REVIEW: Shadow Systems CR920X an Example of Evolution at its Finest

Shadow Systems, based in Plano, TX, burst on the polymer striker-fired handgun scene in 2016. The company quickly gained a reputation as an upgrade over other polymer striker-fired weapons on the market. All polymer offerings—not just talking about the Austrian variation. And now, Shadow Systems once again exemplifies the evolution of the striker-fired pistol with its CR920X.

The Shadow Systems CR920X

Shadow Systems continues to morph, adapt, and innovate with its handgun offerings. Multiple new models have been introduced over the last few years. As a result, concealed carry practitioners can find any weapon to satisfy their needs with Shadow Systems. Sub-compacts, full-size, hybrids, compensated, optic cuts, and multiple shapes and sizes are offered.

The Shadow Systems Cr920X Field Stripped.
Shadow Systems Cr920X 02

Shadow Systems’ ability to combine different slide lengths and frame sizes—with nuanced tweaks based on customer feedback—is what sets it apart. However, not content to rest on its laurels, the company is constantly exploring what works best.

The new Shadow Systems CR920X is the epitome of this statement. Though two other Shadow Systems CR920 models already existed, Shadow Systems decided it could offer a hybrid model using CR920 slide/barrel with a differently configured frame.

Always Searching

The company mates a CR920-length slide/barrel with a new Shadow Systems grip frame that is unlike other CR920s. This sets it apart from its Shadow System’ CR-brethren—thus the “X” nomenclature.

The CR920X is a great example of Shadow Systems’ ability to respond quickly to emerging weapon trends.

While Shadow Systems dances around direct Glock terminology, we will use it to convey what we are dealing with in the CR920X. The CR920X utilizes the compact slide dimensions of a Shadow Systems CR (G43) mated to a slimmed-down Shadow Systems MR lower. One of my G43Xs mirrors the CR920X.
The Slide Optic Cut Is Unique Thanks To Its Ability To Accommodate Multiple Manufacturer Red Dots Without Need For Adaptor Plates.
Shadow Systems Cr920X 03

The CR920X is no clone, though. It offers Shadow Systems’ take on what a sub-compact handgun should be.

Why the CR920X?

Great question. CR920X slide ergonomics make it quicker out of the holster, while the frame offers better shootability/control. Accurate strings of fire with multiple rounds placed on target bears out Shadow Systems design philosophy.

The company did not stop there. Magazine capacity has been boosted with a flush fitting 15-rounder with an extended version arriving later this summer.

The CR920X’s 15-round magazine increases compacity well beyond the G43 and G43X levels. Likewise, even its own CR920 with a 13-round capacity is improved upon thanks to a flush-fitting 15-round magazine with the CR920X.
A Zero Tech Thrive Hd Red Dot Micro Reflex Was Mounted On The Shadow Systems Cr920X. The Zero Tech Thrive Hd/Cr920X Were Meant For Each Other.
Shadow Systems Cr920X 04

Two 15-rounders arrive with the CR920X. In an effort to save readers time, I tried aftermarket 15-rd G43X magazines in the CR920X. These DO NOT work due to their girth and not locking into the CR920X magazine well. This is a great indicator of the CR920X’s slimness and why proprietary 15-rd magazines were created for it.

It would be tough to name a hotter niche in the handgun market right now than petite 9MM semi-autos. The CR920X is Shadow Systems’ most recent entry into the concealed carry handgun bazaar.

Its dimensions lend it to IWB, ankle, belly band, or other deep-cover methods of concealed carry. Generally speaking, G43X holsters are compatible. I did find a few examples where this did not apply.

Set Up For Success

A Shadow Systems handgun is created from scratch. It is NOT customized from another company’s base model. Shadow Systems manufactures its own slides, barrels, triggers, frames, and internals. The CR920X benefits from Shadow Systems quality control and experienced gunsmiths pulling it all together.

With that said, let’s lay out what the CR920X consists of. This includes a 1:10 twist, conventional rifling, 3.41-inch, match-grade barrel made from 416-R stainless steel. This is housed in a distinct Shadow Systems slide machined from 17-4 stainless steel with enhanced serrations and a patent-pending optic cut.

Drills With The Pistol Quickly Moved Past Stand And Deliver Drills To More Dynamic Drills Involving Movement, Magazine Reloads, And Firing From Behind Cover.
Shadow Systems Cr920X 05

The slide features a black nitride finish and steel iron sights with a green Tritium front. Finally, rounding it out is an undercut trigger guard, stainless steel guide rod, integral railed dust cover, and flat-faced trigger.

Shadow Systems aims to separate itself from striker-fired predecessors and competitors by paying attention to the details. The CR920X polymer frame exhibits this via texture pattern, texturing placed at thumb placement areas, and a streamlined extended beavertail.

These items assist the CR920X in behaving more like a larger frame handgun versus a micro-compact—especially when fired.

The CR920X Up Top

The Shadow Systems CR920X slide follows the same attention to detail pattern. The CR920X’s 17-4 stainless slide is not just a hunk of steel meant to host the barrel, sights, etc. Shadow Systems slides are well thought out—from serration pattern to optic cut.

The serrations are not merely aesthetics. The purposely designed directional nature of the serrations provides an aggressive grasping surface when manipulating the slide. In addition, they reduce friction when coming out of the holster.

The serrations combined with window cuts in the slide also reduce reciprocating slide mass. Lastly, the serrations contribute to minimizing weight. As a result, the CR920X weighs in only 19.1 ounces

The Shadow Systems slide optic cut is unique thanks to its ability to accommodate multiple manufacturer red dots without the need for adaptor plates. This mounting method allows for a lower 1/3 co-witness with the Shadow System low-profile factory sights.
The Shadow Systems Cr920X Was Tested Using Black Hills Ammunition, Hornady, Sig Sauer, And Federal Ammunition.
Shadow Systems Cr920X 06

The elimination of suppressor-height iron sights protruding upward from the slide will be warmly received by anyone who has been gouged or had their sights snag on a cover garment during a draw stroke.

Co-witnessing is important, as anything electronic, no matter how rugged, can fail. Thus, it is important to have iron sights ready as a backup plan.

Red Dot Is The Way

I mounted the ZeroTech Thrive HD Red Dot Micro Reflex on the CR920X. Weighing only 6 ounces, the ZeroTech Thrive HD Micro Reflex features advanced shake-awake technology. The Thrive HD projects a 3 MOA dot with ten adjustable levels while offering up to 150,000 hours of run time with a CR2032 battery. ZeroTech has designed the Thrive HD to be recoil, fog, and waterproof.

The ZeroTech Thrive HD and CR920X were meant for each other. The natural point ability of the CR920X and ZeroTech red dot complements each other. Featuring a rectangular lens, the Thrive HD offers a superior field of view compared to other red dot optics.
Brass Flying….The Pistol Behaves More Like A Larger Frame Handgun Versus Micro-Compact When Fired, Thanks To Its Ergonomics.
Shadow Systems Cr920X 07

The minimal frame of the Thrive HD “disappears” when focusing on the target with the red dot. Showing no halos or disfiguration, the optic provides a crisp, clear dot. The red dot was “there” and seamlessly located at the first draw. This is a compliment to Shadow Systems’ choice of a direct mount method versus plates, allowing the ZeroTech to sit as low as possible on the slide.

The extended beavertail and undercut trigger guard further enhance the CR920X’s already low bore axis. This allows for a very stable sight picture, regardless of how many or how rapid rounds are fired.

The Shadow Systems CR920X In Hand

Fit does not solely mean feeling “good” in your hand. Shadow Systems’ incorporation of the “larger” CR920X frame is a nod to how important grip is for running a handgun effectively.

Proper grip starts from the holster and sets the stage for the most efficient use of a red dot-equipped handgun. The majority of aiming any pistol, red dot or not, is achieved through kinesthetic awareness.
Drills With The Shadow Systems Cr920X Quickly Moved Past Stand And Deliver Drills To More Dynamic Drills Involving Movement, Magazine Reloads, And Firing From Behind Cover.
Shadow Systems Cr920X 08

Kinesthetic awareness is the body’s knowledge of the relative location and engagement of tension in its parts. This especially pertains to red dots via proper grip and tension applied to the pistol with the shooting hand as soon as possible from the holster and the support hand close to the body under the dominant eye.

Grip is also the key to tracking the red dot up/down on target during multiple-round drills. Thanks to Shadow Systems’ enhancements, the CR920X with ZeroTech Thrive HD performed larger than its diminutive size.

Range Time

An aluminum flat-faced trigger, set at 4.5 pounds, is fitted to the CR920X. Trigger snobs will wrinkle their noses at this. All Shadow Systems weapons are personal defense/service first, not competition pieces.

A statement on Shadow Systems’ website summarizes their approach, “A 4-pound bang always beats a 3-pound light strike.”

The CR920X ’s trigger pull is clean. A graph of the trigger pull would be interesting as there was something positive about it that resists words. The reset length is minimal, with a positive tactile feel. This translates into a handgun that can send rounds downrange rapidly and accurately.

The Shadow Systems CR920X was tested using Black Hills AmmunitionHornadySIG Sauer, and Federal ammunition. Range T&E was conducted near Winchester, VA, at Echo Valley Training Center (EVTC). Loads fired ranged from 115 to 147 grain with both hollow points and FMJ bullet types tested.

Accuracy Testing At 15 Yards. A Red Dot Like The Zero Tech Optics Thrive Hd Micro Is An Enhancement For Placing Bullets Accurately.
Shadow Systems Cr920X 09

A can full of an assortment of ammunition ranging from steel, aluminum, and brass case loads was used. Magazines are loaded with these random loads as a sort of reliability proofing. No malfunctions were experienced.

A 100% rating was obtained while shooting the old 60-round FBI Qualification Course proficiency test with CR920X. This is a compliment to trigger, sights/red dot, and ergonomics. Here was a sub-compact handgun holding its own with full-size weapons.

The test is timed fire from the holster at various ranges stretching from 3 yards back to 25 yards. Needless to say, I was pleased with the CR920X’s performance.

10-Yard Sight In With Zero Tech Optics Thrive Hd Micro.
Shadow Systems Cr920X 10

Thanks to the ZeroTech Thrive HD, the diminutive CR920X’s compressed iron sight radius became a non-factor. The ZeroTech Thrive HD red dot almost made it feel like cheating.

Running Drills

Range test accuracy was in the 2 to 3-inch range for five rounds at 25 yards, depending on the ammunition used. Drills quickly moved past stand and deliver drills to more dynamic drills involving movement, magazine reloads, and firing from behind cover.

Considering that the CR920X’s design intent is as an everyday carry (EDC) handgun, most drills purposefully started by drawing from concealment. Galco holsters were used for most of the CR920X testing. Scenarios involving plate racks and dueling trees were run.
Shadow Systems Cr920X: Demonstrating Evolution At Its Finest.
Shadow Systems Cr920X 11

The ZeroTech Thrive HD red dot exerted its dominance as engagement distances increased. Engaging targets from behind cover or on the move was incorporated into testing. Magazine changes were made to get a feel for manipulating CR920X and to verify how quickly it could get back on target.

The Shadow Systems CR920X’s simplicity of operation allowed for rapid target engagement. Likewise, the well-thought-out ergonomics positioned the hand near optimum placement during presentation from the holster.

Witches Brew

The Shadow Systems CR920X will find its way into several roles as a personal defense handgun. Do not let nomenclature such as sub-compact fool you. The CR920X performed beyond any preconceived notions based on labels.

Many will find the CR920X’s handy nature and capability indispensable. It is easy to envision it becoming the primary carry weapon, especially in summer months or under social conditions where the discovery of a concealed carry weapon is untenable.

Anyone pondering a concealed-carry handgun should consider the reliability and accuracy of the CR920X. Ultimately, always having a weapon with you is more important than the full-sized 10MM you leave at home because you do not feel like dressing around your handgun on any given day. The Shadow Systems CR920X is an excellent balance of size to firepower.

For more information, please visit ShadowSystemsCorp.com.

CR920X Specs

Caliber9MM
Magazine Capacity15 rounds
Barrel Length3.41-inches
Overall Length6.5-inches
Height5.18-inches
Weight Empty19.1 ounces
MSRP$940
The Cr920X-Series Utilizes The Compact Slide Dimensions Of A Shadow Systems Cr (G43) Mated To A Slimmed Down Shadow Systems Mr Lower.
Shadow Systems Cr920X 12

Performance

LOADVELOCITY AVG.ACCURACY AVG@ 25yds
Federal 124gr HST1026fps2.25 inches
SIG 124gr V-Crown1092fps2 inches
Black Hills 124gr JHP +P1080fps2.25 inches
Hornady 147gr XTP891fps2.33 inches

Accuracy test protocol consisted of three five-shot groups with each ammunition type; Group sizes were averaged. Velocity figures obtained by averaging five rounds fired over Caldwell Precision Shooting chronograph.

by Todd Burgreen at Athlon Outdoors

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