Service pistols for multigun
In this post we're going to touch on a few of the most popular choices competitors are using from the service guns currently available. Service pistols can be defined as pistols used by government agencies, both law enforcement and military. These pistols make good choices for starting out in multigun, one because they are readily available, and two because they have a large amount of aftermarket parts and magazines. In addition, they are affordable and are compatible with a number of holsters and mag pouches.
The three most common service pistols in use currently are Smith & Wesson's M&P, Glock 34 and Springfield XD. All three manufactures offer pistols in a variety of calibers; however, 9mm is arguably the best caliber choice due to reduced felt recoil, increased mag capacity and readily available ammunition. Before picking a manufacturer or model, I would strongly recommend running some rounds through the pistol(s) you are considering first. All three of these manufacturers make great competition pistols, but regardless, buying a pistol, spare mags, new sights, a holster and mag pouches all adds up quickly. It's very important to be sure you're comfortable with the pistol you choose.
All three manufacturers' pistols come in a variety of sizes, but for the purpose of multigun competitions, full-size and long slide pistols are the best choices. A longer sight radius - the distance between the front and rear sight - helps the shooter to be more accurate. Felt recoil is also noticeably lighter and helps the shooter deliver faster follow-up shots. Because of this, the shooter typically has an easier time tracking their front sight through recoil. These are all very important in multigun due to challenging stages that are generally fast-paced and require a great deal of accuracy.
Once you've chosen your pistol, where do you go from there? First, most of these pistols will come with 3 mags; however, you will need a minimum of 4 to compete in most matches. It would be good to be sure you have 5 mags to start with to be sure you have a back up if another mag goes down. Once you start using your guns regularly, maintenance will become a regular part of life. Ideally, I would suggest having between 6-10 magazines per pistol. This allows you to have a set of mags for matches, magazines for practice and one or two for back ups if your primary magazine has an issue.
Next, and some people may argue this, I would suggest buying a set of sights for your pistol. I am sure lots of people would say get a holster next; however, it is much easier to borrow a holster than it is to borrow sights. In addition, a holster is something you will want to try out if possible before you buy. There are literally dozens of options and having a good holster and a solid, fast draw is too important to not spend some time researching.
The best upgrade you can do for almost any service pistol is to get a set of competition sights. Most can be had for between $60 and $100 and will improve your ability to be accurate faster than any other modification to the gun. All the pistols about have functional sights installed from the factory; however, they leave a lot to be desired for competitive shooters. Dawson Precision, Sevigny, Taran Tactical Innovations, Warren and Novak all make excellent sights that are readily available just to name a few. I currently run both Dawson Precision and Taran Tactical Innovations' sights on my competition Glocks. I like the thin front sights both offer and have been very pleased with the value and quality of them. They are are easily installed and any quality gunsmith should able to install them for you. If you ask around at your local matches, you may even find another competitor who can install them for you, though I would suggest looking at the sights on his pistol prior to agreeing to let him install your sights.
Once you have quality sights on your pistol, I would decide on a holster and mag pouches. I personally like both Blade-Tech and Safariland. Both company's offer a tremendous amount of gear, are strong supporters of the shooting community and it's easy to find the holster you need in stock at numerous vendors. Its important when picking a holster for action shooting to be sure that the holster you pick allow you to both draw and holster the weapon with ease (IE, no soft holsters, nylon or leather). In addition, you need to be sure there is enough retention in the holster that you can run, go prone, climb props and obstacles without the pistol coming out of your holster accidentally. You need to be sure you can firmly grip the pistol and draw the gun smoothly without it hanging up. The same goes for your mag pouches. You will have to do magazine changes during stages and it's important you be able to quickly and efficiently draw your mag from your belt. Again, experienced shooters are a great source of information on what works and what doesn't. They can also help you stay abreast of the latest and greatest products to hit the range.
The last addition to your service pistol we will cover in this post is magazine extensions, or base pads, for your pistol. Magazine extensions do just that, extend your pistols magazines; however, several different manufacture's extensions will add capacity to your mags, giving you as many as 23 rounds in a mag. Even with a standard capacity of 17 rounds for most of these pistols, the addition of 6 extra rounds per a magazine is obviously a huge advantage. Changing magazines takes time and most matches are won by factions of a second. Just like with sights, there are numerous manufactures producing magazine extensions for these pistols. Dawson Precision, Taran Tactical Innovations, Arredondo, and Taylor Freelance are just a few of the manufactures that produce magazine extensions. One thing to keep in mind with magazine extensions is that if you decide to add a magwell to your pistol later on, some of these magazine extensions are not compatible with other manufacture's magwells.
With these pistols, a good set of sights, quality belt gear and the advantage of extra capacity mags all you'll need to succeed with your pistol is practice and a little help from the seasoned shooters. When it comes to these pistols, the sky is the limit. Trigger kits, grip modifications and high performance internals are available for all these guns and you can spend as much or as little as you want. With multigun being an arms race, there is always more to buy, upgrade or modify. And if you decide that's not enough, there's always the option of getting your gun some custom paint. In future posts, I’ll cover more pistol modifications.
Front sight, have fun and be safe!