Competition Gear Up Date
By Dave Anderson
Competition in any arena makes things better. It’s the way of the world. Competition among shooters makes for better shooters and competition among manufacturers makes better products.
I don’t know what percentage of handgun owners ever fires a shot in competition, but the number cannot be very high. Cost may be one factor, which is why I am so enthusiastic about IDPA and USPSA Production division. It’s perfectly possible to compete and win, even at a national level, with equipment no fancier than what many handgunners carry every day.
Some handgunners may be nervous or reluctant to try competition, worried about being embarrassed. To those I say stop worrying and give it a try. Organizations such as IDPA and USPSA want you as a member and are very knowledgeable about helping new shooters get started. With the classification system, regardless of skill level, you compete with others of similar skill level.
Whether participants or not, competition shooting has made better equipment available to all of us. Factory guns come far better equipped than they did 30 years ago, when shipping a new 1911 immediately off to a pistolsmith was standard procedure. Now, there’s so many aftermarket parts and accessories available it would take a big catalog to list them.
A few items are shown here just to give an idea. Personally I’m old enough I still like to hold an actual catalog and flip through the pages while relaxing by the fire, so I love the Brownells catalog. Young people, of course, do everything on the Internet these days.
Practical shooting competition gets the most attention these days, but I started out shooting bullseye long ago. This demanding sport has many proponents, so I’ve included a couple of items of interest to bullseye shooters. Hopefully, this all will push you over the edge and one day soon you’ll find yourself standing ready at the buzzer!
1911-style pistols are as popular as ever in practical shooting competition, in high capacity versions for Open and Limited Divisions, and in the recent and popular Single Stack division.
Left is a fiber optics front sight from Evolution Gun Works to fit standard dovetail cuts common on many current 1911s. EGW makes a wide array of quality accessories and custom guns. F/O sights are extremely popular in competition circles.
Top is a Recoil Master double-spring guide rod assembly from STI. The additional spring is intended to slow rearward slide travel down more smoothly, then accelerate forward travel for greater feeding reliability. STI claims a life span at least ten times longer than a regular recoil spring. www.stiguns.com
Below it is the Aftec competition extractor, tensioned by coil springs for improved reliability and longer life compared to a stock extractor. Very popular with competitors who fire lots of rounds annually. It’s available from many of the suppliers listed, this one came from Brownells. www.brownells.com
Brian Enos’s Slide Glide is my favorite 1911 gun lube. www.brianenos.com
Beretta 92D pistol is holstered in a Serpa synthetic holster from Blackhawk! Beretta magazines have Pearce +2 floorplates, adding two rounds to magazine capacity. www.blackhawk.com, www.pearcegrip.com
The CED 8000 (and smaller CED 7000) are popular, well made shooting timers. Timers are essential for practical shooting competition; most competitors have their own to use in measuring progress. www.cedhk.com
High capacity STI pistols such as this Executive model in .40 S&W are popular in USPSA Limited division. Holster is the “SuperGhost” model which secures the pistol at the trigger guard. Electronic muffs such as these from Dillon Precision allow the shooter to hear range commands and timer buzzers, while protecting against shot reports. www.ghostholster.com, www.dillonprecision.com
Shot-activated timers have had much the same effect on shooters as inexpensive chronographs had on reloaders. Before timers there was lots of casual talk of ¼ and ½-second draws, from concealment holsters no less, and sub-one second reloads.
As with most things electronic times have become smaller, more versatile, and at the same time less expensive. This Pocket Pro II from Competition Electronics is a remarkable device. It does all the thing we’ve come to expect: measures time to the hundreth of a second, shows time for each shot and the splits between shots, can be preset for par times.
It also has an adjustable sensitivity feature, and can be set to prevent false readings from echoes on indoor ranges. I can recall when early timers sometimes showed splits of .06 on indoor ranges, making shooters feel they were very fast indeed. It can be set to show rate of fire; you can fire a string of shot and it will display (for example) 350 rounds per minute. Light, compact, well made, and costs a fraction of what we paid for less capable timers back in the day.
Pistol is an STI Competitor open-division gun with the extremely popular C-More sight, highly regarded for its toughness and durability. Holster is the fast and secure Ghost holster. www.competitionelectronics.com, www.ghostholster.com
Two proven veterans of the competition wars. Top is the Rescomp CR Speed, below it a Safariland speed holster. These holsters have a wide range of adjustments for height and angle. They hold the gun securely at the trigger guard yet release it instantly. Properly adjusted it’s as though the gun is just floating at your side ready for an effortless draw. www.rescomp.co.za, www.safariland.com
There are still plenty of shooters competing in classic bullseye matches. These guns are suitable for bullseye and appeal to any handgunner fascinated by accuracy. Top is a Ruger Mk. II with a Volguartsen upper receiver/barrel assembly and Aimpoint sight. Bottom is a fine old High Standard Victor with a Brownells scope rail and Tru Glo dot sight. Both are stunningly accurate, as in 1” at 50 yards accurate. Dot sights are easier to shoot than iron sights for anyone, infinitely easier for those over 50 whose eyes don’t focus as closely or fast than they used to. www.volquartsen.com, www.aimpoint.com, www.brownells.com, www.truglo.com
A magazine loading chute makes reloads faster and above all more consistent. A big, wide chute is best for competition but may not be practical for a carry gun. The Techwell system offers solutions for both needs.
The system consists of metal grip panels which secure interchangeable mag chutes in place. Chute styles can be changed as quickly as you can remove and replace the grip panels. This gives the shooter freedom to experiment with different styles. It also lets you put a big chute on for a match in the morning, then change to a trim, compact style for regular carry.
The blued-metal chute on the left gun was designed and is used by shooting legend Rob Leatham. Note with most mag chutes a magazine base pad is essential to ensure full magazine seating and locking. The Chip McCormick magazines shown are considered among the very best. www.techwearusa.com, www.cmcmags.com
The Techwell system includes metal grip panels, notched to fit projections on the various magazine chute styles. Slip the mag chute over the mag well of the pistol and secure it in place with the grip panels. It’s a clever and versatile design, with excellent workmanship. www.techwearusa.com
PACT and Competition Electronics were the timer innovators long ago, and are still leaders today. The latest version of the compact timer, the Club Timer III, has a very loud buzzer, a feature much appreciated at matches where there’s often a lot of background noise. Of course PACT may also be concerned about us older (and deafer) shooters.
The Mark IV XP timer is somewhat bulkier but its keypad makes it easier to program in various training functions, and it also functions as a full-featured chronograph. I’ve used the earlier Mark III version for years and found it excellent. With both timer and chronograph capability it is a tremendous value. www.pact.com
For More Information:
www.1911store.com (Brazos Custom Gunworks)
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