If you shoot enough matches, eventually you will have a situation where your gun breaks and becomes unreliable or nonfunctional. But what to do now? Do I just get my backup gun and carry on? Do I need to notify anyone? What is the proper way to handle this per the rules?
First thing is to NOT change guns or swap barrels or change sights without RM approval. The reason for this is rule 5.1.7 which says that competitors must use the same firearm and sights for the whole match. And Rule 5.1.7 also says that if the gun or sights break, the competitor can change guns or sights with RM approval. The rule doesn’t specifically mention barrels, but since barrels are a key part of how the gun functions, and affect chrono results, they also need approval. This rule applies at all match levels, including local matches. If you do this without RM approval, you will be disqualified for unsportsmanlike behavior (see 5.1.8).
What does the RM look for? First, does the replacement firearm/sights meet the Division requirements (188.8.131.52)? If you are shooting Carry Optics and your backup gun has iron sights and no optic, then it doesn’t fit into Carry Optics. However, you can be bumped to Open and finish the match there. What if your Single Stack gun breaks and you only have a striker fired pistol as backup? Then again, it’s a bump to Open. What if you have a metal framed Production gun and after it breaks you want to shoot a polymer frame gun that is on the Production Gun List and meets the other division requirements? Then you are good to go. What if your Open gun breaks and the backup is a Single Stack gun? No worries, you are already in Open and a 1911 is legal there! What if my PCC breaks and I only have a pistol as backup? In that case, you are shooting for no score since pistols don’t meet the PCC division requirements.
Secondly, the RM needs to make sure that the gun change does not give the competitor a competitive advantage. I will tell you that we hardly see competitive advantage when the firearm meets the division requirements. And remember, for the Divisions that score major and minor power factor separately, if the first gun was major and the backup is minor, then the competitor gets scored minor for the whole match. Same for a competitor who was shooting minor and switched to a major backup gun, minor scoring for the whole match. Competitors like to use their best equipment as their primary equipment, and the backup firearms are there to allow them to complete the match if their primary gun ceases to function, which is why competitive advantage hardly ever comes into play.
So remember, if your gun breaks get approval from the RM before changing guns or making major changes to your firearm like swapping sights, optics, barrels, and even whole uppers. It only takes a few minutes and saves you from being disqualified.