Thursday, December 14, 2017

Plus 3 Division, A Simple Solution to MultiGun Division Problems

I call this division "Plus 3". Basically, take your Production baseline, and add 3 enhancements to it. In my opinion it makes no difference what those enhancements are. Let the competitor decide what's right for him rather than dumping him into a division he doesn't really belong in for running a completely practical piece of equipment. The issue with current MultiGun divisions is that they are more like a list of required equipment rather than a clearly distinguished division between common use equipment sets and associated costs. And essentially every division in MultiGun is a race equipment required division. You will need to be quad loading your shotgun which will require specific work done to the gun and shell carriers that no one else on Earth would ever employ outside of competition. You will need a custom pistol with all the goodies and a $3K 2011 would really be great, though $1,500 will get you by. You will need an AR with a trick BCG, buffer system and gas block. And I'm not describing the Open division.

cz master race, P09, slide mounted red dot, burris fastfire 3 primary machine custom
My P09 Plus 3 ready. Two enhancements.
This is the reason 2-Gun is getting a foothold around the country and outlaw matches of various types are as common as sanctioned matches. And, it's the reason there are many matches featuring one or just a few of the divisions within the USPSA rule book. I feel that a new evolution is lurking within the competitive shooting world - I don't know what it is but I believe it will have something to do with the divisions at the very least. As with anything that is in the process of evolving and maturing, there are going to be lots of ideas (read opinions) out there and little standardization. That comes with its own set of challenges of course. When Plus 3 found its way into my brain it was due to an effort to avoid the need for standardization, to make the division universal and applicable to any type of MultiGun match. Plus 3 could easily become Plus 5 if the need for more divisions arose. It could be used in 2-Gun or used in 3-Gun with little modification. It covers all of the common enhancements and makes them available to everyone while still creating clearly distinct divisions. I chose the number three because any combination of parts seem to fall neatly between Production and Tactical. It also leaves a few toys in Open where they belong. As with my last post where I talked about Production, I wanted to cover my reasoning behind Plus 3. To get a pdf of my divisions click here. Please feel free to implement my divisions at your own club and pass it around. I'd love to hear other thoughts and ideas.

In determining the Production division equipment there was a strong emphasis on the test questions and the equation among them. Is the item practical? Is the item in common use in the real world? Is there a cost barrier? Is there an overwhelming competitive advantage to the item? With Plus 3, the approach is completely different. Plus 3 is for people interested in useful, commonplace firearm enhancements without the shopping list known as Tactical or Open division. The big test question for Plus 3 is; does it follow and reflect trends in the firearm industry and community as a whole, or trends only found in the competition world? Keep in mind, you cannot have all of these enhancements, you may only choose 3 of them and you may use each one only once. The idea is to build upon the foundational division, Production.

Comps/Brakes: The bottom line is that they are here to stay, they have certain practical advantages and they don't present an overwhelming cost to advantage ratio. They are probably the first thing anyone sticks on the end of their rifle whether they need it or not. But, a comp gives you a pretty good advantage and only costs you one of your choices.

Mag Wells: In the Production post I mentioned that mag wells are becoming more and more commonplace across the board. My feeling is that the huge competition mag wells don't offer much advantage over the smaller, more practical versions, so guys who already run them on a carry gun are good to go. Typically they are easy to install and remove as well.

Red Dots: Totally practical and commonplace on both rifles (offset) and pistols (slide mounted). It's a huge trend in the pistol world across the board. It's not just an Open division competition thing anymore and Plus 3 offers the best solution for including slide-mounted red dots outside of Open. For this one feature alone, I believe Plus 3 would quickly become one of the most popular MultiGun divisions if implemented alongside the current divisions and attract many new shooters looking to employ a different flavor of gear. Requiring a slide-mounted dot supports the polymer framed pistol trend and leaves frame-mounted Open equipment in Open.

Mag Extensions: Very popular as a reload mag for concealed carry and seen in the holsters of law enforcement officers more and more. Why carry 17 rounds in the mag when you can carry 24? One of the smart moves by the sanctioning bodies was the mag length restriction. It created a standard, the industry has responded and the market loves it. Well done I say. It offers an excellent middle ground between Production and Open.

Rifle Enhancements: The sorts of BCG and Buffer system enhancements seen in competition are becoming more widely embraced by the industry which drives down costs, increases reliability and may eventually lead to standard equipment that's just plain better. However for now, they might not offer as much advantage as the price tag would suggest when you can only choose 3 enhancements.

Pistol Weight: There is nothing specifically impractical about metal framed guns in my eyes and I don't think they should be left to Limited/Tactical divisions. Competitors could run a Limited 2011 but would either have to make a couple changes or run a pretty basic AR in Plus 3. However, people who simply like Sig 226s or CZ 75 variants or other heavier pistols can still run them and likely face more similarly equipped competition. It's important to note that the weight of the pistol is determined prior to enhancements. That means, for example, if adding a mag well to the gun also adds weight it doesn't automatically force the weight enhancement as well.

Rifle Capacity: I see drums as perfectly practical equipment in theory, especially in a military setting. They've been ignored up until recently primarily because they didn't work and they were stupid expensive. Things have changed. They are far from necessary and far from providing an overwhelming competitive advantage but they might find some appeal at certain matches.

Bi-Pod: Because it's something of a grey area for the purposes of Production, it seems fitting to make it available in Plus 3. There may very well be scenarios in which a bi-pod might provide a significant advantage. It's certainly a practical item and should not be left to the Open division only.

Ultimately, I think slide-mounted red dots will probably rule in Plus 3 but in many ways, that's the point. It gives them a home outside of Open. I think comps and extended mags will likely be a toss up for the number two most popular enhancement. Although, I don't think I would choose a comp personally, on either gun. I'm going to say number three will be a toss up between metal framed pistols and tricked out rifle internals. But I'm going to bet most people will put more focus on the pistol than they will the rifle, generally speaking.

For clubs looking to emphasize practical equipment and minimize division complexity, Production and Plus 3 are probably all you need. One additional positive side effect of Plus 3 might be a rise in the use of rifle types other than the AR. But with all this said, I'm not entirely sure we wouldn't see people taking a totally different approach and tailoring their equipment to the match. That's the real beauty of Plus 3 in my mind. It is especially true for my Adventure MultiGun concept, which will be showing up in the next post and involves 2-man teams.