January 18, 2024
Shadow Systems CR920P Elite Compensated Semiauto Pistol
The new compensated CR920P Elite striker-fired semiauto 9mm pistol from Shadow Systems carries small but shoots big.
Small pistols are great to carry, but they can be difficult to shoot—especially polymer-frame 9mm offerings, which tend to generate unpleasant recoil. Not only is a snappy pistol uncomfortable to shoot, it can also be hard to shoot well, and shooting well is a requirement of any handgun intended for self-defense.
Balancing ease of carry with shootability is the goal of every firearms manufacturer competing in the overcrowded subcompact 9mm arena. To be sure, there are plenty of pistols that fill the bill. However, few distinguish themselves from the pack like the Shadow Systems new CR920P Elite, which sports a proprietary compensator, making it as easy to shoot as a much bigger pistol.
Shadow Systems has earned a reputation for offering not modified Glocks but rather Glock clones with plenty of upgrades to enhance handling and accuracy. Sticking with Glock’s minimalist design helps ensure reliability.
Like all Shadow Systems pistols, the CR920P Elite is a polymer-frame, striker-fired gun. The frame sports a single-slot accessory rail for the mounting of a light or light/laser combo. It features an aggressive grip texture with an upswept beavertail and an undercut trigger guard that promotes a high grip for optimal recoil control.
A textured area on the frame above the trigger guard provides a contact point for your support-hand thumb. Shadow Systems calls this a recoil control ledge. It’s angled just enough to provide purchase for downward thumb pressure, which mitigates muzzle rise.
The internal magazine well is generously proportioned for easy reloads. The gun comes with an external magazine well that can be easily attached to funnel magazines into the pistol for even faster reloads. Of course, should you choose to install it, the external mag well makes the pistol harder to conceal.
Unlike other Shadow Systems guns, the CR920 line uses a proprietary steel magazine. However, a huge selling point for Shadow Systems pistols is that they fit in appropriately sized Glock holsters and accept Glock accessories, and this applies to the CR920P Elite as well.
The Shadow Systems aluminum flat-face trigger is drop safe and breaks between 4.5 and five pounds. As with Glock pistols, a trigger blade safety must be depressed for the pistol to be fired. And as you’d expect from a Glock-esque pistol, Shadow Systems guns are devoid of thumb and grip safeties.
The CR920P Elite’s spiral-fluted match grade barrel is available in a bronze titanium carbo-nitride or black nitride finish. It’s not threaded, so it complies with state laws restricting threaded barrels, and it sports three lugs at the muzzle that help lock the compensator in place.
With the prevalence of optics on pistols, it should come as no surprise that the CR920P Elite’s slide is cut for optics. Suppressor-height sights consist of a green tritium front and a black serrated rear.
These sights can be used as your primary aiming system or as a viable backup to your favorite optic. When viewed through the window of most optics, the sights will afford you a lower-third co-witness, which many believe provides a cleaner look than sights with an absolute co-witness.
There are two CR920P models, a Combat version and the Elite. The Elite designation means the slide sports weight-saving window cuts along either side and top slide serrations as opposed to just front and rear serrations like those on the Combat model.
Because they are lighter and typically have shorter grips, comparably chambered small pistols tend to generate more felt recoil than bigger ones. A compensator certainly helps, but adding a compensator to a subcompact pistol could make it clunky to handle and difficult to conceal. Fortunately, that’s not the case with the CR920P Elite.
The CR920P Elite’s patent-pending all-steel compensator is self-locking and self-indexing thanks to the proprietary three-lug design. There’s a centrally located locking lever in the body of the compensator, and the lever interfaces with the barrel lugs—preventing any play between the compensator and slide, whose contours match seamlessly.
The compensator’s locking lever rests in a recessed area near the muzzle, secured by a detent under spring tension. The single port atop the compensator is intended to direct excess gas upward, thereby keeping the muzzle down. And that’s the reason for adding a compensator.
A flatter-shooting pistol makes it easier to deliver fast and accurate follow-up shots—a goal whether competing in a match or fighting for your life. But compensators add weight and bulk to a pistol, which can defeat the purpose of carrying a subcompact. Compensators can also hinder the operation of the pistol in cases where there isn’t enough gas being directed rearward to fully cycle the slide. As a result, many defensive handgunners are leery.
If that describes you, the CR920P Elite’s compensator is a quick-detach device. The supplied tool enables you to remove the compensator quickly and easily for cleaning or to use a holster designed for a smaller-barreled pistol. Shadow Systems recommends firing 25 to 50 rounds through the CR920P Elite before attempting to remove the compensator. Prior to that break-in period, the compensator may be too tight to remove.
To remove the compensator, first fieldstrip the pistol and remove the recoil spring. Then, while holding the slide upside down, insert the tool through the access slot on the right side of the compensator. Push the detent toward the muzzle while applying pressure with your left thumb to unlock the locking lever. To reassemble, unlock the locking lever and insert the compensator onto the end of the barrel. Then close the locking lever to secure the compensator to the barrel.
Compensated or not, a pistol will shoot well for you only if it fits. The CR920P Elite mated to my hand exceptionally well. The backstrap features a slight palm swell. The back of the frame extends below the magazine well, which helps lock the grip into your hand.
The frame texturing felt just right—enough to facilitate a sure grip without being uncomfortable. It’s also textured in all the right places: the sides of the grip, the frontstrap and the backstrap.
The texturing on the front of the trigger guard may be relevant to you, depending on how you grip the pistol. But to me, the texturing along the sides of the frame, above the trigger guard, is more important. These areas serve as index points for your support-hand thumb—acting as a recoil control ledge—and your index finger when not firing. Texturing along the front of the extended magazine is also a nice touch.
The controls are accessible and big enough to manipulate easily. I prefer to use the slide-lock lever to send the slide home. For me this is faster, and with a prominent enough slide release, it’s more efficient than racking the slide rearward to send it forward. The CR920P Elite’s slide-lock lever is serrated and big enough that I found it easy to depress with my thumb.
Additionally, the magazine release’s rectangular shape and stepped design provide a lot of traction and make it easy to use.
The CR920P Elite comes with a 10-round flush fit magazine and a 13-round extended magazine. The 10-rounder has a pinky extension, which will provide a full firing grip for most shooters.
The CR920P Elite’s lines would make a sports car jealous. It’s a custom-looking pistol without appearing gaudy. Visually and tactilely, the CR920P Elite was on point, but even the best looking, most ergonomically designed pistol is useless if it can’t perform.
As a new Arizona resident, I seized the opportunity to test the CR920P Elite at the prestigious Gunsite Academy in Paulden. I set up my Ransom Multi Cal Steady Rest on a Caldwell Stable Table Lite and tested the gun at 15 yards.
For testing, I mounted a Holosun 507K X2 on the gun, which was a snap because the CR920P Elite allows direct-to-slide mounting of optics with the Shield RMS and Holosun 507K footprint. The gun even comes with an assortment of screws and spacers to ensure a seamlessly secure optic mount, and in this case with the 507K X2, a spacer filled the gap between the front of the optic and the front lip of the optic cut for a flush, secure fit.
Overall, the pistol printed an average group size of 1.3 inches. Full accuracy results are shown in the accompanying table. As you can see, the pistol loved the Black Hills 124-grain jacketed hollowpoint, which produced not only the best average but the best group of the day at just 0.4 inch.
I had one light primer strike malfunction during accuracy testing, but otherwise the gun ran flawlessly. I attribute this anomaly to the pistol being dry, dusty and brand new.
Accuracy testing completed, I moved to seven yards and fired various strings of fire ranging from controlled pairs to mag dumps. I shot offhand while stationary and while moving.
I was awestruck by how well the compensator worked. Don’t get me wrong; I expected to notice a difference between the CR920P Elite and the similar-size non-compensated pistol I was also testing. But I didn’t realize what a difference the compensator would make.
The pistol shoots as flat as any subcompact I’ve ever fired. The compensator, being made of steel, adds weight out front, which combined with the port, significantly reduce muzzle flip. I was able to put rounds on target with “minute of bad guy” accuracy as fast as I could press the trigger. And despite rapid fire with the different loads, I didn’t experience malfunctions of any kind.
Having tested the CR920P Elite, I can see why Shadow Systems has emerged as a premier Glock-clone manufacturer. If you’re in the market for simple-to-operate but loaded subcompact pistol and are willing to pay a premium—street price for the gun is $940, well above what you’d pay for a comparable Glock model—the Shadow Systems CR920P Elite may be just what you’ve been looking for.
It has all the bells and whistles you could want in a reliable, shootable package that’s remarkably flat shooting thanks to its patent-pending compensator. I think it’s worth every penny.
SHADOW SYSTEMS CR920P ELITE SPECIFICATIONS
- TYPE: Striker-fired semiauto
- CALIBER: 9mm Luger
- CAPACITY: 10+1 (flush mag); 13+1 (extended mag)
- BARREL: 3.7 in., spiral fluted, black nitride (as tested)
- OAL/HEIGHT/WIDTH: 7.3/4.2 (flush mag)/1.0 in.
- WEIGHT: 20 oz.
- CONSTRUCTION: Nitride-finished 17-4 stainless steel slide, polymer frame
- SIGHTS: Tritium with green-outline front, black serrated rear; multi-footprint optic cut
- TRIGGER: 4 lb. 10 oz. pull (measured)
- SAFETIES: Trigger-lever safety
- PRICE: $940 (street)
- MANUFACTURER: Shadow Systems, ShadowSystemsCorp.com