About this time last year, I did a review for a print publication on the Masterpiece Arms MPA10T - a semiauto only .45ACP MAC-style pistol. The gun was fun to shoot, and worked 100% of the time. The only thing I didn't care for was the weight of the gun - it was heavy, and a little bit bulky, especially with the 30 round magazine in-place and fully loaded. If you're interested in a short history of the MAC-style of submachine guns, check out this web page.
When I lived in Colorado Springs, Colorado some years ago, a friend and I ran a gun shop out of his gas station, and we sold a lot of SWD M-11/9 pistols. This was the semiauto version of the MAC-style pistol in 9mm. Matter of fact, we sold more SWD M-11/9s than any other type of gun. Back then, you could get an SWD for about $189 with a 32 round magazine, magazine loader and barrel extension (read: false suppressor). It was a great deal. Only problem was, it was a hit or miss - if you got a gun that would function all the time. More often than not though, the guns worked. The biggest problem was the Zytel 32 round magazines that came with the guns. They were poorly made and the feed-lips would often break, or the, magazine would split, making it totally useless. Still, we sold hundreds of those SWD M-11/9s.
Enter Masterpiece Arms http://www.masterpiecearms.com/ and they are doing the MAC-style semiauto-only guns the right way these days. Everything about the MPA line of guns is being done right. The welds on the stamped sheet lower and upper receivers are expertly done, and the tolerances are extremely tight - tighter than you can imagine on this type of gun. What amazed me more than anything on my MPA930T-GR sample was the trigger pull, it was outstanding - breaking at about 4.5 lbs. There is also an easily reached safety on the right side of the lower receiver, that turns 180-degrees for "safe" and 180-dgrees back for "fire."
My sample MPA 9mm pistol is a new version called the "Grim Reaper" and it got this name from the Grim Reaper finish on the gun and barrel extension. There are skulls and bones all over the gun. This may or not appeal to you. I like the look. Now, does this gun differ from the standard MPA 9mm mini-pistol? No, only the Grim Reaper finish on the gun is different from the other 9mm minipistol that MPA manufactures. However, the kool-factor is there, and everyone who saw, handled and fired my sample loved the look of the gun with the Grim Reaper finish on it.
The MPA930T-GR is what MPA likes to call a "Mini" 9mm pistol - and compared to the full-sized version, it really is mini in size. The Grim Reaper comes with a top cocker - some of the other MPA guns can be had with a side cocking handle if you want to mount some sort of red dot sight on top of the gun. I prefer the top cocking versions - seems more natural to me, more like other semiauto pistols, where you chamber a round by pulling back on the slide. With the Grim Reaper, you grab and retract the cocking handle on top of the upper receiver.
The sights are improved, in that, the front sight is adjustable for elevation by screwing it up or down. I didn't like how easily the front sight screwed up and down, and once I had it adjusted for the proper elevation, I used some Loc-Tite on it and it stayed put. The rear sight is crude, "U"shaped, open type, but functional, and gives a fast sight picture. There is no windage adjustment on the rear sight - however, I found it to be dead-on for windage. Right off the bat, I'll tell you, this little Grim Reaper was accurate - I honestly wasn't expecting this type of accuracy - I was getting about 4" groups at 25-yards, and that was hand-held. With the 32 round magazine in place, I couldn't bench rest the gun 'cause it was too tall.
The MPA web site states that the Grim Reaper comes with a 30 round magazine - in fact, they are 32 round magazines. The magazines are made by TAPCO, and are some type of poly material - much better made than the SWD Zytel magazines - I don't see these magazines falling apart or breaking like the old Zytel magazines did that SWD provided with their guns. The magazines were fairly easy to load by hand, but some of the many folks who shot my sample could only load about 25 rounds into the mag, then they had to use the supplied magazine loading tool to top-off the magazine. I found, as I have with Glock magazines, is that you fully load the magazines, and let 'em sit for a couple of weeks, then they can easily be fully loaded by hand, without use of the loading tool. The spring just needs to be worked in order to make the magazine easier to load by hand.
What you get with the Grim Reaper package is a very nice polymer carrying case, the Grim Reaper mini 9mm pistol, a magazine loading tool, long barrel extension that looks like a sound suppressor, and a short barrel extension that acts more like a flash suppressor, and a very complete instruction manual that is easy to read and understand. There is also a limited lifetime guarantee on this gun. The 3 1/2 barrel is threaded 1/2X28" so if you want to jump through the FedGov red tape and pay the $200 transfer tax to get a real sound suppressor for it - the gun will take a real suppressor. If you live in Kalifornia, you can get a non-threaded version - that comes with the mandated 10 round magazine. Of course, this kinda defeats the purpose of this style of gun - limiting yourself to only 10 rounds. The real fun-factor of this gun is the 32 round capacity magazine.
I fired Black Hills Ammunition and Buffalo Bore Ammunition as well as Winchester 9mm through this gun, and the accuracy results were all just about the same...most loads shot right around a 4" groups at 25-yards if I did my part. There honestly wasn't a winner with any of the above ammo tested...the gun didn't seem to prefer one brand of ammo over another in the accuracy department. MPA recommends that you only use factory new FMJ 9mm ammo in their guns. However, I found that my Grim Reaper would fire all manner of JHP ammo without any problems, as well as +P and +P+ fodder. Black Hills provided me with their 9mm +P 115-gr Barnes all-copper hollow ammo, as well as their 115-gr FMJ and 124-gr FMJ reloaded ammo for testing, and every round went "bang" when the trigger was pulled. Buffalo Bore supplied me with their 115-gr +P+ Barnes all-copper hollow point ammo, as well as their 95-gr +P+ all-copper hollow point ammo - no problems with this hotter ammo - the Grim Reaper just continued to perk along. Winchester provided me with their USA brand, white box 115-gr FMJ ammo - again, no problems were encountered with their ammo. No matter what I fed the Grim Reaper, it continued to function perfectly. I will say though, that the Grim Reaper seemed to like the +P and +P+ loads a little better - nothing scientific that I can point to, but the gun just ate this stuff up like it was candy.
I fire more of the Black Hills 115 grain and 124 grain FMJ reloads through the Grim Reaper than any other ammo, and as with all Black Hills reloads, I encountered no malfunctions. I've stated before, that I'd have no problems loading and carrying Black Hills reloaded ammo in my guns for self-defense, and that still rings true. I'd trust the Black Hills reloads before I'd trust some other brand-new ammo from some other big name ammo makers.
Other folks who shot my Grim Reaper sample provided their own ammo, which was usually a mix of all types of ammo and different brands. And, not one of us had any problems - well, that's not exactly true - the problems they all encountered was that, they didn't bring enough ammo with 'em...they all complained "I should have brought more ammo with me.." was commonly heard. It wasn't unusual for one of the shooters to burn through 300 rounds of ammo in half an hour - I kid you not. In all, more than 2,000 rounds of various types of ammo went through the Grim Reaper - and during that time, the gun was not cleaned or lubricated once. I lubed the gun when I first took it out of the box, and I didn't lube it during the testing - and the gun still hasn't seen a cleaning or any lube. What's nice about the MPA Grim Reaper is that, it runs very well, with very little lube.
I don't care for the fact that the Grim Reaper only comes with one 32 round magazine - I'd like to see a second mag included, even if MPA has to charge a little more for it. The gun weighs in, empty, at just slightly under 3 pounds - so it's fast and easy to shoot. The recoil? No one said the gun "kicked" at all. One person said there was some trigger slap - but no one else complained about this. There is a poly trigger cover on the trigger to prevent trigger slap or at least reduce the felt trigger slap. Personally, I didn't feel any trigger slap. Without a doubt, you need to shoot the Grim Reaper with the longer barrel extension attached - it gives you something to hold onto, with your off-hand in rapid fire. And, burning through a couple of mags, rapid fire, the barrel extension did feel warm to the touch, but it never got hot. I didn't like the flash suppressor barrel extension, though - nothing to really grab on to. The longer barrel extension would work itself loose after a magazine or two, and I'd have to tighten it down. I found a quick and easy fix for this. I applied some plumbers Nylon tape wrapped around the threaded barrel took care of things. I wrapped the plumbers tape around the threads a couple times, then screwed the long barrel extension on, and it stayed put and didn't unscrew itself. You could also apply some blue Loc-Tite and it would probably accomplish the same thing.
I ordered some spare 32 round magazines for my Grim Reaper, they are available from Masterpiece Arms, or any number of other sources. When I go out and shoot my Grim Reaper, I want plenty of loaded spare magazines on-hand. And, everyone else who shot my sample also loaded-up plenty of extra mags before heading to the range, rather than loading the mags at the range.
Okay, so where does the MPA Grim Reaper fit in? Well, I already mentioned the fun-factor - and this gun is lot of fun to shoot. We have 32 rounds in the mag ready to go. The Grim Reaper would make an excellent home defense gun, loaded with JHP ammo. What's not to like about having a lot of hot-stepping JHP 9mm ammo on-tap, when the bad guys break down your front door? If I were caught out in my rig, when the SHTF, and the bad guys were coming at me...the Grim Reaper would make them wish they had picked an easier target. The gun could easily fit in a backpack or briefcase, too - if you were out hiking, or trying to get home from work after a disaster - a couple spare 32 round mags - and you're ready to defend yourself and those you love. Now, the politicians would call the MPA Grim Reaper an "assault gun" - but they are fools, plain and simple. The Grim Reaper is a semiauto only pistol - it just happens to look "bad" to the ill-informed.
I guess what surprised me the most with the Grim Reaper was the accuracy - it's as accurate as many other 9mm factory pistols. And, the reliability factor - more than 2,000 rounds down range, with zero malfunctions, and it fed every type of ammo we put through it. If you're in the market for a new "fun factor" toy, then check out the new Grim Reaper, it retails for $537.95, but in my humble opinion, it is well worth the money. Just be sure to stock-up on plenty of spare magazines - I have 10-spare mags right now and plan on getting some more, before election day in November. I'd also recommend that you stock-up on some spare parts for the Grim Reaper, and you'll be pleasantly surprised at how inexpensive spare parts are. I'd sure get a spare firing pin, extractor and recoil spring - just to have on-hand for the bad times that are sure to come. And, replacing any broken parts would be a piece of cake on the Grim Reaper, too. The gun is very well made, and not complicated at all, and simpler is better - less things to break or go wrong.