Updated: Nov 17
Shadow Systems have all the options, but are they worth the extra money?
Glock is one of, if not the best know gun manufacturers in the world. They are known for their reliability and use by law enforcement agencies across the United States and Europe. A massive aftermarket has sprung up for modifying your Glock, and improved versions of parts. Oftentimes, Glock owners will spend tons of money on a stipple job, undercuts on the trigger guard to reduce Glock Knuckle, after-market slides, after-market sights, you name it, the Glock aftermarket community has probably thought of it. If you have ever wanted a Glock, it may be worth it to look into Shadow Systems. Shadow Systems is a company that makes pistols that are heavily based on Glock designs., and aim to save gun owners the hassle of having to modify their Glock. They make some crucial upgrades that generally improve the overall performance compared to a basic Glock. Those upgrades are nice, but are they worth the extra cash?
Seeing as Shadow Systems pistols are usually a couple of hundred dollars more expensive than a similar Glock, they may be out of some people's price range. Although with improved barrels, better-designed polymer frames, stibble job, lighter optics-ready slides, and improved triggers the extra cash is certainly worth how much more value you are getting. Plus, the new Shadow Systems foundation series is priced very closely to its Glock counterpart, while still having more features.
Now, knowing the details of what makes Shadow Systems different from basic Glocks is crucial before investing the money in one of their pistols. So let's take a look at Shadow Systems pistols and what makes them worth the money over basic Glock platforms.
About Shadow Systems
Shadow Systems was started in 2016 and is based out of Plano, Texas. Their mission when starting the company was to provide the world's most uncompromising everyday-use firearm that meets the needs of all shooters but at a price point that will not price anyone out of having a high-quality pistol.
Their team is made up of combat veterans, former law enforcement officers, and competitive shooters. Having a diverse team gives Shadow Systems a wide range of firearms expertise and allows them to create the best pistol for multiple situations.Reliability is first and foremost on their priority of building what they hope will soon be an industry leader in everyday use pistols.
All of their manufacturing takes place in-house, including their slides, barrels, triggers, and all internal parts. You get a more personalized feel from an in-house manufactured gun than a lot of the other big-name pistol manufacturers who will make their gun parts in many different facilities. Their goal is to create high value for the buyer of their firearms without breaking the bank.
If you are more interested in learning about their company and its process, check out their Shadow Systems website.
Shadow Systems has been around for six years and have developed several different pistol lines. They limit themselves to pistols that are only chambered in 9mm as it is the most popular caliber for handguns, and is well suited for self-defense, home defense, competition and just general range shooting..
Shadow Systems has four base platforms that all their models are built on: the CR, MR, XR, and the DR. When first looking at these pistols, they will look very similar in build to the setup of many basic Glocks. This should not be surprising since Shadow Systems pistols are based on Gen 3 and Gen 4 Glock models. In a bit, we will talk about what sets them apart from Glocks.
The CR (Covert Role) platform is their subcompact model that can have a 10+1 flush capacity or a 13+1 extended capacity. It is only 3.4 inches in length but shoots very well. It is comparable to the Glock 43 but they cannot use magazines interchangeably.
The MR (Multi-Role) platform is a compact model comparable to the Gen 4 Glock 19 and can be used as a multi-purpose pistol with a 15+1 round capacity. It also sports a four-inch barrel.
The XR (Crossover Role) platform is Shadow Systems' compact pistol that they consider their crossover model. The Shadow Systems XR sports a full-size frame but has a compact top end with a 17+1 round capacity. It is best compared to the Glock 45 or 19X.
The DR (Duty Role) platform is the full-size pistol for Shadow Systems, giving it a full-size duty role for open carry and more competitive shooting styles. The Shadow Systems DR also has a 17+1 round capacity and is comparable to the Gen 4 G17. It has a longer barrel than both the XR920 and MR920.
Shadow Systems Combat, Combat Optic and Elite
Foundation - with optic cut,no slide windows, several differences from all other trim levels, discussed below that allow it to have a more affordable price.
Combat - without optic cut, no slide windows.
Combat optic - with optic cut, no slide windows.
Elite - optic cut, with slide windows.
Shadow Systems has several trim options, while Glock generally has just the standard model, and then the MOS (Modular Optic System)version, oem Glocks may have upgraded sights every once in a while, but not common outside of the Glock Blue Label Program.
Shadow System and Glock Similarities
Now that we have touched on the different models that Shadow Systems has to offer, let's start looking at the similar features between the Shadow Systems and Glocks. We know that the Shadow Systems pistols are modeled after the 9mm Glock models, so it should be no surprise that there are many similarities between them. Right off the bat, the simple operation you likely know from using a Glock carries right over to the operation of the Shadow System.
Both manufactures use Glock Safety features and make both guns no-brainers on a safety and usability level. They are both great choices for personal protection and EDC.
Both Shadow Systems and Glock firearms have a triple safety setup that operates without a traditional manual safety. This makes them not only safe but also quick and easy to use in emergency situations. We explain the three safety mechanisms below, check out this video for a visual explanation: How a Glock Works
The trigger is the first line of safety on both of these pistol systems, sporting a pin system that looks like a second trigger jutting out from the main trigger. This trigger safety has to be fully depressed before the main trigger can be squeezed. If it is not, the gun will not fire. This helps if the gun is dropped or indirect pressure outside of a full trigger pull is placed on the trigger.
Next, both pistols have a firing pin safety which mechanically blocks the firing pin from moving forward. Once the trigger is pulled, the mechanical block moves out of the way, allowing the firing pin to move to strike the primer. This is true for both Glocks and Shadow Systems.
Finally, both pistols feature a drop safety that keeps the gun from going off without pulling the trigger. So, if you drop the pistol or fall while wearing it, the jarring of the firearm won't accidentally discharge it. This part of safety requires a full trigger pull to disengage and allow the firing pin to move to fire a round.
These three safeties work in unison to keep the firearm very safe, which Glock calls the "Glock Safe Action". So if you are happy with the safety features of the Glock, you won't lose that if you choose a Shadow Systems pistol.
The Shadow Systems and Glocks both come with rifled barrels that allow for better shootability, more accuracy, and reduces the amount of debris and residue that builds up inside the barrel when shooting. Outside of that, there are some rifling differences between the two that we will talk about later.
You can also opt to have a threaded or non-threaded barrel tip that allows for added barrel attachments. Generally, it is more common to see a Shadow Systems with a threaded barrel than a Glock. For whatever reason, likely due to cost, most civilian market Glocks ship from the manufacturer with a non-threaded barrel.
This could also be due to state laws that restrict the use of threaded barrels, like Delaware. You can not have a threaded barrel in California, Connecticut, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, Alaska, or Delaware.
Both pistols come with open sights with an open rear sight and a single pin front sight. These make both pistols very easy to shoot right out of the box, and any shooter will be comfortable with this type of sight even if they prefer the likes of a red dot sight.
The polymer frame has become a staple feature for pistols because they are durable and light in weight. The Shadow Systems and Glock both sport polymer frames to keep the weight of the gun down while also maintaining its durability. This is very important for an everyday use pistol for both companies. Because the frames are so similar, both owb and iwb glock holsters will generally fit their Shadow Systems counterparts.
Interchangeable backstraps allow both the Shadow Systems and factory Glock pistols to be adjustable for hand size and shooter variability. This makes both guns have a level of adjustability that will work for almost any shooter. Let's face it, if your grip is not comfortable, good luck being accurate and comfortable with the firearm.
The MR, DR and XR Shadow Systems pistols come with two Magpul magazines but are capable of using a wide variety of different magazines, including Glock magazines, allowing the user to interchange and use magazines of different kinds. Conversely, Glock pistols are generally able to use Pmags, however, there are interchangeability issues, especially across generations, that you should be careful of. Generally, we recommend shooting Glock mags for both manufacturers' pistols.
The Shadow Systems sport serrations on the slide that allow the user to have easy gripping power when needing to operate the slide manually. Glock also sports these serrations on the slides of their Gen 4 and Gen 5 models, but the Gen 5 models have more serrations than their earlier counterparts.
There might be a few other small similarities between the Shadow Systems and the Glocks that we might be overlooking, but we have definitely covered the big ones that carry over from one brand to the other.
One might look at Shadow Systems and Glocks and say they are fundamentally the same firearms with the same features. That isn't a far-off conclusion while looking at this, but the next part of this article is where the Shadow Systems pistols start to set themselves apart from the basic Glock models and offer the value that Shadow Systems has promised to deliver on.
Differences between Shadow Systems and Glock
The Shadow Systems pistols have numerous features that the basic Glock models do not. It goes without saying that Shadow Systems has paid good attention to some of the shortcomings, however few there might be, that Glock has in certain production areas. Shadow Systems is now capitalizing and going above and beyond where Glock has stopped with their production pistols.
The frame of the Shadow Systems has better ergonomics and wrap-around texture for a better grip in all weather and situations. It also sports a textured recoil ledge for the shooter's support-hand thumb to rest on. This allows better recoil management and quicker follow-up shots.
Ask any Glock owner, and they will tell you about Glock Knuckle, the result of the trigger guard hitting on the knuckle of the trigger hand's middle finger. To combat this, like many Glock owners already do, the trigger guard is contoured to fit better and eliminate Glock Knuckle.
The backstrap system was talked about in the similarities section, however it is a bit different than the Glock in that it can also change the grip angle by swapping out the back straps . This makes comfort outside of hand size much easier and customizable, allowing users to get a good grip.
Lastly, the beaver tail is larger on the Shadow Systems, helping you to get a high purchase on the frame, without worrying about slide bite.
All Shadow Systems have a “finger grooveless” design, similar to the gen5 glock. Gen 3 and 4 Glocks have finger grooves, which is quite divisive, as most people either love or hate them.
Comparison of optic mounting footprints between Glock MOS and Shadow Systems Optic Ready slides. Notice the screw holes on the Shadow Systems do not interfere with the ejector spring, like it will on the Glock.
The Shadow Systems pistols also have an option for the slide to be equipped with a multi-footprint optic cut that is adaptable to most aftermarket red dot optics, such as the Holosun 507k and Trujicon RMR, without the need for mounting plates or adapters. You can see a full list of compatability here. This is a huge upgrade from the Glock, which is much harder to mount with red dot optics without the need for plates or adapters.
The optic can also be mounted low enough to use and coincide with the factory sights on the Shadow Systems pistols, which come with a green tritium night sight on the front and a blacked-out rear sight for a faster sight picture.
As we just mentioned, All Shadow Systems pistols come with a green tritium night sight on the front and a blacked-out rear sight for a faster sight picture. (First Picture above) Glock have three options.(Second and third pictures above, left to right:) The most common, and inexpensive is the stock sights. These are plastic and have no illumination features. The next step up is Glock OEM night sights, and the most expensive option is the Ameriglo sights, which are green in the front and back, with the front sight having a red outer circle for quick target acquisition.
While we mentioned that the Shadow Systems slides have serrations like the Glock, the Shadow Systemsserrations are much more aggressive and numerous than the Glock, making slide manipulation easier. While only Gen 5 Glocks have front serrations, all Shadow Systems have front slide serations, making press checks easier. . This makes the slide feel thinner and easier to grasp when needing to manually operate the slide. They are also designed to be more comfortable for IWB carry.
One giant improvement that Shadow Systems integrated into their pistols over the Glocks is their match-grade spiral-fluted barrels. Glock uses a polygonal rifling in their barrels, whereas Shadow Systems uses traditional rifling design. Both are excellent designs and will be accurate for thousands of rounds without needing to be replaced.
The outside spiral fluting keeps dirt and debris to a minimum while also lowering barrel weight. This is especially important in everyday use pistols. While minor, it also increases surface area, allowing heat to dissipate slightly better.
The Shadow Systems pistols come equipped with a single spring recoil system that allows for a lot of tuning and adjustability on the shooter's part by simply changing a spring weight. Shadow Systems ships with an 18lb single recoil spring and also sell a 15lb and 20 lb for light ammo/muzzle device or suppressed shooting, respectively. More details here:https://shadowsystemscorp.com/product/mr918-guide-rod-and-spring-fits-gen-4-5-g19/
They also sport a high-reliability LCI extractor, allowing the shooter to check the slide by feel.
The trigger on the Shadow Systems pistols is a lot flatter than the Glock, but reviews have said that it gives an easier and smoother trigger pull for the Shadow Systems. Also, the trigger does had a break in period and will get better after a few hundred rounds. Glock and Shadow Systems Foundation Series triggers are plastic, Shadow Systems Combat and Elite are metal triggers. With the recent addition of the GLock Performance Trigger, Glock has definately stepped their game up. It offers a smoother and lighter trigger pull, plus a flat faced trigger, which a lot of Glock Guys are really enjoying. You can find our review on the Glock Performance trigger here.
Glocks generally come in only black, and rarely are offered in grey or ODG. (with the notable exception of the 19x, and duo tone stainless/black 43x and 48) Shadow Systems come in all black, black frame grey slide, and also a coyote color. All Glocks come with black barrels, while Shadow Systems come with either a black or bronze barrel, always spiral fluted except for the Foundation, which is very similar to the Glock Barrel.
Unique Features Conclusion
You can see that Shadow Systems do have quite a few different features than their Glock counterparts. A common theme that can be seen throughout the list of features is that they are geared towards better performance and easier adjustability for users.
This is highly important to well-seasoned shooters looking for a certain feel. Even less experienced shooters might find the level of adjustability nice and easy to do.
How Does It Shoot?
Reviews on shooting the Shadow Systems have come back very favorable due to a lot of its advanced features that make it very shooter friendly. Now, it is comparable with the Glock base models regarding accuracy, which is not a surprise at all given their similarities. The Shadow Systems pistols set themselves apart when it comes to shooter comfort, recoil control and subsequent quicker time getting back on target between shots.
The different feel of the frame and angle of the grip is often hit on by shooters new to the Shadow Systems pistols because of its easy feel and grip angle that makes it more comfortable for the shooter to engage their target accurately. Being comfortable in your grip is definitely a very important thing for shooters, and the Shadow Systems pistols do not disappoint.
Several competition shooters also reviewed that the Shadow Systems pistols make them slightly faster due to the added textured recoil ledge on each side of the frame that allows the shooter to use their support hand thumb to better control recoil after a shot.
This allows the shooter to have more accurate follow-up shots and re-acquiring the target quicker after a shot. For competition shooters, this means shaving fractions of seconds off their time, which is very important and carries over directly to self defense use where every split second matters.For the everyday shooter, this means added control and a better feel for the shot.
Some reviews have stated that the Shadow Systems tends to favor ammunition that is on the heavier grain side, and it makes for tighter groups. It might be something to consider if you pick up a Shadow Systems pistol in the future.
The trigger is also flatter on the Shadow Systems pistols, which has been reviewed as being much more comfortable and easier to shoot accurately compared to other pistol triggers. It also has a slightly lighter trigger pull measured at 4.5-5 pounds of pressure, and improves after the 200 round break in period.
Comparing the Shadow Systems and the base Glock models is always going to come down to feel and preference of the shooter. The Shadow Systems seems to have those added advantages of better grip angle and feel, lighter weight, and lower recoil when compared to the Glocks.
Shooters will always have their own preferences, and that will be no different from the Shadow Systems pistols. Although, if you are looking for added control and a little less recoil, you should definitely consider a Shadow Systems pistol.
If you are looking for a good overall review that compares Shadow Systems to Glock, definitely check out this video from Tactical Considerations, where they compare Shadow Systems XR920 against the Glock 45 MOS.
Is Shadow Systems Worth It?
There is no doubt that the Shadow Systems pistols are more expensive than a basic Glock model, but there are good reasons for it. Simply put, the Shadow Systems pistols are Glocks on steroids! They offer more options and upgrades straight out of the box compared to the Glock models.
From the table above, you can see that the Shadow Systems' new Foundation Series is going to get the cost of their pistols closer to that of Glock, but you will still get a solid pistol with a match-grade barrel that is slightly lighter than the Glock. The mian differences of the Foundation from the previous Shadow System Models are a plastic trigger instead of metal, reduced machine work on the slide, so the serrations and overall design is simpler, and a less expensive guide rod.
Getting into the Combat and Elite Series does raise the price, but you get more for your money, including an optics-ready pistol for those that want to go that route. This is not paying more money for a Glock replica. Shadow Systems has worked extremely hard to give you more value for the money you are spending to make an exceptional everyday-use firearm with all the bells and whistles.
You will get competition-grade features for the extra money that you spend, which in our opinion, is well worth it. Also, take into consideration what it would cost for you to bring a base model Glock up to the level of the Shadow System Combat and Elite Series pistols. The upgrades and aftermarket parts that it would take would cost you pretty much the same amount in the end as it would to buy a brand new Shadow Systems pistol that already comes stock with those same features.
Considering that, if you had your choice and want a lighter gun with less recoil, better ergonomics, and that's optic-ready, the Shadow Systems pistols are definitely the route to go. And honestly, the Shadow Systems pistols just look downright cool and have more flashy character than the base Glock models.
Wrapping It Up
If you want just as much reliability with a few extra features, most notably Optics Ready Slide, Go with Shadow Systems Foundation Series. If you want the best gun money can buy, Go with the Elite Shadow Systems. If you are on a strict budget, go with the Glock.
Get the most out of your new gun purchase by buying a Shadow Systems firearm that is great for everyday use, taking to the range, and even using in competitions. They are definitely a one-stop-shop kind of firearm!