The Guns of USPA
By OutdoorAly

There are six handgun divisions in the United States Practical Shooting Association. Before I give you a brief description of each, I want to offer a short definition of power factor. The formula for USPSA power factor is: Bullet Weight (grains) x Muzzle Velocity (ft. /sec) ÷1000. As an example, if one propels a 125 grain bullet at 1000 ft. /sec muzzle velocity you get 125,000. Divide that by 1000 and the power factor is 125. USPSA uses two power factor categories, major with a minimum power factor of 165 and minor, with a minimum power factor of 125. Here’s a link to a great power factor calculator, There is a bonus to using a major PF gun in that hits outside the A zone on the target are given more points than those shot with a minor PF gun. We’ll look more closely at scoring in a later post.

The six USPSA handgun divisions are Revolver, Production, Single Stack, Limited 10, Limited, and Open. All with the exception of Production have major and minor power factor categories. Let’s start with the Revolver division.


The minimum caliber for Revolver is .38/ 9×19. Minor PF is 125 and major is 165. Most major PF guns are usually chamber in .45 ACP and use moon clips to speed reloading. Most minor PR revolvers are .38 Special, but there are some 9 MM guns including a couple of new offerings from S&W. Major PF guns are limited to 6 rounds; minor, 8 rounds. There are few other restrictions in the revolver division including holsters and other gear.

production pistol

The Production division has a minor minimum PF of 125. There is no provision for major PF in Production. There are restrictions on holster and magazine carrier design, as well as placement of both. Mags are limited to 10 rounds. This is a great division for those wanting to practice with their personal protection guns. One will find lots of Glocks, M&Ps, XDs, and a myriad of other semi-auto pistols in the mix, including 1911s. 9 MM is the most used caliber, but the larger .40s and .45s are common.

1911 pistol

Single Stack is for Model 1911 style guns only. There are also restrictions on holster and mag type and placement. Major PF guns are limited to 8 rounds and minor PF guns can hold 10. Minimum PF caliber is 9MM with a PF of 125 and minimum major PF caliber is .40 with a 165 PF. Most Single Stack shooters, including myself, use the classic .45 ACP 1911.

limited gun

Limited 10 is a bit of a catch all semi-auto division. One will find pistols of all sorts. There is major PF (165) .40 caliber minimum and minor PF (125) 9MM caliber minimum, few holster restrictions, but a limit of 10 rounds per magazine.

Limited rules are similar to Limited 10. Like Limited 10, there are restrictions on magazine size, but not on the number of rounds that can be loaded. Again two PFs, major (165), minor (125) with minimum calibers of .40 and 9 MM respectively. One will find polymer and steel framed guns, as well as some custom semi-autos built specifically for the division.

race gun

The Open division is the Formula 1 of USPSA competition. Here is where you find the “race guns.” Barrel compensators, lightened slides, huge magazines, and optics are just some of the options allowed in the Open division. Again major (165) and minor (125) PF with a minimum caliber of .38 or 9 MM and a minimum bullet weight of 112 grains for major. These guns are fast!

speed holster

Many of you already have a pistol or revolver that will work in one of the USPSA divisions. You’ll need eye and ear protection, a strong belt, speed loaders or magazines and pouches to hold them. Take a look at the rules at: This is a fun and safe past time and I’m sure you and your handgun can find a division in which to compete. Next post, we’ll further into USPSA competition and how you can be a part of it.

Be safe and good shooting.

Colonel Smoothbore