Masterpiece Arms 30DMG and the Weapons-System Concept

| August 28, 2015 | 7 Comments

This is a guest article from CR Williams, firearms instructor and author of several books on self-defense and firearms use (see our reviews of his book Facing the Active Shooter and Gunfighting, and Other Thougts About Doing Violence). You can follow him at In Shadow In LightShepherd

You can’t stop with just the gun if you’re going to do it right.

NOTE: This is not a 930DMG and the name is not a misprint. There are few differences between this one and a 930DMG that I can see but it is a separate model. And yes I did get confused about it for a while too.

I’ve been doing it all along—we all have—but I didn’t bring the concept toward the front until I purchased the TNW Firearms Aero Survival Pistol I previously reviewed here. And I didn’t start with the concept in mind even before I purchased before now.

That concept, the one we all abide by without thinking about it like I just did, is of the Weapon’s System which I define as the weapon and everything that supports its use as a fighting (or for some a sporting or competition) tool. With handguns that includes the gun, the holster you carry it in, the belt you carry it in the holster on (if it’s a belt gun) or the purse or bag or case if you don’t carry it on-body as well as magazines (or speedloaders/speedstrips for revolvers) and ammunition as well as you, the person that will be using that gun to fight with. In general if it’s needed to get the gun to the fight (known or unknown) and get and keep it running during the fight and your training for that fight with it, it’s part of the overall weapons system. I will sometimes as I do in this article subdivide this system into a Gun System and a Transport and Carry System. (The capital letters make it sound more pretentions and maybe complicated than it really is. I’m not really overthinking it as much as this may look like, trust me. It is in my view an important concept to grasp, however.)

It is important to understand that every part of the system contributes to the very best possible shot(s) in the counteroffensive fight. Too many people don’t grasp this essential point and end up reducing their ability to most effectively and efficiently defend themselves and their loved ones by not getting the best support gear for their chosen weapon that they can afford. This is a false economy for two reasons: Unsuitable or sub-standard equipment reduces your overall capability and increases the risk to you and others if you have to fight with it, and it raises the cost of the weapon system when you end up replacing (sometimes repeatedly) unsuitable or sub-standard gear. That’s why it is important where possible to examine and research all the choices of equipment you need or intend to purchase and why those who are serious students of the fight put time into their own tests of and practice with everything they get. “Buy once, cry once” is not just a marketing slogan.

Let’s talk about the MPA 30DMG Weapon’s System now.


I became fully interested in the 30/930DMG family of firearms after seeing the picture of KM’s MPA 930DMG in the Flex Your Guns 2015 Photo Contest: Week #9 blog entry of June 11, 2015. Here was a system setup that could fill the same tasking as the ASP—Urban Truck Gun—while offering additional covert carry options through the ability to get a folding stock or buffer tube adapter for it. (Be advised that Masterpiece Arms makes a folding stock specifically for the 30 and 930. I don’t at this time want to set mine up as an SBR for a couple of reasons but those that do should know that this can be done without going through what my blog host Mr. Shepherd had to do to get a stock on his.)

(A note about folding buffer systems: While I like the LAW folder for its ability to make an SBR or AR-pistol easier to carry and conceal, I don’t like it because that SBR or AR-P can’t be fired when the stock is folded. ‘Bag guns’ are slow enough out of the gate as it is and I don’t want to have another step in between someone’s life and rounds on target if I can avoid that. That’s why I look for solutions that allow firing folded or go with a bigger pistol in a bag to back up the carry weapon. Understand that this is a personal choice, just as I understand that others are good with taking that extra step as a trade for other advantages such as a more powerful round out the barrel. It is a factor in my choice of weapons and accessories for roles such as this, however, so you should be aware of it.)

I had some trouble finding a 930DMG when I made the decision to purchase one which is the primary reason I came home with a 30DMG instead of a 930. There are three differences between the two which should be considered:

30DMG 930DMG
5.5” barrel length (affects carry and concealment) 3.5” barrel length (affects carry and concealment)
¾-10 barrel threading (harder to find flash hiders and suppressor fittings) ½-28 barrel threading (common thread size)
Fake suppressor comes with it (minor difference, rather have a simple thread cover though) Thread protector with this one

There is one more factor that tilts me in favor of the 30 over the 930 that comes from the MA website description of this model:

“Utilizing a change of the bolt and barrel, the firearm can be modified to fire .40 cal & 357 Sig. With a bolt, barrel and pistol grip change, the 30DMG will fire 5.7x28mm. .45 ACP is in development.”

Since I’m also waiting for development of a .357 Sig conversion for the ASP (the ballistics of the round at range combined with the ability to use cheek or even if necessary an ad-hoc shoulder mount with a heavier weapon like the 30DMG or ASP that allows a choice of optics easily mounted are of interest to me) this was another point in favor of this particular model. (I have queried MPA again about this and will report the answer as soon as I get it.)

Working from the original model and description provided by the contest picture I made the initial purchases to set up the weapon system all at one time. I’ll start by discussing the gun and its accessories and then move to the carry system. Here’s what comes in the box less the MagPul finger rest:


  • MPA 30DMG – 9mm semi-auto copy of a MAC10 but with a grip angle as you see so that it accepts Glock and Glock-pattern magazines.
  • One Asian-manufactured Glock-compatible 17 round magazine.
  • Fake suppressor.
  • The usual manuals and instructions.

The gun comes in at about 11.5” length from back plate to muzzle end and according to the maker specs weighs eight pounds with a 5.5” barrel. The fake suppressor is around 4” long (I went looking for it to measure but as happens sometimes I can’t find which gun-parts drawer it’s in right now.) It has the small bottom rail and almost-full-length top rail on it out of the box. There is also a point where a Quick-Detach sling attachment could be put if you want, which opens the possibility of running it using the stiff-sling set technique that British SAS used with their MP5s. That works but something rigid works better for me so I wanted to mount a pistol buffer tube on it at the least.


What I ordered to set that up was:

  • Masterpiece Arms folding buffer-tube adapter (replaces the sling-attachment you see on the stock gun).
  • KAK Industries pistol buffer tube.
  • KAK Industries Shockwave forearm brace.

To get the rest of the set-up I was looking for these items were added:

  • MagPul finger stop (one part of it, anyway).
  • US Machinegun flash hider (not easy to find ½-10 thread size attachments by the way).
  • Monstrum picatinny rail riser.
  • Primary Arms Advanced Micro Dot.

Mounted on the gun and with the cat’s-eyes I cut from a decal ordered from Café Press

set in place I get the Weapon part of the Weapon System:

30DMG right-left

The MPA folding adapter was, of course, necessary to mount the pistol buffer tube. The folder mechanism itself can be ordered separately and allows any AR buffer tube to be attached. MPA produces a purpose-built stock to go with the folder assembly, however that does something an AR-tube mount does not: Allows use of the stock sights. With the pistol tube in place a normal cheek index gets the eyes too far up to line up with the fixed sights. There is enough room on the rail to allow for fixed or folding BUIS, however, though I might have to adjust the position of the red dot to get them on so I will eventually get a set attached. If I get failure of the dot before that time there are compensatory techniques that at short range will still get me hits (point shooting techniques work with rifles and heavy pistols like this just like they do with pistols).

The stock folds to the left side and prevents the bolt from being run. This will be a factor for those that are unwilling to carry the weapon with a round chambered. I am still considering ways to keep the trigger covered while the gun is in a bag and will report on that when I have what seems to be a workable solution.

I will note that on getting it out of the safe for some measurements for this article I noticed that the folding mount, the L-bracket, had become loose after firing between 350 and 400 rounds. Locktite and spacers in the form of tape on the back of the gun have been applied so I don’t expect that to be a problem in the future. It is something you want to check if you go with a folder on this gun, though.

The KAK Industries buffer tube goes on because it best fits the Shockwave arm brace. The purpose-built tube has a few shallow pits drilled on it that allow you to adjust the distance the brace is set away from the gun to better fit your own arm. There are two slots for sling attachment or for an arm strap like the Sig brace uses set on the Shockwave brace—the top one can also be used as a felt reference for a cheek index. After the first shooting session I have removed the sling you see attached in the photo and will be looking at other options for attachment (likely of a MagPul MS3 or MS4).

One thing I would like to see developed is a ‘non-buffer’ tube that would have a cap of some type allowing for the tube to be used for storage when used with guns such as this one that don’t require buffers and springs. I would also be willing to look at a non-metal variant for use in the same circumstances on both pistols and rifles.

You will notice the grip tape on the contact surfaces of the arm brace. The company says that the brace will hold the gun steady with just pressure on the forearm. In practice I find the material to be too slick for that but with the grip tape added I can angle the gun slightly to the inside on extension and get enough hold to steady the gun with. This is especially useful when firing the gun one-handed at other-than-centerline angles and it makes it easier to switch hands and sides quickly and less awkwardly than the Sig brace does.

The part of the brace that covers the buffer tube provides a consistent cheek index that puts my eye in line with the dot-sight and isn’t rough enough to scrape the skin during longer shooting sessions with the gun. The surface and shape of the brace should also facilitate a close-in “assault position” by allowing the upper arm to clamp down more and more firmly on the tube and brace allowing more control of the firearm and better snatch-resistance, helpful characteristics when the fight gets or threatens to get really up-close and personal.

I’ve become fond enough of the rear part of the MagPul hand-stop kit that I’m in the process of replacing MagPul AFGs with it on all rifles and heavy pistols (heavy pistols being a new class I’m defining now that includes rifle-caliber handguns such as the AR and AK pattern pistols and such things as the ASP and this 30DMG that can be handled something like a short rifle or submachine gun). The component you see mounted is the back of the Hand Stop assembly and it does the same thing the entire kit does for other shooters—provides me a consistent felt position index for my forward hand. In practice I tend to put two fingers ahead and two behind and lay the thumb straight alongside the body or forearm of the gun. If I want or need to I can pull back against it to help lock the gun into position either against the shoulder (rifle) or against a mild push from the trigger hand (AR-P, AK-P, other heavy pistols). It does the same thing the AFG did without using as much “rail estate” on the gun. (The play on words—it is clever, no?)


I’m at the point now where I:

  1. put some form of dot-sight on every rifle and heavy pistol I have
  2. don’t even think about running one without it and
  3. buy the best optic I can afford at the time.

What I wish I could afford for all my guns that have them is some model of Aimpoint because I don’t have to worry about having to turn an Aimpoint on before I shoot with it. Unfortunately Aimpoints for everything are out of my price range. The best I’ve been able to do is a single used Comp M3 on the AR-P (which is running just fine still). That said, I’m not going to get a particular dot-sight just because it’s low-cost. Guns and things that go on guns are like everything else—quality products cost more. And my life is worth as much as I can afford to pay for the best-quality component I can afford.

Based on reviews and statements on forums I was inclined to get another Lucid sight, probably an M7 like I have on the ASP. What pointed me to Primary Arms and their Advanced Micro Dot instead was this story from my friend that runs the Hammerhead Combat Systems :

“Quick short story: In a pinch one time, I needed a micro RD for a new 416 before deployment. I wanted a T1 on it but for whatever reason that was not an option so in looking at viable options, our armorer at the time suggested a Primary Arms micro like this:


It ran like a champ after 5 months of HARD use, even got rained on one time and dropped numerous times…held up.”

The other big point that got me to send them the numbers on my credit card was this statement from their website:

“New advanced technology LED allows up to 50,000 hours battery life”

That works out to 5.7 years on a medium-intensity setting on a single CR2032. I could turn it on, zero it, and leave it.

Did I mention that always-on is something I really like to have with dot-sights?

The riser puts the dot a bit above mid-line in the circle when I set the index I want (mid-line of the buffer about level with the corner of the mouth) and it’s been on over a month now and I still get a nice bright dot. The only other one I have that does that is the Aimpoint. How much do I like it so far? If it continues to run like this for another month I will start selling the other dot-sights I have except for the Aimpoint and replacing them with these. (Well, okay, I may keep the M7 to move to a .22 but that’s as far as I’ll commit to right now.)

Editor’s note: this is the most current version of the Micro Dots we have on a lot of our firearms. We have 10. If they’re good to go out of the box, they’ll do very very well.

The one thing I don’t like about this dot is the same thing I don’t like about a lot of them—the makers put their name and logos and such on the sights using white paint. Would it be that much more trouble to go with a nice fashionable subdued gray or green for something that goes on a fighting gun? I ask you (manufacturers) this.

I had never encountered a ¾-10 thread before I got the one on the 30DMG. It’s the same thread as on the original MAC10 which this is mostly a copy of. It’s also not as easy to find anything that fits that thread size as for the other two sizes most often seen on barrels. I did want something covering the barrel that projected at least an inch beyond the end and preferably more because where the forward hand is set on the MagPul stop it’s almost even with the tip of the uncovered barrel. The unit found on the US Machinegun site gets me about two inches of additional “slip distance” until I hit the end of what they say is a breaching tip. To be honest I’m still trying to think of how I would breach with this specific weapon though. For now its biggest potential is as a contact-range striking weapon. Where it seems to not work quite as well is as a flash hider:


Length of the system with the tube folded is now 13.5”. Unfolded length is just over 21”.


Given that the grip angle and to some extent shape are defined by the use of Glock and Glock-pattern magazines the 30DMG handles and feels about the same shooting it as the Aero Survival pistol. Given the similar way each is configured I can’t say that was unexpected.

30DMG-ASP comparison

Positioning and placement of the forward hand is a little different—a bit more compressed—and weight and balance is different. That and barrel length differences do change the feel and the signature of the 30DMG when it’s fired.

In fact, the 30DMG’s firing signature is something I’m wondering about now:

30DMG signature combo

That smoke pattern is present in every picture I took for use in this and other writing projects. That and the significant flash that appears fairly often (estimating one out of every seven to ten shots I get the kewl picture like you see in some of these) makes me wonder about how hidden I can stay (sound signature acknowledged) shooting this without getting a suppressor for it (that’s on the list but it will be a while before it can hit the top of it). On the other hand, danger-close shots stand to be much more interesting and potentially damaging to an attacker with this gun. And I’ll probably need to limit shooting to well-ventilated areas—I just have to hope attackers choose outside venues or large buildings with good air-conditioning for their activities, I guess…

(For those that are wondering: Overcast sky about an hour after sunrise, factory FMJ ammunition, normal humidity for south-central Alabama [probably 30%, maybe up to 40%], and the gun was lubricated with Frog Lube before the first shooting session but has not been cleaned or lubricated since. This is from the second shooting session.]

The balance of the 30DMG is farther back than it is on the ASP which allows better one-hand and extended two-hand shooting:

30DMG one-two-hand firing combo

Balance is good enough, in fact, that I did not need to use the Shockwave brace to hold steady shooting one-handed.

(Incidentally: I am so far very pleased with the StrongSuit gloves that I purchased after reading She-Shepherd’s evaluation. I wear gloves a lot when practicing and training live-fire and am always looking for a thin and durable glove such as these look to be so far. So let me add my own recommendation to hers about this product.)

One of the things I like about this set-up is the ability to shoot with the brace folded.

30DMG one-hand-folded combo

It changes the balance as you might imagine and puts more physical strain on the hand and wrist because of where the weight is moved to but there is no problem maintaining this for at least a quick 3-to-5 round burst.

For the record, no movement drills or shoot-while-moving checks were performed for purposes of this evaluation. I did run some fast (I thought so before I saw the video, that is) door entries before the first shooting session. The 30DMG handled well and I was able to maintain a good index during entry. I had no problems there. (My entries, though…I need to do some more reps on that…)

There is another thing I wonder about with this gun: Ejection is robust but not in a consistent direction. Reviewing the video of the second shooting session specifically it’s easy to see the rounds going in one of three directions—angled forward, almost directly to the side and angled to the rear—without seeing a real pattern to the ejection. The 30DMG runs a few rounds one way then a couple the other and then a few more the other direction. It does not affect operation or reliability, it is just something of a puzzle to me.

In the approximately 350-400 rounds expended between the two shooting sessions I had two problems. The first was the same one experienced with the ASP—nose-up rounds in the chamber. This was resolved the same way as with the ASP—Wolf extra-power magazine springs. The other was a single occurrence almost at the end of the second session of about 140 rounds of a stovepipe FTE. Other than that the gun digested the same mix of FMJ, HP, and weights as the ASP did. Operational reliability I rate as acceptable at this time.

Accuracy is also acceptable. The dot-sight is sighted at ten yards and POA/POI looks good out to around fifty yards with that. I have to hold low at 100 with standard-pressure FMJ. (This system has the same tasking as the ASP which is also sighted in at 10 yards. The environment these are set up for doesn’t anticipate shots on average over fifty yards with 100-125 at the upper limit. I will do some shooting above 100 to get an idea of performance at very long ranges at some point.) The gun, as is usual with every gun I have, is more accurate than I am when shooting unsupported. I do think that I will re-sight both of these weapons to 15 yards to see if that gets me better 7-to-50 results.

I still need to get a sling and decide how I want to attach it. What I can say at this time is that I am pleased with the gun system as it is configured now to the point where I briefly considered selling my Aero Survival Pistol and getting another 30DMG or 930DMG to set up the same way as this. I’m not prepared to go that route yet. I like the ASP and what it brings to the ‘Urban Truck Gun’ table. The MPA 30DMG offers other possibilities and other capabilities, however, and is well deserving of serious consideration as a ‘bag gun’. It has a place in my line-up now. There’s no reason why it couldn’t find a place in yours as well.

You be safe out there. If you can’t be safe, you be dangerous.

Coming up: A discussion of the transport and carry component of the 30DMG Weapons System. Stay tuned.

About the Author:

CR Williams is the author of (so far) four non-fiction books: Three volumes of the ongoing "Gunfighting, and Other Thoughts about Doing Violence" series and "Facing the Active Shooter: Guidelines for the Armed Citizen Defender". He has also made entries into the fiction arena with recent releases of "Live Fire" and the first volume of the "An Even Break" series. He currently runs classes from either his home-base area in Central/South-Central Alabama or wherever anyone wants to host him for a class. An active and ongoing student of the fight in all its aspects, he continues to work toward his goal of making you the very best defender of life and loved ones that you can be.
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7 Comments on "Masterpiece Arms 30DMG and the Weapons-System Concept"

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  1. Martin Luther says:

    Excellent article! It’s content like this that makes me keep coming back to this site. I had been considering a mini uzi as a pdw or as you call it “heavy pistol”. However, this would fit the bill better. Especially since it can mount a red dot without any modifications. Also, this is lower priced and uses Glock mags.

  2. KoyoteTan says:

    The info here is densely packed in. Great stuff! The MPA setup here is all business and really shows the usefulness of the platform. I think that a slung only setup of this would be highly effective as well, al la MP5K. Very good article.

    • KoyoteTan says:

      Consequently, I have two setups I’m working on having divested myself of rifle cartridge SBRs and going down AR based pistol caliber and below. One is on my instagram (@koyotetan), a PSA based AR-9, gutted and reassembled. The other is still under construction, a 22LR suppressor Host, buffer-tubeless pistol until the stamp comes back for the suppressor and SBR. Once it is ready to SBR, I want to use the AGP arms folding stock of ARs, since my survival 10/22 AGP stock has been so nice.

  3. Geno C says:

    I run similar rigs for both my MPA930DMG and TNW ASP .45 Both with non folding brace as I find it too bulky when side folded and can allways quick disconnect buffer tube I have a shoulder rig circa 1980s action movies that I can sling 930 I have a mpa57 in similar configuration I run a Ruger Charger with brace too utilizing a tapco stock i cut down ala Rook on youtube

  4. David Clark says:

    Hey there! I want to get the MPA 30DMG and put a brace on it like you did, but I’m concerned the trigger slap will be off-putting…. Could you please how bad the slap is to deal with? If you’d tried anything to mitigate the slap, how did those work out? Are you using the original hammer style or the newer one that wears out but reduces the slap.

    Thanks in advance!!

    • Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd says:

      Hi there! I switched the original hammer on my 930 DMG for the newer one and it made a big difference.

    • CR Williams says:

      With the 30DMG I had no issues with trigger slap that I ever perceived. (I have, by the way, sold this gun but retain the Aero Survival Pistol. I am also developing several Glock C-PDWs to use in the short-distance urban roles as an easily-carried supplement to the EDC pistol.) It wasn’t the best trigger in the world but if I couldn’t shoot it accurately it wasn’t because of the trigger.

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