Masterpiece Arms Defender MPA 57: The Ingram Kid

Masterpiece Arms Defender MPA 57: The Ingram Kid

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In the last half century there was hardly an example of a new pistol caliber that saw extended use. The “needle-like” 5.7×28 is clearly an exception which, although not yet fully combat-proven, saw its way into many commando and law enforcement units, especially with still futuristic FN P90 micro sub-machine gun. It was accordingly expected that the Five-Seven pistol would replace a great number of nine-calibers, but that wasn’t the case.

However, civilian market in the States has grown crazy for the caliber, so the manufacturers are giving their best to launch new guns chambered for the almighty 5.7×28. “Masterpiece Arms” is a company known for making strange looking guns. Despite the pretentious name, the bulk of their products are basically simplified existing designs which often lack refinement. One of those abominations was the weapon which combined the FN FAL stock and pistol grip with the MAC-11 receiver and operation, which was fed by the drum magazine from the Soviet PPSh-41, and featured a 50 cm barrel chambered for 9 mm PARA.

It was hardly believable that such a chimera will find a single buyer, but as the case might be, they are widely sought across the States, but in 5.7×28. On the last year’s “Shot Show”, “Masterpiece Arms” was remembered for its ambitious presentation of the Defender series of semi-auto pistols chambered for 9 mm PARA, .45 ACP and 5.7×28. Frankly speaking it was partially redesigned and simple Ingram MAC-11 compact SMG, which was refitted for semi-auto operation from the closed bolt, and few other mainly visual changes.

Ergonomics’s Labor Lost

What did they have in mind when they zombified the design which had failed to pass service testing? Micro-sub-machine guns MAC-10 and 11 were originally conceived as compact weapons which packed huge firepower, and intended for combat situations where the service pistol would be a poor choice and the assault rifle too bulky and slow. Whoever had the chance to use one of those auto-pistols, they were met by simple and cheap design which results in quite a limited use – the compactness was achieved on the account of poor ergonomics, short effective range and questionable accuracy. From the first day, the Ingram was seen as the weapon of bodyguards, while in the States it was also favored by gangsters of all sorts, whose bloody shootouts showed its deadly potential in urban zones.

No wonder that the civilian semi-auto versions were massively and easily refitted to full-auto mode, and the law enforcement services have seized a vast number of these guns. Truth to be told, the newer Ingram clones have factory-set operating parts which are not interchangeable with full-auto versions, nor they can be automatized like the original ones. Aside from that, Ingram’s look reminds of a hybrid pistol which packs a hail of bullets and is still wanted by those who want to look dangerous.

The Zombie Apocalypse Gun

That sort of clientele was the target pool for “Masterpiece Arms”, which perpetuated the myth on extreme penetration, accuracy and stopping power of 5.7×28 ammunition. The promo videos filmed by the company clearly show that even an experienced test-shooter failed to hit metal gongs at about ten meters, while the effective rate of fire and comfort are worse than with the classic semi-auto pistols. The wide and slanted handle, the center of mass shifted behind the holding hand, massive receiver and rough trigger action are just a few drawbacks that will discourage experienced users and gun enthusiasts. The over-sized Picatinny rail, the muzzle flash suppressor and the scope mounts only add to the overall bulk of the weapon, without improving the performance.

On the other hand, a generation of video-game warriors has come of age, and they see firearms primarily as zombie killing tools. Those armchair Rambos need an adequate weapon. The priority is always given to the caliber, which (as the manufacturer claims) penetrates Kevlar vests, fragments on impact altogether with minimal recoil – ladies and gentlemen, the MPA57 chambered for 5.7×28. Of course, they will hardly be in a situation to defend from an attacker wearing a Kevlar vest, or a life and death situation whatsoever. The greatest number of them will only boast with their guns among the other mall-ninjas.

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In the pompous promotion campaign, “Masterpiece Arms” claimed that their product guarantees absolutely operation reliability, unfairly comparing their number of jams with the competition. With that logic, the cheap and rough Hi Point could be advertised as the best pistol there is, but it’s indisputable that its”free bolt” operation has a number of shortages. There were attempts in the past to make weapon based on a SMG which would use the cheapest ammunition like .22 LR, but such guns were a little more effective than airsoft models.

Uncertain Prospects and Early Praises

However, the number of recreational shooters who go in the country and enjoy plinking in the improvised firing ranges can’t be disregarded. The MPA57s high capacity magazine (20 or 30 rounds) gives its user a significant advantage over the standard pistol/revolver or a small bore rifle. In addition to that, the resemblance of well known MAC sub-machine guns featured in every Schwarzenegger film (save from Conan) will make the owner the winner fo the day, although the accuracy of the MPA57 is far cry from other guns used for plinking.

Not small number of overseas gun magazines have rushed with remarks that this new “masterpiece” is a good base for a deadly PDW system for military users. However,despite its advantages, we must remind here that the 5.7×28 still fails to meet the military and law enforcement standards. The low intensity conflicts and war on terror all over the world have made requirements for a different type of weapon and ammunition, which would guarantee stopping the opponent in tracks.

For example, the wars in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo have shown that the famed lightweight automatic pistol, the Czech Škorpion vz. 61 in .32 ACP was a complete miss for the military use. With that in mind, the modernized Ingram, with its 1.5 kg and 124 mm barrel, would probably feel cumbersome even for a zombie hunter.


Due to the huge popularity of the 5.7×28 round among a significant portion of gun enthusiasts, the American “Masterpiece Arms” offered their semi-auto version of the (in)famous Ingram MAC-11. The company, despite its name, became known for designs that were simplified and usually cheaper versions of existing models, which were often made from substandard materials and lacked refinement. The gun, bearing designation MPA57 falls between automatic pistols and micro sub-machine guns. It is fed by 20 or 30-round magazines, and according to the manufacturer, the 5.7×28 round penetrates Kevlar vests, fragments on impact and gives the minimal recoil. The weapon weighs 1.5 kg and sports 125 mm barrel. However promising it may look, the MPA57 inherited most of Ingram’s design flaws. Among the others are the horrific ergonomics due to the wide and slanted handle, the center of mass shifted behind the holding hand, massive receiver and rough trigger action. Instead of improving those shortcomings, “Masterpiece Arms” designers added even more unnecessary features to the already bulky handgun: the Picatinny rail, over-sized flash suppressor and scope mounts. These “bad-ass” attachments are sure to turn away any experienced gun lover and potential user. What is more, the weapon is prone to jamming and the factory tests have shown mediocre accuracy and effective rate of fire worse than with classic semi-auto pistols. On the other hand, the MPA57 is sure to get a lot of attention from the generations which grew with video shooters and action films, for whom it was intended in the first place. Due to its high capacity magazine, the gun might be even a good choice for plinking, although its accuracy is not even close to small bore rifles or classic pistols and revolvers.

May 3, 2013
  1. "Interesting weapon---a second chamber and barrel with a 410 shell would be excellent." A second chamber and barrel, mounted in…

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