In recent years, I’ve become a converted fan of the 9mm Luger cartridge. This century-old round has enough power to be effective, yet it has moderate recoil and is reasonably priced both as loaded ammunition and as reloading components. In many forms of handgun competition, the 9mm is the most popular caliber and, with the right gear, it can make a major difference in IPSC competitions and provides excellent accuracy.

I’ve competed in a few short-range tactical rifle and pistol matches and I’ve observed the practicality of using a 9mm carbine in these matches. The matches I fired didn’t require long-range precise accuracy, but the low noise, recoil, cost of 9mm over 5.56 ammunition make 9mm particularly attractive. Another advantage of 9mm carbines is that they’re easy for inexperienced shooters to master. It’s much easier to shoot a carbine accurately than a pistol, so a carbine makes a great choice for home defense.

The MasterPiece Arms MPA9300SST is loosely based on the UZI design but it fires from a closed bolt. I had a chance to spend some time shooting one when one of the shooters I’m training brought one over to our range. The 30-round magazine inserts into the pistol grip and the gun operates from the left side with a charging handle placed forward of the trigger guard. It uses polymer stick magazines and has a set of rudimentary sights that are stamped out and welded to the top of the receiver, along with a Picatinny rail.

The gun I tested was both accurate and reliable. I sighted it in at 25 yards and was able to shoot a ragged one-hole group that the gun’s owner couldn’t resist adding a couple of eyes to, making a cartoon face on the target. The ergonomics are fairly good on the 9300SST and the trigger pull isn’t all that bad–until you fire a live round.

Five shots, ten yards, offhand with the MPA30SST pistol cousin of the MPA9300SST that I also got to try out. It looks like a movie camera, but it shoots.

When I first saw this carbine, I noticed a piece of surgical tubing on the trigger. I was curious, but in looking at the gun’s other features, I forgot about it. We loaded up some magazines and my student wanted me to fire the first shots. When I felt a sting on the first pull of the trigger, I didn’t realize what it was. The second pull confirmed it: when the little carbine cycled on a live round, there was a distinct snap on the trigger that stung my finger like a rubber band. It happened on every shot and was so bad that I taped some foam on the trigger to soften the bite.

Other than the strange trigger situation, this little carbine is a pleasure to shoot. It’s quick-handling and accurate enough for home defense or close range tactical matches, the magazines hold a lot of rounds, and 9mm is considerably cheaper than 5.56. Though we tested the gun with a 2-7x scope, I’d suggest a reflex type sight to match the short range performance of the 9mm round. The existing sights wouldn’t even be acceptable for a carry pistol, and they’re certainly insufficient for a carbine with the accuracy potential the carbine displays.

Overall, the MasterPiece was both accurate and reliable. The trigger bite was something I’ve never experienced in all my years of shooting and I assume it’s a characteristic of this model of gun. However, at the price these guns bring, I’d put my money on a 9mm AR-15 upper instead.

Images by Cherie Jones

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