Race Guns

The 9mm only qualifies for Major scoring in Open Division, a division where compensators and optical sights (e.g. red dot sights) are allowed. In all other divisions, the 9mm is scored Minor.

Open Division guns are often referred to as race guns. Like race cars, they’re designed for high-powered, high-speed competition. They are purpose-built, and designed to handle the high pressure 9 Major and .38 Super — the traditional caliber for Open Division guns — can produce. The most important feature is a ramped barrel providing full support of the case head. Non-ramped barrels, or any barrel with a large cutout for the feed ramp, are not safe for 9 Major ammunition because they don’t support the case enough to prevent cases from possibly bursting due to the high pressure.

Not all gun designs are safe for 9 Major ammunition. Competition guns are generally locked breech designs, such as the 1911/2011, Glock, CZ and S&W M&Ps. Factory barrels might not qualify, and they might need to be replaced with a barrel having more case support to safely handle 9 Major ammunition.

Most 9 Major rounds will be at +P (38,500 psi) pressure, and many will easily be higher than that, more in the +P+ range. That’s why gun design and chamber support are such important features. Clearly, 9 Major is not safe in all 9mm guns.
Gunpowder selection is very important when producing 9 Major ammunition. Only medium to slow burning rate pistol powders are used because they can produce lower peak chamber pressures when pushing the bullet to the same velocity as faster burning powders.