The sport of 3-gun has really taken off in the last couple years with more and more shooters looking for a way to responsibly enjoy their firearms. What keeps those shooters (and spectators) safe is a strict adherence to the rules, something that top shooters tend to stretch to the breaking point in the hopes of getting a slight advantage over the rest of the field. 3-Gun Nation, the governing body running the 3-Gun Nation Series, is making a change to the rules this year cracking down on some of those potential safety issues and possibly impacting owners of striker fired handguns.

According to the rules, firearms must be abandoned in a “safe” condition during a competition. The intention here is to ensure that firearms aren’t accidentally discharged when abandoning them and can’t discharge easily once grounded, especially since stage designs regularly have competitors and range staff moving downrange in front of those guns. The rules state that a firearm must either be unloaded or placed in the “dump barrel” with the safety engaged. For 1911 owners this means there’s a moment of time spent engaging the safety before placing it in the barrel, and the possibility that the safety could be bumped and disengaged before the end of the stage (resulting in disqualification). For those owning a striker fired handgun there’s a significant advantage, as the “safe action” striker mechanism counts as a “passive” safety so the guns can simply be tossed in the bucket with no additional steps.

At least, that’s how the rules used to define a passive safety. Here’s the new rule:

  • 3.4.1.1 Any manual safety MUST be “Operational” and MUST be engaged to satisfy the “Loaded with Safety Engaged” condition, regardless of a “Passive Safety”.
  • Definition 1: “Operational” Is defined as, when the safety mechanism operates correctly as intended and must not be altered or disabled in a way that while not being handled, the safety features can no longer prevent the firearm from discharging.
  • 3.4.1.2 Any firearm without a manual safety MUST have a “Passive Safety” in an “Operational” condition to satisfy the “Loaded with Safety Engaged” condition.
  • Definition 2: “Passive Safety” Is defined as, a safety that engages automatically and disables the striker or firing pin from moving or discharging while not being handled.
  • Example: Grip activated (i.e. 1911 & 2011) safeties and hinge style trigger shoe (i.e. Glock & M&P) safeties DO NOT meet the requirements of (Rule 3.4.1.2) or the definition of “Passive Safety”.

The previous wording of this rule stated that the trigger shoe of a GLOCK or Smith & Wesson M&P satisfied the requirement of a “passive safety.” The new rules specifically state that the trigger alone is not a “passive safety,” adding the stipulation that there needs to be a firing pin block mechanism to keep the firing pin from moving unless the trigger is pulled.

For anyone with an unmodified GLOCK or Smith & Wesson or SIG SAUER handgun this isn’t an issue — the gun already has an integrated firing pin block as part of the striker system. The issue is with those who have been stretching the rules a little too thin in the hopes of getting a slightly better score. Removing the firing pin block from the gun can improve the trigger pull on these guns, making the triggers lighter and better while removing some of the safety features. Specifically the safety features that keep the guns “drop safe,” something definitely necessary when doing a sport that requires a lot of quick moving with loaded firearms.

22 Responses to Rule Changes at 3-Gun Nation Target Striker Fired Handgun Safety

  1. So, basically people were disabling their firing pin blocks. So they just added that rule. Yikes. But then I really should not talk as I shoot a 75 Shadow and a 70 Series 1911. From what I read in the rules, you can’t disable firing pin blocks on anything. Is that correct? I know a lot of people who disable the FPB on CZs. First thing I look for on someones 75b

    • Most people aren’t removing the firing pin block. What IS happening is that folks doing their home brew trigger jobs are causing the firing pin block to not function properly. Many times without realizing it because they don’t understand all the interactions of the trigger mechanisms they are messing with. Some know damn well what they are doing.

      My guess is that there won’t be tech inspections or anything, but they want a rule in place to mitigate some degree of liability, but more importantly to give their MDs and ROs the tools to bounce the idiots who are deliberately making things dangerous.

      Given 3GN makes VIR its home range these days, and knowing that match directors talk amongst themselves, I can think of a person or two who might have been the impetus for this. At least one of them is an incorrigible bender of the rules, and where there are no rules he’ll do stupid things that make no bit of sense just because. Truly the kind of guy who could imagine you are hiding a competitive advantage in a 400F oven and would climb in to get it. All while you sit there going WTF, who the hell needs a warning label to not climb into a running 400F oven?

    • Referring to a Glock as sexy…. I think that word does not mean what you think it means.

      It is like referring Nancy Pelosi of having beautiful eyes, or Shannon Watts of having respect for the truth.

    • No, you are right. Glocks are sexy. In a black plastic kind of way. Not that black plastic kind of way. Well you know what I mean.

    • “That Glock looks sexy!”

      That was the $600 clue on Jeopardy yesterday. The category was “Phrases That Have Never Been Uttered”.

  2. It’s pretty dumb to disable the fpb in a run and gun sport. I actually like these new rules

  3. “Removing the firing pin block from the gun can improve the trigger pull on these guns, making the triggers lighter and better while removing some of the safety features.”

    Will entry guns be required to go through a tech qual of some sort?

    • I suspect any gun will be subject to inspection. I know Rob and Charles, they don’t want to hire a gunsmith to inspect each gun at each regional…

    • Not that hard to check, all you have to do is pull the slide back and take a look. Most firing pin blacks are held in with the firing pin, so you would have to do some fancy machining to have one that still goes up and down. You can always just remove the side and you can see the hand in the trigger assembly.

  4. Why abandon the pistol? If only there was a way that the shooter could secure the handgun in some sort of retention device strapped to the hip.
    I should invent one. I’ll call it a “Holdie”.

    • Sarcasm for the win. But seriously your correct. It’s hard to run and gun with two long guns so I accept that artificiality but I never did understand why in 3 gun you dump the pistol.

      • Reholstering brings all sorts of safety issues. There’s a possibility of breaking the 180 degree rule when pulling the gun back in, increased rate of negligent discharges during reholstering, and having a loaded handgun strapped to your body during a stage is potentially more dangerous than simply placing it on a table and leaving it alone.

        For competitors, reholstering takes way more time than dropping it in a dump barrel. Usually. Unless the barrel happens to be behind you. Been there, DQ’ed that.

        • The safety issues can be addressed with the normal rules. When I’ve attended matches with a hot re-holster, there is a separate talk about that one maneuver, addressing those issues, and an admonition that the RSO will be watching and DQing anyone who re-holsters unsafely. Really, all you have to do is slow down a little bit at that moment.

          But I don’t attend the really really competitive matches, so maybe there are those who aren’t willing to slow down for anything.

        • No, re-holstering under the clock = possible negligent discharge. As is every other maneuver in a 3-gun match. If you’re so risk averse that holstering a hot weapon is a no-go, shooting sports may not be for you.

        • It’s tough I get what nick and binder are saying as 3 guns do include artificiality. My mentality coming from the Army is to never abandon a firearm unless you have to(that could be because they are sensitive items lol) and that the handgun is just a transition to your main weapon system (240, 249, Brad, tank ect).

  5. Why not invoke a rule that the magazine must be removed and the chamber cleared before the weapons is placed in the “dump barrel”?

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