7 Preferred Production Handgun Models For Action Shooting

posted on August 24, 2018

No matter which shooting discipline, Production Division broadens the appeal of competitive shooting, especially for entry-level shooters. (For simplicity, let’s define Production guns here as out-of-the-box firearms.) For example, when NRA Action Pistol added Production in the late 2000s, participation in the new division―especially at the Bianchi Cup, the National Action Pistol Championship―grew dramatically. In fact, the number of Production shooters at the Cup doubled from 2009-2010. Here we list seven of the top handguns for USPSA Production division, according to data compiled from shooters surveyed at the 2017 Production Nationals. (They are listed in order of popularity as reported by FrontSight magazine in their 2018 Annual edition.)

EAA Tanfoglio Witness Elite Stock 2
EAA Tanfoglio Witness Elite Stock 2

Derived from the CZ 75 pistol family, the EAA Tanfoglio Stock 2 is a double-action/single-action pistol that offers match-grade ergonomics and performance―without breaking your wallet. Seventeen percent of 2017 USPSA Production Nationals shooters were using the Stock 2. It’s got the usual match pistol features, such as an extended ambidextrous safety, beavertail extension and larger mag release button. Notably, the checkered walnut grips are favored by shooters, allowing one to point the pistol “as if [it’s] an extension of your arm.” Meanwhile, the 43-ounce weight helps to minimize recoil. Manufactured in Italy and imported to the U.S. by EAA, Tanfoglio guns were first optimized for competitive shooting in the late 1980s, and have been improving shooters scores ever since. Available in 9mm, .40 S&W, .38 Super, 10mm and .45 ACP. MSRP: $1,326. EAACorp.com

CZ-USA Shadow 2
CZ Shadow 2 9mm in black and blue

The CZ-USA Shadow 2 and predecessor model SP-01 Shadow are next on our list, with a combined 27 percent of shooters at the 2017 Production Nationals naming one or the other their chosen guns. And with good reason―both Shadow models present excellent bargain-priced pistols with high-class features worthy of the CZ pistol family. With the Shadow 2, CZ engineers improved upon the original SP-01 formula with a larger frame meant to improve grip and handling, and a higher beavertail and contoured slide. One owner’s testimonial mentioned, “Shoots exceptionally flat due to its weight and design.” No wonder 15 percent of competitors surveyed were shooting the Shadow 2. The 4.89-inch barrel is cold hammer forged. Overall length is 8.53 inches and it weighs in at 46.5 ounces. The added heft makes it a softer shooter. An ambidextrous, extended magazine release is customizable with three settings. The entire Shadow 2 pistol is nitride coated, with the frame sporting a black polycoat finish. MSRP: $1,299 for the Shadow 2 9mm. CZ-USA.com

Glock G34 Gen5
Glock G34 Gen5

A list of popular USPSA production guns wouldn’t be complete without the OG brand of polymer-framed, striker-fired guns represented. The Glock G34 was the fourth most popular production gun for shooters surveyed with a total of nine percent. Improving upon the original G17 with a longer 8.15-inch slide, extended 5.31-inch barrel and longer sight radius, not only is this 9mm spanning multiple generations optimized for competition―but it’s also become popular with law enforcement. As an added bonus, the G34 rear sight is adjustable. The newer Gen5 (pictured) improves on the design with the more accurate Glock marksman barrel, ambidextrous slide stop levers, and also ditches the finger grooves on the grip. With a sans-magazine weight of 23.1 ounces (Gen4), it’s by far the lightest pistol listed here, thanks to a large cutout on top of the slide. The G34 Gen5 has no slide cutout, but keeps the weight down to 23.46 ounces (empty) with a lightening cut under the MOS plate. Both generations are among the cheapest guns on the list, with a street price of about $700 for the Glock G34 Gen4. The Gen5 MSRPs for $899. Glock.com

Walther Q5 Match
Walther Arms Q5 Match

Derived from the proven PPQ pistol platform specifically for production shooters, the Walther Q5 Match was used by six percent of competitors at Nationals in 2017―making it the fifth most popular option. This 9mm has a five-inch barrel, ported slide, and a pretty blue trigger that’s set to a 5.6-pound pull from the factory, as well as Walther’s legendary ergonomics. Overall length is 8.1 inches and the empty weight is 27.9 ounces. Three different backstraps are included, along with a Picatinny mounting rail. With all these match-grade features and an optics-ready slide, the Q5 Match is a true bargain. MSRP: $849. WaltherArms.com

SIG P320 Nitron Full-Size
SIG Sauer P320 Nitron Full-Size

The SIG Sauer P320 and its various offspring are no strangers to making news, since first electrifying the gun industry in 2015 with the modular frame chassis design, allowing for easy customization with interchangeable grip modules. Winner of the 2016 American Rifleman Golden Bullseye Award for Handgun of the Year, the P320 has rapidly increased in popularity with law enforcement and the military. Four percent of USPSA production shooters at the 2017 Nationals were using the P320, giving it the number six spot―also having the distinction of being the most affordable listed here. Available calibers are 9mm, .357 SIG, .40 S&W and .45 ACP, and it’s easy to convert the P320’s caliber or size with interchangeable trigger groups. The full-size version is manufactured from stainless steel, with a nitron-finished slide, and a barrel length of 4.7-inches. Weighing a svelte 29.5 ounces, there’s two options for contrast or night sights. MSRP: $649, SIGSauer.com

SIG P320 X5
SIG Sauer P320 X5

Additionally, the SIG Sauer P320 X5 ranked highly with production shooters, boasting four percent popularity in its own right and seventh on the list. Rightly so, because with a bevy of features geared towards competitive shooters, it’s a more of a compete-straight-out-of-box production option. Upgrades include the X-Series grip module with a larger trigger guard undercut, higher backstrap and extended beavertail to improve recoil performance, and a carbon steel bull barrel. The slide catch is extended, and it also has a detachable mag well. The slide is lightened, sight radius jumps a notch from the standard P320 (6.6 to 6.8 inches), and barrel length is increased to five inches. Weight increases to 35.6 ounces, but there’s a removable grip weight included. Finally, a Dawson Precision fiber optic front sight and adjustable rear sights, along with four 21-round steel magazines, complete the package. MSRP: $1,005. SIGSauer.com

Lead photo of the author competing (poorly) at a Minnesota USPSA club match in Production division, shooting a Glock G34 Gen5 with Federal Syntech Action Pistol 9mm ammo. Photo by Jake Martens


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