Only a master of handguns…

I received my official squadding for Bianchi Cup over the weekend, and in the letter I received notice from the NRA that I’d made Master class in NRA Action Pistol.

nra ap master

You classification in NRA AP is based off six shot averages of your scores, so for Master your six shot average must be at least 57.60. Now having made Master in NRA AP (when they re-ran classifications in advance of the 2014 events), I am now faced with an interesting choice. I have Master class in IDPA, obviously, and now Master in NRA AP. There are only two “action” pistol sports that have their own classification systems that I’m not Master or better in, and those are USPSA and Steel Challenge. Dismissing Steel Challenge for a moment, a quick check of my USPSA classification record indicates that when I was shooting USPSA every weekend I was 3 points and change away from making Master in L10.

This morning, I find myself debating an interesting topic. Is it worth the time and effort necessary for me to go out and finish off those last few percentage points and make Master in USPSA? The obvious pros are that training for USPSA would make me better at IDPA. No question in my mind about that. Additional pro, it would be cool to be Master in the “big three” pistol sports, just to say that I am. The cons are that shooting USPSA doesn’t particularly blow my skirt up these days.

But let’s say I do it. That leaves me with another choice, and that choice is important. What division should I chase USPSA Master in? We can all agree on two things: L10 is silly, and no one cares about revolver unless your name is Jerry Miculek. I love wheelguns, but mastering the wheel doesn’t really matter to anyone outside of a very small audience. So that leaves Open, Limited, Single Stack, and Production. Because my focus is on the actual practical application of the pistol, we can rule out Open right away, unless I wanted to chase Master with an RMR equipped Glock. That sounds like about as much fun as getting punched in the sack, so pass.

Now we’re down to Limited, Single Stack, and Production. I will rule Single Stack for one reason: I just spent a year shooting 10,000 rounds through a 1911. It was fun and everything, but I don’t really want to spend that much time working on my guns this year. So then we’re left with Limited and Production. Remember, the goal here is “practical” application of the pistol.

Limited Pros

  • Allows me to load my magazines to capacity
  • Allows me to carry the gun wherever I want (appendix)

Limited cons

  • Forces me to shoot Major PF if I want to be competitive (which I do)
  • Gun not really useful outside of USPSA Limited

Production Pros

  • Lets me shoot the caliber I’d actually carry (9mm) without a scoring penalty
  • The gun would be useful in all other sports (IDPA, Bianchi, Steel)

Production cons

  • Makes me use gear that isn’t something I’d carry with (two-piece belt, doh holster)
  • Downloading magazines to 10 rounds is silliness.

So it’s kind of a toss-up. Although the deciding factor would be the cross platform usefulness, because I really don’t want to have to mess around with different guns for different games.

So, what do you think? Should I go for Production Master in USPSA?


  1. Production. The ten round limit is somewhat silly but levels the field. These guns would be closer to the guns you review on a regular basis and more like what many of you readers will buy and shoot. And like revolver, you master skills that translate well to other areas.

  2. Meh. I say you go open and just figure out how to carry an open-class gun concealed on a daily basis. Because RACE GUN.

      1. I just bought a tactical man purse. It makes a great diaper bag. I use the quick access pouch for wet wipes.

  3. Knowing you from your posts, I’m going to say Limited.

    Looking at the cons for Limited, you have to:
    -Have a gun useful only for that division. I don’t see this as a major hurdle; It’s not like you mind collecting guns. And the wife might be interested in Limited.
    -Be forced to go Major (effectively, .40). As another gunblogger pointed out recently (Hilton Yam, maybe?) there’s actually an advantage to having another caliber handy; in case of ammo shortages, it gives you another option for practicing.

    As opposed to the Production requirement to load mags to 10 rounds, which I think will bug you to no end.

  4. On second thought, I am wrong on the choice of pistol. Here is your opportunity to make Master, AND test the Wilson Combat Beretta 96!

  5. While it isn’t widely attended, you omitted ICORE as an action sport. We have master class also.

    1. If I get Master across the board, the next thing I want to do is become Master of Revolvers and get MA in all the revolver disciplines.

  6. I’d go for limited. But factory loaded .40 ammo is always a little too hot for anybody’s taste, so I’d buy a Dillon. Carry appendix and be a baws.

  7. You complain about only loading 10 rounds in your mags for production… Yet you shoot IDPA and have nothing to say about the 10 round limit? Got it.

    1. This is not an IDPA vs. USPSA thread.

      If I wanted to write a post about IDPA rules I don’t like, it would be called “IDPA Rules I don’t like” and would include the 10 round capacity limit.

    1. I like IDPA a lot. I just don’t like the 10 round rule. I like USPSA a lot too. But I don’t like all of their rules either.

      1. Things I dislike about IDPA:
        10 Round mag limit
        Stupid IDPA vs USPSA threads

        Things I dislike about USPSA:
        Race Guns
        6 reload revolver stages
        Stupid USPSA vs IDPA threads

  8. I would strongly suggest shooting Limited with 9mm using your preferred mode of carry.

    Train like you fight and fight like you train.

    Imo, uspsa classification holds no water to me.

  9. The inner/outer belt type is not required nor unique to production. Moreover, lots of production shooters (particularly those who shoot a lot of single stack or IDPA) don’t bother with a DOH holster so that they can keep holster commonality.

  10. Production. You could work in an in depth review of a production gun into the process of making Production Master. Congrats on making NRA AP Master!

  11. Production. Because it’s fun! You are a part of the fastest growing division and for the most part you are using reasonably priced gear available to anyone. Tanfo’s not included.

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