First Shots: Shadow Systems CR920 Foundation

Mar 13, 2024

As an addition to the basic Shadow Systems line, the sub compact pistol makes plenty of sense. They already had the compact (MR), cross-over (XR) and duty model (DR) in the Foundation Series. These are classic Shadow Systems pistols – with the same ergonomic frame, trigger (the action, not the trigger shoe), adaptable backstrap, optics-option, as the Elite guns, but at a lower price point (MSRP around $599).

The three Foundation-series guns I tried before were just very nice pistols. When I saw that they were adding their sub compact CR920 to the Foundation Series, I had to check it out.

The gun, as an Elite Series pistol, has a 3.4” barrel that is supplied with a 10-round magazine, a factory-supplied extended floor plate (it doesn’t add a round, just allows a better grip) and a 13-round magazine.

The Foundation guns are supplied the same way, but without the zippered pistol case.

Like the Elite model, it’s a 9mm striker-fired gun that weighs in at just under 18 ounces. It has a nitride finish on the slide. This particular gun has the bronze Titanium CarboNitride finished barrel, an upgrade from the black nitride finish of the earlier Foundation Series guns.

It has a striking look.

The gun is supplied with a ten-shot magazine, a 13-shot magazine and a finger-rest floorplate for the short mag. It’s shown installed here.

The Foundation Series now has other options, other than the bronze barrel: these include a threaded barrel option and the option to get the gun with a tritium front sight, a good move for the gun’s intended purpose.

Don’t want to buy another holster to fit a new gun? Well, if you have holsters that fit the G43X/G48 MOS guns, they’ll likely fit the CR920. The MOS guns have the accessory rail on the dustcover and so does the CR920.

I took the new gun out for the initial break-in cruise (Shadow Systems recommends a 200-round break-in for new guns) on a 38°morning. The first thing I found is that Hornady Critical Defense Lite 100 grain FTX ammo wouldn’t feed from the 10-round magazine.

At all. I’d only loaded five rounds.

I loaded the 13-round magazine with five rounds of Magtech Steel 115 grain FMJ. The gun fed the first two rounds, had premature lock-back on the next two rounds and it locked open on firing the last round.

Shooting those five rounds from 15 yards, I found the hits centered on the B-8 repair center in a 2 ¾” group with the best three rounds inside 1”.

Nicely done, except for the lock-back. Time to sort it out.

A variety of ammo was used on the first of the ‘break-in’ range trips; as-issued, the gun needs a sufficient “jolt” to run. Below, old-stock ammo produced a ‘barely out of the muzzle’ failure to extract/eject. It’s being cleared here before being field stripped and the bore being inspected for the bullet from a squib round.


I field stripped the pistol and well-lubricated the barrel – around the circumference of the barrel up front, along the barrel hood and the “foot” of the barrel that rides the locking block. I also lubed the slide rails. After reassembly, I loaded the gun with Critical Defense Lite and it fed the first round. This was followed by failures to eject and a feedway stoppage. Five rounds went into four inches from fifteen yards, with the best three hits into 2 ½”.

I followed that up with ten rounds of Magtech Steel 115gr. FMJ. This was fired one-handed, with the first five rounds dominant-hand only and the second five fired support hand only on a reduced-size IPSC steel silhouette. I intentionally drifted a pair of hits into the 4”x4” headbox from 25 yards with the pint-sized blaster.

Zero stoppages.

I tried Black Hills 9mm 115gr. JHP EXP ammo. There was a premature slidelock on round #2, the rest ran fine. This load shot into 3 ¾”, with three hits inside 1 1/8”.

As the stoppages were dying down, I shot a marked-up B8 repair center with old stock Winchester “WinClean” 115 grain BEB ammo. I was concerned about the flat-point hardball feeding, but that was not an issue. I had one round fire without enough power to open the slide and it caused me to check for a squib, but that’s an ammo issue.

That’s three rounds fired full-tilt, fast as the pensioner could reacquire-and-fire. The tiny gun made handling the (not inconsiderable) recoil easy.

The 30 rounds fired 10 at 15 yards, 10 at 10 yards and 10 at five yards, tended to the right with vertical stringing. Holding the target over my chest, it appeared they were all inside an anatomical “-0” zone. This was around fifty rounds into the break-in.

I finished up on a 5x5x5 drill. Fired on a printed “playing card” target, I shot it from low ready – I didn’t have a holster for the CR920FS with me. Using the Winchester WinClean ammo, I had 4 hits solidly in the card with a (non-counting) line cutter in 2.29 seconds. I believe it can be readily accomplished from concealment with this gun.

I finished with a demand drill – aimed in, slack out, seeing how quickly I can react to the beep and press the hit. For five reps, the times centered around .20 second and helps me get used to a trigger. I followed with pairs, starting from the aimed-in, slack-out position, this to work recovery to a second hit. This was shot on the B-8.

I finished with the Hornady Critical Defense Lite load, five rounds in each magazine. I still had a failure to feed on the first round from slide lock on the 10-round magazine. When it was sorted out, I fired the rounds without issue. With the 13-round magazine, using a “sling-shot” to load the chamber from slide lock, the round fed up and the rounds fired out.

The first 90 or so rounds are down the barrel. I’ll bring it back when I finish the break-in and get some shooting drills done.

— Rich Grassi