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Shadow Systems Full-Size DR920P and Subcompact CR920 Handguns: Full Review

A complete review of Shadow Systems' latest two handguns: the new comp'd, full-size DR920P and high-capacity, covert-carry CR920.

Shadow Systems Full-Size DR920P and Subcompact CR920 Handguns: Full Review

(Michael Anschuetz photo)

The world of striker-fired polymer handguns designed for defensive and competitive use is a crowded one. This can make it tough for any manufacturer, even a large one, to stand out. However, Plano, Texas-based Shadow Systems is doing just that. Though they are a relatively new player, the well-engineered, high-quality handguns are building a coveted reputation. Various configurations are available ranging in size, barrel length and capacity. These are pistols designed to meet the needs of shooters, not a marketing team. Shadow Systems’ two newest designs, the compensated full-size DR920P and the subcompact CR920, are great examples of giving the market what it wants.

Shooting is part of Shadow Systems’ DNA. This is not a company staffed by gun-industry veterans, but by “shooters, cops and SWAT guys,” CEO Trevor Roe told us. Roe himself grew up reading Guns & Ammo and became a competitive shooter at a young age. At 15, he rose to be the youngest Master-rated USPSA Limited Division shooter in history. He competed with the Combat Weapons Team at West Point before deploying to combat zones in both Afghanistan and Iraq as a U.S. Army infantry officer. His experience as a competitor and a soldier is evident in the company’s designs.

Under Roe’s leadership, Shadow Systems has grown exponentially. The company only had five employees in 2017, but now has more than 150. The guns are built completely in-house including the machining, barrel making and frame molding, tasks that are often outsourced.

Shadow Systems Full-Size DR920P and Subcompact CR920 Handguns: Full Review
Shadow Systems DR920P and CR920 (Michael Anschuetz photo)

A quick glance at Shadow Systems’ handguns indicate that they are fundamentally based on the Glock design, but let’s put that into perspective. For many years, the Colt Model 1911/1911A1 was the dominant semiautomatic handgun for defensive and competition use. Individuals began customizing 1911s and created accessories that evolved into an entire aftermarket of non-Colt M1911s. Today, the Model 1911 is a handgun category, not as much a description for Colt’s products. The same thing happened with Gaston Glock’s pistols as the early patents continue to expire. We are at the point where “Glock” is not merely a brand, rather it is a shorthand name for the operating system.

The widespread popularity of the striker-fired pistol, particularly among law enforcement agencies, stemmed from its reputation for durability and reliability. There are many companies building slick-looking clones. Shadow Systems was determined to be different and improve the design.

“We wanted to maintain the safety and reliability but get rid of the ‘wet 2x4’ ergonomics,” Roe said. From our recent experience, they have accomplished that goal. Guns & Ammo Executive Editor Joe Kurtenbach put thousands of rounds through a personal Shadow Systems handgun, and it hasn’t missed a beat.

Only four handgun manufacturers currently produce firearms certified by the National Institute for Justice (NIJ) for law enforcement use: Beretta, Glock, Shadow Systems and Smith & Wesson. Shadow Systems’ DR920 (full-size) and MR920 (compact) models were deemed NIJ compliant on June 3, 2021. There is a real advantage in carrying an NIJ-certified, factory-built handgun if one is ever put in the unfortunate circumstance of having to use it defensively. Shadow Systems provides all the advantages of a tuned custom handgun with none of the reliability, safety or liability concerns.

The two new models from Shadow Systems sit at opposite ends of the handgun spectrum. The DR920P — the prefix initials stand for “Duty Role” — pairs a full-size frame and 17-plus-one-round capacity with a compact slide. (Think Glock 45.) A compensator sits beyond the slide, bringing the overall length to 81/2 inches. For reference, the DR920P is compatible for holsters designed for the Glock 34.

Shadow Systems Full-Size DR920P and Subcompact CR920 Handguns: Full Review
The DR920P disassembles like a Glock-pattern pistol, however, the pinned compensator must be removed before the barrel can be pulled from the slide assembly. (Michael Anschuetz photo)

The DR920P has a 41/2-inch 416R stainless steel barrel with broach-cut rifling and spiral flutes. Both black nitride and bronze titanium carbonitride (TiCN)-finished barrels are available. The traditional lands and grooves allow for use of lead bullets, which is considered by some to be an advantage versus Glock’s polygonal rifling. The aluminum single-port compensator, rather than being threaded on, is secured by a captive pin that is removeable for disassembly. This makes it potentially legal in jurisdictions where threaded barrels are prohibited.

Shadow Systems Full-Size DR920P and Subcompact CR920 Handguns: Full Review
The front sight does not reciprocate with the slide since it is part of the compensator. It cowitnesses with the rear sight notch through the Holosun HS507C X2. (Michael Anschuetz photo)

A high-temperature polymer O-ring provides a gas seal between the barrel and the compensator. Keyed into the top of the barrel is a device that prevents the compensator from rotating, too, which is a patent-pending system. A compensator on a defensive handgun can be a controversial subject. Sure, it’s louder, but for a SWAT team throwing flashbangs and wearing ear protection, the comp’s increased blast is a non-issue.

The polymer frame on the DR920P is aggressively undercut below the triggerguard, allowing for a high grip. Grip panels are strongly textured in a stippling pattern that is secure without being too abrasive. A small shelf and textured section of the frame provides an ideal and secure position for the weak-hand thumb. Even the front of the triggerguard is textured, which is a rare feature on a polymer-framed handgun. A beavertail extends well past the rear of the slide, ensuring that slide bite won’t be an issue, regardless of hand size.

Shadow Systems Full-Size DR920P and Subcompact CR920 Handguns: Full Review
Shadow Systems engineers developed their own pinned compensator — it does not thread on — which features a patent-pending design for how it attaches to the barrel. An O-ring seals it. (Michael Anschuetz photo)

Compact and full-size guns, including the DR920P, use a system of three interchangeable backstraps. Shadow Systems calls it the Natural Point of Aim (NPOA) system. The NPOA doesn’t change the size of the grip, but rather the relationship between the grip angle and the shooter’s hand. After some experimentation, I determined that the flattest of the three brought the sights to the target most naturally for me. Swapping backstraps only takes a few seconds, and a handy tool is included. The magazine well is flared slightly, and an easily installed extended magazine well also ships with the gun.


The slide on the DR920P is machined with aesthetic and functional touches including front and rear cocking serrations. There are few, if any, sharp edges or angles on this handgun.

Shadow Systems Full-Size DR920P and Subcompact CR920 Handguns: Full Review
The trigger used on the DR920P maintains an integral safety lever that is intuitively pressed when firing. The trigger’s resistance averaged 43/4 pounds on a digital gauge. (Michael Anschuetz photo)

All Shadow Systems handguns are built optics-ready. This is for good reason given 70 percent of law enforcement orders that Shadow Systems receives are for handguns that will wear some flavor of optic. To accommodate this reality, company engineers took a deep dive to create the best system possible. The mounting method they created was unique enough to receive a patent.

The goal was to have the optic sit as low as possible without the need for adapter plates or other contrivances. This was a challenge since, on the Glock design, the plunger assembly that tensions the extractor is directly below the optic mounting screw holes. Shadow Systems designed the plunger system to provide identical tension, but in a more compact size that allows for a low-mounted optic and fastener screws that run the full height of the slide. A non-compressible polymer spacer allows for compatibility with several different optic footprints.

Shadow Systems Full-Size DR920P and Subcompact CR920 Handguns: Full Review
Two, 17-round Magpul PMAGs are included with the purchase of the DR920P. Spares can be purchased at $15 (Michael Anschuetz photo)

The net effect is that the optic sits lower than on any handgun in this category. With most designs, tall suppressor-height sights are necessary to co-witness with an optic. With the Shadow Systems setup, the dot and sights are aligned with sights that are only slightly taller than normal and will not interfere with holster fit. The only popular optic that does not co-witness is the Leupold DeltaPoint Pro ($450,, which is a taller system than its competitors. We mounted both a Holosun HS507C X2 ($365, and a Trijicon RMR Type 2 ($700, our test sample without issue. The iron sights on the DR920P couple a green outline HD tritium front with a serrated black rear notch. The rear sight is dovetailed into the slide behind the optic mount and the front sight is secured to the compensator with a hex screw. Since the front sight sits on the compensator, the sight radius is maximized. And, because the front sight does not cycle with the slide, it is easy to track during rapid fire.

Shadow Systems Full-Size DR920P and Subcompact CR920 Handguns: Full Review
The slide is machined from 17-4 stainless steel, and the 3.41-inch barrel from 416R stainless. It’s good looks are function throughout. (Michael Anschuetz photo)

From a control perspective, the DR920P is simple. There is no manual safety, but a passive lever-style is inset into the flat-faced trigger. The trigger on our sample averaged 43/4 pounds with minimal creep. The reset was short and tactile. The trigger pull on the DR920P is about as good as you’ll find on any striker-fired handgun. The oversize magazine release is accessible without shifting one’s grip on the gun. The DR920P ships with two PMAG 17-round magazines, but are compatible with any feeding devices designed for the Glock 17.

Shadow Systems Full-Size DR920P and Subcompact CR920 Handguns: Full Review
New for Spring 2022 is the CR920, and it is the smallest of Shadow Systems offerings. The length is 6.37 inches and width is 1.05 inches. With the extended mag (shown), it measures 4.79 inches in height. (Michael Anschuetz photo)

I put several hundred rounds, both with and without optics, through the DR920P with zero malfunctions. The combination of excellent sights, a good and repeatable trigger and an effective compensator allowed me to shoot fast and still make consistent hits on multiple steel targets. I did remove the Holosun optic for accuracy testing since I had trouble with the red dot washing out the 25-yard target. To each his own, but I’m still an iron sight kind of guy.

The second model that tested was the new “Cover Role” CR920. This is a subcompact handgun built to maximize concealment while maintaining much of the capacity and shootability of larger handguns. This handgun fits into the popular micro 9mm category, and is comparable to the Glock 43X MOS ($550). The CR920 is compact enough for pocket carry but it shoots and handles like a larger handgun.

Shadow Systems Full-Size DR920P and Subcompact CR920 Handguns: Full Review
The CR920 comes with two magazines: A 10-rounder that’s best for maximum concealment, and a 13-round extended mag for additional capacity. (Michael Anschuetz photo)

Despite sharing a similar footprint with the G43X and the same 10-round capacity in the standard magazine, the CR920 includes a 13-round mag featuring an extended base pad. For the CR920, Shadow Systems designed its own proprietary magazine that marries capacity with concealability.

Many of the features found on Shadow Systems’ larger handguns are present on the CR920. The frame is similarly undercut and textured as other models, but the NPOA backstrap system is absent. With a flush-fit magazine in place, I was just able to get a full-fingered grip on the gun. Those with XL or larger hands may prefer the extended magazine to achieve the same grip. The well-positioned flared front edge of the magazine well helped keep my pinky finger in place during recoil.

Shadow Systems Full-Size DR920P and Subcompact CR920 Handguns: Full Review
The CR920 is optic ready, but out of the box it comes with a coverplate installed. The HD front sight is bright and easy to align quickly with the serrated, square-notch rear sight. Both are steel. (Michael Anschuetz photo)

The frame’s dustcover features an accessory rail that is compatible with many of the smaller pistol lights developed for micro-compacts. The CR920 is also compatible with holsters made for the G43X MOS and G48 MOS.

G&A’s test sample was the CR920 Elite, which includes window cuts and top serrations on the slide as well as an optic-mounting system. I did not mount an optic to this gun, rather I defaulted to using the combination of a green-outline tritium front sight paired with a serrated black rear. Both black nitride and bronze barrels are available for the CR920, both of which are spiral fluted. The flat-faced trigger averaged 51/2 pounds for 10 pulls on a gauge, and there was a hint of creep with this model. Despite its small size, the CR920 was easy to shoot well. It was accurate and reliable. I would have zero hesitation in using this as a daily carry gun.

Shadow Systems Full-Size DR920P and Subcompact CR920 Handguns: Full Review
(Michael Anschuetz photo)

Shadow Systems is not another company making clones of the Glock actions. It is a well-funded, bona fide firearms manufacturer with its own internal engineering, manufacturing and testing capabilities. If you are looking for a handgun for duty, home defense, competition or concealed carry, Shadow Systems likely has a model built with your needs in mind. These are guns designed and assembled by shooters for shooters, which I found evident in the DR920P and CR920.


  • TYPE: Striker-fired, semiautomatic
  • CARTRIDGE: 9mm
  • CAPACITY: 17+1 rds.
  • BARREL: 4.5 in.
  • OVERALL LENGTH: 8.5 in.
  • WIDTH: 1.2 in.
  • HEIGHT: 5.5 in.
  • WEIGHT: 1 lb., 4.4 oz.
  • FINISH: Nitride
  • GRIP: Polymer, textured (frame)
  • SIGHTS: Steel, tritium dot (front)
  • TRIGGER: 4 lbs., 12 oz.
  • MSRP: $1,293
  • MANUFACTURER: Shadow Systems,


  • TYPE: Striker-fired, semiautomatic
  • CARTRIDGE: 9mm
  • CAPACITY: 10+1 or 13+1 rds.
  • BARREL: 3.25 in.
  • OVERALL LENGTH: 6.37 in.
  • WIDTH: 1.05 in.
  • HEIGHT: 4.25 in.
  • WEIGHT: 1 lb., 1.8 oz.
  • FINISH: Nitride
  • GRIP: Polymer, textured (frame)
  • SIGHTS: Steel, tritium dot (front)
  • TRIGGER: 5 lbs., 8 oz.
  • MSRP: $679
  • MANUFACTURER: Shadow Systems,
Shadow Systems Full-Size DR920P and Subcompact CR920 Handguns: Full Review
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