressed with the MASADA after my first range session. It’s a controllable, easy to shoot gun. A controllable gun is a fast gun, and that’s the impression that the MASADA leaves the shooter with.

In long, fast strings of fire, the front sight remains low throughout the recoil cycle. Combine that with a decent, short trigger, and quick follow-up shots are easy, either double or single-handed.

IWI MASADA 9mm Pistol review

With its three backstraps, the IWI Masada can accommodate a wide variety of hand sizes. (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

The MASADA is very much an example of the sum being greater than the parts. The trigger, the full and well textured grip, the deep “beavertail”, the mass of the full length slide, and relatively low bore axis all come together to create a great shooting experience. Every shooter who put rounds through this gun during my review came back with the same conclusion. It’s another striker fired polymer framed duty gun, but one that doesn’t feel like you are squeezing a brick on a stick to make bullets come out of it.

The Israeli Defense Force is a bit bipolar. It’s known for rapidly innovating and deploying solutions, and often holding on to worn out and outdated equipment at the same time.

Their current pistol, the Jericho, isn’t a bad gun by any means, but the MASADA is a solid step up and soldiers on the ground would be well served by it. Of course, the same can be said for shooters here in the US as well.

IWI MASADA 9mm Pistol review

IWI MASADA with front and rear slide serrations. (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

 

Armscor Ammunition

 

Specifications: IWI MASADA Pistol 9mm Pistol

Caliber: 9x19mm
Action: Striker Fired Semi-Automatic
Total length: 7.4″
Barrel Length: 4.1″
Barrel: Cold hammer-forged polygonal rifled barrel
Barrel Twist: 1/10
Weight: 1.4lbs w/o magazine
Height: 5.6″
Width: 1.3″
Sights: Fixed 3 Dot or Tritium
Rail: MIL-STD 1913
Capacity: 17+1
MSRP: $480 (about $450 retail)

Ratings (out of five stars):

Style and Appearance * * *
All the textures, but they tie together well. The finish is smooth and even throughout.

Customization * * * *
At this point, additional backstraps and a couple of sight versions are standard. The addition of multiple plates for a wide array of optics is a plus. If the chassis option menu gets fully developed by IWI, this category has a lot of potential.

Reliability * * * * * 
Perfect reliability using multiple types of rounds, standard and +P, with multiple shooters.

Accuracy * * * *
At the far end, a duty gun shooting 2 1/4″ groups is OK. Shooting heavier rounds cut that by another inch. Close to five stars, but not quite.

Overall * * * *
IWI has a solid performer in their first introduction to the pistol market in a long time, and their first ever striker fired polymer framed gun. It’s easy and enjoyable to shoot, reliable and accurate. If IWI fully supports the MASADA line with multiple barrels, slides, and frames, this gun would handily outperform the current competition, especially with a street price under $450.

comments

  1. avatar Hody Snitch says:

    It would be hard to beat the trigger on the Sig 320. The thing I hate about the Sig is you have to buy a new frame to get a larger size. That is an advantage for Sig but not for me. Beretta has the replaceable back straps but the trigger assembly is a little trickier to change out should you want to change it. This might be promising and the price is okay too.

  2. avatar Specialist38 says:

    This looks a lot like a Ruger American to me. Not a gun I liked.

    Not any more attractive even in Israeli clothing.

    I’ll pass. Good to have choices

    1. avatar No_Ones_Home says:

      Exactly what I was going to say. It’s the Ruger American…now improved with front slide serrations & a cut for mounting optics.

      As for Armscor ammo, its always been good when I’ve been shooting it. The stuff labeled Armscor USA is made in Stevensville, Montana, by HSM Ammunitions (from what I can guess).

      1. avatar Mark H says:

        I have an American Compact.

        There is nothing fundamentally “wrong” with it, but the SR series is arguably a better pistol. Biggest issue I have with the American is it’s just really bulky for it’s capacity. My CZ-75 is slimmer and holds 3 more round.

    2. avatar FunGunner says:

      More like a CZ P10c, which is likely what they modeled it on, given their history of CZ knockoffs.

      1. avatar Specialist38 says:

        No….dont think so….

        Same contour, profile, length, height, etc of the Ruger American.

        https://ruger.com/products/rugerAmericanPistol/specSheets/8605.html

        1. avatar FunGunner says:

          Definitely bears a resemblance to both. I think trigger guard is more CZ-like.

          https://cdn.cz-usa.com/hammer/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/16z_CZP10_R.png

          The Ruger American never interested me either, and I’m generally a Ruger fan. I’ve been happy with my SR9c. I don’t see much of an improvement in the RAP over the SR series.

        2. avatar Specialist38 says:

          I am a SR fan as well. Especially the C.

          Don’t know what they were thinking with the American.

  3. avatar GS650G says:

    Beats Glock on price and it’s from a reputable company. As long as mags are affordable and other calibers come out IWI has a winner.

    1. avatar SoCalJack says:

      Masada OEM mags are $30, glock OEM are $25, but good aftermarket glock mags can be had for $15. If there was a Masada-PCC that accepted the same mags, we’d have a winner.

  4. avatar jwm says:

    As long as you have just the one chassis it doesn’t matter how many barrels, frames, slides you have. You still have only one gun.

    I’m not sure I like that idea.

    1. avatar Specialist38 says:

      Agreed.

      The big advantage I see is if you do your own stipple job and ruin a grip frame, they are easily replaced. Or if you just a more festive colored grip frame.

      Beretta frames seem to be reasonable. Dont know about IWI.

    2. avatar jwtaylor says:

      I’d love to be able to swap back and forth between 9mm and .357Sig, as well as a full frame/slide to compact versions depending on how I’m dressed and using the gun.

      1. avatar Killtron says:

        It’s a neat idea if they price the parts reasonably. Sig charges so much for the conversion kits you are better off buying a second gun, especially since they don’t to my knowledge sell the FCU by itself. I’ve seen conversion kits for sale priced over $400 when you can buy a complete P320 for $465.

        With the P320 about the only ’conversion’ that makes sense is if you buy the Mid-sized 15 round 9mm, you can buy a Compact frame and 12 round magazine for about $80.

      2. avatar jwm says:

        You see it as a cool gadget that you can swap bits on. My take is that I have an excuse to buy more guns. 🙂

        1. avatar kahlil says:

          Agree. I like my .22 kit for my Beretta 96 and might consider the Kadet kit for my CZ but generally I’d rather have a another gun than a modular kit in multiple calibers

        2. avatar jwtaylor says:

          You make a strong point.

  5. avatar Tally Hoe says:

    is it me or does it look like the silencerco Frame?

  6. avatar That Jason says:

    So… copying a production Sig is the new bar for being an innovative company, huh?

    K.

    1. avatar lean4wardhereitcomesagain says:

      As long as the Masada isn’t something you need to send back to the factory for malfunctions within the first couple hundred rounds…and continue the same malfunctions after getting it back (like two Sig P320’s that I had), then I’d much prefer the “copy” over the supposed game-changing original.

      Honest prayer: “Lord, please watch over and protect our men and women in uniform. Because the Sig P320/M17/whatever they wanna call it probably won’t do such a good job of it. And Sig Sauer doesn’t seem to care as long as they have the contract.”

    2. avatar jwtaylor says:

      Did you read the first paragraph?

      1. avatar BOOMERMAXXX says:

        Nothing innovative comes out of Israel. They just take all our money and weapons.

        Have you ever seen a TAvor? It’s a piece of junk.

        1. avatar jwtaylor says:

          Yeah I probably don’t have more than 20 or 30 thousand rounds through a Tavor. Neat guns.

        2. avatar BOOMERMAXXXXXXXX says:

          I have about 6000rd through m16 and and m4. About 100 rounds in combat! I have about 100ish through Tavor. It’s oddly balanced, inaccurate, crappy bullpup trigger, and just generally shitty. I’ll take an AR any day over some crappy oppressive parasite nation’s export junk.

          Not to mention- gas messing with my eyes. Junk. Sad!

          Didn’t need 30000 rounds to tell you that. That’s like $10000 of ammo. Holy cow.

          Even if it was great, I don’t think anyone can support Israel with a clear conscious.

        3. avatar jwtaylor says:

          I’m sorry. If I had realized I was talking to a POG wouldn’t have responded to your comment in the first place.

        4. avatar Greg says:

          Agree, the AUG is superior.

        5. avatar BOOMERMAXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX says:

          POG? Fuck you. Do you know what Helman was like? It was walk around until you get blown up. I was 11B, btw.

          Have fun inhaling exhaust from your ZOG Tupperware.

        6. avatar jwtaylor says:

          Yes, I do, and no, you weren’t.

  7. avatar BlueLightning says:

    Seems like anything guns and tactics related that comes out of Israel is mildly retarded and has a cult like fanatical following. Their tacticool shooting stuff is hilarious.

    1. avatar Specialist38 says:

      Chuck Yeager wearing a toupe?

      1. avatar DaTruth says:

        I think you are getting an American hero mixed up with an American clown.
        Don’t you mean James Yeager????

        1. avatar Specialist38 says:

          LMAO…. you are absolutely right.

          At least you kinda knew what I meant .

    2. avatar M1Lou says:

      Don’t forget the tactical shimmy get your head shot off maneuver!

      https://www.everydaynodaysoff.com/2019/04/04/the-tactical-look-shimmy-is-so-hot-right-now/

      1. avatar kahlil says:

        I’d like to actually see some of the “tactical” courses/dance clubs be experienced with Simunition. Lets see how people really move when the aren’t acting and actually have some skin in the game.

  8. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

    I have a little experience with Israeli weapons. Mostly rifles and SMG. No doubt this is a serviceable pistol, but I think it will be lost in the tidal wave of polymer pistols.

  9. avatar Meanoldmike says:

    Um…Masada? A handgun for mass suicide LOL! There have to be a thousand better names…..

    1. avatar Specialist38 says:

      Maccabbee

    2. avatar jwtaylor says:

      A small group of refugees held off an entire Roman legion, 10,000 men, for years. The Romans then used captive Jewish slaves to build a siege ramp to the city. Instead of becoming slaves themselves, the Jews living in the Masada refuge decided to kill themselves, dying as free men and women and inspiring generations to resist.

  10. avatar eddythedog says:

    ummm, what’s the chance the spring hanging down into space when the chassis is out get’s bent/damaged? No way to figure out how to put some material around that to keep it from potential damage?

    From my perspective, the P320 is fully mature at this point with plenty of aftermarket support. Not sure this one is going anywhere except with the IWI fanboys…

    1. avatar ‘liljoe says:

      Nope, I’m a IWI and IMI fanboy, own an uzi, tavor, 2 different jerichos… this hold no interest for me.

  11. avatar M1Lou says:

    I might have to pick one up to add to the collection. My favorite striker fired pistol I own right now is my CZ P-10c. Next in line would be my Grand Power Q100. I will have to compare the three.

  12. avatar Greg says:

    I support Israel enough with my tax dollars. Remember the USS Liberty!

    1. avatar Wooden doors? says:

      Wrongthink goy. Next you’ll start doing the math on the Holocaust- how many ovens per body per hour? Oh no…

      Yad Vashem had to admit the lampshades were fake.

    2. avatar BOOMERMAXXXX says:

      Boomers only love Israel because they watch TV. Which is owned by Jews.

      Mossad finances 9/11 and ISIS. #truth

      Kill your TV. Smash it.

      1. avatar Dov Even says:

        At lest those Israeli jokers didn’t let 19 rug heads bring down the whole system in US, not to mention killing so many innocents….and so far no one is held responsible.

  13. avatar StuckInIllinois says:

    Would love to show one of these to my lefty, almost commie, BDS supporting ex neighbors. 👍

    1. avatar R Andy w eaver says:

      Edited to pass censors: I will not buy just to anger my Zio OccupationalGov supporting, America-second, c. u-ckservatives. I believe in America-first!

      Why do you support That country so much? They just got caught spying on us. We give them so much money it’s not even funny. And USS Liberty?

      They displaced and stole homes from Christians to create their bizarre Communist Fornicating Kibbutz experiment. Hard pass.

      1. avatar BOOMERMAX says:

        Zionism is truly bizarre. The communism, the whole kibbutz wife sharing thing- would truly appall most Christians.

        People forget about the large Christian Palestinian population.

        Wake up boomers. Israel is not your friend.

        1. avatar jwm says:

          Wow. Holding a conversation with yourself just to appear to have support. Fucking unreal loser.

  14. avatar Jason says:

    White don’t manufacturer’s understand what “modulatority” means?
    It would seem manufacturers are missing out on extra income by selling us modules.

    1. avatar Jason says:

      I meant “modularity”.

  15. avatar Jason says:

    Is the grip angle different than Sig P320?

  16. avatar Mad Cow says:

    If I were looking to buy a full size handgun today, the Masada would be in the mix. Thanks for the thorough rundown, as always, JWT!

    I’m honestly just glad to have a JWT review again! Do you write anywhere else? Two months between reviews is too long.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      Thanks. I’ll have a couple more reviews from TTAG this month. No, I don’t write reviews for anyone else. I just don’t have the time to spend writing much over the last year or so, and I don’t see that changing soon. TTAG is always looking for writers.

      1. avatar Specialist38 says:

        I’m guessing it doesn’t pay enough to be your day job. 😬

        1. avatar jwtaylor says:

          TTAG makes up less than 1% of my income. It’s always been about the guns.

  17. avatar Tim U says:

    Without fail, literally any review featuring an Israeli made firearm or accessory, no matter the author’s reception to said item, all the anti-Semite conspiracy theorists pop out in the comments.

    Christian Arabs have it worse under Muslim Palestinians then they do under Jews, period. Using that example is pretty flawed.

    The rest? Yeah, I’m not even wasting my time on the full bore conspiracy “Jews rule the world” nonsense.

  18. avatar Stephen Fogg says:

    Masada Trigger:
    I bought a Masada recently and found it to be very reliable. However, the metal trigger bites into my finger after 10 rounds or so and becomes so uncomfortable that I want to stop shooting it. Has anyone else noticed this to be an issue?

  19. avatar Cactus Jim says:

    Based on reviews, I picked up a new Masada yesterday at a gun show. I think I got more than my money’s worth in value. Feels just right comfortable in my hand and the trigger feels like I won’t have to mess with it at all. Nice crisp release. Wife can operate the slide where she can’t move my Glock. Barrel looks like you could put a million rounds through it and not mess it up. Looking forward to some range and ranch time with it. As far as the political comments here, I’ll just say, I’d rather pay a Jew for a hand full of sand than receive free water from a Muslim. 🇺🇸

  20. avatar Stephen Fogg says:

    It seems to me to be a well made and designed pistol created to compete with the Glock 19. Lots of features that you would pay extra for if you bought a Glock, such as night sights and a pre-cut opening for RMRs along with four mounting plates for the leading red dot brands. The trigger shoe, unfortunately, is made of metal and becomes quite uncomfortable for my finger after firing a few rounds.

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