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Simply Israeli: The IWI Masada Does the Job for Less

It’s been 29 years since Israel Weapon Industries came out with a new pistol. Its last, the venerable Jericho, is still in use around the world, but the hammer-fired pistol design has been largely bypassed by the current crop of plastic-fantastics. With the 2019 release of the Masada, IWI now catches up, hoping to bypass its competitors in the modern, striker-fired pistol market.

It’s not a fancy pistol, but its features and size lead us to believe IWI hopes the Masada will make inroads in the military and law enforcement markets. Based on the modular aspect of its design, we consider the Masada you see here to be the first round of a new line of IWI pistols that’ll lead it far into the future.

Lessons from Others

IWI combined some of the best features of its competitors, intentionally or not, and incorporated them into the Masada. It’s the mating of the Sig Sauer P320, the FN 509 Tactical, and Glock 19X. All these guns have something in common; versions of each were submitted for the U.S. Army’s 2015 XM17 Modular Handgun System solicitation.

We made fun of the Glock 19X when it was released because the company gave customers the opposite of what they asked for. It was a full-size, G17 frame with a shorter, G19 slide — not groundbreaking. And it had features no one wanted, such as a lanyard loop, while missing other key desires, like forward serrations and a red-dot-ready slide. But the G19X met the size requirement laid out in the Army’s MHS solicitation. (We disliked the G19X so much that we converted it back to a G19 by cutting the grip with a Sawzall on an episode of RECOILtv.)

The Masada ships with interchangeable backstraps to fit the pistol to your hand, and plates to mount your favorite MRDS.

While the FN 509 was announced in 2017, the red-dot-ready 509 Tactical wasn’t released until 2018. The main differences between the 509 and the 509 Tactical are a threaded barrel, higher magazine capacity, and the ability to mount a mini red-dot without sending your slide out for milling. The enhancements also impacted the 509’s price, taking the base 509 at $679 up to $1,049 for the 509 Tactical.

One of the coolest features of the Sig P320 is the serialized chassis, which can be removed from one frame and popped into another without gunsmithing or the need to file any additional paperwork, as long as you don’t make changes that raise NFA concerns. This feature is what set the Sig M17 and M18 apart from other pistols. Instead of trying to meet all the requirements of the MHS solicitation with one whole gun, Sig offered a modular chassis system that could be shared between a compact frame and a full-sized frame.

The Masada has external features similar to the FN 509 Tactical and the Glock 19X, while its configurable heart resembles the internals of the Sig P320.

On the Outside

The Masada was announced a couple years ago, but it took the company until this year to get the new pistol into production. When the first images were released back in 2017, the pistol didn’t have an optics-ready slide. When we saw the revised Masada this year, we were pleased to learn the slide is now red-dot-ready and includes mounting plates for the Trijicon RMR, Leupold DeltaPoint Pro, Sig Sauer Romeo1, and Vortex Venom, as well as a blank plate if you don’t want to run an MRDS.

Mounting a red-dot onto the slide is stupid-easy. You don’t have to remove any pieces under the slide; all that’s required is to sandwich the polymer mounting plate and optic between the provided T10 screws and slide. IWI thoughtfully includes a T10 wrench and multiple screws for different sights.

Key parts are easily removed from the Masada during field stripping.

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