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Handgun Reviews

MasterPiece Arms 30SST

by Walt Rauch   |  September 24th, 2010 1


First, a little history. MasterPiece Arms guns are based on the design of an inexpensive, reliable and compact sub-machine gun created by Gordon B. Ingram. First chambered in .45 ACP, it was designated the Model 10. There were a few manufacturers, the most prominent of which was the Military Armament Corporation (MAC), thus the .45 ACP gun became known as the MAC10 or simply MAC. This label was also used for identifying later versions chambered in 9mm and .380 ACP.

Semiauto-only guns were also made, which initially fired from an open bolt. This was changed to bolt forward after the government discovered that a few owners had figured out how to easily and illegally convert the guns to full auto.

The MAC enjoyed only limited commercial success, with its popularity mainly confined to being an action-movie icon, spewing burning propane from its muzzle and its wielder not hitting anything other than cars and window glass. Space limitations here preclude further historical information, but I found one website–mac-11.net–to be particularly interesting.

When I requested the MasterPiece Arms Model 30SST pistol in 9mm for review, I already thought I knew what I’d find, since I had shot a few of the series of MAC guns in both full-auto and semiauto and found that they would only run with FMJ roundnose ammunition and did not lend themselves to any level of accuracy, partially due to the open bolt design. Well, I was wrong.

The 30SST uses a closed bolt, and the sample I received had a good six-pound trigger pull. My only difficulty was in how to best steady the gun from a shooting rest with the 30-round vertical magazine in its pistol grip. The simple solution was to stand up and shoot, at the cost of not getting tight five-shot groups.

The construction of the MPA30SST blends CNC machining for its bolt with stamped sheet metal for upper and lower receivers. Sights are fixed and are stamped metal. Both the wing-protected post front sight and the triangular-aperture rear sight are welded to the receiver. Fortunately, they allowed me to shoot point of aim at 15 yards.

After accuracy work with the supplied sights, I installed an Insight Technology MRDS Mini Red Dot Sight using the 5.5-inch Weaver accessory rail that is pinned to the top of the 30SST’s receiver. This aided greatly in quick and accurate firing.

The bolt is easy to operate as it has a large, horizontally protruding handle on the left side. The bolt telescopes forward over the rear of the barrel, allowing for a compact package.

The upper right side receiver-mounted safety must be rotated 180 degrees to engage or disengage. The magazine catch is at the lower rear back of the pistol grip and is easily operated with either hand. The supplied 30-round (according to MasterPiece specifications) British STEN magazine was easy to fill using the supplied magazine loader.

The curved trigger, protected with a stamped and welded-on trigger guard, broke cleanly. The trigger is encased in a polymer tube that serves to minimize trigger slap, which I did encounter with the original MACs. I didn’t notice any with this gun , but my shooting partner, AJ Stuart, did–saying it was an annoyance but not painful.

As a matter of fact, the only pain was caused when the sharp edge of the trigger guard dug into our shooting hand. (A bit of file work may be needed.)


The MPA30SST has a scope rail atop the receiver (mounted here is an Insight MRDS), and the trigger is sheathed with plastic tubing. The safety must rotate 180 degrees to be actuated.


The plastic backstrap makes the pistol grip quite comfortable, which was good since the tall 30-round mag prevents traditional rested accuracy testing.

To disassemble, after ensuring the gun is unloaded, remove the dual pin-in-a-pin from the lower receiver and remove the upper receiver. Next, compress the bolt against its dual springs and lift it out. The hammer must be cocked to do this.

We shot Winchester 115-grain jacketed roundnose, Black Hills 115-grain jacketed hollowpoint, CCI/Blazer 124-grain encased-core full jacket and Speer Gold Dot 124-grain Gold Dot hollowpoints two-handed, standing, at 15 yards. Our groups were as good (or not) as our ability to use the fixed sights.

We got better using the MRDS optic sight. But the problem, a good one, was we were having so much fun shooting at various spots on our targets that we ran out of ammo–with no malfunctions, I might add.

Our experience does highlight one good answer to the “why” of owning such a handgun. Sure, it’ll do just fine for personal protection as it does balance well, is accurate (which can be improved with optics or lasers), the trigger pull is good and the 30-round magazine supplies more than enough rounds. But the best part? Nowhere is it not allowed for someone to simply have fun shooting such a modern representation of a decades-old classic arm, despite lacking the cinematic flame-thrower effect.


Both front and rear sights are formed, stamped metal. The rear sight aperture is top center, while the other two openings serve as sling attachment points.

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Accuracy Results | MasterPiece Arms MPA30SST

9mm Luger Bullet Weight (gr.) Avg. Velocity (fps) Standard Deviation Avg. Group (in.)
Wichester JRN 115 1,206 22 6.0
Speer Gold Dot HP 124 1,151 17 4.5
Blazer TMJ 124 1,110 11 5.3
Black Hills JHP 115 1,213 5 5.5
Notes: Accuracy results are the averages of five five-shot groups an 15 yards fired two-handed, standing. Velocities are five-shot averages on a Gamma Master Chrony chronograph 10 feet from the muzzle. Abbreviations: HP, hollowpoint; JHP, jacketed hollowpoint; JRN, jacketed roundnose (ball); TMJ, encased-core full jacket

  • An American Guest

    I own such a pistol in .45 acp with 6"-barrel and side operation. It is far heavier than the typical revolver or semi-auto. But the weight and its weight distribution (with the barrel extension) makes for very manageable recoil. It is a two-hand weapon, but with the 30-round magazine, and its good accuracy, it is my go-to-gun when things go bump in the night … and shouldn't be. They are also reasonably priced.

    I highly reccomend the Masterpiece Arms Defender series.

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