When it comes to firearms that are built to rigorous standards for demanding real-world applications in the harshest of environments, Israel Weapon Industries (IWI) has to be at the top of the list. In fact, IWI works closely with the Israel Defense Force during the development of many of its weapon systems. This ensures that its products meet the needs of fighting men and women who need every advantage and edge possible. So, I was happy to see IWI bring its Masada Slim to the recent Athlon Outdoors Rendezvous.
The IWI Masada Slim
Another beneficiary of IWI’s small-arms expertise is the American shooter. Specifically because IWI US (a subsidiary) makes the company’s firearms available to the U.S. market. One of the company’s most recent products integrates that expertise and tough-as-nails build quality IWI is known for into the micro-compact form factor that’s perfect for EDC and concealed carry.
Slim & Sleek
One of my favorite pistols that I’ve tried in the past couple of years was IWI’s full-sized Masada. This was the company’s first foray into striker-fired pistols. It was extremely rugged, exceptionally accurate, and a fantastic value for the money. Well, IWI condensed those same qualities and more into a smaller and lighter package known as the Masada Slim.
The Masada Slim is roughly the same size as a Sig Sauer P365 XL. So, it’s a bit larger than some of the initial micro-compacts on the market, like the P365 or the Hellcat. The advantage of the slightly larger size is a longer grip and a higher capacity of 13+1 rounds.
While the Masada Slim isn’t as thin as the P365 XL, it’s close and much slimmer than the original Masada. Factoring in the slide stop, I got a measurement of 1.14 inches with my calipers. That’s plenty thin enough for comfortable concealed carry.
The Masada Slim is built on a fiberglass-reinforced polymer frame that serves as a receptacle for the removable steel trigger chassis. Similar to the P320 series of pistols, the Masada Slim’s modular trigger chassis serves as the serialized firearm component. The component can be easily moved from one frame to another.
Provided IWI or other companies offer new frame modules, the end user can install the chassis into different colored grip frames or frames with varying capacities.
Optics or Iron Sights
On the top side of the Masada Slim, the pistol showcases a cold-hammer-forged barrel for long life. Likewise, a dual-captive recoil spring assembly assists with recoil mitigation. The slide offers up serviceable cocking serrations at the front and rear for easy manipulation and press checking.
The slide also includes a direct-mount optics cut, allowing the user to install a variety of RDOs on the slide. This includes a Shield RMSc, Holosun EPS and others. The advantage of the direct-mount system is that it will allow the factory sights to co-witness with most red-dot units that use the Shield footprint.
Speaking of the sights, the Masada Slim sticks with the K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid) mindset. It includes a blacked-out and serrated rear sight with a white-dot sight up front for good contrast and quicker acquisition.
After doing a bit of research, I found some conflicting information about the finish on the slide. But when I contacted a company rep, they said the information regarding the finish was unpublished.
I’ve never heard that before, and as a buyer, that’s an important piece of information I’d like to know. But knowing IWI’s penchant for quality and reliability, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. Likewise, I’ll assume that the finish is robust enough to stand up to anything civilians can throw at it.
The Masada Slim ships with two magazines and has an MSRP of $450. That’s not a bad price considering the quality of IWI’s products and the price of other micro-compacts on the market. But, taking nothing for granted, final judgment was reserved until we could get out and spend some quality time with the Masada Slim at the range.
I hit the range with a few friends, including a couple of new shooters, to get a feel for the Masada Slim—especially compared to similar pistols I had on hand. There were some things we noticed right out of the gate that we really liked. First, the grip is very comfortable, and the hand naturally gets a high hold on the pistol for better control.
One of the new shooters was female, and the Masada Slim was one of her top two favorites of the pistols we tried. Emalene liked the grip size and her ability to reach the trigger easily. Likewise, she felt like she could control it better than most of the others. She wasn’t the only one. During the session, several people commented on how comfortable the Masada Slim was to hold and shoot.
While the grip is comfortable, the texturing was a bit too subtle for my tastes. The grip wasn’t slick, but I thought the texturing could have been a touch more aggressive. But that’s a personal preference.
When seating the magazine, the locking action is very positive, and there’s a pronounced “click” when it locks into place. It takes a little extra effort to seat the magazine fully, but it’s more reassuring than anything else.
When hitting the mag release, the magazine ejected rather forcefully and cleanly for quick reloads. Also, a portion of the magazine baseplate protrudes just enough to form a nice lip. As a result, it’s easy to grasp, so the user can rip out the magazine if there’s a hang-up of any sort.
Pulling the Trigger on the Masada Slim
The trigger pull is what I would describe as a little above average. It wasn’t fantastic, but it wasn’t too bad, either. There’s a bit of smooth pre-travel until you hit the wall. Then it breaks around an average of 4.5 pounds of pressure.
After that, the reset hits quickly with minimal trigger travel for quick follow-up shots. The feel of the pull and break reminded me a little bit of the Ruger MAX-9’s trigger pull.
When we finally settled in for some serious shooting, everyone kept complimenting the Masada Slim. Despite its quasi-small size, it handled recoil well. It was a cinch to control and relatively easy to stay on target for quick follow-up shots.
Offhand accuracy was spot on as well. Even with its short sight radius, I was able to put a seven-round group into less than 1.5 inches at 15 yards. Granted, those were slower-paced shots, but that’s still a very good performance from a micro-compact pistol.
After that, I shot five-round groups from the bench at 7 yards per our testing protocol for short-barrel semi-autos. The Masada Slim did an excellent job with a variety of ammunition types. Correspondingly, the average group size for all loads was just 1.01 inches.
The single best five-shot group measured .63 inches and was shot with Hornady’s 115-grain Critical Defense load. There’s no question that the Masada Slim is exceedingly accurate and more than capable of meeting your defensive needs.
Another key factor in a defensive pistol’s performance is its reliability. There was no problem in that department either. Whether it was hollow points, ball ammo, truncated rounds, or even flex-tip loads, the Masada Slim chewed through everything without fail.
In fact, one of our new shooters had an issue with a couple of pistols that malfunctioned because of limp-wristing during recoil. She didn’t have that issue with the Masada Slim. I attribute that to the ergos, grip design, and her ability to easily get a solid grip on the pistol for better control.
All in all, the Masada Slim turned out to be a highly competent pistol. Sure, it didn’t have every single feature one would expect in a cutting-edge defensive pistol, like an accessory rail or an ambi slide stop. However, when it comes to the things that matter most, like accuracy, reliability, ergonomics, and recoil control, it’s tough to beat for a pistol of its size.
With those capabilities and the ability to mount your favorite red dot, the Masada Slim turns out to be an excellent value for its MSRP of $450. If you’re in the market for a micro-compact and looking for the best bang for your buck, don’t sleep on the Masada Slim from IWI. It’s got a great pedigree and will definitely deliver the goods.
For more information, please visit IWI.us.
IWI Masada Slim Specs
Barrel: 3.4 inches
Overall Length: 5.88 inches
Weight: 20.3 ounces (empty)
Grips: Glass-reinforced polymer
Sights: Three-dot adjustable
This article was originally published in the Personal Defense World February/March 2023 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions at OutdoorGroupStore.com. Or call 1-800-284-5668, or email email@example.com.