At the 2020 back-to-back nationals I was the Range Master for the zone that had chrono. We really didn’t have any issues with folks not making power factor, but we did have quite a few competitors who had magazines that were too long for their division. What blew me away was that people came to nationals with illegal equipment. In the grand scheme of things, the cost of a mag gauge and a USPSA box is negligible compared to the amount of money we invest in the firearms, magazines, belts, holsters, ammo, match fees, and travel costs. So why do people still show up with illegal equipment?
At the Factory Gun nationals, we had one Production competitor have a pistol that didn’t fit in the USPSA box and two other competitors with illegal equipment that got bumped to Open. In the Race Gun match, we had one Limited competitor get bumped to Open and six Open competitors get bumped to no score, all for mags that were too long. But why did this even happen?
Most clubs, or at least one member of the club, own a USPSA mag gauge ($35) and a USPSA box ($79). So why are so many folks still out of compliance? Mostly because the mag gauge and USPSA box are never brought out at any of the local matches. And no, you don’t have to run a chronograph stage in order to check equipment. Equipment checks can happen at any time during the match, at any stage. To do equipment checks properly, you need the mag gauge, the USPSA box, the USPSA Production Gun List (for Production and Carry Optics), the USPSA Rules, and a scale to weigh guns. There is also a handy guide for what to check in our Chronograph Guide on this blog.
The USPSA box is used for Production and Single Stack. The handgun with empty magazine inserted must fit completely in the box. If you have one of the black boxes with a lid, then the lid must close completely. If you have the newer USPSA box, then nothing can protrude above the top edge of the box. The scale is used for Production, Carry Optics, and Single Stack and we weigh the gun with an empty mag inserted. The maximum weight for Production and Carry Optics is 59 ounces and the maximum weight for Single Stack is 43 ounces. The mag gauge is used for Carry Optics, Limited, Limited-10, and Open. For Carry Optics, the maximum mag length is 5.561″ (141.25 mm). The maximum mag length for Open is 6.473″ (171.25 mm). And for Limited and Limited-10 the maximum length is 5.561″ (141.25 mm) and 6.473″ (171.25 mm) for single stack guns. Check out our NROI Tips video about using a mag gauge.
How can clubs help their members avoid the dreaded bump to Open or no score? A few times a year, especially before major match season, do equipment checks with the USPSA mag gauge and USPSA box at local matches. Heck, even setup a chronograph and help members check their power factor too. And if you have a Level II or higher match at your club, run a chronograph stage and run it properly. Check power factor and also do the equipment check. How can competitors help themselves avoid this? A $35 mag gauge is a small investment compared to the average Open mag that costs over $120.