IWI Masada Slim Review: GU Tested

by Bucky Lawson

April 7, 2023

1 comments

4.7
(15)

The IWI Masada 9S Slim is a striker-fired semi-automatic pistol from Israeli Weapon Industries. It represents IWI’s entry into the double-stack subcompact market. The category’s popularity has exploded over the last couple of years, so we figured it was time for a close look at this particular gun. Before going too deep into the Masada Slim review, let’s look at the gun’s specifications.

A double-stack subcompact pistol from IWI for the striker-fire fans.

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Masada 9S Specs

  • Caliber 9mm Parabellum
  • Barrel length 3.4”
  • Sights 3-Dot Optic Ready
  • Overall length 6.25″
  • Height 4.7″
  • Length/Width 6.25″ OAL; 1″ wide
  • Weight 1.27 lbs. w/out mag; 1.4 lbs. with mag
  • 29.6 oz. (no mag)

Slim double-stack subcompact pistols are all the rage these days, and with good reason. These mighty mites routinely provide the slimness and concealability of single-stack guns like the Walther PPS or Springfield XDS, while delivering 12 or 13-round magazine capacities for 9mm. We no longer have to sacrifice capacity for concealability, or not as much, anyway.

We all know that Sig started this trend with the excellent P365 series and other companies haven’t wasted any time throwing their own offerings into the ring. With its 3.4-inch barrel and 6.25-inch overall length, the Masada Slim is more analogous to the P365XL than the base P365. The IWI gun’s 13-round magazine capacity is actually one round better than the Sig.

IWI Masada 9S Subcompact Pistol: P365 Killer?

Masada Slim 9mm in profile

IWI categorizes the gun as part of the Masada line, despite the fact that the Slim is not a scaled-down Masada. Both guns feature the modular chassis system. Both are also optic-ready. The only other things the Masada Slim shares with the full-sized Masada are the grip texture and the magazine cutout

Grip of IWI's microcompact

The latter allows the shooter to grasp and pull the magazine if necessary.

Let’s look at the Masada Slim’s distinguishing features.

Masada 9S Slim features

Masada-Slim-features
1 Modular chassis

Hopefully the serialized steel chassis system will allow longer slides and grip frames, but those items are not yet available for either Masada model.

2 Optic cut

The RMS Shield Optic Cut is a nice feature, making the gun compatible with the optics like the Holosun EPS Carry, 507K, and Sig Romeo Zero right out of the box.

3 Flat face trigger

The trigger has a crisp, clean break and a short reset.

4 13+1 capacity

This capacity for 9mm rivals some larger guns and is actually +1 over (one better than) the Sig P365XL.

5 Large, positive mag release

The mag release is prominent and easy to hit, without being in the way.

Variations of the Masada Slim

IWI also offers a Masada 9S Slim equipped with 3 dot Meprolight Hyper Bright orange ring night sights.

IWI Masada 9S Review – Our Thoughts

I (my friends, my son, and I) have been shooting and carrying the Masada Slim for about four months now. Full disclosure: IWI sent me this gun specifically to review. That fact does not bear on our opinions, good or bad.

Masada 9S subcompact profile, left side

Overall, I like the Masada Slim very much. There’s a lot to like.

I almost added “at this price point,” because the gun’s price is very attractive, especially compared to its Sig rival. But that phrase really does the gun an injustice, because it really is a great little handgun.

Comfort and Concealability

First, the Masada Slim is very comfortable to carry. I’ve carried it in a LAG Defender holster and a Mission First Tactical Bellyband. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I barely noticed I had the gun. Two of us carried it, and one recent comment was that the gun seemed “nonexistent” on the hip or the abdomen. It printed not at all, as long as we did our part in carrying it properly.

Shootability

At the range, I found that the Masada Slim shot every bit as well as the Sig P365XL. The flat-faced trigger has a longer take-up than I’d like, but the break is crisp and clean with a short reset. Honestly, I like the trigger just a little better than the 365XL. Recoil was very manageable, with both 115 and 124-grain ammo and I transitioned well, whether shooting at paper or steel. Accuracy was good, with consistent 1-2-inch groups at 7 yards. The groups expanded a bit as I moved out, but that’s more on us than it is on the gun.

Trigger and mag release on the 9S

The sights are fine, but nothing special. They feature a blacked-out U-notch and a white dot front blade. They’re easy enough to pick up, though there’s a little more daylight than I prefer. The standard Masada Slim does not have night sights, unlike the P365XL.

Reliability

Reliability-wise, I had no issues at all. I ran a variety of 115 and 124-grain ammo through the Masada Slim, including some 124-grain defensive rounds. There were no failures to feed or eject and the gun ran with 100 percent reliability, even though I purposely didn’t clean it beyond an initial lube.

That reliability showed through measured, deliberate shooting, as well as transition drills that included quick mag changes. I purposely ran dirty ammo, though I did not seek to induce failures with crazy stuff like pouring dirt in the mags. I ran the same two factory mags the whole time.

I would have no reservations whatsoever about employing the Masada Slim in an everyday carry role.

Shooting the Masada Slim for a review
Dry-firing the Masada Slim and getting used to the trigger.

Controls and Ergonomics

First, the Masada Slim is very comfortable in the hand. The grip texture is solid but not overly aggressive. I like that, though I believe some shooters would want something more sandpapery, especially in humid environments.

Despite its slim geometry, the grip fills the palm well and I didn’t have to reach for anything. None of the controls required us to adjust our grip, including the large and prominent mag release. Despite that prominence, I had no issues with accidentally ejecting the mag.

It’s honestly a lot better than the full-sized Masada’s mag release. It’s not ambidextrous, but it is reversible.

The lack of an ambi release may or may not be a big deal depending on the shooter. After all, there are other ways to release the slide. But ambi slide releases are better. But for this price, maybe that’s alright.

The lack of an accessory rail is disappointing. There appears to be room, but IWI chose not to include one.

A real downside is the lack of a forward accessory rail. I don’t really understand that design choice since it’s kind of expected these days. There’s enough room for a 3-slot rail, but the only features are inexplicable extensions of the forward slide serrations. Sure, they look cool, but they serve no purpose, and a rail would have been much better.

A small feature I like very much is the magazine cutout on the grip. This gives the shooter positive purchase on the magazine should there be ejection problems. I know it’s rare, but it does happen and that’s a nice touch.

Aside from the lack of an accessory rail, the thing I like least about the Masada Slim is the disassembly process. Unlike its larger namesake, the Masada Slim requires you to remove a pin from the slide before it comes loose. This is accomplished by locking the slide back, and moving the takedown lever sideways, which also blocks the mag well, meaning it can’t be done while a mag is inserted. Then you must grasp the pin and pull it out.

Taking the Masada Slim apart for maintenance. Disassembly is not a pleasant process.
Taking the Masada Slim apart for maintenance. Disassembly is not a pleasant process.

You better have some fingernails.

Putting it back together is an even bigger pain. Just reverse the sequence. The problem is that trying to line up the pin just right literally sucks. You have to hold the slide back just a bit to reveal the pin channel. And you better have it just right or the pin doesn’t go in. But you have to do it upside down because the barrel will fall, blocking that channel. So, you have to be a bit of a contortionist to get it right. It takes a lot of practice. I don’t know why IWI’s engineers made that particular design choice, but I don’t like it.

Chassis of IWI's Slim 9mm

Value

Simply put, with an MSRP of $450, the Masada Slim is a home run. I’d call it a grand slam if it were fully ambidextrous and had a rail, but even so, I’ll call it a solid early game two-run shot. It’s reliable, easy to shoot, accurate, and comfortable. It conceals easily and is optic-ready.

LAG Tactical holster for the Masada Slim 9mm pistol.

As it is, you have a very nice gun that costs $200+ less than the Sig P365XL. The only downside here is lack of aftermarket support. I had a difficult time finding a holster for the Masada Slim, with LAG Tactical finally coming through for us.

There just aren’t many options out there. IWI has partnered with Meprolight for aftermarket sights, which is a very good thing. Unfortunately, the variety of upgrades you might get with a different make or model of pistol just isn’t there.

At least not yet.

Masada Slim Pros and Cons 

  • Reliable –After four months and hundreds of rounds, we had not a single reliability issue with the Masada Slim.
  • Inexpensive –At a street price of around 415 bucks, this is a quality, optic ready handgun for a fantastic price.
  • Trigger – This is among the most comfortable guns we’ve carried, and it conceals like a dream.
  • Capacity – At 13+1, the Masada Slim is at the top of its class.
  • Unsupported – Lack of aftermarket support in terms of accessories like holsters and sights.
  • No rail – The real estate is there for an accessory rail, but no joy.
  • Disassembly – The disassembly system SUCKS.

Overall, I loved the Masada Slim. We all really do. It is a superlative carry gun with just a couple of things we don’t like. But the good far outweighs the bad. We will carry it confidently for some time to come.

Report Card

Shootability

We shot the Masada Slim very well. Recoil was no problem, the trigger was nice, and it was accurate.

A-
Reliability

100 percent reliability over four months of hard shooting.

A+
Ergonomics

The gun feels great, and the controls are positive and easy to reach. The disassembly process is a negative.

B
Accuracy

The Masada Slim is probably more accurate than we are. It hit the target with cheap ammo and more expensive stuff. No worries here.

A
Value

We’d like to give the Masada Slim an A+ here, but we have to ding it for lack of aftermarket support and, again, the lack of a rail. But as it is, this is still a great gun for not a lot of money.

A
IWI-Masada-Slim-review-final-grade

Our Grade

A

Reviewed by Bucky Lawson

Reader’s Grade

A

Based on 8 Reviews

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I used mostly Federal American Eagle 124gr FMJ for range ammo and prefer Speer Gold Dot Personal Protection 124gr +P JHP for a defensive cartridge.

Other options include:

Range Rounds

MagTech-9mm-Ammo

MagTech 9mm 115 GR FMJ Ammo

Marketplace
Cost Per Round
Natchez Shooter’s Supply $0.24
Palmetto State Armory $0.34

Self Defense Ammunition

Box of Hornady 9mm pistol ammunition

Hornady Critical Defense 115 GR

Marketplace
Cost Per Round
Cabela’s $1.24
Midway USA $1.24

Masada 9S Accessories

There are a few things I’d recommend for the Masada 9S, starting with a good holster (like the LAG Tactical Defender or MFT Bellyband) and a reliable mag carrier.

You should definitely put some sort of MRDS on here.
You should definitely put some sort of MRDS on here.

A suitable optic (like the Shield RMSc) is always a Good Thing.

Masada 9S Accessories

Shield Optic
  • Parallax free
  • Multiple dot sizes available
  • Extremely compact and lightweight
Check price
LAG Tactical Defender Holster
  • IWB/OWB Combo
  • Left- or Right-hand versions available
  • Customizable for attachments
On Amazon
MFT Belly Band Holster
  • Hard laminate trigger shield
  • 2 elastic pockets for spare mags, light, etc.
  • 2 zippered storage pockets for cash, ID, etc.
Check price
LAG Tactical M.C.S. Pistol Mag Carrier
  • Multiple mounting options available
  • Several colors of Kydex to choose from
  • Will “nest” with other MCS carriers
On Amazon
Paragon Optic Cleaning Lens Cleaner
  • Clean your optics and weapon light lens
  • 5ml Weapon Light Cleaner
  • 10ml Optic Lens Cleaner
  • Micro Fiber Cloth
Check price
Appropriate cleaning kit
  • For cleaning, care, and maintenance
  • Not all kits are created equal
Compare top kits
Handgun Master Cleaning Station
  • Fits .22 to .45 as well as some oddball cartridges.
  • Wide range o
  • Fits .22 to .45 as well as some oddball cartridges.
  • Wide range of tools for maintenance and cleaning.
  • Big work area but stores small.
  • Tools for maintenance and cleaning.
  • Big work area but stores small.
Check price
Suitable biometric safe
  • Biometric scanners are a plus but only one 0ption
  • Securing an off-body handgun is paramount
Compare biometric safes

Masada 9S Maintenance

A reliable handgun requires regular maintenance and cleaning, but you have to know how to break it down in order to do so. Take a watch at this:

Suggested resources for you and your Masada Slim.

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About Bucky Lawson

W. "Bucky" Lawson is a typical Appalachian American gun enthusiast, with a particular interest in military surplus firearms. He holds a master's degree in military history and is slowly working toward a Ph.D. in the same subject. He writes for several online gun blogs and the occasional historical journal and hunts deer when time allows. Bucky shares space with two bulldogs, Bilbo and Blueberry. He enjoys an evening stogie, preferably paired with an Old Fashioned with an extra orange slice.

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1 COMMENTS

  1. Great weapon for CC. It is a pain to reassemble however. I still love it carry it everyday in warm weather.

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