Review: Shadow Systems DR920L

A longer shadow—built on the same frame as the full-size DR920, the new DR920L sports a longer top end.

at USPSA posted on June 2, 2023
Shadowuspsa 1
Shadow Systems prides themselves on offering a product line that is truly “Made in America” with American labor.
USPSA/Jake Martens

Based in Plano Texas, Shadow Systems is a designer and manufacturer of premium firearms and firearm parts. Started in 2016, the company set out to provide an uncompromising everyday use firearm.

Shadow Systems
Take all the features of the DR920 Elite model, add in the longer slide, and you have a ready-to-race Shadow Systems handgun.


They created a manufacturing facility where they manufacture slides, triggers and internals for their line of 920 variants. They also have proprietary MIM and injection molding tooling for frames and small parts. All of the springs and connectors are manufactured to Shadow Systems’ engineering specifications. Their commitment to exceeding customers’ expectations by creating a product of quality, reliability and price can be seen in each firearm.

Shadow Systems firearms have been offered in sub-compact, compact, compact slide on full-size frame and the full-size DR920 covered last year. When I spoke with the folks at Shadow Systems, they said that a long slide version was coming—and at SHOT Show this past January they introduced the DR920L. It is built on the same frame as the full-size DR920 with all of the enhanced features Shadow Systems offers, but now the DR920L features a longer top end.

Shadow DR920L
This model will play nicely in USPSA Production division; add an optic to the slide and you are ready for Carry Optics.


Shadow Systems’ DR920L adds a full sight radius 5.3-inch barrel with the Elite slide profile. The slide profiles are what distinguish the model of pistols from Combat or Elite. Combat models have front and rear directional serrations and can come with or without the optic cut. Elite slides add directional serrations to the top of the slide along with a window cut, and the optic cut is a standard feature. The slides are machined from 17-4 stainless steel.

As discussed in the DR920 full-size review, the Shadow Systems has the option of the patented multi-footprint optic cut. This optic cut allows for the mounting of most brands of red-dot optics directly to the slide without the need for intervening plates or adapters. The optic can be mounted low enough to allow for a lower 1/3 co-witness with the factory sights. Factory sights on the DR920L feature a bright green tritium night sight front with a blacked-out rear sight to allow faster sight picture under stress.

The frame sits very low in the hand, with an extended and upswept beavertail. Added to this is a nice undercut trigger guard. The wraparound texture bites into the hand and is just aggressive enough to really give a positive grip. Wet hands, muddy or slick, this texture on the frame feels good but is not too aggressive to be uncomfortable carrying the gun.

Shadow Systems incorporates a textured recoil control ledge on both sides of the frame. This serves as a nice index point for your trigger finger and as the recoil control for the support hand side thumb. It is not obtrusive, and with a correct thumbs-forward grip, it is easy to make use of to help reduce felt recoil. The backstrap system that Shadow Systems uses is referred to as the NPOA, or Natural Point of Aim. The Natural Point of Aim system they have developed isn’t just small, medium or large inserts; changing the inserts to fit your natural point of aim makes the gun easier and more accurate to shoot. (I prefer the more traditional 18-degree angle backstrap.) The internal magwell is flared and beveled for easy reloads. There is the ability to add a removable external magwell that comes with the gun, along with the hardware and tool to install. The magazine release button is extended, but not obtrusive, and is serrated for nice traction.

The DR920L is available only as an Elite model. The DR920L Elite slide features front, rear and top directional serrations, window cuts and a thinned profile at grasping locations. The pistol features a 5.3-inch conventionally rifled, spiral fluted, match-grade unthreaded barrel. Barrels are machined from 416R stainless steel, conventionally rifled 1-10 inch with a lug geometry and barrel hood that offer a tighter fit without compromising reliability. The drop-safe, flat-faced aluminum trigger averaged four pounds, 6.2 ounces, on the digital scale, with a crisp break and positive reset right out of the box. The Shadow Systems guns have a proprietary trigger bar that they use. A modified single spring recoil system is used, which allows you to adjust and tune the gun with different spring weights. A flat wire spring manufactured from chrome silicon material is included.

All of the internal parts are machined from billet stainless steel for reliability and longer lifetime use of your firearm. Inaddition, for enhanced reliability, Shadow Systems uses their own enhanced LCI (Loaded Chamber Indicator) extractor. The LCI features a serration to easily feel when checking. The DR920L ships in a nice zippered case with all the screws and spacers to mount optics and the tools to change backstraps or add the supplied magwell. There are also two 17-round Magpul magazines in the case.

With the new DR920L ready to hit the range for competition right out of the box, the longer slide and barrel make the gun more controllable in shooting over the DR920 full-size. At the range, a variety of 9 mm ammunition was tested with the supplied Magpul magazines and standard 17-round Glock magazines. On hand were offerings from Federal with their 150-grain Syntech Action Pistol as well as the 124-grain Eley Competition Ammo. We tried the 124-grain Precision Delta JHP and Eley 147-grain remanufactured rounds as well. I liked the DR920 when I shot it last year; the 920L takes the shooting to another level.

Already known for being flatter shooters than several of the other guns in this style, the 920L is just a fast and accurate handgun to shoot. It handles well, shoots great and we experienced zero issues.

Take all the features of the DR920 Elite model, add in the longer slide, and you have a ready-to-race Shadow Systems handgun. This model will play nicely in USPSA Production division; add an optic to the slide and you are ready for Carry Optics. Pop on the supplied magwell and play in the provisional Limited Optics division. The Shadow Systems line of handguns and accessories can be found at Additionally, check out the Shadow Systems social media channels, where CEO Trevor Roe has tech tips and other information released on a weekly basis.

Article from the May/June 2023 issue of USPSA’s magazine.


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