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:
- 18.104.22.168 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.
- 22.214.171.124 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 126.96.36.199) 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.