Recently, the USPSA Board of Directors made some changes to the rules involving the use of Weapon Mounted Lights, or WML’s, magnetic retention of magazines, and the location of holsters and magazine pouches. We’ve been getting a lot of questions about this, so here are some answers.
The ability to use a magnet to retain magazines was previously allowed in Open, Limited, PCC, Revolver and Limited-10, but the other more restrictive divisions forbid it during a course of fire. That restriction has now been lifted for those divisions. The current rules for Production, Single Stack, and Carry Optics divisions are worded as if to prevent a magnet not incorporated in a pouch, but a clarification, based on input from the board, will be coming. The clarification will allow for use of free-standing or stand-alone magnets as well as magazine pouches with magnets built in, and should be in effect, with a corresponding rule update, by the time this article is published.
The board also approved the use of WML’s or flashlights, in all divisions, with the caveat that the flashlight is functional. This was done at member request for competitors whose EDC involves a WML—competitors who want to use their carry gun to compete. (This is not a bad idea.). Some people have questioned what constitutes a “flashlight”, and what the definition of “functional” is. This is a common-sense thing: a flashlight or WML is a device that emits light by powering up a bulb or diode. Functional means that it actually performs that function. If you have one mounted on your firearm, you may be asked to turn it on and demonstrate that it makes light. Generally, you won’t have to shoot with it on. And, notably, there are no requirements for what type of light it is, or how it’s constructed, it simply has to make light. Will this be gamed? Yes, like everything else in USPSA that can be gamed. Make sure that it emits light and you should be good to go. Also, keep in mind that the WSB still dictates the stage procedure, so if it’s a low-light stage and forbids you from using your WML, then you’ll have to leave it turned off.
Another question about functional flashlights: what happens if it goes out during a match—breaks a bulb or the battery dies? Simple—go fix it, just like if your optic goes out, or your firing pin breaks. The idea that it must function is to separate it from the frame mounted, disabled lights that some have used as weights in Limited and L10—which is still legal, by the way. One thing to note: the WML and gun still has to fit the box in Production and Single Stack Divisions.
And, no, your laser isn’t a flashlight. Lasers are not “tightly focused flashlights” as some have speculated. A Laser is a device that generates and focuses coherent, single-wavelength (generally) light into a tight beam. That is vastly different from a flashlight, no matter how tightly you can focus the beam. Can you have a combo light/laser WML, as is fairly common? Yes, as long as you don’t use the laser. Simple and enforceable. Use the laser, go to Open. By the way, lasers are legal for use in Open, as they are considered a sighting device. Another clarification will be published.
Position of holsters and magazine pouches has been relaxed. No more “behind the point of the hip” language for Production, Single Stack, and Carry Optics. The requirements for height-to-belt and distance-from-belt are still in place, per 5.2.5, 126.96.36.199, and D1-D8 #10, but you can move your holster and magazine pouches around now. This includes inside-the-waistband carry, and yes, even in the appendix position, and from concealment if you wish. It does NOT allow cross-draw carry—that’s a 180 breaker almost every time. You still can’t draw from concealment in Steel Challenge, however. E3 was left in the rules to demonstrate the definition of “hands relaxed at sides”.
Changing/Removing equipment also needs to be clarified, and will be. Equipment (other than personal equipment, such as shoes, pads, hats, glasses, etc.) may not be changed, removed, or replaced without RM permission. This includes flashlights, magnets, telescopes and foregrips in PCC, and the like: gun related equipment. However, tape or sun shades/rain covers on optics, bungee cords and dust covers may be removed or replaced without penalty. Changing gun-related equipment without RM permission will result in a 10.6.1 Unsportsmanlike Conduct DQ. Bottom line here is, unless you are putting on a new hat or shoes, ask.
For reference. Note that this is not a complete list of resources: