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The Quest for Master Class: Guns and Gear

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Caleb Giddings wants to achieve the rank of IDPA 5-Gun master using the Ruger SR9c

Welcome to The Quest for Master Class on Downrange.TV where we’ll be showing you how competing with your every day carry gear not only makes you a better shot, but that you can win competitions while you do it! I’m Caleb Giddings, author of Gun Nuts Media at www.gunnuts.net, and a fairly average competition shooter. As you follow the installments of the Quest for Master Class, you’re going to see me attempt something that’s never been done before – to achieve the rank of IDPA 5-Gun master using only guns and gear that’s suitable for every day concealed carry.

The Game

IDPA, the International Defensive Pistol Association was originally founded in the 90s to bring “practical shooting” back to its practical roots. Originally, the games of practical shooting existed to help cops, military, and average citizens hone their skills at defensive pistol-craft. After several years though, that focus began to drift towards elaborate stage design and race guns. IDPA was founded to bring that focus back to defensive shooting. With strict rules governing courses of fire and types of guns, IDPA has avoided the race gun controversy…but at the same time it is still a game, and the most common guns in IDPA are not ones that you’d often see in concealment holsters.

IDPA uses a ranking system to differentiate the skill levels of the various shooters, from Novice all the way to the highest skill level in IDPA – Master Class. IDPA further recognizes shooters that have reached the level of Master Class in all five of IDPA’s competitive divisions. The divisions are Custom Defensive Pistol (.45s only), Enhanced Service Pistol (9mm and .40 S&W 1911s), Stock Service Pistol (Glocks, Sigs, Berettas), Stock Service Revolver (.38 Special wheelguns), and finally Enhanced Service Revolver (moonclip revolvers). There are only 11 shooters classified as 5-Gun Masters in IDPA, and no one has ever tried to do it like this.

I’ll be shooting carry guns – no Glock 34s or $2400 1911s, but guns that you can buy off the shelf from your local gun store and are practical and concealable for every day carry. And you’ll be following along as I document drills, qualifiers, matches, and my progress on the Quest for Master Class.

The Guns

The Quest is going to start with IDPA’s easiest, and hardest divisions. Stock Service Pistol is considered one of the simplest to achieve Master Class in, with generous time limits on the qualifier. Guns that eligible for Stock Service Pistol are also eligible for Enhanced Service Pistol which is considered one of the hardest divisions to make Master in – the times are tighter and less forgiving in a division originally dreamed up around 1911s in 9mm. Like I said above, there aren’t any race guns here. I’m going to be using the Ruger SR9c, Ruger’s newest addition to its Hard-R series of Firearms. This is a compact, concealable firearm that holds 10 round magazines, has simple, rugged 3-dot sights, and is ready to go out of the box as an every day carry gun. With a 3.5 inch barrel and weighing less than 24 ounces and less than 7 inches long, no one is going to confuse the SR9c with a race gun.

The holsters and gear are all from Comp-Tac

The Gear

For the test, the holsters and gear are all from Comp-Tac – for every day carry, a Comp-Tac CTAC IWB holster will hold the Ruger, and for competition a Comp-Tac paddle holster. Both holsters are great for concealed carry, and even before the test I’ve been using them both on a daily basis. Sure, the paddle is red…but that just looks cool.

The Challenge

Follow along with The Quest for Master Class each week as we’ll look at matches, qualifications, and drills to improve your shooting whether it’s with a high end custom 1911, or the Ruger SR9c you just bought for concealed carry. Downrange.TV is breaking new ground and showing an inside look at the training and practice necessary to make Master, and do it with your carry guns.


Caleb Giddings is the founder of Gun Nuts Media (www.gunnuts.net). He has been involved in competitive shooting since he was a cadet at the US Coast Guard Academy in 2000 and has attending training courses at Gunsite and the former Blackwater USA. Since shooting his first IDPA match in 2008, Caleb has started the climb through the rankings, earning the title of Master Class shooter in the Enhanced Service Revolver division in 2010.

3 Responses to The Quest for Master Class: Guns and Gear

  1. Pingback: Down Range Radio #168 | Down Range TV

  2. Motor-T

    July 12, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    Does the manual safety have to be engaged before the draw? If so how does this effect your draw times vs an XD or GLOCK style pistol without a manual safety?

  3. brendon

    September 27, 2012 at 9:06 am

    My every day carry is a Ruger SR9c. It’s very light weoght, comfotable, and very concealable. While I’m still a novice, I’ve noticed that disengaging the manual safety is very easy and natural on the draw. As I draw from holster, my thumb is right there to snap the safety down as I grip the pistol.

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