MasterPiece Arms MPA30SST

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Handgun review photo: Left-side thumbnail of MPA30SST.Editor’s Rating: 7.0/10

Users’ Rating (Click a star to rate this gun.)

Summary: Walt Rauch’s review of and rating for the MasterPiece Arms MPA30SST-A pistol, including a range report, photos, pricing and specs. (Click here to see all of Rauch’s handgun reviews.)

Editor’s Review

MPA30SST-A photo
The MPA30SST-A pistol with an Insight Technology MRDS Mini Red Dot Sight mounted.

The MasterPiece Arms (MPA) 30SST-A is the newest legal-to-own semi-auto rendition of the gun designed by Gordon B. Ingram and offered for sale through the Military Armament Company (MAC) and five or more succeeding firms. To avoid a lengthy, detailed explanation of all the derivations of what has come to be known as a MAC or MAC-10, suffice to say the original version was a submachine pistol with folding wire stock and chambered in .45ACP, 9mm and .380 ACP.
The MAC was also made in semi-auto-only configuration, without the folding wire stock or optional sound suppressor (supplied at additional cost). The semi-autos were at first made such that the pistol fired with its bolt held to the rear by its sear. Shooters released the bolt by pulling the trigger. However, this setup was quickly found to allow the illegal but easy conversion of the pistol to fully automatic fire, so its manufacture was prohibited by the U.S. government.

The MAC in its original configuration was not successful save for its use in the film industry as the gun of choice for many villains and good guys, all of whom typically used it in a spray-and-pray manner, not really hitting anyone or anything in particular.
My sample MPA 30SST-A (code for a side-operated bolt, picatinny rail and threaded barrel) is the latest and most refined version of the legal MAC handgun. My review follows.

The Details

The 30SST-A’s closed bolt is operated by a good-sized, easy-to-operate horizontal cocking handle on the receiver‘s left side. When closed, the bolt is telescoped forward over the rear of the barrel, which aids in creating this compact arm. Cases eject from a large, right-side ejection port.

MasterPiece Arms MPA30SST left side photo
You must rotate the safety 180 degrees to actuate it.

My sample (chambered in 9mm) arrived with a STEN magazine. Later I also received MPA’s new 30-round polymer magazine, ventilated safety extension, thread protector and muzzle brake. (Note: The MPA instruction manual regarding the STEN lists a magazine capacity of 30 rounds. While technically incorrect—it holds 32 rounds—by down-loading it to 30 rounds, cartridge feeding improves. The magazine catch is at the lower rear back of the pistol grip and is easily operated with either hand. Both the STEN and the polymer magazine took their 30 rounds without difficulty when I used the supplied magazine loader.

Construction of the MPA30SST-A blends CNC machining for its bolt with stamped and folded sheet metal for upper and lower receivers. The wing-protected post front sight and the triangular-aperture rear sight, also stamped sheet metal, are welded to the receiver. Later I added the Insight Technology MRDS Mini Red Dot Sight, locking it on the 5.5″-long Weaver accessory rail pinned to the top of the receiver.

30SST-A sights photo
The fixed sights.

The grooved, 180 degree-rotation manual safety is on the upper right side of the receiver. It’s a bit awkward to use, though. For a right hander, you must either release your shooting grip or use your support hand. Left handers must use their off hand.

The curved trigger (protected with a stamped and welded-on trigger guard) broke cleanly. The long trigger pull is smooth and measured 6 lbs. The trigger is encased in a polymer tube that serves to minimize trigger slap, which I did encounter with the original MACs but not with this gun. My associate, A.J. Stuart, did notice some slap but said it was more annoying than painful. As a matter of fact, the only pain we both experienced was when the sharp edge of the trigger guard dug into our shooting hand.
To disassemble the 30SST-A (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. You must cock the hammer to do so. (Make sure to check the instruction manual.)

Range Report

A.J. Stuart fires the MPA30SST-A photo
A.J. Stuart fires the MPA30SST-A.

I have to admit, I had some preconceived notions before shooting this gun based on shooting a few of the originals in both full-auto and semi-auto some five decades ago, but most of those notions turned out to be incorrect. Back then, I found they would only run with FMJ round-nose ammunition and did not lend themselves to any level of accuracy, partially due to the open-bolt design.

Well, that’s all changed because this version employs a closed bolt, as noted earlier. Now my only difficulty was in how to best steady the gun from a shooting rest with the 30-round vertical magazine in the pistol grip. The simple solution: Stand up and shoot, at the cost of not getting tight five-shot groups.
We shot a variety of ammo two-handed, standing, at 15 yards. The accuracy results listed below are averages of five, five-shot groups. The velocities are five-shot averages on a Gamma Master Chrony chronograph 10 feet from the muzzle:

The author's target results
The author’s target results.
  • Winchester NATO Ball 115-grain JRN: 1,205 fps, 6″ group
  • Speer Gold Dot 124-grain HP: 1,151 fps, 4.5″ group
  • CCI/Blazer 124-grain TMJ: 1,110 fps, 5.25″ group
  • Black Hills 115-grain JHP: 1,213 fps, 5.5″ group

Our groups were as good as our ability to use the fixed sights. At 15 yards, they were just fine for me, shooting to point-of-aim. My accuracy results were more than adequate with them and further improved after I added the Insight Technology MRDS Mini Red Dot Sight.

Our only problem was a good one: We shot up every round of 9mm we brought, including some of Stuart’s lead IDPA reloads—just shooting for fun! And we had no malfunctions, I might add.

Final Thoughts

Now to the oft-asked questions: What’s the purpose of such a gun? Why would anyone want to buy one? My answer: Harmless enjoyment shooting a firearm can be, and often is, an end unto itself.

Yes, the MPA can be used for self defense. It hits all the high points of a defensive arm: It’s reliable, accurate, has good balance, is easy to use yet safe to handle, and the 30-round magazine supplies more than enough rounds. But shooting for the sake of shooting is just fine, too.

Walt RauchWalt Rauch received a BS degree from Carnegie Tech and completed service as a Special Agent in U.S. Army Intelligence. Rauch was a U.S. Secret Service Special Agent and a Philadelphia, Pa., Warrant Unit Investigator. He now operates a consulting company for defense-weapon and tactical training. Rauch & Company services include expert witness testimony on firearms use and tactics.
Rauch is also a writer and lecturer in the firearms field. He’s published in national and international publications including InterMedia’s Handguns, several Harris Publications specialty magazines, Police and Security News and Cibles (France). He is the author of a book on self-defense, Real-World Survival! What Has Worked For Me, as well as Practically Speaking, a comprehensive guide to IDPA defensive pistol shooting.

The Specs

Caliber Capacity BBL OAL Height Width Weight
9mm 32+1, 30+1 6″ 11.25″ 6″ w/out mag 2.25″ including bolt handle 3.38 lbs. w/out mag

Note: The MPA30SST is American made and comes with a lifetime guarantee.


MSRP: $569.95

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7 thoughts on “MasterPiece Arms MPA30SST”

  1. tried once n loved it.

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  2. Purchased one and fitted a Vortex Strike Fire (medium height mount is required)to the rail and found a way to mount an FTA-2005 onto the safety extension. The FTA will need to be screwed quite a way down so it sits ~1.2mm below center of the ring. At 25 yards a 4″ group is consistently achievable. Underneath the FTA I’ve mounted a TLR-2 which is set up for 8 yards. Bottom line; indoor range, outdoor range or home defense this thing is awesome!!

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  3. i bought the 9mm side cock about a year ago I put a red dot scope on it we were out deer hunting and decided to do some target shooting I am use to shooting pistols and rifles for longer distances than they intended we were all suprised how accurate you could be at 150 yard everone talks about shooting 15 to 40 yards this should be no problem at all.

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  4. I’ve got a MPA 9mm Carbine (side cocker). It’s a fantastic little gun and I have had alot of fun with it.
    The iron sights were a bit lacking though and I had quite a hard time getting a group under 5″ with it at 25 yards.
    I rectified the situation with a cheapo sightsmark sight and can attain 3-4″ groupings with it reliably.
    Now, it’s my Home Defense Weapon. Something that I grab for when I hear something go bump in the night.

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  5. I own a MPA30SST, Disappointing!
    After 137 rds. It began to misfire. It feeds and ejects just fine. And will fire when hand cocking. But after its first cycling. It wouldnt fire the second round.
    I found the disconnect had broke.
    After a vist to MPAs website, I found the part to be labeled as a “wear” item. With an expected life span of 600-1200 rds.
    You can order a complete disconnect (easy fix) for $40. or the disconnect kit (more difficult fix) for $15.
    Shooting w friends it wouldnt take long to burn up 600 rds.
    I bought it brand new, upon arrival I disassembled, inspected and “REM” oiled it. I have always taken good care of it. Its a fun gun to shoot.
    But, I certainly wont be able to depend on it, when it really counts.

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  6. I do some gunsmithing and had a friend bring one into my shop. It would fire the first shot and then jam. I opened it up to find what looked like and old grease, grit and grime filled 350 engine. I don’t think…I know this gun had never been cleaned. Without going into the whole story, I spoke with Brandon in customer service. He sent me a new upgraded disconnect sub system. The little thing works flawlessly now. Hits point of aim at 30 yards all well enough to be in the torso area and FAST! To break it down completely is simple with some practice. Keeping it excessively clean through out after every time you take it out shooting is the key to avoid wearing the internals. Buy backup replacement parts with the gun or you may have a long waiting time if something breaks. Long story longer, I traded for the gun because when range testing I was blown away how accurate it was from what I expected. It Is very well made, really easy to shoot with very low recoil. Love it and a perfect piece for home protection IMO.

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  7. This is really a well built firearm with many options for customizing.
    My started life as a 9mm 30SST pistol but I soon purchased the carbine conversion to really increase the versatility of the firearm. Converting only take a minute with the exception of adding or removing the stock. Unless you pay the $200 tax stamp so the stock can remain on as a pistol. Not only is it fun but very accurate and with magazine capacities of 30 to 37 rounds better buy extra targets or you will be shooting though one big hole!

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