A serious 3-gun rig

Last week we looked at Silly 3-gun rigs, now I want to show you a serious 3 gun set up for shooting Outlaw Heavy Metal or USPSA Heavy Metal Limited division.  The rules for this division are pretty straightforward – you need a .308 caliber rifle, a 12 gauge pump action shotgun, and a .45 ACP handgun.  Say you’re on a budget and you want to get this done with as little mucking around with aftermarket parts as possible, you can get this rig and get it at a good cost.  Let’s start with your rifle.

Remington R-25 in .308why yes, it is a hunting rifle.  It’s also interestingly enough basically ready to go out of the box for 3-gun competition.  The only thing you need to do is add a muzzle brake to the front of it, and you’re ready to rock for 3-gun Heavy Metal.  Yes, there are things you could add to the gun to make it “better” for 3-gun, but for right out of the box it’s pretty good to go.  Plus, you also now have a great gun for hunting bambi/feral pigs/whatever.

Shotgun – Benelli Nova Tactical pump.  Sure, from the factory its 4+1 round capacity is less than ideal, but for less than $400 at retail its hard to beat that price.  Especially since you can get a Nordic components magazine extension and bring that capacity up to a more competitive number pretty easily.  Plus, the Nova eats up felt recoil very well for a pump 12, so you won’t be hating life after a day of shooting.  An alternative would be a Mossberg 500 fitted with a Blackhawk Knoxx stock.

Now, for the handgun I’m giving you two options – USPSA stipulates that your handgun must conform to Single Stack rules, so you have to have a 1911.  For outlaw, you can have any .45 ACP handgun.  Here’s the 1911 I’d pick to get you running right away on a budget – The ParaUSA GI Expert ESP.  Para took their popular GI Expert pistol and added some extra features – a high rise beavertail grip safety, fiber optic front sight, and extended thumb safety make this gun pretty much ready to rock out of the box.

But say you don’t want a 1911 and you’re not going to compete in USPSA Heavy Metal Limited division, so you’re just looking for a .45 ACP.  No problem, because the market offers a TON of .45 ACP pistols that are ready to go for 3-gun out of the box.  I mean, I could just run a list of guns I’d recommend, and at the top of that list would be the S&W M&P .45 or the Glock 21SF.  Get either one of those and you won’t go wrong.

There is more to 3-gun than Heavy Metal division of course – and this is by no means a high speed-low drag super rig.  What it does represent though is a way to get in to the game with guns that you might already have around the house for other things – hunting, home defense, and concealed carry.


  1. Pretty decent choices all around. I’d have some reservations about the long-term durability of the Para-Ordnance pistol. I’ve seen them fail with alarming regularity.

    The R-25 probably wouldn’t be a bad choice. Weirdly enough, there doesn’t seem to be a solidly good choice for Heavy Metal rifles, it’s either M1As or AR-10s, and they both have their particular drawbacks. The M1As require a lot of maintenance (or so I’m told) and the AR-10s are prone to just odd malfunctions often enough to be a bit of a hindrance, but not so often as to make them unviable.

    I’m wondering if the SCAR-H or FN FNAR will grow to be a popular choice for Heavy Metal shooters in the next two-three years.

  2. I have also wondered about the SCAR-17. I know that the FNH team guys run them for their heavy metal rifles, but they also don’t have to pony up 3 grand for them.

    I thought long and hard about whether I should pick the Para or the STI Spartan for the entry level gun. I eventually went with the Para because this is an entry level rig, and for $500 for the Para I think it’s a safe bet.

  3. I shot a wee bit of 3-gun a long time ago, but I really want to get back into it. There’s a lot of awesome shooting to do!

  4. My friend and I are doing Heavy Metal all year in anticipation of the 2011 Superstition 3-Gun. He’s using a Les Baer Custom 1911, Remington 870, and Springfield M1A. I’m packing a 20-year-old Colt Mark IV Series 80, am older Remington 870, and Springfield SOCOM-16 (I’m a lot shorter, so the Baby Thumper is a lot handier for me). I’m surprised you gave the Mossberg the nod over the ubiquitous Remington pump.

  5. jbomultigun, I thought the appeal of crack was that it was cheap! Heavy Metal class surely isn’t, and if I get into three gun-there isn’t much going on here in west KY without a major drive for me, but that may change in the near future-it won’t be in the HM class. One of my regular customers did very well in the MGM Iron Man in that class, and his equipment is worth more than my truck with all my guns in it. 1911’s just cost too dang much and require more maintenance than I want to invest to compete with ’em. The MnP .45, though, may prove to be the best .45 duty gun out there over time. There’s a lot to like there.

    For all the bad I’ve come across in Bushamster .223 rifles, their 7.62 rifles seem to be pretty well thought of. Some careful parts swaps can make those R25’s reliable rifles.

    While the 870 is heavier, the pump stroke is shorter, so I can run it a little faster, and the weight dampens some recoil. I’m slow anyway, so trimming weight reaches diminishing returns quickly for me. 😉

    As always, YMMV. Thanks for the blog, Caleb. I don’t always agree, but your posts are interesting!

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