Quest for Master Class

Back in February I achieved one of my major shooting goals – my first Master class qualification in the shooting sports.  I shot the IDPA qualifier well enough to achieve Master class in Enhanced Service Revolver which was a very proud moment for me.  However, I don’t really consider myself a Master class shooter yet.  Sure, on paper I’m an ESR-Master, but that designator doesn’t mean anything to me until you can back it up in a major match.  This is the first post in what will be a continuing series as I try to shoot my way to IDPA’s 5-Gun Master ranking, which means I’d be Master class in Custom Defensive Pistol, Enhanced Service Pistol, Stock Service Pistol, Stock Service Revolver, and Enhanced Service Pistol.

Along the way, I’m going to be documenting the training and practice that I do to help me achieve my goals for this series.  However, just shooting one classifier into Master class isn’t the end goal for me.  Here are the goals for the series and what I’m trying to accomplish with this.

  1. Shoot 5 Master class level classifiers to achieve 5-Gun Master.
  2. Be able to shoot the classifier fast enough to make Master class in any division on command.  This eliminates the “fluke” possibility of just having a really good day and stumbling into Master Class.
  3. Back up my classification with match performance.  You earn your Master card on a piece of paper, but it doesn’t mean anything if you go out and shoot like a Sharpshooter at major matches.

If I can make Master class via a Match bump, that would be even better.  In that situation I’m still going to try and shoot the classifier into Master class just to see how fast I can do it.  Honestly though, a Match bump would be preferable as it would accomplish goal 3 and get the classification I’m looking for.

I’m going to be using several different guns along the way to get these classifications.  Because I believe in simplicity, I’m going to try and use similar makes/models of firearm.

  • Enhanced Service Revolver: Smith & Wesson 625 .45 ACP
  • Stock Service Revolver: Smith & Wesson 686SSR Pro .38 Special
  • Enhanced Service Pistol: ParaUSA LTC 9mm*
  • Stock Service Pistol: Smith & Wesson M&P-JG 9mm*
  • Custom Defensive Pistol: Smith & Wesson M&P .45 ACP*

*These guns are tentative right now, I plan on using them for the qualifications but I’m also keeping my options open here in the event that something comes up.

Along the way, I’m hoping to become a better shooter through constant repetition.  Focused, disciplined practice will help improve my performances across the board, and by sharing my progress and training with you, I hope to help all my readers improve as defensive and competition shooters as well.


  1. Just curious why you don’t just shoot the M&P 9 in SSP and ESP?
    Same feel, etc… You could focus more on the shooting and not any gear issues.

    Additionally, the feel would be mighty similar to the CDP gun too…

    Hell, if you could afford it, you could just shoot with the CDP gun for all the classifications…

    1. Well, that’s why there are “things up in the air” with the guns selected. I picked the LTC 9mm for ESP because I have one sitting around, I don’t actually have the M&Ps in hand yet. So I know that no matter what I’ll be able to shoot the ESP part with the LTC, but in a perfect world I would shoot it with the M&P in both divisions. And yes, I could just shoot the M&P .45 with minor PF loads in ESP and SSP…I’ve thought about that as well.

  2. On the one hand, getting your 5-gun Master status with five different pistols would demonstrate broader mastery of the various products on the market.

    On the other hand, five years from now, it won’t be the gun(s) anyone remembers, it will be the shooter.

    Now if you make SSR-MA with a 442, that is something people will remember. 8)

    1. I was thinking about shooting for the SSR master class with my 60 Pro Series. The extra reload(s) on the 6 and 12 shot strings would sure make stuff interesting!

  3. I’ve played around with my m&p45 and 160 grain minor pf loads and I like the way it shoots a little better than the m&p 9. The only downsides I can think of are cost (bullets and brass) and the mags are a little harder to seat with 10 rounds. Also for esp and cdp speed shooters specialties is coming out with a IDPA legal magwell for the M&P45.

  4. I would imagine that a 160 PF .45 load would shoot very soft out of an M&P .45 and be pretty pleasant. I have shot the .40 with a 140ish PF load which was really nice to shoot. Like I said though, the test platform for the CDP, ESP, and SSP guns is still a little up in the air.

    But I’ll have to check out that Speed Shooters magwell.

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