At the end of nearly every course at Renaissance Firearms instruction we discuss practical competitive shooting and how easy it is to get into. With most of these courses taking place in New York, it becomes almost a non-starter as you need to have a pistol permit to literally even touch a handgun. Many gun owners are not interested in paying high permit fees, nor have the time to undergo police interviews, fingerprinting, etc. These processes are normally reserved for criminals. As such, USPSA (United States Practical Shooting Association) matches here are few and far between.
However, this changed when USPSA debuted the Pistol Caliber Carbine (PCC) division. Finally, the world of practical shooting opened up to competitive shooters in restricted states. The new division was not only utilitarian―but exciting. PCC doesn’t have an Open or Production sub-category, so shooters can do just about anything to their gun. Optics, muzzle brakes, magwell flares and even laser sights are fair game. Even in states that have restrictions on guns based on the AR platform (again New York is a good example), competitive shooters can create a modified build while thumbing their nose at the gun grabbers.
This in turn has left Open shooters, well, angry. Consider somebody who has spent years perfecting their hand blaster, working up the perfect load to meet major power factor without creating excessive recoil, sending their gun out multiple times for trigger jobs, slide cuts and everything else it takes to stay in the race gun space race―only to get smoked by a $900 carbine slinging Winchester White Box.
Giving PCC a try can be relatively easy and inexpensive. One of best inventions to invest in for this division is the Mean Arms Endomag that enables a standard Magpul P-Mag to accept 9mm. This allows you to run any 9mm upper on a standard AR lower. There is even a model available for restricted states so everybody can get in on this. If you don’t already have a good trigger in that lower, get one. A short resetting trigger like the Rise Armament RA-535 will prove instrumental in double taps. Additionally, money is well-spent on a good upper as these can be very finicky. I like the CMMG Resolute 300 Mk9, because I’ve had nothing but success with it in our courses and in my own practice.
Since optics are allowed mounting one is a no-brainer. Our classroom rifle is equipped with a Riton RT-S Mod 3 1-4x because it is solid, bright and doesn’t break the bank. We opted for this because it allows use of the rifle at longer distances. Install a quality laser with a 10-yard zero and you will be in good shape for your first match.
Shooting a stage with a PCC will take a slightly different approach than with a pistol. Take a look at the start position. Pistol shooters need to start with their gun holstered, unless otherwise noted. PCC shooters generally start in the “Stock on Belt” position. This usually allows a shooter to point the gun at their first target. If you utilize a laser sight you can rip two shots off into the alpha before you even shoulder your gun. This allows you to index your body towards your next target which can help you clean two targets faster than most guys can draw.
Barriers can present an issue for the carbine shooter. Most scenarios allow the handgunner to easily maneuver into a firing position regardless if it’s from the left side or the right side of cover. PCC shooters will have a hard time peeking around cover if the rifle is mounted on the opposite shoulder. Savvy competitors will learn the value of weak-side proficiency and quickly develop it. Personally, I have accomplished this inadvertently by doing all of my firearms demonstrations right handed instead of in my native southpaw. The first time I had to shoot around a barrier on the cross side I transitioned to weak hand and whacked a 100-yard gong nearly on the fly. The transition was instinctual and zero thought went into how to solve the problem.
Another option is to utilize the laser to get two shots off around the barrier in a less than orthodox shooting position. That’s the fun of PCC―it has reopened the doors of creativity.
If you go back to the beginning of IPSC and USPSA, remember the dirty looks that conventional bullseye (precision) pistol shooters gave when you wanted to shoot 7-yard targets all day and that you spent more than $1,000 on anything other than a Colt Gold Cup. The PCC shooter is again that new kid on the block. They get to have the fun of learning and demonstration what works and what doesn’t work for the first time in decades. If you are new to shooting, or just looking to spice things up in USPSA, don’t shy away from PCC division. This fast-paced style of shooting allows even the newbies to do their best John Wick impression and is bringing them out to matches in droves!