What gear should you look for to shoot IDPA?
In the three part series "Your First IDPA Match," we looked at how a typical club level match ran, what to expect, and how to wrap it up. But that is just the beginning. In order to start shooting that first match, you need to make sure you have IDPA legal gear and guns.
IDPA was designed as a sport to allow people to use the guns and gear they have for everyday carry to compete against each other and still be competitive and have a level playing field. They have various divisions for off-the-shelf stock guns and guns that have a few modifications, but that is about it. You're not allowed to run the fancy and expensive race guns, or the speed holsters, or other things that USPSA allows, for example. This makes it a skill contest more than a speed contest.
But there are still some restrictions on the type of concealed carry gear you can use to compete. Let's take a look at the gear requirements by the IDPA Rulebook.
On a side note, remember these are just suggestions and simplified explanations. Check the IDPA Rulebook for a more in-depth review of the rules. The rules have just recently been updated and will go into Effect March 1, 2015. This guide will be based on those rules.
Choosing which gun you want to shoot is pretty straight forward. You can use any full-size gun or a compact gun with a barrel length under 4.1 inches, with the addition of the Compact Carry Division, you would normally use for concealed carry. Calibers are restricted to 9mm and larger. If your local club allows a "Not-For-Competition" division, which is legal under IDPA rules, you can use any caliber you want. .380 Auto, .22 LR, .32 ACP.
The type of gun used will determine your division. A semi auto will put you in Stock Service Pistol (SSP), Enhanced Service Pistol (ESP) , Custom Defensive Pistol (CDP) or Compact Carry Pistol (CCP). A revolver will put you into the Revolver (REV) division. Each division has certain rules that pertain to how the gun should be configured to be put in that division. Most guns are suitable for multiple divisions, but depending on the upgrades or enhancements to a gun, or even certain features on the gun, may not make it suitable for other divisions. For example, most all guns in SSP can be used in ESP or CDP but not all ESP or CDP guns can be used in SSP. You will have to consult the rulebook or ask the match director for the exact specifics for which division you should shoot in.
The gun must also fit into the "IDPA Box." Basically the gun, with the largest magazine in, must fit into a box that is 8 ¾" x 6" x 1 5/8." If it doesn't fit you can't use it.
So if you stick with Stock Service Pistol division, which is where most IDPA shooters start out, pretty much any standard pistol can be used and shot with the factory unmodified magazines that came with it. Glocks, Smith M&Ps, and Springfield XDs are the most popular.
Yes, there is a rule as to the type of belt you wear. You aren't allowed to use the competition-style belts that velcro around your waste. The belt must pass through all your belt loops and be no bigger then 1 ¾ inches/44.5mm or thicker than 5/16 inches/7.94mm.
Any standard dress belt or gun carry belt counts. The only exception to this rule is that police officers are allowed to use their active duty belt, but it must have the full duty loadout (Mace, handcuffs, baton, etc.) on it.
Holsters are pretty easy. Holsters must be threaded through the belt (On the Waistband or OWB) or tucked into the pants (In the Waistband or IWB) and must be made of typical holster material (Kydex or leather). They must be suitable for everyday wear and must cover the trigger and trigger guard when the gun is holstered. They also must be strong-side only holsters.
Any retention devices on holsters must be used, or they must be permanently disabled. They cannot be temporarily disabled for a match.
Shoulder, cross draw, appendix, small of back, drop leg, pocket and purse holsters are not permitted to be used for safety reasons.
Police officers can use their duty holsters, but all retention devices must be in use.
And that's pretty much it. As long as you don't go crazy and try to use the most expensive race gear, you should be fine to shoot a local or club level match. If you want to move up in tier matches, you will have to pay more attention to the rule restrictions.
So go out, grab your gear and shoot a match!