Getting Started in USPSA: Gear, Part 1

uspsa gear
uspsa gear

A SIG Sauer P320 ready for Production division

United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) is one of the major shooting sports organization of in the US. It oversees the US region of the International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC). USPSA uses a slightly different set of rules than IPSC and this overview focuses on USPSA equipment requirements and in particular, their requirements for the biggest part of USPSA: practical pistol sports.
Much like International Defense Pistol Association (IDPA) matches, USPSA asks shooters to shoot stages with centerfire pistols, but USPSA tends to be more fast-paced and allow for greater variety of equipment than what I described in an earlier article. If your handguns or carry methods don’t fit into an IDPA division, you will almost certainly find a division to compete in with USPSA. Like IDPA, you compete only against those in the same division as you.


One of the most popular USPSA divisions is Production. Like you might guess from its name, it’s intended to be for the kind of striker-fired or double action gun you can easily buy from your local gun store and limit the modifications that can be done to the gun. All Production guns must start out as one on the approved list, then generally have no external modifications except for limited stippling. This is one of the easiest divisions for most new competitors to get into, as long as they own a minimum of five magazines for their gun.
If your gun is single action or not on the Production list, has more extensive modifications, or you only own a few magazines, then the Limited division is a good place for you to be. Limited is an “(almost) everything goes” division, as long as the pistol retains standard iron sights. In other words, as long as you don’t have some sort of optic or oddball sight on the gun, like “Snake Eyes”, you can probably shoot in Limited. Limited is popular both with fancy “race guns” and with people who have just a few more modifications to their guns than allowed in Production or who want to load up their magazines to maximum capacity or even extended capacity (with restrictions on how extended).
uspsa gear

The author’s SIG Sauer P320 Limited pistol

In the middle between Production and Limited is Limited 10. Originally created in response to the 1994 “Assault Weapons Ban,” Limited 10 allows all of the features of Limited guns but restricts loading magazines to a maximum of 10 rounds.
Beyond Limited and Limited 10 guns are Open Division pistols. There are almost no restrictions on what is permitted in an Open pistol so long as it is actually a centerfire pistol shot as such. Optics, flashlights, compensators, porting, and just about everything else is allowed in Open. While normally the home of “race guns” along with Limited, other types of pistols that don’t fit into other divisions can also be seen competing in Open, especially at local club matches.
uspsa gear

Kevin McPhee’s Limcat Razorcat Open gun

Outside of these divisions are what I call the specialty divisions: Carry Optics, Single Stack, and Revolver.
Carry Optics is like Production, except that the shooter is permitted to have a slide-mounted optic like a Trijicon RMR, Leupold DeltaPoint, or my sponsor, SIG Sauer’s Romeo 1. It is a provisional division in USPSA, meaning it doesn’t yet have full recognition, but it is available at all local matches and some of the larger matches.
Revolver is where the wheel guns play (although if you like, you are also welcome in Production, Limited, Limited 10, or even Open). Revolvers can be shot in 6- and 8-round configurations, using any method of reloading including speed-loaders and moonclips.
uspsa gear

A Smith & Wesson 686 modified to use moonclips for Revolver division


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And finally, Single Stack is a special division just for metal-framed 1911-pattern guns, whether in the classic .45ACP or another caliber down to 9mm. Only limited modifications are permitted, making Single Stack a lot like Production for a single style of gun.
uspsa gear

A Taurus PT 1911 in 9mm, a Single Stack “minor” gun

Except for Production and Carry Optics, all other USPSA divisions allow for both “major” and “minor” scoring, which is based on the caliber you shoot and an equation based on your bullet’s weight and the velocity it travels at. For purposes of starting out? Shoot wherever your gun fits, and worry about major and minor later.
Come back to Gun Carrier in a few days, where I’ll be covering the other half of USPSA gear: how to carry your gun and ammunition around.

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