Review: IWI Masada 9mm Pistol

IWI Masada 9mm Pistol

Among the more interesting handguns I have reviewed in the previous few years is the IWI Masada. A production of Israeli Weapons Industry, the Masada is a striker-fired, polymer-framed handgun.

The pistol is fully ambidextrous. The slide lock and magazine release are on each side. This makes for good combat utility. While I may not be my best with the non-dominant hand, the controls are equally positive on either side of the handgun.

I like the location of the magazine release. While it is recessed to an extent, it is fast to manipulate. The slide lock is protected by a shelf on the frame under the slide lock. I have seen many shooters allow their thumb to ride into the slide lock during recoil.

It will not happen with this firearm. The trigger action is tight with a break of 5.5 pounds. The action is excellent compared to other striker-fired handguns. The front and rear grip straps are covered in skateboard tape-like rasping, but not nearly as offensive.

The sides of the handle are treated as well. This grip frame offers good abrasion and adhesion. There is a slight curve in the backstrap. Finger indents slightly shorten trigger reach.

The frame and grip are designed to make for a lower bore axis than most striker-fired handguns. The high-visibility sights are excellent designs. They feature white three-dot inserts. There are three frame inserts to accommodate many hand sizes.

IWI Masada Design

IWI Masada 9mm Pistol
The polymer-framed, striker-fired Masada is a first-class defensive handgun.

The hammer-forged barrel features polygonal rifling. The barrel is 4.1 inches long. The pistol has a robust heavy-duty extractor. The slide features both forward and rear-cocking serrations. They are needed, as the pistol features a heavy recoil spring.

This makes racking the slide more difficult, but on the other hand, the pistol was comfortable to fire with +P and +P+ ammunition. The frame features a rail for mounting a combat light. The trigger guard is large enough for gloved hand use and squared at the front.

I especially like the takedown sequence. I find manipulating the lever handier than the GLOCK-type takedown. The trigger must be pressed and the piece de-cocked to field strip the handgun.

Note: Humans misplace their keys, stub their toes and forget to zip their trousers. Be alert and mindful when fieldstripping any handgun. Let the first step be checking to be certain the handgun is not loaded. Do it the NRA way by checking the magazine well first and then the chamber. There are mental elements and there are mental operations. Stay sharp!

Other Specs and Features

The pistol is chambered for the 9mm Luger. The magazines hold 17 rounds. The last couple of cartridges are difficult to load. That is good, as strong magazine springs ensure feed reliability. A big plus is that the pistol is optics-ready.

A cover on the frame, between the rear sight and ejection port, is removed and replaced with the proper mount. Another advantage is that the Masada is supplied with four polymer plates to accommodate a number of red dots.

Slide cover removed
This is the slide with the cover removed.


Masada slide cover
This is the original slide cover.

There is no consistency that makes mounting a red dot easier—all have different footprints and use a different mount. I used the Burris Fast Fire 3 during this evaluation, but relied primarily on the sights for initial combat firing.

I added the red dot toward the end of the test program. I began the evaluation with a good supply of Winchester 115-grain FMJ ammunition. With the magazines loaded, I faced the targets, drawing from an Uncle Mike’s belt slide.

Burris Fast Fire window
The Burris Fast Fire offers a wide window.

Feel and Function

The Masada is a comfortable handgun to fire and use. The trigger is smooth with a positive reset. The sights offer excellent visibility. The pistol was accurate enough for personal defense well past 25 yards.

Most of the work with the USA Ready loads was fast work on man-sized targets at seven, 10 and 15 yards. This handgun responds well to a trained shooter. Recoil is modest and muzzle flip low. The trigger resets quickly. The pistol shoots well.

Masada safety lever
The Masada features a safety lever set in the trigger face.

The inevitable comparison is to a GLOCK handgun. The sights are preferable to GLOCKs and so is the trigger action, and I like the takedown better. We will have to see what type of service the Masada gives, but IWI is known for reliable tools.

The pistol was fired from a standing benchrest at a long 25 yards with Winchester’s accurate and reliable 147-grain PDX loading. When I took my time and did everything right, the pistol put five holes into less than three inches. The piece is plenty accurate.

Testing It

Adding the Red Dot was simple enough and accomplished in a matter of minutes.  Remove the plate, mount the proper red dot plate to the sight, and tighten it down. With the Burris Fast Fire 3 installed, the Masada remains a compact and fast-handling handgun.

Burris Fast Fire TRUGLO
With the Burris Fast Fire 3 and TRUGLO combat light mounted, the Masada is ready for business.

I loaded the magazines with Winchester Ready and zeroed in on man-sized targets at seven yards. The pistol is very fast and, with the red dot mounted, hits were rapid. Moving to 15 yards, it took a few rounds to get the pistol sighted in.

Firing in a slower cadence, the pistol proved quite accurate and the results were good. I also fired a number of the Winchester 115-grain Silvertip and the Winchester 124-grain PDX +P with good results.

IWI Masada with ammo
The Masada and Winchester ammunition were a good combination.


The Israelis follow a rugged creed of self-defense with a stock of positive programs. They also offer a good potion of red corpuscles along with their designs. The Masada is an excellent choice for personal defense or service use.

What do you think of the Masada? Have you used any IWI firearms before? Let us know in the comments below.

About the Author:

Wilburn Roberts

When Wilburn Roberts was a young peace officer, he adopted his present pen name at the suggestion of his chief, as some of the brass was leery of what he might write. This was also adopted out of respect for families of both victims and criminals. The pen name is the same and the man remains an outspoken proponent of using enough gun for the job.

He has been on the hit list of a well-known hate group, traveled in a dozen countries and written on many subjects, including investigating hate crimes and adopting the patrol carbine. He graduated second in his class with a degree in Police Science. It took him 20 years to work himself from Lieutenant to Sergeant and he calls it as he sees it.
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (4)

  1. I am a huge fan of the IWI Masada. Right out of the box it was very accurate and after I put a vortex venom red dot on it – it turned into my favorite handgun.

    Super reliable- I’ve never had a bad ejection, a miss fire or any failure of any kind. The grip is great texture and 10x better than the glock grip, the trigger and the accuracy are also superior to a stock glock. I go shooting once a week and practice religiously, I am a very good shot with my custom glock, but even with an aftermarket trigger and expensive night sights- I preferred my MASADA within the first 50 rounds. I have so many pistols and revolvers that it was hard to imagine something could out preform every other pistol in my collection. The IWI Masada is a far superior handgun to any stock GLOCK, between the slide cuts, the trigger, the grip, the magazines and the quality, you will have more features and a better preforming handgun by choosing the Masada.

  2. I now use this as a service firearm. When I first fired this tool, it was smooth and the accuracy out of the box was spot on. it was easy to group at 3,5,7, an 10. After about a 1000 rnds, i am actually considering purchasing a second pistol, because I like it so well. Well made, easy to take down. I Would recommend this IWI masada over a glock or sig.

  3. Looks to be a solid Ambdextral Gunfighter pistol. I look forward to testing one.

    Key for the ambidextrous marksman is perfect mirroring of the controls…assuming the right side slide release works…check.

    I prefer a paddle magazine release (ambi and protected from accidental disengagement by holster), but we placed ambi mag buttons are fine. Does the Masada have non opposable mag buttons…probably not, but a hopeful future feature for those stuck in the button mag world.

    For handguns, once you become ambidextrous, left hand should be your primary presentation of weapon. Learn why at

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