Yesterday I was kicking around some ideas on the Brian Enos forum about using .38 Short Colt loads in Safariland Comp III speedloaders. That in itself isn’t the bad idea, but rather the discussion that came from it was kind of shocking. Here’s the backstory – I have all the goodies set up to use .38 Short Colt for ICORE competition with my 627; the short rounds have about the same OAL as a 9mm and tend to load easier. Plus, because the Short Colt cases have a smaller volume than the long .38 Special cases, it’s easier to make power factor and use less powder.
I wanted to make sure that the Short Colts would work in my Safariland speedloaders so that I could just shoot the same load in Retro division and Limited Revolver; it then occured to me to shoot the same load in IDPA as well. That’s where the surprises started. Until yesterday, I didn’t know that there was an official-unofficial IDPA Forum. That’s not the problem. The problem apparently is that at the officially unofficial IDPA forum, they’ll often give out “rulebook interpretations” from IDPA staff. An example of this is actually the .38 Short Colt.
Apparently, IDPA Staff had issued an officially-unofficial ruling saying that use of the .38 Short Colt in Stock Service Revolver division was grounds for an FTDR and possible match DQ, as it would “clearly” only be done to gain a competitive advantage. Here’s what the rule book says for Stock Service Revolver:
Handguns permitted for use in this division must be:
A. Any revolver of .38 Caliber (.357” or larger) or larger that utilizes ammunition with a rimmed case and is not reloaded with a full moon clip.
Now, if you’re like me, you’d read that and figure “hey, the .38 Short Colt rounds meet that definition, and as long as I make power factor I’m good to go, right?” Apparently, you’d be wrong, and that’s not a good thing. See, I don’t really care if IDPA thinks that using .38 Short Colt is too “gamer” to play, I’m fine with that. My problem is how this all works out, and exactly why this is a bad idea. Follow me around on this one:
- You are an ICORE shooter and want to shoot IDPA with your ICORE load
- You read the IDPA rulebook and don’t find anything that explicitly states that .38 Short Colt is illegal in your 686.
- You shoot some club matches, have fun and decide to shoot a sanctioned match.
- You go to your sanctioned match, pay your money, drive x number of miles, and when you get to the match are DQ’d because your equipment is designed to “give you an unfair advantage” based on a ruling handed out on a forum you didn’t know existed and that isn’t actually an “official” IDPA forum.
That would really turn me off to IDPA if I happened to me, and it’s not exactly a far-fetched scenario. I have had my problems with IDPA’s rule book – I honestly feel that it’s too vague in areas and subject to interpretation by Match Directors and safety officers. However, finding out that there’s a forum where rulings are handed down that are not dissemenated to the vast majority of IDPA shooters absolutely blows my mind.
Essentially, what that does to the entire rulebook is make it open to question and reduces it from a set of rules to “whatever the IDPA headquarters guys think it means”. That’s just stupid. I may not agree with everything that USPSA does, but their rulebook, all 6,499 pages of it is very clear on what can and cannot be done. I understand that IDPA doesn’t want to be USPSA, but I’m a big believer in clarity being a good thing. I’d hate to be the shooter that drive 100 miles to a major match to find out his equipment wasn’t legal based on a ruling on a Yuku forum he’d never heard of. I’m seriously at a loss for words to describe how foolish I think this is, I mean just wow.
I think what’s most upsetting is that I really like IDPA. I enjoy shooting it, I enjoy the discipline, and that’s why this just boggles the mind. This sort of activity is massively unfriendly to new shooters or to shooters coming in from other disciplines. Poorly played, IDPA. Very poorly played.