IWI MASADA Optics Ready Modular Pistol: The Israeli Poly Wonder
I would like to preface this post by stating that I do not subscribe to the optics-on-pistols movement that has begun to permeate the industry. It’s not to say that an optic on a pistol can’t push the performance envelope for a professional-level shooter — I think that has been thoroughly demonstrated. My problem is that, most often, the optic on the pistol turns into a crutch rather than being an asset. An optic doesn’t fix poor fundamentals; it just makes you look cooler on Instagram, and you can miss twice as fast when you don’t have to line up the front and rear sight.
Off my soapbox.
IWI Masada Features
New for 2019 the Masada is IWI’s (Israeli Weapons Industry) entry into the poly wonder striker-fired pistol market. The pistol would be classified as a full-size or duty pistol similar in size to a Glock 19 and has a magazine capacity of 17. The Masada magazines are proprietary steel construction with a polymer baseplate. The baseplate is complete with redundant extrusions on both the front and sides. Anyone who plans to take a training course in the mud this year will appreciate those.
The mags lock up at a single point at the front of the magazine, allowing the ambidextrous release to work uniformly irrespective of handedness. The gun comes with two mags.
The pistol itself is constructed of fiberglass-reinforced polymer frame with a removable serialized trigger pack. Similar to the concept of the Sig 320 series, this leaves the door open for the future frame, and accessory additions should help the end-user desire a change of size.
The calling card of the Masada is a fully ambidextrous low bore axis pistol designed to fit a wide range of shooters. To accomplish this, the designers went with a more natural grip angle somewhere between the Smith and Wesson M&P and the Glock pistols. In place of the finger grooves, the Israelis elected to go with a textured grip with a single swell at the base to accommodate just about any size hand; this concept works well with the three interchangeable backs straps.
The Masada has a comparably deep beavertail that shifts the center of balance a little farther forward leaving some space in the slide for an optics cut. I’ll come back to this in a minute.
The trigger weighs in on our scale around five and a half pounds and has one of those trigger safeties we have come to expect on striker-fired pistols.
MASADA comes with a polygonal rifled, cold hammer-forged 4.1” 1:10 Twist barrel and is driven by a single-weave recoil spring wrapped around a metal guide rod.
The slide is your typical internal rail slide common with tilting breach actions and comes complete with rear and front slide serrations for you lefties out there.
Optics Ready Handgun
Coming back around to the optics ready cut. Two screws remove to reveal a cut out that accepts multiple included baseplates set up for the specific thread pattern of the intended optic. Patterns included are delta point, Trijicon RMR, SIG Romeo 1, and Vortex Venom. When not in use, the port is covered by a polymer shield and does not interact with the rear sight.
Speaking of sights, IWI sends the gun with a set of 3 dot sights that are designed by someone concerned about snagging their pistol by the sights. That said, there still is a small lip on the rear sight for those training one-handed manipulations. The sights are driftable, and we can expect the after-factory market to come out with a host of sight packages as they do with every other pistol that incorporates that level of modularity into the design.
Other peripheral features of the pistol that should be mentioned are a loaded chamber indicator, an accessory rail for mounting lights and lasers, oversized trigger guard for those winter gloves, and ambidextrous slide release for anyone who likes a bunch of buttons on their gun.
In our time with the IWI Masada, we pumped a little more than 1500 rounds through the gun and had only a few suggestions for continuous improvement of the design.
One of the things IWI should do when they come to market with new frames is to include a more aggressive option. Right now, the texture is an appendix carry dream, but we had a few very … greasy … days on the range. I thought it was a strange problem for a gun designed in the middle of a desert. Maybe this is the Americanized version and they think we have it easy here because it doesn’t get hot enough to melt EoTech glass.
I’m nit-picky, and I want to preface this by saying that I only tested the gun with an RMR. The optics plates are made of polymer; if they were made of aluminum or steel, it’s conceivable to make them slightly thinner. As it sits, the RMR body obscures the alignment of the factory sights. If the plate were slightly thinner, it would be possible to gain a sight picture with the iron sights — a consideration that may be important should your optic die at the least convenient time, which happened to me during testing.
It would be great if IWI gave a list of preferred manufacturers that provided commercial support in the Masada holster department. This requires minimal effort to accomplish and could be switched on at any moment with a few calls that amount to:
“Hey, we make a cool pistol. You make nice holsters. Can we send you a few pistols and see what you can do? If you do a good job, we will put you on our list of places to shop for Masada holsters for sale.”
What the Masada Does Well
The gun hits what you are shooting at. I know this sounds a bit ethereal, but we have all shot a pistol or two that has something off. Sometimes it will be a single feature, other times it will be small compounded idiosyncrasies that get in your way. This is not that gun. Put simply, the Masada is greater than the sum of its features and comes in quite competitively to other poly magic pistols on the market.
We are concerned, though, that Israel may be cheating, has recovered the Ark of the Covenant, and is running the assembly line past it as the pistols got to shipping. If so, I would like to formally request a piece. No official statement needs to be made at this time.
Owner of the VSO Gun channel and President of VSOrdnance, a firearms industry R&D firm. Curtis specializes in breaking new products if there is a weakness he finds it. From firearms to accessories VSO covers it all.