Israel Weapons Industry (IWI) Masada Optics Ready 9mm Pistol

The IWI Masada is an excellent pistol, designed for a lifetime of service-hard use service at that.

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Israel Weapons Industry or IWI (formerly known as IMI) manufactures a line of rifles and pistols originally developed for use by members of the Israeli Defense Forces. The Israeli's have long had an amazing reputation for not only developing their own weapons systems (like the UZI submachine gun) or modifying existing weapons systems and improving on them-an example being IWI's "Jericho" series of combat pistols, which are based on the CZ-75. Now, IWI has introduced a new pistol which could be successor to the Jericho lineup.

The Masada is billed as an "advanced solution to modern battlefield requirements" and is "built to withstand and endure all types of military use and abuse in extremely harsh environmental conditions". This means the Masada should be tough enough to withstand any situation or harsh conditions you are likely to encounter.

The Masada was designed with more than just an eye towards toughness. It appears from my testing that designing it for shooter friendliness was equally as important. For instance, the barrel has a low profile that keeps it closer to the shooters hand, thus reducing felt recoil. Operating controls-consisting of the slide release and magazine release-are fully ambidextrous. Both slide release and magazine release are easily operated. The frame is polymer and is designed to ensure a natural pointing angle and features a molded in accessory rail. There is an integral pivoting lever in the center of the trigger that serves as an automatic safety. There is no additional manual safety lever. The trigger pull weight is listed as six pounds. Three interchangeable backstraps are included to insure exacting hand fit. Magazine capacity is 17 rounds, and the Italian made magazine bodies are steel with an IWI marked polymer base. Two are included with the gun.

While the Masada is shipped with fixed three dots sights, it is an "Optics Ready" pistol, with four adaptor plates included. I had the opportunity to test a rental Masada at the Vance Outdoor Range with a Holosun HS510C Reflex sight with red reticle already mounted.

The Holosun Reflex sight has a several important features that make this type of sighting system more viable than it once was for defensive use. The most important is the "Shake Awake" technology eliminates the need for a manually operated power switch-a critical feature for getting into action in a hurry. Another feature that adds to the viability of a combat reflex sight is the dual power solar cell/high capacity battery system that helps assure that the electronic dot is there when you need it.

I conducted my test beginning at 20 feet using American Eagle 124 grain FMJ ammo. I was impressed that I was able to load the magazine to full capacity without a loading tool-although round 17 required a good deal of force to seat. That is still better than some competing designs.

The magazine seated in place as slick as can be-which is to be expected when using steel magazines in polymer framed pistols. The slide release provides ample leverage for dropping the slide.

The Holosun sight co-witnesses with the existing fixed sights, although they sit relatively low in the sight frame. I can't emphasize strongly enough how important backup iron sights are when using a reflex-sighted pistol for defense!

The Masada's trigger pull is very nice for a gun of this type and easily managed. One of the most important qualities of the trigger is that I didn't detect any "sting" on my trigger finger during firing, which sometimes happen with trigger lever type safety systems, which made my testing experience much more enjoyable. IWI's attention to ergonomics in the design of the Masada is no joke. The Masada is comfortable to shoot, points on target naturally, and recoil is easily managed.

The Holosun had just been mounted on the Masada without much time available to sight it in. Because of this, my first group landed a bit low. However, those five shots landed in a nice group measuring 1.5 inches. Using the co-witnessed fixed sights, I managed a dead center group measuring 2 inches.

I moved back to 30 feet, and again used the Holosun. This time I twice managed 2.5 inch groups that were centered in the target ring. With or without the optic, this represents excellent accuracy that a first glance in a pistol appeared to be just another polymer framed "Wonder-Nine".

The IWI Masada is an excellent pistol, designed for a lifetime of service-hard use service at that.