Shoot more, shoot better

I’m a firm believer that competition shooting will help you improve your skills in the event you ever need to use a firearm to protect your life.  As a general rule, this consensus is shared by experts in the shooting community such as Jim Cirillo and Mas Ayoob among others.  However, with all the different divisions out there, it can be confusing for one shooter if they’re trying to maximize their competition time with one gun.  If you’re looking for a gun that you can carry and compete with in multiple divisions, there is nothing better than the venerable 1911.  Sorry Glock guys, there are more competition divisions set up for 1911s!

If you have a stock 1911 in .45 ACP then you can shoot the most divisions of any gun and be competitive.  Let’s look at IDPA – there are two places where a .45 ACP 1911 can run and be competitive, the first and obvious is in Custom Defensive Pistol, home of the 1911.  However, you can also run it in Enhanced Service Pistol, grab some 10 round mags and load it light, and you’re good to go.

There are also two divisions in USPSA where your gun is competitive; obviously Single Stack division which was built for the 1911 is one.  However, before USPSA had Single Stack, there were a lot of 1911s using 10 round magazines running in Limited-10.  Rob Leatham once won the L10 Nationals running a lightly modified Springfield Long Slide Trophy Match, which really is a nice gun.

I should note in the interest of fairness that a Smith & Wesson M&P-45 will allow you to compete in 5 different divisions – ESP, CDP, and SSP in IDPA; Production and Limited-10 in USPSA.  But the 1911 just has a little bit more panache to it, as much as I love the M&P pistols.

This pattern – buying one gun for multiple divisions works because it allows you to pick a gun and stick with it.  Instead of having a gun for Single Stack, and a gun for L10, and a gun for CDP, etc etc you have one gun.  And hopefully a duplicate in case it goes down, but 1 gun – many games is the way to go.


  1. The Glock 17 or 34 is another multi-division gun. Good for IPSC Production, Steel Challenge and IDPA. Hard to shoot steel with a .45 shooting factory ammo and be competitive against all the folks shooting 9mm – but since steel is not a capacity-driven game, .45 minor handloads will work there too. I used to run 155 gr minor .45 ACP loads out of my single stack when I first got started in competition.

  2. I’ll still run light major loads out of a 1911 at steel. Steel challenge does recognize CDP as a division as well!

  3. I don’t really see the need to shoot multiple divisions with the same gun. Multiple games absolutely, but what’s the point with multiple divisions? Pick the division where your chosen gun is most competitive and shoot there.

    I shoot an M&P 9 pro in production and SSP. I’ll occasionally shoot SSR or ICORE with my model 66.

    The problem with shooting the 1911 all over is it’s not where the competition is. In my section, Open and Production and to a slightly lesser extent Limited is where the competition is. 20-30 people in each of those divisions, vs 2-5 each in L10/SS/Revo.

  4. Some days I like shooting 10 round mags in my 1911 so I shoot L10? Some matches don’t allow L10 so I’ll shoot Single Stack, that sort of thing. I like having my options open.

  5. I’m a one-gun shooter. I think I’ll have room in my play budget for a second one in about two years. Still loving IDPA and steel shooting, though.

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