Shadow Systems CR920 Combat Subcompact 9mm Luger


Among the trends we have noted over the past decade is the replacement of the snubnose 38 Special revolver with the slim-line 9mm Luger pistol. Pistols such as the 9mm Smith & Wesson Shield and Glock 43 are the most popular pistols for concealed carry these days, but SIG took the platform even further with the SIG P365, a 10-shot 9mm with good reliability and practical accuracy. Other makers followed suit, including Smith & Wesson with the Shield Plus and Ruger with the Max 9. In this installment, we match up three comparable handguns, but each with different features. These makers have managed to stuff as many as 17 rounds into the magazine. Two offer a flush-fit magazine for pocket carry and an extended magazine for holster carry.

The FN Reflex is a different type of polymer-frame subcompact. It is a hammer-fired pistol with a concealed hammer. While similar in appearance to the archetypal 9mm striker-fired handgun, this is a different action type. The Reflex is a slim, compact pistol with good features and is both the smallest and the least expensive handgun tested here.

Disassembly of the Shadow CR920 is standard Glock, with subtle spring modification making the CR920’s takedown levers (arrow) easier to manipulate

The Shadow Systems CR920 Combat Sub-Compact is more similar to the Glock 43 9mm than a Glock 26 9mm pistol in our opinion. The pistol is a high capacity version of slim-line handguns. Two magazines are supplied, one 10 round flush fit and one extended 13-round magazine. The pistol is short on ammunition capacity compared to the FN, but on the other hand, it is more compact as well. The pistol is only 1.05 inch wide. 

The SIG Sauer P365 XMacro Tacops 365XCA-9-Tacops is very similar to the original XMacro in appearance. However it features a solid slide without compensator and a 3.7-inch barrel as well as forward and rear cocking serrations, X-Ray3 sights, and a well-designed grip frame with an excellent stippling treatment. The new light rail is longer than the original P365 and is more versatile in mounting lights.

Here’s what we thought of them in more detail.

Shadow Systems CR920 Combat Subcompact 9mm Luger



Despite a nagging shooter error that was easily addressed, we really liked the CR920. It is compact, has good sights, and proved reliable. The pistol is pricey, but we feel that the CR920 is a class act.

Action Type Semi auto, double action only, striker fired, short-recoil-operated lock breech 
Overall Length 6.38 in.
Overall Height w/flush-fit magazine 4.2 in.
Overall Height w/extended magazine 4.6 in.
Maximum Width 1.0 in.
Weight Unloaded 18.0 oz.
Weight Loaded 23.2 oz.
Slide 17-4 stainless steel, black-nitride finish front and rear slide cuts, rail, optics cut
Slide Retraction Effort 14.2 lbs.
Receiver Material Black polymer
Front Strap Height 1.8 in.
Rear Strap Height 2.5 in.
Barrel 3.41 in. long, bronze TiCN finish
Grip Thickness Maximum 1.0 in. 
Grip Circumference 5.6 in.
Magazines 10- and 13-round
Rear Sight Notch type
Front Sight Tritium single dot
Sight Radius 4.8 in.
Trigger Pull Weight 5.5 lbs.
Trigger Span 2.6 in.
Safety No manual safety
Warranty Lifetime to original purchaser 
Telephone (469) 458-6808 
Made In USA

The Covert Role 920, or CR920, seems well designed and offers good features, features most of us are willing to pay for. The CR920 Elite, which we have not personally handled, features cocking serrations on top of the slide and a lightening vent in the slide. We won’t comment further because we have not handled the CR920 Elite save to say it sells for $100 more on average than the CR920 Combat.

Some folks feel that the CR920 is a subcompact that shoots like a larger handgun. While the SIG P365 XMacro may arguably be said to handle and fire in a similar manner to the Glock 19 or SIG P320, it isn’t quite there if pushed to the nth degree. A more accurate statement would be that the Shadow Systems CR920 and FN Reflex shoot better than expected for their size and fire more accurately than handguns in this size group.

The CR920 and SIG are optics ready while the FN is not, though an optics-ready FN is available. We really like the CR920’s slide treatment. Cocking the slide is easy enough using well-designed serrations. The barrel is coated in bronze titanium carbonitride (TiCN), which should be long lasting. The rear sight is a U-notch type serrated on the rear face. The front sight is a single tritium dot surrounded by a bright green component. This dot is considerably larger than the FN front dot. The grip frame is nicely checkered and pebbled, offering a good gripping surface. There is no grip insert set for this small handgun. The pistol features a modest rail suitable for mounting some, but not all combat lights. The SIG XMacro’s M1913 rail is more versatile. 

The Shadow pistol’s sights received high ratings

Shadow Systems claims the stippling and grip angle are designed to help keep such a small handgun on target. Small handguns with an abrupt grip are more difficult to handle, and a short slide limits the sight radius. Shadow Systems seems to have accomplished their goal. The 3.4-inch barrel runs neck and neck in velocity with the FN Reflex and only statistically slower than the SIG XMacro. The modest magazine well is an aid in rapidly changing magazines, unusual in such a small handgun. The grip tang is more pronounced and more comfortable than the FN Reflex, we think. 

The magazines are proprietary, meaning that Glock magazines do not fit the Shadow Systems gun. At present, there seem to be plenty of factory magazines available, so this isn’t a drawback. 

The trigger isn’t a single action but instead operates in the same manner as a Glock trigger. The slide is racked and the striker is prepped. A pull of the trigger moves the trigger bar/connector and finishes cocking and drops the striker, making the CR920 a double-action rather than single-action trigger. This distinction may be important to some shooters, while we will always state that true safety is in the hands of the shooter, not the trigger action. Just the same, most raters agreed they were more comfortable with the Shadow Systems/Glock-type trigger for pocket carry over the Reflex’s single-action trigger.

The trigger breaks at 5.5 pounds. Firing the pistol gave good results at 5, 7, and 10 yards. The pistol gets on target quickly and offers good to excellent combat ability. We ran across a snag, however. During the firing tests, one rater consistently hit his thumb on the slide stop, locking the pistol open during a firing string. This rater suffered worse than the rest, with one quickly correcting the same problem and the other raters not experiencing the problem. A change in the grip and finger profile proved profitable, and the problem was squared away. One of the raters writes for our sister publication American Gunsmith. He looked over the CR920 and out came a small mallet and punch. He braced the tripled-checked-unloaded handgun on the bench and gave the slide lock a couple of taps. This slightly bent the slide lock inward. It was still fully operational but far less likely to be bumped into locking the slide open. A non-standard modification? Perhaps, but not the first one this rater/gunsmith has performed in this vein. 

Our Team Said: The pistol is comparable to the FN Reflex in combat firing and absolute accuracy was also good to excellent. The pistol was fired with the same three loads for accuracy and exhibited very good accuracy results. We rated the pistol down a half grade on the rater’s problems with the slide lock. 

Remington HTP 115-grain JHP SIG Sauer P365 XMacro Tacops Shadow Systems CR920 Sub-Compact FN America FN Reflex
Average Velocity 1160 fps 1144 fps 1150 fps
Muzzle Energy 344 ft.-lbs. 334 ft.-lbs. 338 ft.-lbs.
Small Group 1.1 in. 1.5 in. 1.4 in.
Average Group 1.5 in. 2.0 in.2.0 in.
Federal Premium 124-grain HST JHP SIG Sauer P365 XMacro Tacops Shadow Systems CR920 Sub-Compact FN America FN Reflex
Average Velocity 1139 fps 1120 fps 1107 fps
Muzzle Energy 357 ft.-lbs. 345 ft.-lbs. 337 ft.-lbs. 
Small Group 0.9 in. 1.3 in. 1.1 in.
Average Group 1.4 in. 1.6 in.1.5 in.
Black Hills Factory New 124-grain JHP +P SIG Sauer P365 XMacro Tacops Shadow Systems CR920 Sub-Compact FN America FN Reflex
Average Velocity 1183 fps 1140 fps 1160 fps
Muzzle Energy 385 ft.-lbs. 358 ft.-lbs. 370 ft.-lbs. 
Small Group 1.0 in. 1.3 in. 1.3 in.
Average Group 1.5 in 1.8 in. 1.7 in. 

We fired groups at 15 yards from a benchrest position using an MTM Case-Gard K-Zone Shooting Rest. We used a Competition Electronics Pro Chrony to measure muzzle velocities.


Written and photographed by Gun Tests Staff, using evaluations from Gun Tests Team members. GT


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