If you have never heard of a 3-gun competition before its quite simple. You use 3 guns, a shotgun, rifle and a pistol. You are required to shoot many different target types, from point blank to long range and the target may be clay, cardboard silhouettes or steel targets of varying sizes. This will vary depending on what sort of 3-gun competition you are in and who is organizing it. For information on local competitions, news and info on 3-gun check out 3-Gun Nation.
Beginner’s Guide to Gear for a 3-Gun Match
The gear we are going to go over here is for the popular 3-gun Tactical Optics division. Be sure to check the rules and regulations for whatever 3-gun match you are going to be attending so there is no confusion about what gear to bring and use. If you don’t have all the gear talked about below, shooters at the range are usually great and will let you borrow some of their guns or equipment.
The most popular rifle is the AR-15 rifle. You can use other rifles but most require you to shoot .223 Remington or larger caliber semi-autos. You want a rifle with a shorter barrel, from 18″ to 20″. You will also want to use a 1-4X or 1-6X scope, you are allowed to use iron sights or a red dot but you will want the scope for the long range targets. You will want to have large magazines, this is usually unlimited but there are a few competitions that will limit you to a 30 round magazine.
You are allowed to use a .20 gauge or higher semi-auto shotguns. The most popular being the .12 gauge. You will most likely use mostly birdshot but you might need some buck or slugs. You are usually limited to 9 rounds at the start of the match but can load more when the time starts. You are only going to be able to use iron sights on the shotgun, no red dot or EOTechs.
The handgun you choose must be 9mm or larger caliber. Some people like the .45 caliber but its 9mm is more common. Magazine size is based on length for the handgun. Most matches are based around 140mm which means you can get up to around 22 rounds with different extensions. Iron sights are also the only thing allowed here like the shotgun.
If you do purchase a belt you want to have magazine caddies, shotgun shell caddies and a handgun holster. The belt is really helpful on reducing the time it takes to get a mag or reload. As we know 3-gun is all about time and accuracy.
When choosing your ammo you want to be sure to not use any steel ammunition. The steel ammo can go through, dent or bounce off the steel targets. So if it sticks to a magnet be sure you don’t use it. If you aren’t sure if your ammunition is alright to use in the match, just ask. Better to be safe than hurt someone with a ricochet or have to pay for a new steel target. Always bring tons and tons of ammo. You will use a lot of it, trust me. For the shotgun you will typically see 7, 7 1/2, and 8 birdshot.
You can also check out this full video on Beginner’s Guide to Gear for a 3-Gun Match
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